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Highlights Of Meese’s Legal Problems

July 6, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Here is a rundown of the legal problems that have faced Attorney General Edwin Meese III in recent years. July 26, 1983

White House counsel Fred F. Fielding begins reviewing allegations that Meese, then White House counselor, and Michael Deaver, who at the time was White House deputy chief of staff, received $118,000 in loans arranged by John R. McKean, a tax accountant who later was appointed to the Postal Service board of governors. Sept. 27, 1983

An Army inspector general finds that Meese’s promotion to colonel in the Army Reserve violated certain procedures, but said no evidence was found of use of ″undue influence.″ The investigative report recommended against revoking Meese’s promotion. Meese’s promotion was approved by Maj. Gen. William R. Berkman, whose reappointment as chief of the Army Reserve was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 24, 1983. On that same day, the Senate approved the promotion of Meese to colonel. March 27, 1984

Attorney General William French Smith asks for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate allegations against Meese, who had recently been nominated to be French’s successor. The investigation was prompted by reports that Meese failed to list on his financial disclosure form an interest-free $15,000 loan his wife received from Edwin Thomas. Thomas, his wife and son were appointed to federal jobs. The investigation also would look into other transactions, including the loan from McKean. April 5, 1984

Senate investigators begin looking into Meese’s failure to report reimbursements he received for more than 30 trips he took as White House counselor. One day later, former President Ford suggests that Meese should resign, although Ford says he does not believe Meese has broken any laws. Sept. 20, 1984

Special prosecutor Jacob A. Stein concludes that he has found no basis for prosecuting Meese for ethical mistakes, and a three-judge panel accepts the counsel’s report. Stein had investigated 11 allegations concerning Meese, including charges that Meese played a role in awarding government jobs to Thomas and his family in exchange for a $15,000 interest-free loan. Jan. 28, 1985

Two Office of Government Ethics staff members conclude that Meese, then attorney general-designate, violated federal conflict-of-interest rules, but the agency director overrules them. The preliminary finding was changed after Meese’s lawyers submitted a rebuttal. The staff report found violations involving two individuals who helped Meese financially and received high government jobs.

After considerable debate, the Senate votes to confirm Meese and he is sworn in as attorney general on Feb. 25, 1985. Nov. 25, 1986

Meese announces that the United States secretly sold weapons to Iran and profits of between $10 million and $30 million were diverted to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels. National security adviser John M. Poindexter resigns and NSC aide Lt. Col. Oliver L. North is fired. Dec. 18, 1986

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility investigates Meese’s decision to delay an FBI probe of an airline involved in Iranian arms deals and weapons shipments to the Nicaraguan rebels. The Justice Department says Poindexter asked Meese in October to delay the inquiry of Southern Air Transport, formerly owned by the CIA. The FBI assists in investigating the 10- day delay. Jan. 7, 1987

The Justice Department requests an independent counsel to investigate allegations that former White House aide Lyn Nofziger may have violated federal ethics laws by lobbying for the Wedtech Corp., a defense contractor, shortly after leaving public office in 1983. The decision requesting a counsel is made by a deputy to Meese, who removed himself from considering the request because he knows Nofziger. April 6, 1987

Meese acknowledges that he intervened on behalf of Wedtech to ensure that it got a fair hearing from the Army in its effort to win the engine contract. Meese also says his friend and former lawyer, E. Robert Wallach, sent him a series of memorandums in 1981 and 1982 discussing Wedtech. May 1, 1987

The chairmen of the Senate and House judiciary committees ask James McKay, the independent counsel, whether he can expand his criminal investigation to include Meese’s involvement with Wedtech. May 11, 1987

Meese asks the special prosecutor investigating Nofziger’s ties to Wedtech to include him in the investigation. Meese also announces that he has terminated his financial partnership with W. Franklyn Chinn. In February, Chinn was forced to resign from the Wedtech board because of allegedly questionable financial transactions. June 28, 1987

Sources familiar with the grand jury investigation into the Iran-Contra affair tell The Associated Press that White House aides who complained that Lt. Col. Oliver North may have been violating the law were told Meese had approved North’s actions.

The sources also said Meese and North held meetings on a regular basis before the Iran-Contra affair unraveled. The Justice Department says Meese gave no legal clearance for North’s activities. June 30, 1987

The Office of Government Ethics says Meese violated financial disclosure requirements after investing $60,000 with Chinn. The agency’s director said Meese voluntarily invested the money in 1985 under an arrangement that fails to qualify as a blind trust under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. Aug. 4, 1987

The General Accounting Office charges that Meese failed to properly disclose the assets held, purchased and sold by a business partnership formed by Meese and his wife. Meese responded that any mistakes were inadvertent. Oct. 15, 1987

Investigators looking into Meese’s activities as White House counselor widened their probe to include his actions in connection with a friend’s efforts to secure government backing for a pipeline project, sources report. Jan. 7, 1988

The independent counsel investigation of Meese was extended to include charges that he may have had a conflict of interest when he met with the heads of regional telephone companies to discuss legal restrictions on their firms at a time he and his wife still owned telephone stock. Jan. 29, 1988

A memo to Meese from Wallach cited a plan to bribe a top Israeli official to keep Israel from interfering with the $1 billion Iraqi oil pipeline project, sources familiar with a criminal investigation of Meese said. Feb. 1, 1988

Meese said he didn’t recall reading the portion of the memo from Wallach on the Iraqi pipeline project that refers to the payoff plan. Feb. 22, 1988

Wallach’s Sept. 25, 1985 memo to Meese, in which the pipeline payment plan is outlined, was publicly released. It stated that a portion of the money paid to Israel would go directly to the Israeli Labor Party but that the diversion ″would be denied everywhere.″ Feb. 24, 1988

Meese and the late CIA Director William Casey supported a plan to make secret payments out of the Pentagon budget to gain Israel’s support of the pipeline, The Washington Post reported. Meese’s lawyers denied he knew of the Pentagon payment proposal. March 1, 1988

A majority report from a Senate subcommittee said Meese’s investment manager, Chinn, allocated stock-trading profits to Meese’s brokerage accounts under a procedure that Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said raises questions of ″possible financial favors or gifts″ to the Cabinet member. March 28, 1988

McKay widened the probe by subpoenaing payroll records and other documents of the Washington chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in connection with a $40,000 a year job Meese’s wife, Ursula, got with the charity in 1985, sources disclose. Investigators are examining Wallach’s role in helping Mrs. Meese get the job. March 29, 1988

Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns, the No. 2 official in the department, and Assistant Attorney General William Weld, who oversaw all federal criminal investigations, quit along with four of their aides, telling associates that Meese’s legal problems hampered the operation of the department. April 1, 1988

McKay announced he had found insufficient evidence to date to warrant indicting Meese. Meese said he was ″gratified by the action and the statement″ and would not step aside. April 11, 1988

One of Meese’s lawyers said Meese discussed giving Wallach a key Justice Department job a week or so before Meese was informed that Wallach had come under criminal investigation in the Wedtech scandal. April 14, 1988

A real estate developer whose family paid the salary of Mrs. Meese was granted a $50 million lease renewal on a building the government said risked the health and safety of Justice Department workers, records showed. April 21, 1988

Meese was summoned to a private meeting with Reagan at the White House after Reagan met with Burns and Weld, who left the Justice Department in protest over Meese’s continued tenure. April 22, 1988

Reagan said Meese should not resign and the Justice Department is running ″just fine.″ April 28, 1988

White House chief of staff Howard Baker warned top-level aides to Reagan that they could lose their jobs if discovered planting stories calculated to increase pressure for Meese’s resignation, an administration source said. May 3, 1988

The Office of Government Ethics launched an investigation into a letter signed by Meese and sent to 30,000 people encouraging them to attend a conference in Japan. May 4, 1988

Meese and his former White House deputy violated White House ethics rules on government contracts, resulting in ″improper favoritism″ for Wedtech, according to a bipartisan report from the Senate subcommittee on oversight of government management. May 16, 1988

Meese fired Terry Eastland, the Justice Department’s chief spokesman, for allegedly not defending him aggressively enough. The head of Meese’s speech- writing unit then abruptly handed in his resignation. May 25, 1988

Meese was told by conservative congressmen in a meeting that his legal troubles were causing ″political damage″ to the Republican Party and the candidacy of George Bush. June 23, 1988

Meese was subpoenaed as a defense witness for the racketeering trial of Biaggi and six others accused of corruption in the Wedtech scandal. June 28, 1988

The Justice Department acknowledged Meese had removed himself from all decision-making in the defense bribery investigation because his own lawyers were representing clients involved in the case. July 5, 1988

McKay ended his 14-month-long criminal investigation of Meese with no indictment, but rather a sealed, 830-page report that could lead to a separate, administrative review of his fitness for office. Meese announced he will resign in late July or early August, saying the conclusion of the investigation without an indictment makes it clear ″there is no basis for criminal proceedings.″

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