(CNSNews.com) - Attorney General Janet Reno announced Wednesday she will not name a special counsel to investigate statements Vice President Al Gore made about his 1996 campaign fundraising tactics.
Speaking at her weekly Washington news briefing, Reno said, "because further investigation is not likely to result in a prosecutable case under applicable criminal law and principles of federal prosecution, I have concluded that a special counsel is not warranted."
Reno's decision marks the third time she has decided not to follow the recommendations of high-ranking law enforcement officials to investigate Gore's controversial campaign finance activities, including the infamous luncheon at a Buddhist temple in California, where monks and nuns who had taken a vow of poverty, were used as conduits for illegal donations that totaled $60,000. Gore has repeatedly denied that he knew money was being raised at the temple event.
"The transcript reflects neither false statements nor perjury, each of which requires proof of a willfully false statement about a material matter. Rather, the transcript reflects disagreements about labels. I have concluded that there is no real possibility that further investigation could develop evidence that would support the filing of charges for making a willful, false statement," Reno said.
However, Reno did not close off the possibility of the Justice Department taking further action.
"The task force, will, of course, continue its ongoing investigation into illegal fundraising activity and will be free to pursue all avenues of investigation wherever they may lead," Reno said.
Published reports said Robert Conrad, head of that task force, had urged Reno to name a special prosecutor to determine whether the Vice President lied about whether he knew the Buddhist temple event was a fundraiser.
Reno denied those reports.
"Today, Bob Conrad has been tagged with being the only person in the Justice Department who thought I should appoint a special counsel. Although I am not going to get into who recommended what, I can tell you that that is not correct," Reno said.
Republican Presidential candidate George W Bush reacted by saying it's time for a new team.
"While it's clear that Al Gore engaged in a number of questionable fund raising activities and gave the FBI statements that continue to raise the issue of his credibility, the American people are sick and tired of all these scandals and investigations. The best way to put all these scandals and investigations behind us is to elect someone new. I'm running to uphold the honor and dignity of the White House," Bush said in a statement.