Beverley Lumpkin: Halls of Justice

While the criminal case proceeds apace — with important pretrial hearings set for August 14 through 16 — the civil lawsuit filed by Lee and his wife Sylvia against the government for unlawful leaks has been put on hold. But a kindly government official recently brought to my attention one particularly interesting charge in the civil complaint:

“Plaintiffs are informed and believe that some of the unlawful leaks of private information pertaining to Plaintiffs originated from an FBI official known as ‘the Fatman.’”

Frankly, few of us are angels, and this charge has occasioned expressions of excessively unseemly glee in more than a few Justice officials.

For Bob Bucknam, Louie Freeh’s longtime chief-of-staff, loyal factotum and spear-carrier, is in fact quite decidedly rotund.

Not only that — he’s generally regarded as the most able leaker in the FBI, some would say within the entire Justice Department. He is particularly regarded as responsible for some of the most damaging anti-Reno leaks in the campaign finance fiasco.

Nobody envies the poor FBI counsel who will have to draft the response to this particular charge.


It is certainly true, as the New York Times recently reported, that prosecutors are now examining the role New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli’s personal and campaign staff may have played in the numerous cases of illegal contributions made to his 1996 campaign.

But it is far from clear yet, according to Justice officials, that anything will come of it. It’s basically a no-brainer, once the task force had rolled up all the illegal donors, to follow the trail into the office and see what if anything the candidate’s staff may have known about the violations.

A source close to Torricelli says prosecutors still have not identified any problem with anybody in the senator’s office or on his campaign staff.

The senator, who has been told he’s not a target, is cooperating with the investigation, according to the source.


Beverley Lumpkin has covered the Justice Department for ABCNEWS for 14 years. Halls of Justice appears every Friday.

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