Friday, November 4, 2005

The Never-Ending Independent Counsel Investigation

Now more than ten years old, the Independent Counsel investigation of former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros may finally be over.  An order issued by the D.C. Circuit (here) states, "Specifically, the Court orders that the Independent Counsel, with all deliberate speed, prepare for release and make release of the now pending Final Report, except for that portion designated as Section V."  Section V contains grand jury material that the D.C. Circuit found should not be released. 

David Barrett was appointed in May 1995 to investigate whether Cisneros made a false statement in his FBI background investigation regarding payments made to his mistress.  Cisneros ultimately entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI in December 1997. One would have thought the IC's office would have closed-up shop shortly thereafter, but instead the investigation dragged on well into the next administration to check into allegations of obstruction of justice related to an IRS investigation of Cisneros.  Information about that portion of the investigation is in Section V, the portion that is not to be publicly released -- at least until it is leaked, because this is Washington D.C., after all.  IC Barrett's final acts are to file his report, and then deal with the inevitable attorney's fees requests, including those related to responding to the final report.  Here's one possibility regarding that final report: ignore it, because no one cares any more about a stale investigation that should have ended years ago.  And people thought Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation took a long time. A St. Petersburg Times article (here) discusses the IC investigation. (ph)

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