Reagan, Meese Back Fund-Raising Effort For Weinberger
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former President Reagan and ex-Attorney General Edwin Meese III are supporting a fund-raising effort for Caspar Weinberger, who faces a Jan. 5 trial on five felony charges in the Iran-Contra scandal.
Iran-Contra prosecutors have been looking into Reagan’s and Meese’s roles in the scandal for most of this year, although prosecutors told Reagan last month he is classified as a ″witness″ in their investigation and does not face indictment, according to Reagan’s lawyer.
Reagan and former presidents Ford and Nixon are the honorary co-chairmen of a Sept. 23 reception for former Weinberger, a former secretary of defense.
Meese is one of 80 ″Friends of Caspar Weinberger″ listed on the invitation, along with several others whose names have come up in the Iran- Contra affair.
Among them: Elliott Abrams, who pleaded guilty on Oct. 7, 1991 to withholding information from Congress. He was placed on two years probation.
Reagan’s lawyer, Theodore Olson, said Tuesday he understands that people at the reception in a Washington hotel will be ″encouraged to make contributions to support″ Weinberger’s legal defense.
Meese said ″I certainly would be happy to contribute″ to Weinberger’s legal defense.
″I think the invitation speaks for itself; a lot of people including three former presidents are honoring Cap Weinberger,″ said Meese.
Meese is a ″subject″ in the continuing Iran-Contra probe - someone whose activities fall within the scope of a grand jury investigation.
″The investigation is in its final phase, but I cannot comment on anyone’s status in that probe and it wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone in this office to comment on fund-raising efforts on behalf of defendants,″ said Mary Belcher, a spokeswoman for the office of independent counsel Lawrence Walsh. Walsh has been investigating the Iran-Contra scandal for 5 1/2 years.
Co-chairmen for the event include Henry Kissinger, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, former Sen. Paul Laxalt and former national security advisers Frank Carlucci and William Clark.