From: Ralph Begleiter and Wolf Blitzer/CNN
Subject: Gore Says He's Cooperating With Justice Department
Vice President Al Gore told CNN today the decision about whether to appoint an independent counsel to investigate his role in raising campaign money for the Democrats last year is "entirely" up to the Justice Department. Gore said he is "fully cooperating" with the department on the issue.
Gore's comment was his first since it was reported this week that Attorney General Janet Reno shook up her Justice Department task force looking into campaign financing irregularities.
Gore made the comment in response to a question from CNN during a briefing on the vice president's upcoming trip to Russia for talks on arms control and cooperation in space, business and other issues.
This was the exchange:
QUESTION: "I'm going to ask you whether you ever have a feeling in the current atmosphere in the discussion on campaign financing whether it might be better for you to have a special prosecutor announced and appointed and get on with it and deal with it?"
GORE: "That's entirely in the province of the Justice Department and I'm not going to wade into that. And we're fully cooperating with them in every respect. So that's the most I'm going to say about that."
Gore's aides assume that Reno will take her independent counsel investigation to the next step. By early October, she must decide whether to begin a formal 90-day review into allegations that the vice president broke the law when he made campaign fund-raising calls from the White House last year.
If Reno begins that review, Gore's aides say he will almost certainly hire a private attorney, and they're already gathering names of candidates. Until now, Gore has relied strictly on his official White House counsel.
Even while Gore's previous fund-raising practices are under scrutiny, he raised another $200,000 for the Democratic party Wednesday night in New York. He asked the 20 couples who each paid $10,000 to support the administration's policies.
"Make no mistake, the odds of success are on our side, but the obstacles are very great and we need to keep on fighting and keep on working," Gore told the audience.
With polls showing Gore's popularity slipping, some of his advisors want him to adjust his damage control strategy. One proposal is a prime time TV interview to answer the questions. There is no final decision on that yet.
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Thursday Sept. 18, 1997
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