Phone Call at Center of Martha Probe

09/06/2002 at 10:00 AM EDT

Next Tuesday will be D-Day for Martha Stewart and Congress's House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating insider-trading allegations against the domestic diva.

Committee chairman Ken Johnson tells The Washington Post that his panel will decide by then whether or not to subpoena Stewart, whom he says has refused to cooperate with Congress, preventing his investigators from submitting its report to the Justice Department.

At issue is whether Stewart, 61, had insider information about the stock price of ImClone -- and the FDA's failure to approve the biotech company's cancer drug -- before she unloaded nearly 4,000 shares late last December.

The Post reports that much attention has been focused on a Dec. 31 phone call between Stewart and former ImClone CEO Samuel Waksal, who maintained that he and Stewart did not speak from Dec. 14 until Jan. 5. The paper says the information about that phone call is slight, and doesn't shed much light on whether Stewart did or did not receive inside information from Waksal.

"If it was an innocent phone call, why not just tell us what it was?" Johnson said to The Post.

A Waksal spokesman told the paper, "We don't have any comment." Stewart and her attorneys also have not commented.

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