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Attorney General Janet Reno asked for the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy's alleged cozy dealings with Arkansas' largest poultry processor. The Justice Department has been tryingto determine whether Espy received free travel and gifts from Tyson Foods, Inc., some of whose executives have close ties to Bill Clinton. James Blair, the company's lead attorney, for example, is considered an intimate friend and troubleshooter for the president. Espy, for his part, denies any wrongdoing, including that he's gone easy on poultry firms, and he pledged to cooperate with Reno's investigators.parpar