Walsh Wants Thousands Of Justice Department Records
WASHINGTON (AP) _ In what one administration official calls ″a kitchen sink request,″ independent counsel Lawrence Walsh is asking for thousands of documents gathered by the Justice Department in its Iran-Contra investigation.
Two officials, who demanded anonymity, on Tuesday night disclosed Walsh’s request for papers relating to investigative efforts in both the Iran arms sales and diversion of funds.
Today, Terry Eastland, a Justice Department spokesman, said the independent counsel is seeking ″extensive″ amounts of records, saying ″we’re doing our best to comply ... very promptly.″
″Since December, we have been cooperating to the fullest with the independent counsel,″ added Eastland.
The latest document request does not represent an expansion of Walsh’s investigation, two federal law enforcement sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said today. Rather, the request is in line with Walsh’s intention from the earliest days of his probe last year to review the conduct by top department officials as it pertains to both the arms sales to Iran and diversion of funds to the Contras, said the sources.
Walsh made the written request within the last two weeks. Justice Department personnel have been collecting investigative files, phone message slips, private notebooks and other internal records for immediate turnover to the independent counsel’s office.
Much of the request for the production of records focuses on last November’s weekend fact-finding inquiry by Attorney General Edwin Meese III into the Iran arms sales, which led to the discovery that money had been diverted to the Contras.
One of the administration officials said Walsh has requested material dating back as far as last October.
The official who called it ″a kitchen sink request″ said the written request does not spell out what possible improprieties are being investigated.
One of the officials said the way the request is phrased might suggest that Walsh is exploring some of the avenues pursued by the Iran-Contra congressional investigating committees. Those panels are focusing on the fact that Meese openly discussed plans for his weekend inquiry last November with then-national security adviser John Poindexter.
There was widespread destruction of documents at National Security Council offices by NSC aide Oliver L. North after Meese opened the inquiry, according to congressional testimony.
The congressional committees are expected to question Meese about his handling of that inquiry when the attorney general testifies before Congress next week.