“I don’t believe there was a failure to establish probable cause,” Senator Robert Torricelli of New Jersey is telling Attorney Janet Reno in an especially ugly moment during a closed hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee last June. “I don’t even believe that you think there was a failure to establish probable cause, because I don’t think it was a close call.” Torricelli — a Democrat no less — is bluntly calling the attorney general a liar.

The attorney general is an ideal target for congressional calumny in Washington. She doesn’t fight back. Since the controversies usually involve pending investigations, she almost always considers her side of the story confidential, and will not even permit it to leak out through aides.

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