2 New Justice Aides See No 'Malaise'

Associated Press

Two acting Justice Department officials on Wednesday insisted the agency is running smoothly, with no hint of the "deep malaise" portrayed by two of their predecessors who quit in protest earlier this year.

At their confirmation hearing for permanent positions, Francis A. Keating II and Edward S. G. Dennis Jr. painted a rosy picture of department operations under outgoing Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III.

Since May, Keating has served as acting associate attorney general. A month later, Dennis took over the top spot in the criminal division on an acting basis.

On Tuesday, former Deputy Atty. Gen. Arnold I. Burns testified that when he resigned on March 29 a "deep malaise" had set in at the department in the face of Meese's legal problems.

William F. Weld, who preceded Dennis as criminal division chief, told the committee that, if Meese were an ordinary citizen, he probably would have been prosecuted for taking gratuities from E. Robert Wallach, a friend of Meese.

Keating told the committee that when he went to the department from a top Treasury Department position: "I was under the impression . . . that morale was shattered. I found that was not the case."

Dennis, who started at the department in June, said: "No, I didn't see any malaise. I found the criminal division conducting itself according to the highest standards."

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