Herman: Reno 'Did What She Felt She Had To Do' In Naming Counsel
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 12) -- Labor Secretary Alexis Herman said she believes Attorney General Janet Reno "did what she felt she had to do" in recommending appointment of an independent counsel to look into influence peddling allegations against Herman.
In an interview broadcast Saturday on CNN's "Evans, Novak, Hunt and Shields," Herman was asked if she had been treated unfairly by her Cabinet colleague.
"I believe that the attorney general did what she felt she had to do as attorney general, in applying the limits of the [independent counsel] statute. So I've not spend a lot of time, quite frankly, questioning the actions of the attorney general," Herman said.
Back in May, when Reno announced that she would recommend appointment of an independent counsel, Herman described herself as "extremely baffled" and "disappointed" by the decision.
The investigation of Herman centers around allegations from Laurent Yene, who was a partner in a consulting business with Vanessa Weaver, a friend of Herman. The firm, International Investments and Business Development, had been sold to Weaver by Herman.
Yene claims that when Herman was White House public liaison director before becoming Labor secretary, he gave her kickbacks from fees received from IIBD clients after arranging meetings with Herman. In one case, he says he gave her an envelope stuffed with cash, a 10 percent cut from money given to IIBD by a client seeking a federal license for a satellite telephone system.
Herman has denied the allegations. Her supporters accuse Yene of seeking revenge after his partnership with Weaver soured.
In her court filing recommending an independent counsel, Reno said that while a preliminary investigation turned up no evidence that Herman tried to influence any government decisions involving IIBD clients, "a great deal of Yene's story has been corroborated," including the fact that Herman met with clients and potential clients.
Reno also asked that the counsel look into allegations that Herman participated in the solicitation of $250,000 in illegal campaign contributions through Weaver.
A panel of appellate judges appointed Ralph I. Lancaster, an attorney from Maine, as independent counsel in the case.
Asked on "Evans, Novak, Hunt and Shields" if she thought the independent counsel statute needed to be repealed, Herman was non-committal, noting that the Clinton administration has not taken a position.
"I think it is very healthy that we are engaged in a debate on this statute, that we are examining whether or not it needs to be repealed," she said. "And I think at the appropriate time, clearly the administration will have its own comments on it."