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FBI chief says his job is in Clinton's hands

It will take a personal request from the president before FBI Director William Sessions will step down, Sessions said in a rare newspaper interview.

Ending five months of silence, Sessions talked with editors of the San Antonio Express-News about allegations of ethical abuse and speculation that he would be forced out of his job. Sessions was appointed to a 10-year term as FBI director in 1987 by President Reagan.

He told the editors Friday that he hasn't requested a private meeting with President Clinton to present his defense, but he did say he was ready to meet with Clinton any time the president wants.

"That is in the hands of the president," he said. "I haven't talked to him."

Sessions, a former chief federal judge in San Antonio, returned for the wedding of his son, Mark.

Sessions told the newspaper he was willing to fight for the job, although the allegations had taken a toll on him.

Recent news reports have indicated that Sessions' attorneys have been meeting with Justice Department officials to negotiate the terms of his resignation.

Sessions confirmed that his lawyers had been meeting with officials in Attorney General Janet Reno's office, but added: "Beyond that I cannot say."

Former Attorney General William Barr accused Sessions of taking "advantage of the government" in a pattern of ethical abuses that included using FBI airplanes for personal trips.

Sessions' lawyers called Barr's Jan. 15 report "inaccurate, incomplete and biased in a way that mischaracterizes the conduct of the director and seriously misleads the public."

The allegations and Sessions' written response are in the hands of Reno, who will recommend to Clinton whether he should retain or fire Sessions.