OIC's Ray Defends Decision

Tuesday, August 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Granting that the nation is tired of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, independent counsel Robert W. Ray wrote in an op-ed piece Tuesday that his decision to impanel a new grand jury to consider criminal charges against President Clinton was not partisan and was done to speed the case to a conclusion.

Ray, writing in The Washington Post, said forming the grand jury ``now rather than later'' was done to prevent the matter from hanging over the head of the next president. Waiting, he said, ``would have prevented me from resolving this case promptly after the president leaves office, something I promised I would do.''

News of the new grand jury was first reported by The Associated Press two weeks ago on the day of Vice President Al Gore's presidential nomination acceptance speech, prompting Democrats to complain that Ray's motives were political in this election season. The grand jury was impaneled July 11.

Ray had said at the time that the disclosure actually was a setback to his investigation. In the op-ed piece, he noted that his office had been condemned for the leak when in fact it was later revealed that a Democratically appointed judge was the source of the story.

``Many who so quickly rushed to judgment realized their error and have now reconsidered their evaluation of this office, for which I am grateful,'' Ray wrote.

Ray said he would be faithful to his oath to carry out the job of deciding whether Clinton committed perjury or other crimes responsibly and fairly, and without partisan concerns. He said no decision about whether to ask the grand jury to return an indictment had been made.

``I am bound by the oath I took to consider whether criminal charges should be brought against the president once he leaves office, weary though the country may be of the subject. ... Resolution of these matters must not be left to hang over the next president's term, to his or the nation's detriment,'' Ray wrote. ``Continuing the criminal process by impaneling a grand jury cannot credibly be dismissed as a partisan endeavor.''

``I hope the public eventually will accept that the decision to come will be made in the right way and for the right reasons,'' Ray wrote.