Washington Prowler

Gorelicks Her Wounds

Is all forgiven? Plus: Hillary takes Kerry to school.

By 4.15.04

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LET BYGONES BE...
It shouldn't come as a big surprise that 9/11 commission member Jamie Gorelick has hidden agendas and conflicts of interest out the whazoo. After all, she's an old Clinton Administration hand.

Give her credit, though, she apparently isn't ashamed to hide them.

According to an associate of hers at the D.C. power litigation shop of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, Gorelick has made no secret to friends and associates that she has been speaking regularly with people who prepped her former boss at the Department of Justice, Janet Reno.

While Gorelick is said by knowledgeable sources to have not actively participated in the prepping of Reno -- evidence of this was confirmed by Reno's addled testimony before the commission on Tuesday -- they said Gorelick did take an interest in the former attorney general's testimony preparation, and may have tipped the commission's hand on areas of interest. It was all for nothing, however, given Reno's rambling, at time incoherent and often inaccurate testimony.

"How could she not care?" asked a former Clinton staffer. "It was in her interest to have her former boss do well and defend the agency she helped to run."

What set 9/11 commission staffers' off was the bomb dropped by Attorney General John Ashcroft, when he detailed the newly declassified memo that further buttressed the legal wall that forbade criminal investigators from sharing intelligence with the intelligence agencies. That memo, written by Gorelick when she was at DOJ, had not been requested by the 9/11 commission, because they didn't know about it.

"When we did our initial interviews with all of the commissioners, we asked if they had any knowledge, background information or potential insights into areas we might cover," says a commission staffer. "We asked Gorelick point blank about this kind of stuff and she said nothing about it. No one saw it coming. Even she seemed surprised. I don't know what she was thinking."

Gorelick was so stunned that she handed off her prepared questions for the attorney general to fellow commissioner, former Sen. Slade Gorton, who asked them for her.

"It's too late for her to step down. She should have had the sense and ethical makeup to not accept the commissioner's job. Now we're stuck, and everything this commission does now has the further stench of politics," says the staffer.

Gorelick has further conflicts that have not been widely discussed. While she is not part of the litigation team, Wilmer and Cutler does have several Saudi clients who have been identified as a potential defendant in a civil suit brought by the families of those who lost loved ones on September 11.

Late Wednesday, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, called on Gorelick to resign her position on the 9/11 Commission. But despite some anger that bubbled over among her fellow commissioners after the hearings closed on Tuesday evening, by Wednesday afternoon the commission members were circling the wagons around their controversial colleague.

"She isn't going to have to resign, and they aren't going to ask her to testify unless there is something else out there that we don't know about," says the staffers. "She told the chairman Tuesday night that there wasn't anything else, and he believed her."

THE DASHING COUPLE
Presumptive presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry took his presumptive vice-presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton out for a test drive on Wednesday. And boy did everyone have fun. The dashing couple visited a preschool, where Kerry and his advisers initially balked at having him meet and greet the little tots, in part out of concerns that the candidate would not appear "loose" or comfortable around the little ones.

"It wasn't the photo-op we wanted, but Clinton's people were pushing it," says a Kerry campaign insider.

Kerry is in New York for a big fundraiser that is expected to bring in more than $4 million for his campaign, and perhaps as much as $2 million for the Democratic National Committee.

"The two of them get along great," says the Kerry source. "The problem is she just is so big in personality compared to him. You worry that he can't compete with that kind of star wattage."

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