10/14/97 - 12:11 AM ET - Click reload often for latest version

Panel to urge no action on Clinton calls

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department task force investigating whether President Clinton illegally solicited campaign contributions over the phone is recommending that Attorney General Janet Reno end the review with no action.

If she agrees, it would further outrage Republicans already demanding appointment of an independent counsel to take over the investigation.

The task force consensus is that it has not found credible evidence Clinton phoned donors from the White House in violation of a law barring fund-raising on federal property.

Reno is not required to follow the task force's advice.

Her deadline is Wednesday. Spokesman Bert Brandenberg said Monday that Reno "has not made any decision."

Under federal law, Reno must extend the review into December, immediately ask a court to name an independent counsel or end the review.

It is a small part of her investigation into fund-raising for the 1996 Clinton campaign. Her decision Wednesday will cover only the phone calls.

On Sunday, she said that she is conducting a "massive" investigation that could result in appointment of an independent counsel.

Republicans withheld comment Monday. Over the weekend House Speaker Newt Gingrich urged Reno to resign and said she "looks like a fool."

Clinton has said he does not recall making calls. Former aide Harold Ickes told a Senate Committee that Clinton did but was advised they were legal.

Clinton, in South America on Monday, defended Reno and said he would cooperate fully with her ongoing investigation.

"The Republican attacks on her have been completely unwarranted," he said.

Tuesday, the White House is to give investigators more than 100 videotapes of fund-raisers.

By Gary Fields and Mimi Hall, USA TODAY