WASHINGTON, D.C.: Janet Reno held her ground before the Senate Judiciary Committee, defending her decision not to appoint a special counsel to investigate White House campaign financing irregularities, but the ground is slipping. "Let me be absolutely clear: I am not going to violate my oath in this matter because of pressure from any quarter, not from the media, not from Congress, nor from anywhere else," Reno declared. "To do so would be wrong, and I will have no part in it." Reno steadfastly maintained that she would not launch an independent investigation because she does not believe that the most fundamental condition of the independent counsel law, that the Attorney General have specific and credible evidence of wrongdoing by administration officials, has been met. Still, as an increasingly frustrated Committee chair Orrin Hatch argued, Reno could trigger the independent-counsel statute simply by finding a conflict of interest that prevented her department from investigating the matter. "With all due respect, I believe you are misinterpreting the statute," he said. ďAll of the persons or entities under investigation have strong ties to the inner circles of the White House and its re-election campaign. If this does not present the attorney general with a conflict of interest, I would like to know what does." He has a point.