|POLITICS AND PROSECUTION
The Attorney General comes under
fire from congressional Republicans
August 12, 1998
in this forum:
Is the problem with Janet Reno or with the wording of the independent counsel statute? How could Reno be accused of protecting the president? Why is it so difficult for Reno to provide Congress the Justice Department's internal memo about appointing an independent counsel? Is there any credible reason why Janet Reno would not appoint an independent prosecutor? Is the move to cite the attorney general for contempt justifiable?
Robert McKeeman of Atlanta, GA, asks: Is there any credible reason why Janet Reno would not appoint an independent prosecutor?
Professor Doug Kmiec of Pepperdine Law School responds:
Yes, to the extent she now believes the statute is flawed, and the Department needs to reassert its capacity to handle difficult cases.
Unfortunately, she should have made that stand in lesser matters dealing with cabinet secretaries or others in the administration, not with the President and Vice-President, for whom the statute was drafted. In addition, any possibility of defending the Department's prerogatives on this matter went by the boards when the head of the FBI and task force concluded that an independent counsel was warranted. No sense falling on a sword to defend internal investigators if the internal investigators themselves don't want the job.
Michael Carvin, former Justice Department official during the Reagan administration, responds:I cannot think of any and Ms. Reno has offered none, contenting herself with the conclusory bromide that she will make the decision on the facts and law without regard to politics.