Ralph Lancaster is investigating allegations that Labor Secretary Alexis Herman was involved in influence peddling. The allegations were leveled by a former partner of a Herman associate.
Two Lancaster aides joined in the questioning. Two Clinton private attorneys and three lawyers from the White House Counsel's office were also there. The White House declined to release any details of the interview, and did not provide advance notice of it.
The investigation centers on allegations that Herman, before joining the Cabinet, engaged in influence-peddling and solicited $250,000 in illegal campaign contributions. She has denied the allegations, and the president has expressed confidence in her.
Herman's accuser is Laurent Yene, a Cameroon citizen doing business in the United States. He told the Justice Department that Herman, while a White House aide, had an agreement to receive a 10 percent kickback for aiding the clients of International Investments and Business Development, a company co-owned by Herman's close friend, Vanessa Weaver, and by Yene, according to information released earlier by Attorney General Janet Reno.
He also claimed Herman directed Weaver to solicit campaign contributions to the Democratic National Committee from the company's clients, one of whom was a foreign national and thus barred from contributing to U.S. election campaigns. These donations were allegedly to facilitate favorable government action on the clients' business.
After reviewing numerous bank-account and other documents and more than 100 interviews, including some with Herman, Reno said her investigators "uncovered financial transactions potentially corroborative of Yene's allegations which require further investigation."
Reno has described Herman as fully cooperative with the investigation.
Along with the Starr investigation, CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer points out, it's one of the last independent counsel cases still under way. Prior to becoming labor secretary, Herman served as head of the White House Office of Public Liaison.