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The BBC's Nick Bryant in Washington
"For Al Gore the timing could have hardly been worse"
 real 28k

Friday, 23 June, 2000, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Reno rejects pressure over Gore inquiry
Al Gore
Gore "didn't know" his supporters had breached regulations
The US Attorney-General Janet Reno has said she will not be pressured by leaks into deciding whether to appoint a special council to investigate the Vice-President, Al Gore.

On Thursday, it was revealed that a prosecutor in her justice department had recommended that a council should be appointed to look into Mr Gore's fund-raising activities during the 1996 election campaign.

If we let people think that because they leak something, they can pressure us into decisions, that just won't work

Janet Reno

The allegations against the vice president surround telephone calls he made from the White House and a visit to a Buddhist temple where illegal funds were raised by one of his supporters.

Government officials have said the central issue is whether Mr Gore lied when questioned about this by a Justice Department task force some weeks ago.

Mounting pressure

Ms Reno has already twice turned down recommendations to investigate the vice president.

At her weekly news conference, she said she would not be forced into a decision this time by leaks and newspaper headlines.

US Attorney General Janet Reno
Reno refuses to 'dribble out information piece by piece'

"I don't want to present half facts," she said. "I don't want to present a piece here and a piece there that may not be subsequently corroborated. I want to do it the right way."

A BBC correspondent in Washington says the appointment of a special council would be a political disaster for Al Gore, whose presidential campaign has already been criticised as lacklustre.

Public opinion polls currently show Mr Gore lagging behind his republican opponent, Texas governor George W. Bush.

Mr Gore has denied knowing that his supporters solicited political donations, but the task force reportedly recommended that Mr Gore should be investigated more closely.

Tired of scandals

Ms Reno is said to be launching an investigation to find out how the recommendation was leaked.

President Bill Clinton has also been questioned about the alleged fund-raising abuses.

US President Bill Clinton
Gore has been trying to distance himself from the Clinton scandals

Correspondents say Mr Gore has been trying hard to gain credit for the prosperity of the Clinton era, while distancing himself from its scandals.

But Mr Bush has made the fund-raising activity a campaign issue.

"The American people are tired of all these scandals and investigations and the best way to make them go away is to elect someone new and different," a spokesman for Mr Bush, Scott McCellen, said after reports of the recommendation broke on Thursday.

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See also:

25 Jan 00 | Profiles
Al Gore: Groomed for power
06 Jan 00 | Parties
The Democratic Party
06 Jan 00 | Parties
The Republican Party
14 Jan 00 | Vote USA 2000
Q&A: Big bucks politics
22 Apr 00 | Americas
Clinton quizzed in funding probe
24 Mar 00 | Americas
Probe over White House e-mails
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