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ROSTENKOWSKI DECIDES TO PART COMPANY WITH LAWYER WHO ALSO REPRESENTS CLINTON

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The recently indicted Rep. Dan Rostenkowski and his mega-lawyer, Robert Bennett, have reached agreement to part company as soon as the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can find a new attorney.

Bennett's office and Rostenkowski confirmed Thursday that the two have decided amicably to go their separate ways."I will soon retain new counsel and will present a vigorous defense to the charges recently brought against me," Rostenkowski said in a statement from his office.

If Rostenkowski has not yet retained another lawyer by June 10 when he is due in court for arraignment, Bennett will represent him then, a Bennett aide said.

Bennett had been involved in negotiations with federal prosecutors to work out a guilty plea deal for Rostenkowski. The chairman decided to take his chances in court and Tuesday issued a defiant statement proclaiming his innocence.

The two also reportedly disagreed about a public relations strategy for fighting the charges. Known for battling ferociously for his clients in the press, Bennett had urged Rostenkowski to call a press conference after the indictment was brought to launch a counterattack. Rostenkowski balked.

Bennett, a $450-an-hour lawyer, also represents President Clinton in a sexual harassment suit filed by former Arkansas state government worker Paula Corbin Jones.

The severing of Bennett's connection with Rostenkowski removes any questions about whether there might be a conflict if Clinton and Rostenkowski shared a lawyer.