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FBI, Virginia probing Wilder phone tape

The FBI and Virginia State Police said Wednesday they are investigating allegations that Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's phone calls were illegally recorded. The federal-state investigation moves a political feud between Wilder and Sen. Charles S. Robb, the state's top Democrats and two men considered potential presidential candidates, into the law enforcement arena.

Robb said at a news conference that he had done nothing wrong in ordering the destruction of a tape of a call apparently intercepted from Wilder's car phone _ a tape the senator said had come to his office anonymously.

One day earlier, Robb said he was suspending three top advisers while he investigates his office's conduct in the controversy. The senator, long at odds with Wilder, had held the tape for 2{ years before it was destroyed.

"I never claimed to be a rocket scientist or a visionary," Robb said after acknowledging in hindsight he might have handled the tape episode differently. But he said his reputation for honesty and integrity would emerge intact.

On Wednesday, Robb pledged his cooperation with any investigation and he defended his decision not to tell Wilder or authorities about the tape.

"It didn't seem to be that important," Robb said. The senator said he recently was told that someone on his staff obtained a legal opinion that it was not illegal to possess the recording.

Wilder had little to say upon his return from a 12-day European trade mission, during which he learned that Robb's office had the recording.

"Let's get the facts," the governor said, adding that he planned to collect information and would have more to say soon.