Call for Clinton inquiry

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LITTLE ROCK (AP) - The prosecutor in the Whitewater investigation asked a federal judge yesterday for a special grand jury to look into Bill and Hillary Clinton's real-estate investment.

Robert Fiske met US District Judge Stephen Reasoner and later told reporters that 'it made sense' to empanel a special grand jury 'because of the importance of this investigation and the importance of doing it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible'.

Mr Fiske noted that a grand jury currently at work in Little Rock meets only two or three days a month. After the 40-minute meeting with Judge Reasoner, Mr Fiske said he hoped the special grand jury could be formed 'as soon as it reasonably can be'. He said his investigation, using three lawyers so far, has been under way since late last month.

A new grand jury would work exclusively for up to 18 months on Mr Fiske's probe of Whitewater Development Co and the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan. The President and Mrs Clinton were 50-50 investors in Whitewater with James McDougal, owner of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, and his then wife, Susan.

Mr Fiske said his request had nothing to do with the presence of a former Republican federal appointee on the grand jury currently sitting in Little Rock. That grand jury's foreman is Jim Burnett, whom Ronald Reagan appointed to head the National Transportation Safety Board in 1982. Mr Burnett left the board in 1991 at the end of his term.