President Reagan told the Justice Department to look into allegations his 1980 campaign aides obtained a debate briefing book prepared for his opponent, Jimmy Carter.
Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said the directive was given after members of the White House staff who served in the campaign were urged to review any recollections of the matter. Reagan aides who remember seeing or hearing about the material have played down its significance.
Monday's developments marked a shift in the postition of the President and his aides. Earlier Mr. Reagan had dismissed it as ''much ado about nothing.''