Reno Gets 60-Day Extension For Herman Probe
By Pierre Thomas/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 10) -- Labor Secretary Alexis Herman will have to wait a while longer to see if she will be the subject of an independent counsel investigation.
Attorney General Janet Reno has been granted a 60-day extension of her investigation into allegations Herman accepted cash bribes while she
worked at the White House.
The investigation is the result of charges by an African businessman, Laurent Yene, who says he gave Herman an envelope full of cash. Yene claims that he, Herman and a friend, Vanessa Weaver, conspired in a scam where Herman would peddle her influence as a White House official in exchange for cash. Justice Department officials want to know if Herman had a hidden financial interest in Weaver's business.
Law enforcement sources have told CNN Yene's story has credibility problems, and they have thus far been unable to corroborate many of his allegations. But investigators did not complete all their interviews and analysis of Herman's finances. Given the seriousness of the allegations, Reno wanted them all thoroughly reviewed, even though the majority had not panned out, the sources said.
"Despite our diligent efforts, voluminous records needed for complete review of these allegations were not received until late in the preliminary investigation and additional time is needed for their complete review," Reno wrote a three-judge appellate panel, seeking the extension. In addition, Reno noted new information has been recently developed and she expected access to additional witnesses and documents in the coming days.
W. Neil Eggleston, Herman's attorney, released the following statement: "The secretary [Herman] recognizes the attorney general's need to conduct a careful and complete evaluation of this matter. She knows that she does not have a hidden financial interest in Dr. Weaver's business and has every faith that the Justice Department will shortly close this matter out. The secretary was first contacted by the Justice Department on Jan. 14, 1998. She promptly answered every question the Justice Department asked and promptly provided every document that they requested. If they have more questions or requests for documents we will promptly comply with those as well."
Herman's supporters say Yene is seeking revenge and money because he is angry over a business and personal relationship that soured with Weaver.