Former Attorney General Janet Reno has died from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Reno was Attorney General during the Clinton administration. She was 78.
Bill Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno dies aged 78 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease
The first female Attorney General of the US, Janet Reno, has died aged 78
She was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993 and served almost eight years
Reno spent final days at home in Miami surrounded by family and friends
She died from ‘complications of Parkinson’s disease’ today, family said
Janet Reno, the first female US Attorney General, died today aged 78 after a 20-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
She was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993 and served nearly eight years during his presidency – making her the second longest serving Attorney General.
Reno spent her final days at home in Miami surrounded by family and friends.
Her goddaughter Gabrielle D’Alemberte confirmed she died from ‘complications’ of Parkinson’s disease.
Reno, who famously told reporters ‘I don’t do spin’, found herself at the epicenter of several political storms during the Clinton administration.
The former Miami prosecutor faced criticism early in her tenure for the deadly raid on the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, Texas, where sect leader David Koresh and some 80 followers perished.
She became embroiled in other scandals including Whitewater, Filegate, bungling at the FBI laboratory, Monica Lewinsky, alleged Chinese nuclear spying and questionable campaign financing in the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election.
In the spring of 2000, Reno enraged her hometown’s Cuban-American community when she authorized the armed seizure of five-year-old Elian.
The boy was taken from the Little Havana home of his Miami relatives so he could be returned to his father in Cuba.
After leaving Washington, Reno returned to Florida and made an unsuccessful run for Florida governor in 2002 but lost in a Democratic primary marred by voting problems.
The campaign ended a public career that started amid humble beginnings. Born July 21, 1938, Janet Wood Reno was the daughter of two newspaper reporters and the eldest of four siblings.
She grew up on the edge of the Everglades in a cypress and brick homestead built by her mother and returned there after leaving Washington. Her late brother Robert Reno was a longtime columnist for Newsday on Long Island.
After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in chemistry, Reno became one of 16 women in Harvard Law School’s Class of 1963.
Reno, who stood over 6ft tall, later said she wanted to become a lawyer ‘because I didn’t want people to tell me what to do.’
In 1993, Clinton tapped her to become the first woman to lead the Justice Department after his first two choices — also women — were withdrawn because both had hired illegal immigrants as nannies. Reno was 54.
‘It’s an extraordinary experience, and I hope I do the women of America proud,’ Reno said after she won confirmation.
Reno, who famously told reporters ‘I don’t do spin’, found herself at the epicenter of several political storms during the Clinton administration
Clinton said the vote might be ‘the only vote I carry 98-0 this year.’
A little more than a month of taking office, however, Reno became embroiled in controversy with the raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco.
The standoff had started even before Reno was confirmed as attorney general.
On 28 February 1993, agents from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms made a surprise raid on the compound, trying to execute a search warrant.
But during the raid gunfire erupted, killing four agents and six members of the religious sect.
That led to a 51-day standoff, ending 19 April 1993, when the complex caught fire and burned to the ground.
The government claimed the Davidians committed suicide, shooting themselves and setting the fire.
Survivors said the blaze was started by tear gas rounds fired into the compound by government tanks, and that agents shot at some who tried to flee.
Reno had authorized the use of the tear gas to end the standoff and later called the day the worst of her life.
‘It was a dangerous situation,’ Reno said of the incident during a 2005 lecture at Duke University. ‘The tragedy is that we will never know what was the right thing to do.’
She was known for deliberating slowly, publicly and in a typically blunt manner.
Reno frequently told the public ‘the buck stops with me,’ borrowing the mantra from President Harry S. Truman.
In 1995 Reno was diagnosed with Parkinson’s after noticing a trembling in her left hand.
She said from the beginning that the diagnosis, which she announced during a weekly news conference, would not impair her job performance.
And critics — both Republicans and Democrats — did not give her a pass because of it.
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