Attorney General Janet Reno has begun an investigation of former senior White House aide Harold Ickes - the second inquiry in a week into whether a top Clinton administration official misled investigators examining Democratic fund raising.

Reno announced the limited, 90-day Ickes investigation on Tuesday, one day before she was scheduled to brief Republican leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees who are pushing for a broad independent counsel investigation into alleged abuses during the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign.Reno notified a special federal panel of judges that the latest investigation would look at whether Ickes, a former deputy White House chief of staff and campaign strategist, committed perjury before a Senate committee. The investigation could lead to appointment of an independent counsel whose reach could extend to a host of lingering allegations about fund raising.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Reno should not stop with just an investigation into Ickes.

He said the preliminary investigation "should be followed by a broad-based request for an independent counsel to investigate the entirety of the Democratic campaign finance scandal."

Hatch said he planned to talk to Reno about that in his office at a meeting scheduled Wednesday.

Hatch and other GOP leaders have accused Reno of foot-dragging about appointing an outside counsel to look at her bosses or other top Democrats.

Reno will consider whether Ickes, now a Washington consultant, lied in testimony before the Senate Governmental Affairs committee during a long series of hearings on the possible influx of illegal foreign contributions and other alleged 1996 abuses.

Reno's move came less than a week after she began a 90-day investigation of Vice President Al Gore. That probe is limited to whether Gore told the truth to investigators looking at fund-raising phone calls he made from the White House, officials said.