WASHINGTON — The special Senate committee that will soon be created to investigate the Iran arms scandal will neither protect nor "be out to get" President Reagan or anyone else, Senate Democratic leader Robert C. Byrd told Reagan on Friday.
"I wasn't banging on the table when I said that," the West Virginian declared in an interview with The Times, "but I didn't pull a veil over my eyes either." Investigators will follow the evidence "wherever the thread leads," he told a group of reporters after meeting with Reagan.
The four congressional leaders of both parties and 17 Republican lawmakers met with Reagan in separate sessions Friday to discuss the special House and Senate committee probes that early next year will examine the shipment of U.S.-made arms to Iran and the diversion of some profits to the Nicaraguan rebels.
No Special Session
In other developments Friday:
--The White House announced that Reagan will not summon a special session of Congress this month, as requested by Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), to begin the investigation of the scandal.
--Reagan rejected calls by Republican leaders and others that he fire White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, CIA Director William J. Casey and Secretary of State George P. Shultz because that would be "throwing people to the wolves."
--Two members of the three-member judicial panel that received Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III's request for an independent counsel to probe possible criminal violations said the request probably will be granted but that the counsel will not be selected until next week.
The White House announced that it would not call a special session after Byrd, House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and House Republican Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) all argued against such a course.
"Time would be wasted, not saved," Wright said. "It would not accomplish any particular purpose and would be seen as a grandstand play, a gimmick."
A special session, Byrd added, would "only add to the hoopla and crisis atmosphere of the controversy."
'Tough but Fair'
Instead, both the Senate and the House will establish special investigating committees when Congress goes back to work on Jan. 6.
Byrd said he told Reagan that the 13-member Senate committee will be made up of "people who are tough but who are fair and will not be out to get the President or anybody else, but who will not protect the President or anyone else, regardless of where the evidence goes."
He said the nation must see "that justice is going to be done and that it doesn't make any difference how high people may be in office or how low. If there is any law violated, then the law is not going to be run over in a roughshod way."
Byrd said the Senate committee will be composed of 11 voting members--six to be appointed by him and five by Dole--and two non-voting members who will sit in on sessions and report back on the proceedings to the two Senate leaders.
Members to Be Named
Byrd, who plans to announce the committee members on Dec. 15, said he is already seeking outside assistance in drawing up the legislation to form the select committee from one retiring senator and one or more officials who helped draw up legislation for the Senate Watergate committee in the 1970s. Although Byrd refused to name the senator, The Times learned that it is Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton (D-Mo.).
The counterpart House investigating committee will be composed of 15 members.
In the meeting between the President and the four congressional leaders, Byrd said, Reagan listened "patiently and courteously" and repeated his assertions that the arms were shipped legally after he waived the U.S. embargo on arms shipments to Iran last Jan. 17.
Byrd said Reagan told him: "Well, Bob, I did get the expert legal advice from the attorney general before signing" the waiver. The President, Byrd continued, said he was advised that he had the authority to waive the embargo even though Iran was on the U.S. list of terrorist states.
Among the 17 Republican lawmakers who met separately with Reagan, several urged that he consider further personnel changes in the White House. They specifically mentioned Regan and Casey as two officials who should go.
But "the President took the view that he didn't want to throw anybody to the wolves without adequate cause," said one participant, Sen. John H. Chafee of Rhode Island. "He wants a rationale or good reason to do so."
Both Regan and Shultz attended the Oval Office session, but neither spoke during the discussion of the Iranian arms matter, participants said.
Reagan once again denied that he had any knowledge that some proceeds from the arms sales were being channeled secretly to the Nicaraguan \o7 contras.\f7 Sen. Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico said that Reagan "looked right at each one of us and said: 'I knew nothing about it.' "
'Telling the Truth'