Meese Doesn’t See Resignation Now, Won’t Rule Out Future
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Attorney General Edwin Meese III said Thursday he meets the highest ethical standards expected of public officials and knows of no factor ″right now that would cause me to resign.″
But the attorney general, in an interview published in Friday’s editions of USA Today, did not rule out resigning before the end of President Reagan’s term.
″I’ve never set a particular limit of how long I would stay or how long I wouldn’t stay. A lot would depend upon my own post-federal service employment situation and so on,″ he said.
Meese said he does not believe he is a liability either to the administration or to the presidential bid of Vice President George Bush.
″I don’t feel that I’m tainted - I feel that there have been false accusations and false charges,″ Meese said.
Meese has been under criminal investigation for nearly a year by independent counsel James McKay, who is looking into his ties to the scandal- plagued Wedtech Corp. and a $1 billion Iraqi oil pipeline project.
McKay is also known to be looking into Mrs. Meese’s $40,000-a-year job with the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Mrs. Meese’s salary is underwritten by The Bender Foundation, a tax-exempt philanthropy run by a Washington real estate family.
The Associated Press reported last week that a partnership headed by Howard M. Bender, the foundation’s vice president, owned a building for which the government signed a $50 million lease for a Justice Department office building in May 1987. Thirteen days after signing the lease, the Bender partnership sold the building for a $22.6 million profit.
Meese has denied any wrongdoing and said he didn’t have anything to do with the lease.
Meese declined to answer whether he would resign if his presence in Reagan’s Cabinet became a liability for Bush. But he said the only reason an attorney general should resign is if he is indicted or if the president asks him to step down.
″I don’t know of any factor right now that would cause me to resign,″ Meese said.
He said public officials should meet the highest ethical standards and added, ″I personally believe that, in my case, I meet that standard and that’s why I’m interested in having the facts come out.″
The president has continued to express his ″total support ... and total confidence,″ Meese said.
Meese said he usually meets with his personal lawyer after work or on Sundays: ″It ... is not taking me away from the office during office hours hardly at all, and in no way is it hampering the decision-making of the department.″