WASHINGTON -- Independent Counsel Robert Ray is signaling that the Monica Lewinsky scandal is far from over, assembling a new grand jury to investigate the president's conduct, legal sources say.
News that the grand jury was impaneled a month ago reverberated to the other side of the country Thursday, with Democratic Party loyalists at the convention in Los Angeles decrying the story as a politically motivated leak designed to hurt Vice President Al Gore.
"If Clinton was to drop dead, the Republicans would dig him up," complained Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.
The timing of the news "hours before Al Gore is to give this speech" warrants a federal investigation, said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill.
"You can bet your bottom dollar that the Republican Party was behind" the leak, said House Minority Whip David Bonior, D-Mich. "I think the American people are going to reject this kind of behavior."
Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said the judicial system was being "manipulated for political purposes."
With the convention in its final day, Clinton was 3,000 miles away at the White House, where spokesman Jake Siewert pointed to prosecutors as a likely source of the leak. Ray's office denied it.
The sources telling The Associated Press that a new grand jury was convened July 11 in the Clinton-Lewinsky matter are outside the Independent Counsel's office. The sources spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The setting up of a new Clinton-Lewinsky grand jury at the U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C., follows through on Ray's promise to weigh whether the president should be indicted after he steps down from office next January.
Clinton was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate, which fell 12 votes short of convicting him on a perjury charge and 17 votes short of conviction on a charge of obstructing justice. Now, a year and a half later, a special panel of judges is renewing Ray's mandate for another year.
The judges issued a legalistic one-sentence order Wednesday declaring that "termination of the office ... is not currently appropriate."
The legal questions are whether Clinton committed perjury or obstructed justice when he denied an affair in sworn testimony in the Paula Jones case.
The judge in the Jones case has already ruled the president gave false testimony and fined him for civil contempt of court. The disciplinary committee of the Arkansas Supreme Court has also moved to revoke Clinton's law license.
Keith Ausbrook, senior counsel to Ray, noted in response to the judges' order that "we've made public that the Lewinsky investigation remains open and that the e-mail investigation remains open."
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