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Judge Was Source Of Clinton Leak

President Clinton pauses a moments after answering a question where he talked about forgiveness for his role in the Monica Lewinsky affair during a candid question and answer session with Senior Pastor Bill Hybels at the Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit in South Barrington, Ill., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2000
AP
A federal judge says he inadvertently released to the press the fact that Independent Counsel Robert Ray has impaneled a new grand jury to resume the investigation of President Clinton's conduct in the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Appellate Court Judge Richard D. Cudahy, one of three judges on the panel that supervises Ray, said in a statement that it was he who disclosed the information. He said it occurred in a conversation with a reporter who called to ask about the panel's decision to grant an extension to Ray's investigation.

In a statement of his own, Ray said the disclosure was a setback: "The timing of yesterday's disclosure of the existence of a grand jury considering evidence in the Lewinsky investigation undermines our ability to complete this matter in a prompt, responsible, and cost-effective manner."

Judge Cudahy, a veteran jurist appointed to the bench by President Carter in 1979, said that "the timing resulted solely from the press inquiry following on the issuance of the special division's order."

While discussing the extension, which was released Thursday by the three-judge panel, "the judge inadvertently referred to the existence of a newly empaneled grand jury," Cudahy's statement said. "This fact, previously undisclosed, has led to considerable controversy, based on its timing."

Indeed, Democrats criticized the timing of the legal developments involving President Clinton because they were made public on the day Vice President Al Gore was accepting his party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention.

Cudahy on Friday disclosed his role, "with apologies to all concerned," said
the statement released by Cudahy's office. He came forward because of "the nature of the controversy," the statement said.

In a statement given to reporters in Lake Placid, where Clinton is vacationing with his family, presidential spokesman Jake Siewert said: "Wherever the information came from, even after $50 million, an 800-page report and proceedings before both houses of Congress, the independent counsel seems to want this investigation to go on and on and on. The American people have put this behind them, and they must be wondering why the independent counsel can't do the same."

The Associated Press first reported the new grand jury on Thursday, citing legal sources. On Friday, the three-judge panel, at Ray's request, authorized to Ray to make public letters to the court that confirmed the existence of the grand jury.

Kelly Smith Tunney, director of corporate communications for The Associated Press, said, "We are aware of the judge's statement, but we don't discuss reporter's sources."

Cudahy was the lone dissenting voice a year ago when the panel decided to let Ray go ahead with the probe, saying "an endless investigation" served no goal and imposed a needless burden on taxpayers. The judge, based in Chicao, agreed with the order issued this week.