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Independent Counsel Robert Ray, acknowledging the public's wish that he finish work, said Sunday a decision on whether to prosecute President Clinton in the Monica S. Lewinsky scandal will come "very shortly" after Clinton leaves the White House in January.

"I think the public would like me to wrap up this investigation, but that doesn't mean walk away from the responsibilities I have," Ray said on CNN's "Late Edition."

"That decision will be rendered shortly, very shortly after the president leaves office in the best interest of the country, and also not to unfairly tread on the new president's administration."

The question involving Clinton is the last major piece of unfinished business in the $52 million independent counsel investigation.

Last week, Ray announced that he was ending the six-year Whitewater investigation after finding insufficient evidence that Clinton or Hillary Rodham Clinton had committed a crime.

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