Dec. 3, 1997 — Washington (apj.us) — "I have determined there are no reasonable grounds to believe that further investigation is warranted of allegations that the president violated federal law by making fund-raising telephone calls from the White House," Janet Reno told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday .
And that was that, or so you might have thought, but the plot just sickens (and I don't have a lisp).
Reaction from the White House? Nada — save for a one liner issued from the POTUS: "The attorney general made her decision based on a careful review of the law and the facts, and that's as it should be." Of course the mainstream media, surprisingly including David Broder got it all wrong theorizing that President Clinton was terse because he was worried about what might happen with regard to campaign finance abuse allegations in future.
But the pundits have it all wrong if they think Bill Clinton hushed his staff in order to "sneak off into the night." Quite the contrary. Clinton has never been one to flaunt a victory. It's not part of the Southern upbringing or the Clinton charm. In fact, Clinton knows that nothing in Reno's and Freeh's continuing investigations will implicate him or Al Gore personally. They weren't involved.
What Republicans are hoping is that, regardless of implication, the IMPACT will destroy Gore once and for all as a presidential contender amidst a covey of weak GOP hopefuls thus far.
Al Gore was more forthcoming than the President: "Well, obviously I'm very pleased by the decision today of the Justice Department," Gore said in Connecticut. "Now that there's been a full and independent review, we can put this issue of the phone calls behind us once and for all."
Reno explained her action in a press conference timed for network evening news saying:
- None of Clinton's fund-raising phone calls had been made from official areas.
- Gore had no knowledge that those calls he did make resulted in money going into Democratic Party hard-money accounts.
- The independent counsel statute prohibits her from asking for an independent counsel to investigate allegations that the Justice Department would not prosecute under its existing standards.
- The investigation would continue into whether the Democratic National Committee's practice of skimming part of soft-money contributions into hard-money accounts was legal.
- Our investigation continues, and no allegation will go un-examined.
- 120 investigators looking into campaign finance would stay on the job and that she would add more resources if needed.
- Praised the FBI and its director, Louis Freeh and added she didn't think Freeh had spoken out of turn on the issue.
After Reno's announcement, Freeh issued a statement wherein he said , "Lawyers and investigators can and often do disagree. I and all of my colleagues in the FBI respect her decision and understand fully that it is the Attorney General's by law to make."
So much for the Freeh resignation fantasy that Orrin Hatch was pushing on Sunday's pundit television.