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Justice Department backs contact with planemaker

Justice Department investigators said there was nothing illegal or improper about a meeting between a senior department official and a lawyer for McDonnell Douglas Corporation.The firm is charged with making illegal payments to foreign officials. Investigators said Associate Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani did not violate any order or code of conduct by conferring about the case with John Sant, the company's general counsel.

McDonnell Douglas, the nation's second-largest defense contractor, and four of its executives were charged in 1979 with concealing more than $7 million in payoffs to officials in South Korea, Venezuela, the Philippines, Pa kistan, and Zaire to help sell the company's wide-body jets.

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