Freeh: 'No Closed Aspects' To Campaign Task Force Probe
By Terry Frieden/CNN
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Dec. 16) -- FBI Director Louis Freeh said Tuesday there are "no closed aspects" to the campaign-finance task-force investigation, which he said is "focusing not only on federal election laws, but conspiracy and bribery statutes and possible currency violations."
In an off-camera, on-the-record briefing with reporters, Freeh defended the pace of the year-old investigation, saying the complexity of the issues under investigation requires extensive time and resources.
But the FBI director acknowledged that he does have a few regrets about the way the probe has been handled. "We could have done a better job, a quicker job of loading up some of the documents, acquiring them, we could have done that quicker and better," he said.
Freeh said lawyers for the FBI and the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee will meet Wednesday to resume behind-the-scenes efforts to resolve Burton's subpoena request for Freeh's private memo to Attorney General Janet Reno recommending an independent counsel. Freeh expressed optimism the issue can be resolved, but provided no details.
Freeh also said he plans to meet after the holidays with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch to discuss Hatch's memo to him last week calling for the FBI to conduct an investigation separate from the Justice Department task force. Freeh said, however, he believes the intent of the law Hatch cited was aimed specifically at the FBI conducting a separate probe of the Treasury Department if warranted.
On the highly sensitive issue of providing information to the White House on national-security aspects of the campaign-finance probe, Freeh said the National Security Advisor is receiving virtually all of the information which he is providing to congressional intelligence committees. But Freeh said the procedures in place are "fact-specific" and he conceded the information provided to the White House may be in what he called "a different format." Freeh concluded, "There might be a different standard."
Freeh emphasized that the counter-intelligence aspects of the investigation -- including the possible role of the Chinese government in providing campaign contributions in U.S. races -- is carefully separated from the criminal components of the probe. But Freeh insisted all of the information needed to pursue criminal prosecutions is passed along to the Justice task force lawyers.
Freeh refused to do discuss most aspects of the ongoing investigation. He would not comment on whether Reno consulted him before her announcement Monday night rejecting a probe of President Bill Clinton. Reno concluded there was no evidence to tie the president to an investigation of the Interior Department's handling of an Indian casino license.
Freeh also steered away from comments on his highly public difference of opinion with Reno on the need for an independent counsel in the campaign finance investigation.
The FBI director also declined to respond to reports he had advised GOP Senator Arlen Specter in advance of Reno's decision of his desire for the appointment of an independent counsel. "It's not appropriate for me to discuss conversations on congressional oversight," he said.
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