WASHINGTON — Edwin Meese III was sworn in Monday as the nation's 75th attorney general at a private White House ceremony.
"He's in place and functioning as attorney general," FBI Director William H. Webster said as he came out of his meeting with Meese.
Webster, Associate Atty. Gen. Lowell Jensen and Deputy Atty. Gen. Carol Denkins were among those meeting with Meese during his first day in office.
Webster said Meese "already has a very substantial awareness of department functions." But he said it is "premature to speculate" on what changes he might make at the Justice Department.
Meese, 53, was officially sworn in by Daniel Marks, deputy executive clerk of the White House, at a ceremony attended by President Reagan, Meese's wife, Ursula, and members of Meese's staff.
During the weekend, Meese told reporters that he would hold his first news conference after a ceremonial swearing-in March 10 or 11 by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and would be available to reporters regularly after that.
Meese shied away from reporters Monday, brushing past them into his limousine on his way to the White House luncheon and answering questions by saying, "Not now."
Bruce Chapman, an aide to Meese, had said that between now and sometime in early March, Meese would divide his time between the White House and the department, and would concentrate on making the transition to the top law enforcement job.
Meese will find a number of items awaiting his attention, including a decision on whether to seek a review of more than three dozen affirmative-action cases.