FBI chief assails report saying he abused office Trips, fence, car among violations

January 20, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- FBI Director William S. Sessions yesterday dismissed as riddled with "errors in fact and mistaken conclusions" a highly critical Department of Justice report that accused him of using his office for personal gain.

In a three-page statement, drawn up with the help of his private attorneys, Mr. Sessions said that he had conducted himself "in accordance with the law and with uncompromised ethical standards" and that he "will continue to do so."

By rejecting the results of the investigation, which were accepted by former Attorney General William P. Barr on his last day in office Friday, Mr. Sessions was in the highly unusual position of challenging the orders of his immediate superior.

Among its key findings, the 161-page report said that Mr. Sessions set up official engagements to justify charging the government for personal trips; improperly billed the FBI nearly $10,000 for a wooden fence around his home; spent almost eight times the $5,000 limit to redecorate his FBI office; participated in a "sham" to avoid paying taxes on the value of his limousine service, and violated counterintelligence regulations by giving two Russian Kirov Ballet dancers a ride in an FBI car and failing to report the contact.

The report also cited Sessions for refusing to turn over documents pertaining to the $375,000 mortgage for his Washington home, which investigators suspect involved a "sweetheart deal." Mr. Sessions said that he was following the advice of his attorneys and called the inquiry "totally unwarranted."

"There seemed to be no end to the search into my privacy," he said.

James R. Phelps, Mr. Sessions' lawyer, said that he would consult with his client before discussing whether the FBI director intended to obey Mr. Barr's orders to turn over the mortgage documents and reimburse the government for back taxes and unwarranted expenses. Mr. Phelps said there seemed to be no avenue for appealing the findings of the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility.

But he acknowledged that Mr. Sessions could seek a reprieve from incoming President Bill Clinton or Attorney General-designate Zoe Baird, if she is confirmed.

In his statement, Mr. Sessions said that the investigation "has been conducted without the barest elements of fairness and marked by press leaks calculated to defame me."

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