Reno landed very early in hot water with the White House for rejecting a reimagined government proposal that Gore staff was pushing to merge the FBI and DEA. She listened intently to both sides and dismissed the idea.
“It was one of the main tensions. They wanted to do great things, ”Stern recalls.
Reno’s independence proved both irritating and beneficial to the Clinton White House. While the multitude of independent advice she sought brought political heartburn to her, her estrangement from Clinton made it easier for her to resist criticism from the GOP when she repeatedly refused to name one to investigate. on fundraising violations by Democrats in the 1996 presidential race.
This fight would have been particularly hard to miss for Garland, both before and after he stepped down as Gorelick’s deputy.
Indeed, the very day the Senate confirmed it to the DC Circuit in March 1997, the first order of business was a resolution requiring Reno to seek independent attorney to investigate reports of illegal fundraising from foreign sources.
The Senate debate came about a month after it was revealed that President Bill Clinton invited major Democratic donors to stay in the Lincoln chamber and that Clinton specifically approved such invitations for people who donated 100 $ 000 or more.
Reno’s first federal prosecutor to investigate election-related matters said Garland’s role in handling these politically explosive tasks under Reno left him well placed to tackle similar issues the Department of Justice is facing. is now faced.
“It would be impossible for him not to have learned from what he observed,” said Chuck LaBella, the former US prosecutor in San Diego. “I think Reno was good at being an attorney general, don’t get me wrong, but I think he’s in a much better location.
LaBella, who Reno hired to lead the high-level campaign finance task force, said Garland comes into office with a lot more knowledge of how things work in Washington.
“Garland has a support mechanism in Washington and around the country, because of the experience Reno didn’t have,” LaBella said.