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A White House statement asserted that "these criminal defendants have a clear interest in making false and sensational charges in an effort to bargain for leniency." Rubell said that he would testify against Jordan only "if they [the Federal Government] give us the right situation" and in fact had told two deputies of Attorney General Civiletti: "I am not going to testify unless I have immunity." To TIME, he added: "Sure I have motives, but I swear not one thing I have told you is a lie." Whether Johnny C. will appear also is questionable; Rubell says he is hiding out in Los Angeles "because he has no money to pay legal fees."
No matter what doubts Civiletti might have, the 1978 Ethics in Government Act requires the Attorney General to order an inquiry into any charges of serious crime against a high Administration official. He has 90 days to decide if appointment of a special prosecutor is warranted. If a prosecution ever becomes imminent, it could lead to Jordan's resignation and a major political crisis. At the moment that seems unlikelythough the White House is bracing itself for yet another unwelcome furor. Carter prepared a statement asserting: "A public official cannot be forced from office by unsupported allegations. Mr. Jordan will continue to carry out his duties as White House chief of staff."