WASHINGTON — President Reagan today rushed to the defense of his longtime aide and embattled attorney general, Edwin Meese III, scoffing at suggestions Meese has become a major embarrassment and should leave office.
"I don't know where they get that idea," Reagan said during a White House photo session. "He's no embarrassment to me. I've known him for 20 years and I've found him of sound mind and great loyalty and capability in all that time."
The declaration of continued confidence in his attorney general came on a day that Washington Post columnist David S. Broder termed Meese "a massive embarrassment" and, as a public official, "a disaster." (Column, Part II, Page 7.)
'Duty' to Resign
Given his record of personal and professional mistakes, Broder wrote that in any other democracy: "He would not have to be asked to resign. He would know it was his simple duty."
But since the start of the Administration, which he joined as counselor to the President and the voice of movement conservatism in the White House, Meese has been a survivor, due to his close personal relationship to Reagan.
Already under the legal cloud of special prosecutor investigations, Meese has come in for blame in recent days for persuading Reagan to nominate appeals court Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, a former official of his own Justice Department, to the Supreme Court.
Meese's advocacy of Ginsburg over less ideological appeals court Judge Anthony M. Kennedy generated controversy that erupted into full-scale political embarrassment with the disclosure that Ginsburg had smoked marijuana.
Meese, at a brief ceremony in with Swiss officials in Washington to sign a new treaty, said today he has not considered resigning, although he will accept some of the blame for the "amazing" fact that no one discovered Ginsburg's marijuana use.