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Gore Questioned In Funds Probe

Vice President Gore has been interviewed in the Justice Department's preliminary investigation of whether he and President Clinton illegally benefited from campaign ads by the Democratic Party in the 1996 elections.

Justice Department investigators interviewed Gore Wednesday after talking to Clinton on Monday.

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"The Vice President voluntarily agreed to the interview and will continue to cooperate fully, as he has done in the past, with the Justice Department's examination," Gore's lawyers said in a statement.

The interview at the vice president's residence focused on the "Democratic National Committee issue ads," the statement added.

Attorney General Janet Reno is to decide by Dec. 7 whether to ask a special panel of three federal appeals court judges to appoint an independent counsel in the matter.

If she does, Clinton will be the first president to be investigated by two separate independent counsels.

Reno began a 90-day inquiry in September into whether Clinton and Gore benefited illegally by coordinating Democratic issue ads to assist their re-election, thereby violating federal spending limits.

Both the White House and the Democratic National Committee have previously denied any wrongdoing.

The review arose from a preliminary Federal Election Commission report that concluded the Clinton-Gore campaign violated rules governing issue advocacy ads.

FEC auditors are said to have recommended that the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign be required to repay $13.4 million in federal matching funds received during the 1996 primaries.

The Clinton-Gore inquiry is the third separate 90-day review under way related to campaign fund raising. An separate investigation of Gore focuses on whether he truthfully described to federal investigators his understanding of how campaign finance laws applied to fund-raising activities he undertook two years ago.

An investigation of former senior White House aide Harold Ickes is delving into whether he made false statements to a Senate committee about the administration's dealings with the Teamsters union.

Written by PETE YOST

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