Second-Guessing The Attorney General (10/1/97)
Business As Usual For Gore On Eve Of Reno's Decision
White House expects attorney general will expand the review of Gore's calls
By John King/CNN
WASHINGTON (Oct. 2) -- On the eve of Attorney General Janet Reno's big decision on whether to expand the probe of Vice President Al Gore's campaign fund-raising activities, the vice president and his boss kept up their regular schedules, talking today about food safety and fatherhood, not fund-raising.
But the White House is closely monitoring Reno's deliberations and aides expect her to launch a 90-day review of Gore's fund-raising calls from the White House, the final step before deciding whether to seek an independent counsel investigation.
A 90-day review allows Gore's lawyers to make the case to the attorney general that those calls broke no laws, a fact not lost on the president.
President Bill Clinton said today, "Well, if you read the statute, she can consider certain things in the 90-day period that are not permitted in the 30-day period."
But as Gore stood by, Clinton was careful not to say much else on the subject.
"I think this is a legal question and it should be done based on an independent legal review with no pressure from the outside, from me or from anyone else," the president said. (448K wav sound)
Gore will be far from Washington when Reno's Friday deadline hits. The vice president is off to Florida for a visit that includes a speech to the state Democratic convention.
While Gore sticks to his schedule, his lawyers are already making their case to the Justice Department. His lead attorney, former Watergate prosecutor Jim Neal, says he will represent Gore "on a pro-bono basis."
Government ethics rules allow that gift because Neal is a long-time personal friend, but Republicans say Gore should have to pay for his legal advice.
Gore aides say the vice president will end his silence and speak to reporters once Reno announces her decision. Then comes another two weeks of waiting at the White House when Reno faces a new deadline for deciding whether to subject Clinton's fund-raising to tougher scrutiny as well.
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