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Reagan backs up Meese as confirmation marks time

President Reagan reaffirmed his confidence in longtime aide Edwin Meese on Monday to be the next US attorney general, but a Justice Department inquiry into Meese's financial affairs cast a cloud over his prospects for Senate confirmation.

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Mr. Meese asked for and received a postponement of a second round of Senate confirmation hearings so the Justice Department can conduct its separate inquiry into his financial affairs.

The Justice Department informed Meese on Sunday of its ''preliminary inquiry'' into the circumstances surrounding a $15,000 loan his wife, Ursula, received from longtime friend Edwin Thomas. Mr. Thomas became Meese's deputy in the White House and later was named regional administrator of the General Services Adminstration in San Francisco.

Mark Goodin, press secretary to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Strom Thurmond (R) of South Carolina, said Senator Thurmond had agreed to delay the confirmation hearings two to three weeks.

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