Freeh-for-all

Freeh-for-all

Freeh-for-all

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
Dec. 8 1997 7:25 AM

Freeh-for-all

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and the Los Angeles Times lead with new congressional pressure on the Department of Justice regarding campaign fund-raising investigations. The New York Times leads with the changing role of the International Monetary Fund. And the Washington Post leads with President Clinton's appearance at a Washington, D.C. church during which he called for greater independence for the District, remarks criticized by many local politicians for not including a call for voting rights for the city.

USAT reports that Rep. Dan Burton says that his investigating committee may have to cite Janet Reno for contempt if she doesn't turn over a memo written to her by FBI director Louis Freeh. In it, to no avail, Freeh explained why she should appoint an independent counsel to look into Clinton campaign fund-raising. And USAT and the LAT report that Sen. Orrin Hatch plans on asking Freeh to open up his own investigation of these matters independent of Reno's. Meanwhile, says USAT, Sen. Fred Thompson will ask Justice to consider perjury charges against at least six witnesses who testified at his fund-raising hearings this past summer. The WP also has a front-page piece concerning these developments.

The NYT lead points out that last week's IMF bailout package for South Korea is the latest example of how the Fund is pushing deeper than ever into the day-to-day operations of the economies it aids. Chastened by compliance difficulties surrounding recent IMF loans to Russia and Indonesia, says the paper, for the Korea bailout, Fund officials won concessions to many detailed provisions covering the cronyish connections among the government and the country's major industrial conglomerates.

The Wall Street Journal's lead feature notes that the latest global economic developments challenge the widely-held view that an emphasis on short-term performance weakens an economy. The piece claims that the U.S.'s strong growth in the 1990s and the collapse of one long-term-oriented Asian financial system (where, unlike here, banks and not financial markets are the primary source of capital) after another show quite the contrary. Another WSJ front-page piece notes that while the current economic differential between the U.S. and the leading Asian economies will amp our trade deficit somewhat, few think the Asian crisis will derail America's current economic expansion--because the other major legs of the economy, like consumer confidence, business profits and government expenditures, are robust.

The NYT runs a front-page interview-based piece on President Clinton , the follow-on to a presidential chat piece that ran yesterday. The Sunday effort dwelt on the personal side of Clinton's life nowadays: his knee injury, his hearing aids, his love of golf, his empty nest. Today's installment concerns domestic policy, specifically the series of modest initiatives he has put together since failing to sell wholesale health care reform. Among the piecemeal efforts the Times lauds are insuring overnight hospital stays for new mothers, school uniforms, cell phones for citizen neighborhood patrols, keeping liquor ads off the airwaves, restricting tobacco sales, creating a national registry for sex offenders, and suspending the driver's licenses of deadbeat dads.

Amid all the hand-wringing (especially on the sports pages) about whether Latrell Sprewell has been dealt with too harshly comes the voice of reason in the form of a letter to the NYT, which points out that if Sprewell had a real job, he'd be looking at permanent unemployment and criminal prosecution.

Al Kamen's WP column looks into a complaint that California congressman Bill Thomas was recently spotted driving like a jerk on Capitol Hill. In the course of his investigation, Kamen learns that Thomas has a Porsche and a BMW, which causes him to ask exactly the right question: "Just how big was that last raise for Congress?"