Federal Judge Richard Cudahy is part of a panel that oversees the Independent Counsel's office investigating President Clinton. Cudahy acknowledged in a statement that he "inadvertently" referred to the grand jury investigation in response to a reporter's questions.
Independent Counsel Robert Ray confirmed Friday that he has empaneled a grand jury to resume the investigation of the Lewinsky affair.
Cudahy, a veteran jurist appointed to the bench by President Carter in 1979, said the reporter had 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," he said.
Cudahy 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 his 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.
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 Chicago, agreed with the order issued this week.