The hunt is on in New York for a replacement for U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who will leave office at the end of the year with former Whitewater independent counsel Robert W. Ray lobbying hard for the job.
Lawyers and others familiar with the ongoing selection process said Mr. Ray who declined to bring charges against President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky probe or against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, in the Whitewater investigation has sought the support of New York Gov. George Pataki.
Mr. Pataki initially supported his legislative counsel, Jim McGuire, but reportedly has backed away from that choice in the wake of pending opposition from Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, the sources said.
Mr. Schumer, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is believed ready to fight against a McGuire nomination, telling colleagues that Mr. McGuire lacks federal prosecutorial experience.
The committee will hold hearings on any nomination made by President Bush.
Besides Mr. McGuire, the most frequently mentioned possible replacement for Mrs. White is New York lawyer Robert J. Giuffra Jr.
Mr. Giuffra served as the chief counsel to the Senate Banking Committee and more recently was a member of the New York State Ethics Commission, appointed by Mr. Pataki.
A litigation partner with the Manhattan law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, Mr. Giuffra served as law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1988 to 1989 and as a law clerk to Judge Ralph K. Winter of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
During the Senate probe into the Whitewater affair, Mr. Giuffra served as chief counsel to the Senate Special Select Committee on Whitewater, headed by Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, New York Republican. Mr. D’Amato was later defeated in his 1998 re-election bid by Mr. Schumer.
Mr. Ray, a former federal prosecutor, was named independent counsel by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in October 1999, succeeding Kenneth W. Starr.
He had joined Mr. Starr’s staff earlier that year after a four-year term as a top assistant to independent counsel Donald Smaltz in the investigation of former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.
A career prosecutor, he spent 10 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in New York and as a deputy to both Mr. Smaltz and Mr. Starr.
Mr. Ray angered conservatives in Congress when he decided last year there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mrs. Clinton concerning her role in the firing of seven employees in the White House travel office.
He upset liberals when, after deciding to drop the travel office investigation, he issued a public statement midway through her 2000 Senate campaign saying Mrs. Clinton played a key role in the firing of the workers and had lied in denying her involvement.
Mr. Ray ended the investigation of the Lewinsky scandal in January, when he allowed Mr. Clinton to escape a perjury indictment by admitting that he gave false testimony under oath, accepting a five-year suspension of his law license and agreeing to pay a $25,000 fine.
That agreement was reached on Mr. Clinton’s last day in office and ended the Whitewater investigation that began in 1994 with questions on the Clintons’ ties to an Arkansas land deal.
In 1999, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in Arkansas held Mr. Clinton in contempt for “false, misleading and evasive” testimony “designed to obstruct the judicial process” in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit. The judge ordered him to pay $90,686 in a contempt citation.
After Mr. Ray decided not to prosecute the president, Mark R. Levin, former chief of staff to Attorney General Edwin Meese, was critical of the deal, calling the agreement a “plea bargain by a prosecutor as intent on getting out of town as the president.”
Mrs. White, a registered independent appointed to the post in 1993 by Mr. Clinton, successfully prosecuted some of the country’s top terrorism cases, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
She announced Thursday she would resign her post at the end of the year.