Candidates for No. 2 job at Justice Dept. emerge

January 30, 1994|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- A Pentagon lawyer and a former federal prosecutor have emerged as front-runners for the No. 2 job at the Justice Department, Clinton administration officials said yesterday.

Jamie S. Gorelick, who as general counsel is the Pentagon's top lawyer, and Charles F. C. Ruff, a former U.S. attorney here, head a list of contenders for the job of deputy attorney general, the officials said. Philip B. Heyman abruptly resigned Thursday as Attorney General Janet Reno's chief aide.

Ms. Reno forced Mr. Heymann's departure, holding him responsible for the disarray and drift at the department. Her aides said she is looking for a successor with solid managerial skills to control the agency's bulging portfolio of investigations and criminal justice issues.

These aides said that Ms. Reno would be pleased with either Mr. Ruff, her original choice for the deputy's job, or Ms. Gorelick, who was brought in by the Clinton White House to guide Ms. Reno through her confirmation hearings in 1993 after the first two nominees for attorney general fell from contention.

But the officials cautioned that the appointment of either Ms. Gorelick or Mr. Ruff could raise potential problems for the administration that may ultimately eliminate both from contention.

Mr. Ruff's name was not put forward the first time around after he disclosed that he had failed to pay Social Security taxes on a one-day-a-week housekeeper. Some administration officials predict that the issue could once again damage Mr. Ruff's chances, even though he has corrected the problem.

But others said the issue of household workers had run its course, pointing to the nomination of Bobby Inman, who was selected as defense secretary though he had a similar problem. Though expected to be easily confirmed, Mr. Inman withdrew from the nomination for other reasons.

In Ms. Gorelick's case, some Justice Department officials have expressed concern that she lacks broad experience in criminal law necessary for the deputy's job.

Other administration officials said they were fearful that moving her to the Justice Department would create further disruptions at the Pentagon.

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