Reno Inches Closer to Counsel

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WASHINGTON: Janet Reno who has sat for months on the fence between loyalty and legality may finally be making her move. The 30 days that Reno's task force was allowed for its investigation of former energy secretary Hazel O'Leary is up Friday, but Reno seems likely to give the investigation a 60-day extension. O'Leary herself has already been informed that the task force needs more time; Reno's official announcement could come at any minute.

Which is all something of a yawn except that on Nov. 20, Reno can enlarge the preliminary investigation of O'Leary into a large-scale shakedown of Democratic abuses. This would allow Republicans to hear the magic words "independent counsel" all the while keeping O'Leary as the probe's nominal target. That, as TIME's Washington correspondent Michael Weisskopf points out, would be the attorney general's perfect compromise: mollifying opponents of the Clinton-Gore machine without giving her White House bosses a pair of black eyes.