- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2001

Terry L. Wooten, President Bush's nominee to the federal district court in South Carolina, denied during his confirmation hearing yesterday that he had leaked confidential information, including FBI files, while he was an attorney for Senate Republicans.
David Brock, a disaffected conservative journalist, says Judge Wooten was his source for FBI documents cited in his book "The Real Anita Hill," which he wrote after the 1991 Senate hearings to confirm Clarence Thomas as a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
But Judge Wooten, now a federal magistrate in South Carolina who was chief counsel to Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Thomas hearings, said yesterday he wasn't the source.
"That allegation is absolutely, 100 percent untrue," he said in response to a question from Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, who showed him copies of pages from Mr. Brock's book citing FBI files.
Mr. Brock, whose charges were first reported in the Los Angeles Times, said in an affidavit he swore out last week and filed with the committee that Judge Wooten had handed him copies of several pages of a confidential file —"no one but Mr. Wooten provided me with the FBI material," he says.
The file was on Angela Wright, one of Justice Thomas' employees when he was at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who said he made inappropriate sexual comments to her.
Judge Wooten said usually he didn't see FBI files and, if he had, he wouldn't have talked about them. He said he did talk with Mr. Brock for the book and he didn't remember if Miss Wright's name came up during the brief conversation, but he said he didn't divulge any confidential committee information.
Mr. Brock said yesterday he hadn't heard Judge Wooten's remarks to the committee and wouldn't comment on them anyway.
The committee held the unusual August confirmation hearings for both Judge Wooten, 47, and Sharon Prost, 50, whom the president nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That court hears, for example, appeals from federal claims court, patent cases, the Court of Veterans Appeals, and appeals of certain decisions by Agriculture and Commerce secretaries.
Recess hearings are rare, Mr. Leahy noted, but this is the second one he has held this summer, which he said shows Democrats are trying to move along the president's nominations.
Republicans have charged that Democrats are playing games with nominations, but Mr. Leahy said the committee has moved faster to confirm appeals court judges this year than in 1989, 1993 and 1997 — the first years of the last three presidential terms. He also said the administration's decision not to seek American Bar Association review of candidates before nomination has delayed the process for some.
Only three senators — Mr. Leahy, Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, and Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican — were present for the hearing.
Both Mr. Leahy and Mr. DeWine said they expect Judge Wooten and Mrs. Prost will be confirmed.
Like Judge Wooten, Mrs. Prost also has worked as counsel for the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Mr. DeWine and Mr. Leahy praised her work.


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