From: Eileen O'Connor/CNN White House Correspondent
Subject: White House Lawyer To Appear Before Grand Jury Wednesday
Senior government sources tell CNN that the Justice Department plans to call its first White House official before a grand jury in connection with the controversial videotapes of White House coffees.
Sources say Lanny Breuer, special counsel to the president, has voluntarily agreed to appear before a grand jury Wednesday. Justice Department attorneys want to question him about the long delay in getting videotapes of the White House coffees to the attorney general's task force on campaign fund-raising.
Calling Breuer before a grand jury is signficant, because he will have to make his explanation under oath, and could face criminal perjury charges if his statements are misleading or false.
White House officials deny accusations from some Republican Senators that the late release of the videotapes amounts to "obstruction of justice."
White House officials concede it was a "big mistake" not to have informed Attorney General Janet Reno as soon as they knew about the existence of the videotapes the middle of last week.
White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis says an attempt was made to reach a Justice Department official on Friday, but the White House was not successful until Saturday, one day after Reno sent a letter to Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), specifically saying the evidence showed the coffees took place in the White House's residential areas. One tape shows a coffee conducted in the Oval Office.
One source close to the president concedes it looks "very bad" and fully expected the Senate Committee investigating campaign finance to make the most of the controversy.
It was White House Counsel Charles Ruff's idea to go to Capitol Hill to try to testify before the committee as to how the long-requested videotapes were found only now. The counsel's office had hoped to disarm the accusers by saying it was an honest mistake, the result of "having the wrong people asking the wrong questions."
In Other News:
Tuesday Oct. 7, 1997
Outrage Consumes Senate Fund-Raising Hearings
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