Reno Not Ready To Hand Over Redacted Memo (12/11/97)
Reno Not Expanding Casino Investigation
Reno says no credible evidence Clinton violated law in Indian gambling case
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 16) -- Attorney General Janet Reno said Tuesday there is no credible information that President Bill Clinton violated federal law in connection with an Indian gambling casino application.
"Under the Independent Counsel Act, I have a responsibility before I trigger the act to make sure that there's specific and credible information that a covered person, in this instance the president, may have violated federal criminal law," Reno said in a CNN interview. "I had no such evidence and therefore did not think that the statute could be triggered."
Reno said that while she has rejected Republican requests to name an independent counsel to investigate Clinton, she'll continue to look at Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's role.
Reno must decide by Feb. 11 whether to appoint an outside prosecutor to look into allegations that Babbitt may have lied under oath to the Senate.
In July 1995, the Interior Department denied three Wisconsin Chippewa tribes a casino license, even though the licenses had been recommended by Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribes opposing the casino eventually donated nearly $300,000 to the Democratic National Committee.
In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), Reno said the Justice Department had determined that Clinton was aware of the casino issue and had asked his staff about the status of the matter.
But, she wrote, "Information that the president was aware of a regulatory matter under review by an executive branch agency does not ... in and of itself, indicate criminal wrongdoing by the president.
"Your letter does not identify any alleged conduct by the president ... that would warrant an inference that the president's unsolicited receipt of information from lobbyists and his subsequent expression of interest in the matter was potentially criminal, or part of any criminal conspiracy."
Reno concluded, "Accordingly at this time there is no legitimate basis for a preliminary investigation of the president pursuant to the Independent Counsel Act."
The attorney general also rejected Hyde's suggestion that she should step aside because she has a conflict of interest in the ongoing probe of White House aides possibly involved in the Interior Department's decision, but who are not specifically covered by the independent counsel law.
Reno told Hyde, "It is my conclusion that no conflict of interest exists within the meaning of the Independent Counsel Act that would warrant the exercise of the attorney general's discretionary authority to trigger the act with respect to non-covered persons."
Supporters of the Wisconsin Indian tribes, which were denied the casino license, charge the decision resulted from political influence and donations to the Democratic party by opposing wealthy Indian tribes which already operated successful nearby casino operations.
In Other News:
Tuesday Dec. 16, 1997
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