Whitewater probe to get a separate grand jury in Ark.

February 17, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Special counsel Robert Fiske Jr. persuaded a federal judge yesterday to convene a separate grand jury to investigate the allegations surrounding President Clinton's investment in the Whitewater Development Corp.

After a 40-minute meeting with Mr. Fiske, U.S. District Judge Stephen Reasoner ruled that a new grand jury should be impaneled to work exclusively on the Whitewater case because the one now sitting in Little Rock is not prepared to continue long enough to hear the evidence in the case.

The move underscores the considerable scope and length of the probe that the special counsel is preparing to undertake.

Judge Reasoner noted that the 23-member grand jury now impaneled meets only two or three days a month. Its 18-month term will expire in May, when a new jury will be named to continue hearing other routine federal cases.

He said that because most of the current grand jurors opposed having their terms extended so that they could hear the Whitewater case, the formation of a second grand jury is justified.

Mr. Fiske, a New York attorney, was appointed last month by Attorney General Janet Reno and assigned to examine the investment Mr. Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, made with James and Susan McDougal in a northwestern Arkansas real estate development project known as Whitewater.

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