1                           UNITED STATES
 2                       DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
 3                               - - -
 5                      PRESS CONFERENCE OF THE
 6                       HONORABLE JANET RENO,
 8                               - - -
10                                 Room 5111
11                                 Department of Justice
12                                 9th and Constitution, N.W.
13                                 Washington, D.C.
14                                 Thursday, October 2, 1997

 1                       P R O C E E D I N G S
 2                                            [9:31 a.m.]
 3              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Good morning.  How are
 4    you.
 5              Today we have more good news in the fight
 6    against juvenile crime.  Last summer I reported that the
 7    juvenile arrest rate for violent crime had gone down 2.9
 8    percent between 1994 and 1995.  That was the first decline
 9    in 7 years.  I've worried since that it might be a blip. 
10    But now the 1996 Uniform Crime Report that will be
11    released in the next few weeks shows we are making real
12    progress in fighting youth crime.
13              As you can see from this chart, the juvenile
14    violent crime arrest rate decreased 9.2 percent in 1996,
15    making the aggregate drop in juvenile violent crime
16    arrests 11.9 percent since 1994.  This drop I think is
17    real now.  I don't think we can talk about it as a blip. 
18    It stems from many factors.  The President's crime plan
19    has provided more money and tougher laws.  Communities
20    across America, their police, their prosecutors, mentors
21    in the community, and young people themselves are working
22    harder than ever to keep young people on the right track,
23    to give them opportunity, and to provide punishment and
24    intervention when they stray.
25              Wherever I travel, I see young people working to

 1    keep their friends and their peers from turning to
 2    violence.  I see young people coming to Washington for
 3    Close-Up programs and other programs, and I see them
 4    wanting to be involved and to make a difference.  I think
 5    they are.
 6              For these reasons, we have made progress.  Now
 7    we have to make it stick.  Juvenile arrest rates are still
 8    too high.  We still continue to hear of too many serious
 9    violent crimes committed by young people, and if we are
10    not vigilant they will go back up again, for, as we all
11    know, the juvenile population will rise in the next
12    decade.
13              We must hold juveniles accountable, but we must
14    also invest in the children who we know are at risk of
15    becoming delinquents, so that they may have the tools to
16    succeed and the will to reject drugs and gangs and guns
17    and other destructive behavior.  The President and I have
18    been working with Congress to try to secure passage of a
19    juvenile justice bill that maintains this balance.  I
20    think the decrease in juvenile violent arrests we are
21    seeing today underscores the need for a real balance.  A
22    policy that punishes children who do wrong without
23    investing to help children do right will only buy us a
24    little time before youth violence increases again.
25              We know that good after-school programs can

 1    safely and constructively occupy children in the hours
 2    that they are unsupervised and otherwise likely to get
 3    into trouble.  Just a few weeks ago, a report reiterated
 4    what we have known for some time, that juvenile crime
 5    peaks in the hours immediately after school and that good
 6    after-school programs are critical to cutting youth crime. 
 7    I urge Congress to make after-school programs a priority
 8    in its funding decisions.
 9              I'm gratified that appropriators in the House
10    and the Senate have made juvenile crime prevention and
11    intervention a priority.  With the right resources and
12    smart, productive partnerships between the Federal
13    Government, States and local communities, I hope we can
14    continue to report good news to you on this issue for
15    years to come.
16              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, last year I think we got
17    violent crime arrest data and also arrest data for youth
18    murders.  How has the youth murder rate been going?
19              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I have not seen those
20    figures.  I'll ask Burt to furnish those as soon as we
21    can.
22              QUESTION:  Do you have any way of assessing how
23    the trend toward punishing violent juveniles as adults,
24    which is an increasing trend in States, do you have any
25    way of assessing how that plays into these declining

 1    numbers?
 2              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I don't think there's
 3    any way we can quantify the contribution made by any one
 4    factor.  I think we've got to be very careful as we look
 5    at what happens when we transfer a youngster to the adult
 6    court, and it is important that we understand that it is
 7    not just the punishment, but what happens to that
 8    youngster when they get back to the community, that is
 9    going to make a difference.
10              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, if you can't really
11    quantify the impact of any one factor, can you take credit
12    for this?  Or is it the economy or --
13              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  If you've noticed, I
14    don't try to take credit.  I try to find solutions and try
15    to figure out, okay, this isn't working, this program has
16    been evaluated, it's not working, it's not having an
17    impact.  And I try to operate in all instances based on
18    common sense, that we've got to make punishment mean what
19    it says, that the punishment's got to fit the crime, but
20    that we've got to recognize that when you follow up after
21    the youngster comes back to the community by simply
22    turning them back to the apartment over the open air drug
23    market where they got into trouble in the first place,
24    that's not going to work.
25              So it's common sense, it's the mentor, that's

 1    making a difference.  I think the COPS program has made a
 2    difference.
 3              In terms of me taking credit for something, I
 4    just try to figure out what works and what doesn't work
 5    and promote it in every way that I can.
 6              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, the numbers may be going
 7    down, but there are just three cases alone this week:  the
 8    school murders yesterday in Mississippi, the murder of a
 9    businessman in New Jersey, and the murder of a kid selling
10    candy door to door.  It paints a picture more of an
11    epidemic than of a situation that's improving.
12              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I think that you have
13    just done me a very great service because, as I pointed
14    out, we cannot be satisfied by this reduction in youth
15    violence or the indicators that there is a reduction in
16    youth violence.  One crime committed by a 16 year old, one
17    crime of violence, is one crime too many.
18              But I think it's important that as you report
19    it, you report it in the larger context, because what you
20    all do tend to do sometimes is to report only the bad and
21    not the good.  By reminding people that youth violence
22    continues, and yet by looking at this, I think we can take
23    heart from the fact that there are things working, that
24    we've got to renew our efforts, that we've got to make
25    sure we balance prevention with punishment, that we make

 1    an investment in our children, an investment in
 2    supervision, in programs that work.  I think we can make a
 3    difference.
 4              So thank you for indicating that it's still very
 5    important, and let's take heart from these figures.
 6              QUESTION:  General Reno, you mentioned that the
 7    youth population is expected to go up in the next decade. 
 8    How much of this could be a reflection of the fact that
 9    it's still going down, that is the youth cohort?
10              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Ron, what I'd like to
11    do, because the figures that I've seen indicate that the
12    number of young people in the age category 12 through and
13    including 17 went down through about '92 or '93 -- I think
14    it has started up.  But I will ask Burt to get with the
15    best statisticians and confirm those figures and compare
16    with what you may have. 
17              QUESTION:  General Reno, on another matter, are
18    you going to have a decision today on whether to extend
19    the review of Vice President Gore another 60 to 90 days?
20              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I don't know when I will
21    make the decision, but I will make it after I have been
22    fully informed and considered all the facts and the law.
23              QUESTION:  Have you been fully informed by the
24    task force so far?
25              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I am asking questions as

 1    I go.
 2              QUESTION:  Have they made a recommendation to
 3    you?
 4              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment.
 5              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, given the complexity of the
 6    case, isn't it quite likely that you'll need more time?
 7              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I don't do what-if's
 8    until I get to where I have to make a decision.
 9              QUESTION:  Well, you're 24 hours -- but you're
10    24 hours from it, so it's not much of an "if" any more.
11              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I think it's important
12    that we not speculate.  I know that you've been asking
13    questions all week, but I think the time has come for us
14    to just continue the review and make the decision, and
15    I'll do that. 
16              QUESTION:  You don't want to put us out of our
17    misery?
18              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  It's not your misery.
19              QUESTION:  Is it yours?
20              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, along the same vein -- and
21    I hope this is in a form that you can answer; I realize
22    that many of these you cannot answer -- has the 30-day
23    review settled all the legal questions surrounding this
24    particular law?
25              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Again, I would not

 1    comment in terms of where we're at.
 2              QUESTION:  Just a question about the law.  If
 3    you -- once you reach this point, how does it apply in
 4    terms of the difference between a felony and a
 5    misdemeanor?  In other words, if there has to be a
 6    determination that -- can you go forward to the
 7    independent counsel if there's a determination that under
 8    prior practices it would just be a misdemeanor charge?
 9              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I again won't comment on
10    the whole process.
11              QUESTION:  What about the response that you also
12    have to make tomorrow to Chairman Hyde?  Do you expect to
13    be letting him know that you are in fact commencing a 30-
14    day inquiry into any of the issues that he's raised in his
15    letter?
16              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  We will let the letter
17    speak for itself.
18              QUESTION:  Is it going to be as detailed as the
19    letter that you wrote to both chairmen back in April?
20              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  We'll let the letter
21    speak for itself.
22              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, do you expect to do that
23    letter Friday or Monday?
24              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment on
25    the timing.

 1              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, there's a big story in the
 2    New York Times today about the Democratic Party giving
 3    some money to -- taking some money and giving it to the
 4    States as soft money and using this to circumvent,
 5    possibly, limitations on how much can be spent in a
 6    campaign.  Is that a subject that the task force is
 7    looking at?
 8              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Yes, it is.
 9              QUESTION:  Has been for some time?
10              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I referred it some time
11    ago.
12              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, back in October when Common
13    Cause first brought this to you, the facts that are laid
14    out in the New York Times story, they asked you at that
15    time to seek the appointment of an independent counsel
16    since the President was so deeply involved in developing
17    the very strategy that the New York Times is talking
18    about.  
19              Has anything about those facts changed your view
20    on whether a 30-day inquiry is needed in this set of facts
21    as laid out by the New York Times today?
22              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment.
23              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, also, way down in that
24    story, not too far down, there's about two lines that says
25    the Republican National Committee did the same thing.  You

 1    just said you were investigating the Democratic National
 2    Committee on this possible activity.  Are you
 3    investigating the Republican National Committee for the
 4    same thing?
 5              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment.
 6              QUESTION:  Can you answer a question about the
 7    way the independent counsel law works?  We all know that -
 8    - I think you told us, as a matter of fact, last week --
 9    that as far as anyone can tell there's never been a
10    prosecution under the Thayer Act -- not the Thayer Act;
11    the Pendleton Act -- for telephone solicitation.  And we
12    also know that the independent counsel says that you have
13    to factor in whether this law has ever been used in the
14    past.
15              Why isn't the fact that it's never been used
16    before not a show-stopper?
17              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Again, these are all
18    issues that I should consider and am in the process of
19    considering and will comment as appropriate.
20              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, others have referred to the
21    Pendleton Act as being constitutionally vague, that the
22    law is silent on many of the issues that you need to look
23    at.  If that's the case, how difficult is it for you, how
24    difficult is it for the task force to apply the facts to
25    the law?

 1              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I think we are in the
 2    process of doing that.  I would not comment on the
 3    difficulty, other than the comment that I made last week
 4    that it is a difficult decision. 
 5              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, back to the question of the
 6    transferring of soft money from the Democratic Party
 7    through the States for use in advertisements by both the
 8    Clinton and Gore supporters.  This is something that
 9    you've been looking at, the Justice Department's been
10    looking at, for almost a year, and the facts are there. 
11    They're in public records.  The statements by Dick Morris
12    and other participants in the meeting have been on the
13    record for some time.
14              Why, I guess, is this not resolved as a legal
15    question yet, that is whether these actions were legal or
16    not legal?
17              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would comment.
18              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, just to follow up on this,
19    was this issue taken up -- I've lost track of all the 30-
20    day reviews you've done in response to various letters. 
21    But it's my recollection that some of these issues were
22    raised last winter and spring in some of the letters that
23    you responded to with 30-day reviews.
24              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I haven't looked at the
25    letters in some time.  I'll ask Burt to give you whatever

 1    the time -- pull the letters and confirm the time.
 2              QUESTION:  But do you know if you've at some
 3    point examined this specific set of events to determine
 4    whether there was information to trigger an independent
 5    counsel process?
 6              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Again, I would not
 7    comment.
 8              QUESTION:  Would you say that this latest
 9    infusion of resources, additional staffing that you've
10    provided to the task force in the last few weeks, has
11    allowed them to focus more attention on the spending side
12    as opposed to the collection side of the Democratic
13    fundraising?  Or is there any way you can characterize any
14    change as a result of the additional manpower?
15              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment on
16    how any of the investigative or prosecutive resources are
17    being used.
18              QUESTION:  General Reno, I think one of the
19    reasons that so many people have raised questions about
20    the conduct of this investigation is not so much dealing
21    with the President and the Vice President, but the fact
22    that there have been some major identifiable figures who
23    have clearly committed some questionable acts and no
24    action has been taken against them.
25              I wonder if you can say whether the task force

 1    is closing in on any kind of major action against some of
 2    the people involved in this?
 3              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  One of the points that a
 4    prosecutor faces is how you conduct an investigation in an
 5    orderly way, that builds on one fact and then on another,
 6    with the recognition that the ultimate goal, if wrongdoing
 7    has been done, is to file charges, but, more importantly,
 8    to get a conviction.
 9              You don't get a conviction by doing things
10    hastily or in an order that does not lead to the solidest
11    case possible.  I've never ever done things based on the
12    timing of a newspaper reporter's suggestion as to how an
13    investigation should be conducted, because it would lead
14    to real trouble, since I think your goal is more "What can
15    I do for a headline?" than "What can I do to build a case
16    that will secure a conviction that will last through
17    appeal?"
18              QUESTION:  The impression was that you shook up
19    your team on this because you yourself were not satisfied
20    with the pace of things.
21              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  As I indicated
22    previously, what I have done is try to address all of the
23    issues, to make sure they have the resources to build as
24    much as I possibly can in an orderly way.
25              QUESTION:  Well, from your review of this issue,

 1    would you favor or would you support some kind of
 2    legislation that would restrict top-level U.S. Government
 3    officials from participating in campaign fundraising,
 4    insulate them from the corruptions of this kind of
 5    activity?
 6              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I don't think it's
 7    appropriate for me to comment on legislation in this
 8    context.
 9              QUESTION:  Is it fair to say that one of the
10    things you are looking at is whether, in terms of
11    evaluating what Hyde has asked you to look at, one of the
12    things you are looking at is whether or not you feel you
13    have a conflict of interest in pursuing this investigation
14    at the Justice Department?
15              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  That has always been one
16    of the issues.
17              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, a question not designed to
18    generate a headline:  What venues does the law provide for
19    somebody's who's the subject of a 30-day investigation to
20    be in contact with the Justice Department, or a 30-day
21    review?
22              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  What our policy has been
23    is to always be willing to hear from people who have
24    information or want to be heard if they are the subject of
25    an inquiry.

 1              QUESTION:  Have the Vice President's lawyers
 2    contacted the Department during this 30 days?
 3              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment on
 4    how the investigation has been conducted or what has been
 5    done in the process.
 6              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, in an effort to build a
 7    headline here --
 8              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  You?
 9              [Laughter.]
10              QUESTION:  -- Speaker Gingrich on the White
11    House lawn suggested that you should just forego this 90-
12    day preliminary investigation and go after an independent
13    counsel.  Can you even do that under the independent
14    counsel law?  Does he really know what he's talking about?
15              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Well, I didn't quite
16    hear what the Speaker had suggested, so I really could not
17    comment.  But what I am trying to do is to apply the Act,
18    make sure that I review everything as carefully as
19    possible, consider all issues.  And I will take whatever
20    time I have to do that. 
21              QUESTION:  Regardless of what Speaker Gingrich
22    said, then, under the law can you ignore the 90-day
23    preliminary investigation and seek an independent counsel?
24              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Again, it would depend
25    on the facts and the circumstances.

 1              QUESTION:  So it's possible?
 2              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  It is possible.
 3              QUESTION:  When you say you're going to take the
 4    time necessary, does that mean you're going to go right up
 5    to the deadline in each step of the process?
 6              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  If I don't need the full
 7    time, I won't do it.
 8              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, there has also been a
 9    suggestion in the last couple of weeks or so -- I guess
10    this is one that comes up from time to time -- people
11    saying, why don't we just spare ourselves the agony of
12    going through this "will she or won't she" on the
13    independent counsel question and just have a special
14    prosecutor.  You've probably seen those columns.
15              What about that?
16              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  All these points are
17    raised.  People stop me, call me, write me, say, well, did
18    you see so-and-so's column, what are you going to do about
19    that?  And I, as I've said before, try to take everybody's
20    suggestions and consider them, and then I'm going to try
21    to do what I think's right.
22              QUESTION:  Well, I've been under the impression
23    that you had kind of ruled out the idea of a special
24    prosecutor.
25              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Well, one of the points

 1    that I have made in the past is that, after I appointed
 2    Mr. Fiske in the original Whitewater investigation I was
 3    criticized because -- or it was suggested that he was not
 4    independent because I had appointed him.
 5              QUESTION:  So is that still a remote --
 6              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  One of the issues that
 7    you've got to consider in this whole process is that I
 8    continue to get comments about independent counsel,
 9    because I ultimately have -- I'm the only one that can
10    remove them.  The special division of the court can
11    appoint them, but then I can remove them.  So in that
12    instance they are ultimately not -- it could be argued
13    that they are not independent.
14              There are no precise lines, and that again is
15    part of the equation that we consider as we try to figure
16    out what's the right thing to do.
17              QUESTION:  Some people have suggested that the
18    way you've brought Mr. LaBella in is tantamount to putting
19    him in the place of one of your special counsels.  Do you
20    agree with that? 
21              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  No.  Mr. LaBella is an
22    assistant United States attorney and a Justice Department
23    lawyer of long experience and, as I said last week, what
24    I'm trying to do is rely on the resources of the Criminal
25    Division, the Public Integrity Section, and, as additional

 1    resources are needed, do as we did with the OKBOMB
 2    investigation and prosecution and rely on the resources of
 3    the Department.
 4              QUESTION:  In terms of letting us know when you
 5    have resolved one of the many legal issues that are out
 6    there, the fundamental issue of how the Democratic Party
 7    used its money in the primary is the issue of whether
 8    these were ads, candidate ads, not issue ads but candidate
 9    ads for President Clinton or for Bob Dole.  Have you
10    resolved that legal question of whether these were
11    candidate ads?
12              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Again, one of the points
13    that I have tried to make in this whole thing is I'm not
14    going to discuss how we proceed with the investigation or
15    the decisions made until we reach ultimate conclusions.
16              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, the 30-day review on the
17    Vice President's phone calls ends tomorrow.  The 30-day
18    review on the President's phone calls ends around October
19    15th.  Isn't it logical that whatever decision you make
20    tomorrow will apply to White House phone calls in general
21    and not to just the Vice President's phone calls?
22              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I don't do what-if's.  I
23    haven't made the decision yet.
24              QUESTION:  I mean, in the context of right this
25    moment isn't it logical that whatever decision it will be,

 1    it will apply to both?
 2              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  In each instance you
 3    have to look at the evidence.  The evidence is being
 4    developed.  You have to look at the law.  And the
 5    decisions when they are finally made will speak for
 6    themselves.
 7              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, on the Hyde letter, you
 8    said you wouldn't comment on the timing.  Yet there's no
 9    wiggle room, is there?  I mean, it too is due tomorrow.
10              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  My understanding is that
11    it is due tomorrow, but the suggestion was made that it
12    might be due Monday.  My understanding is that it is due
13    tomorrow.
14              QUESTION:  And you intend to meet that deadline?
15              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I always try to meet my
16    deadlines.
17              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, is the Justice Department
18    investigating Anhaueser Busch on antitrust grounds?
19              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I refer you to the
20    Antitrust Division for whatever comment that they would
21    make that is appropriate.
22              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, can we take from the time
23    and care that you've gone about considering independent
24    counsel --
25              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Can you speak just a

 1    little bit louder, please?
 2              QUESTION:  Sure.
 3              Can we take or should we take from the time and
 4    the care that you've gone about this consideration of
 5    independent counsel that you have some lack of confidence
 6    in how the independent counsel statute is working now?
 7              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I have tried to take
 8    time and care and considerable time and care in every
 9    instance in which I have considered whether an independent
10    counsel should be sought or not.
11              QUESTION:  But it doesn't reflect any lack of
12    confidence in how the statute works?
13              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  As I have indicated, I
14    think it is inappropriate for me to comment on the statute
15    itself.  I'm obligated to, and it is my duty to, implement
16    it correctly.  I have said that when I'm through with this
17    process I might have -- be in the best position to comment
18    on how the statute works and how it could be improved.
19              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, I have another process
20    question.  Everybody is acting as if there's one
21    recommendation that's going to be given to you.  Are you
22    indeed going to get one recommendation speaking in one
23    voice from the task force?  Are you going to be given a
24    list of options?  Are you going to be shown both sides of
25    the question?

 1              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Again, I'm not going to
 2    discuss how we do things.
 3              QUESTION:  Did you ever paddle a canoe upstream,
 4    General Reno?
 5              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Yes, with great
 6    difficulty.  I've also turned over once recently.
 7              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, you said that it could be
 8    argued that the three-judge panel, it could be argued that
 9    they're not independent.
10              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  No, no, that was not the
11    point that I made.  Under the independent counsel statute,
12    I petition the court for the appointment of an independent
13    counsel pursuant to the statute.  The court appoints.  But
14    under the statute I'm the only one who can remove.  And so
15    my point was that some people could argue, as they argued
16    that Fiske was not independent because I appointed him,
17    they could argue that the independent counsel is not
18    independent because I can remove him.
19              QUESTION:  Well, I didn't mean to put words in
20    your mouth, so let me make the suggestion then that, while
21    certainly some people would object that the three-judge
22    panel that makes the appointment, that while that will be
23    out of your hands, that they might not necessarily be --
24    the part of the process that makes them select the
25    independent counsel, that they might not be the most

 1    independent or objective people to make the ultimate
 2    decision.  Does that weigh in any way on your course of
 3    action?
 4              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not discuss the
 5    factors that go into my decisionmaking.
 6              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, have you given any
 7    consideration to removing anybody who's serving as an
 8    independent counsel?
 9              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I do not have anything
10    under consideration in that regard.  Again, there have
11    been press comments or press stories indicating that
12    people have sought to have me exercise that authority.
13              QUESTION:  But you're not considering doing that
14    at this time?
15              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  No, I'm not.
16              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, if I could change the
17    subject to Mr. Freeh's comments yesterday.  Do you agree
18    with the Director that Russian organized crime, the
19    Russian mafia -- that the crime problem presented is
20    really immense, not only in Russia but also with the 30
21    crime families in this country?  Do you share his
22    sentiments?
23              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  With respect to Russian
24    organized crime, I think it is an issue that law
25    enforcement is facing around the world.  I think it is

 1    important that we work together with our allies, with the
 2    Russian Government, in every way we can.
 3              QUESTION:  He said also that he took very
 4    seriously the possibility, as also was expressed by
 5    William Webster this week in the release of a report on
 6    the Russian mafia, of the possibility of nuclear weapons
 7    falling into the hands of Russian criminal gangs.  I
 8    understand also from a Post report earlier this week that
 9    the Russian mafia and the drug cartels of Colombia and
10    probably Mexico are connected in transferring weapons,
11    drugs, money.
12              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment on
13    the latter article other than to say that we constantly
14    review all our information in terms of trying to
15    understand what new patterns might be developing and how
16    we can best use the resources of the Federal Government
17    with appropriate assistance from the military in terms of
18    interdiction in the Caribbean, and we will continue to do
19    that. 
20              QUESTION:  Finally, Mr. Yablokov, formerly of
21    the Yeltsin administration, will testify in the Congress
22    today to the Weldon committee about the very real
23    likelihood that these small, one-kiloton suitcase-type
24    nuclear demolition things we've been talking about for
25    some months did actually exist, were manufactured, and in

 1    the hands of the KGB.  Are you aware of Mr. Yablokov or
 2    would you be interested in his witness?
 3              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  My understanding is that
 4    he's not testified yet.  So when he does I will look
 5    forward to hearing what he might say.
 6              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, could you tell us something
 7    about how the Vice President will learn about your
 8    decision?  Will you tell him?  Will your office tell him
 9    tomorrow?
10              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Whatever decision is
11    made will be conveyed as appropriate, through whatever
12    channels are appropriate.
13              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, on the Oklahoma City
14    bombing case.  Your feelings about the death penalty in
15    that case, should we take from that that you would not be
16    satisfied with anything less than a death penalty in this
17    case?
18              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment at
19    this stage of the proceedings.
20              QUESTION:  Might you make the decision on
21    proceeding with the 90-day investigation on Vice President
22    Gore today?
23              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I don't know when I'm
24    going to make the decision, except I'm going to make it
25    within the time limits of the statute.

 1              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, can you explain to, like,
 2    an average citizen if there's a different standard that's
 3    used in investigating the President or the Vice President,
 4    as opposed to a Cabinet member?
 5              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I don't know of any
 6    different standard.
 7              QUESTION:  Ms. Reno, one of the things that has
 8    been pointed out by various columnists over the last week
 9    is that a 90-day preliminary investigation is not a
10    conviction.  It's not even on the front doorstep of a
11    conviction.
12              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  Bravo for you all
13    pointing it out.
14              QUESTION:  I mean, is it possible that we're
15    overreacting to this whole development?
16              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  I would not comment on
17    whether anyone is overreacting or not.  But I would
18    comment -- and just put yourself in the shoes of somebody
19    who -- let's say somebody identified you as participating
20    in a bank robbery, but it really wasn't -- they didn't
21    really identify you.  They just put this piece together
22    with this piece and they said:  He must have done it.  And
23    you didn't do it and you were totally innocent.
24              It is very important for the person that has the
25    responsibility for pursuing investigations and determining

 1    whether the evidence is sufficient to prosecute or
 2    sufficient to trigger the independent counsel statute,
 3    that we do it with regards to protecting everyone involved
 4    from a wrong decision, from a decision that is not based
 5    on the evidence and the law.
 6              For as long as I have been a prosecutor, I have
 7    tried to do my level best to make sure that I work through
 8    all the statements, find out what's true, what's not true,
 9    how the law should be applied, and then make a decision. 
10    I think it is very interesting to see how the media in
11    these last several weeks is looking at the issue and I
12    think recognizing that we have got to be very careful.  We
13    must not prejudge.  We must seek the truth and we must
14    apply the truth as the law dictates.
15              QUESTION:  Let me ask you this.  Does it weigh
16    on your mind that the mere appointment of an independent
17    counsel can often politically have the consequence of
18    judging that person who's the subject of the independent
19    counsel investigation guilty in the eyes of many people
20    and can have damaging consequences?
21              ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO:  What I try to do is
22    follow the law.  Whether you seek the appointment of an
23    independent counsel or even announce that you're
24    investigating, or if you file charges, all of those have
25    an impact, whether it be on an officeholder or on the

 1    average citizen. 
 2              A kid 18 years old wrongfully charged with a
 3    crime, that has a terrible impact on his life.  And
 4    whether you're dealing with an officeholder or dealing
 5    with just an average citizen, what we do has such an
 6    impact and it is so important that we do it right.  I'm
 7    going to continue to try my level best to see that we do
 8    it the right way.
 9              Thank you.
10              [End of press conference at 10:02 a.m.]