WASHINGTON — Charles J. Cooper, head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Friday became the latest aide of Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III to hand in his resignation, but he denied that the move was related to Meese's legal troubles.
Cooper said in a letter to Meese that he will leave the department July 8 and said in an interview that he does not have a job.
But the resignation is "wholly unrelated to the controversy of today," Cooper's letter said in a reference to Meese's legal troubles and a series of departures by key aides at the department.
Cooper said he had long planned to leave the department this summer to enter private law practice.
Justice sources said Cooper had doubts about remaining at the department two months ago, after the resignations of Deputy Atty. Gen. Arnold I. Burns and criminal division chief William F. Weld.
Cooper's announcement was made several weeks before independent counsel James C. McKay is to issue a report on his year-old criminal investigation of the attorney general, which is expected to raise questions about Meese's ethical conduct.
Meese's involvement with scandal-plagued Wedtech Corp. has placed him under constant criticism for more than a year.