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Meese, Abrams Testify on Iran, Contra Scandal

December 16, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Two top Administration officials, Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III and Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, made return appearances today before the grand jury investigating the Iran-Contra scandal.

Abrams, the State Department official in charge of Latin American affairs during the affair, spent about an hour before the panel--his third trip in a week.

Accompanied by his private attorney, Abrams declined comment after his session: "I'm making a plane, thank you."

Abrams has admitted misleading Congress about U.S. efforts to solicit funds for Nicaraguan rebels during the period that Lt. Col. Oliver L. North ran a clandestine supply operation when U.S. efforts to arm the rebels were forbidden. After Abrams' testimony today, Meese returned for his fifth appearance before the panel.

In between the testimony of the two witnesses, the independent counsel in the case, Lawrence E. Walsh, spoke privately with the grand jurors.

Both Deny Arms Knowledge

Walsh said his trip before the panel was routine. "I hadn't been in a month, so I came down," he said.

Both Abrams and Meese, who was kept waiting for half an hour before being called before the panel, have said they were not aware of the clandestine arms network that supplied the Contras.

North is a key target of Walsh's investigation of the secret arms sales to Iran and diversion of profits to the Contras.

Meese, also under investigation by another independent counsel for his ties to a controversial defense contractor, recently was strongly criticized by the congressional committees' report for running a sloppy initial investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal and allowing crucial documents to be shredded.

Meese has also made several trips before the grand jury of independent counsel James C. McKay, who is expected to issue his report soon on Meese's contacts with Wedtech Corp.

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