Janet Reno, the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney general, died early Monday morning at 78. According to her goddaughter, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, Reno died from complications related to Parkinson’s disease.
Reno, a former Miami prosecutor who famously told reporters “I don’t do spin,” served nearly eight years as attorney general under President Bill Clinton, the longest stint in a century.
Reno was figured prominently in some of the most notable and controversial events of Bill Clinton’s presidency, including the deadly FBI siege on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the armed seizure of juvenile Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez, alleged Chinese nuclear spying and questionable campaign financing in the 1996 Clinton-Gore reelection.
Of the Waco attack, in which several children died in the ensuing fire, Reno later said: “It was a dangerous situation. The tragedy is that we will never know what was the right thing to do.” Born in 1938, Janet Wood Reno was the daughter of two newspaper reporters. She unsuccessfully ran for Florida governor in 2002 to end her public-service career.