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Walsh Held Likely to Seek Reagan Meeting Before Charging Ex-Aides

September 01, 1987|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Independent counsel Lawrence E. Walsh is expected to seek to interview President Reagan about the Iran- contra affair, probably this fall, before pressing ahead with criminal charges against some of Reagan's former aides, informed sources said.

Walsh will not talk about the progress of his inquiry, but sources familiar with the investigation say he still needs to collect a considerable amount of evidence.

Asked when he was appointed last December whether he would seek to question the President, Walsh said he would "talk to anyone necessary."

Indictments of former Reagan aides are expected in late October or November. The sources said Walsh and his prosecutors have decided to wait until after the Senate-House Iran-contra committees make their final report, expected in early October.

Before Walsh asks the grand jury to return any conspiracy indictment, however, sources say it is virtually obligatory for him to try to question Reagan about what he knew of the alleged misdeeds. Otherwise, the prosecutors risk being blind-sided later by defense claims of presidential authorization.

In his nationally televised speech Aug. 12, Reagan accepted full responsibility for "the Iran-contra mess," but he did not address the questions still surrounding his actions and those of his aides in selling arms to Iran and in the creation of a covert military support program for the rebels in Nicaragua.

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