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Breaking News

Elian Gonzalez Case: Atty. Gen. Reno Traveling to Miami

Aired April 12, 2000 - 2:43 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: I am going to shoot it on up to Washington, where Pierre Thomas, out Justice correspondent, has something news in the Elian Gonzalez story -- Pierre,

PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, CNN has learned that the attorney general, Janet Reno, is making a personal journey to Miami. She is going to try to talk to Cuban community leaders, also to family members in the Elian Gonzalez case. She wants to try to inject her personality, talk to the people, get them at the negotiating table to resolve this because, again, here priority is not having a confrontation that could cause further trauma to the boy.

Again, Attorney General Janet Reno a peaceful resolution to this. Her journey comes as we expect a letter to go out to the family in Miami informing them that custody of the boy will transferred to this father, effective as early as tomorrow.

Again, Reno flying down to Miami, trying to make a personal appeal. Lou, you will remember that the attorney general is actually from Miami. She knows a lot of the players, she wants to try to inject her personality, talk to the people, get them at the negotiating table to resolve this because, again, her priority is not having a confrontation that could cause further trauma to the boy.

Again, Attorney General Janet Reno expected to leave for Miami very, very shortly.

WATERS: Yes, Pierre, i also remember that the attorney general had made tentative plans to go down to Miami this morning, now it's afternoon. She has said she is going to make the trip. Do you have a clear idea of what's happened here to change her mind about going down there?

THOMAS: Lou, what happened last night is that there was the promise of a potential deal between family members, family to family working this out. Reno, when she heard that that was likely decided to take a step back, not go to Miami. She was, in fact, planning to fly down this morning, but when she heard about the potential deal she said: Look, let me take a step back. Let's see if the family members can work it out. That has been her goal throughout the process.

But once that fell through, and there are indications that Juan Miguel Gonzalez does not want to meet with the family, she has decided that she wants to go down there, and make two messages: one. this transfer is going to take place; two, she wants to make an appeal to everyone involved, make it a peaceful process, think about the boy, don't think about the politics, don't think about international relations, think about the boy.

WATERS: And could this letter that is being sent out, and the Miami relatives' reaction to the letter have any effect on the attorney general's plan to go on down to Miami.

THOMAS: Well one of the things that, you know, once this letter goes out, the letter, you know, is a paper statement. The attorney general wants to put her face and her voice with this letter explaining to people exactly what is to happen, and to encourage their cooperation.

Again, the scenario of having to send INS officials or federal marshals to the house to get the boy is one that the Justice Department simply does not want to take place. Again, the situation is, once this letter goes out, it's up to Lazaro Gonzalez to determine whether he is going to abide by it. So the attorney general wants to go down there, and encourage everyone involved to cooperate.

WATERS: She's putting the pressure on, wouldn't you say?

THOMAS: Well, again, this is, as one source told me yesterday when this idea was first floated that she might go to Miami, that this is, quote, "vintage Reno." That she is very much a hand's on person, again, because she feels like she knows this particular community. She wants to go there, talk to the people face-to-face, try to encourage them to resolve this quickly and peacefully.

WATERS: Any time table on the...

THOMAS: Well, our sources are saying that it could be very, very shortly. They will not give us a specific time. But we were told that the trip is imminent.

WATERS: And I know if anyone can find you, you can, Pierre. We'll be back to you as we keep track of the Elian Gonzalez story.

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