THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
12:25 P.M. EDT
Q A Supreme Court nominee? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I have that, but I thought I'd wait. You are probably more interested in next week's schedule. No, I have no announcements.
Q What can you say about this IRS business?
MS. MYERS: Well, as you know, Mack McLarty and Leon Panetta are doing a thorough management review of the entire travel office situation and they will have a report on that sometime in the not to distant future.
Q Will it be made public?
MS. MYERS: There will be -- some component of it will be made public.
Q Clarify on thing -- did the White House contact the IRS?
MS. MYERS: The White House did not contact the IRS and the IRS I think confirms that in The Washington Post story. No one from the White House ever contacted the IRS.
Q Well, Dee Dee, was there an implied threat that they would contact the IRS?
MS. MYERS: No, but -- there was no implied threat. But I would just leave the final analysis of this to the management review currently being conducted by McLarty and Panetta.
Q What is the status of Catherine Cornelius right now? Is she still in the travel office?
MS. MYERS: She is.
Q Why does she remain on the job when there are questions about the propriety of her actions in this whole affair?
MS. MYERS: Again, there is a review underway to answer all of these questions in great detail, and I just don't have any more to say about the specifics of it until it's complete.
Q Was Mack aware of Kennedy's role and this IRS issue, or did this just come to him after the Post started making inquiries?
MS. MYERS: Again, I just want to make it clear that -- no one from the White House ever contacted the IRS.
Q No, we're not saying that, we're saying --
MS. MYERS: I just want to make that clear.
Q What is your understanding that Kennedy did?
MS. MYERS: I just can't comment on it. The entire thing is under review now, and anything that I say about it will be premature.
Q Who is the President having lunch with, and what for?
MS. MYERS: I don't think it's any secret that the President will be dining with Judge Breyer this afternoon. I believe it's a little later; it has not started yet. He's currently meeting with Senator McCain and Senator Kerry about some issues about Vietnam. They are returning from a trip there. And I think the issue is obvious.
Q Do you expect an announcement this afternoon?
MS. MYERS: I can't rule it out. I don't know. I just can't say one way or another whether it will happen today.
Q What does the President hope to find out during this luncheon meeting with the Judge? What's the purpose of it?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think it's an opportunity for him to meet with a candidate for the Supreme Court and to discuss a number of issues. I don't want to be any more specific than that.
Q Is it important to him to have a personal --
Q Why is he not having a companion meeting with Babbitt?
Q Is it important for him to have a personal chance to assess this man? I mean, give us a sense of what the President's desire is.
MS. MYERS: I think it's an opportunity for him to sit down face to face and have a conversation with somebody who he is considering for the high court. I think it's an important part of the process for the President. They have never met, and today will be an opportunity for the President and Judge Breyer to meet.
Q Is he the most likely choice?
MS. MYERS: I won't handicap it, but I will say the President has not made a decision. It's something I've been saying all week and I think news accounts to the contrary are simply just overwritten.
Q in the Rose Garden been taken away this afternoon?
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q that at this point there are no other active candidates?
MS. MYERS: I will not handicap, but I think the field has been substantially narrowed. (Laughter.)
Q What about this comment this morning in the paper from an administration official saying it's his to lose?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that's unfortunate. I think that earlier in the week unnamed sources were implying that another candidate was the front runner, an all-but-likely nominee. I think, as the week has progressed, the handicapping has sort of selected a new front runner. I think all of it is premature. The President has been spending a good deal of time on it this week. He's been looking at a number of candidates, evaluating their records and trying and make a good decision about this, which he'll do. And all the stories that suggest he's made up his mind are just not right.
Q Well, you haven't ruled out an announcement today. You mean, he's going to make a snap decision today and then he's going to announce?
MS. MYERS: I think we've been working on this for several months. I don't think anyone is going to accuse us being of snap decision. (Laughter.)
Q Dee Dee, doesn't this process of stretching it out, though, because of the leaks, where one candidate on Monday was declared, at least by some people, as the person, doesn't that have a very bad effect? Isn't this something that this White House has to come to grips with?
MS. MYERS: I think, there's no doubt that that's unfortunate. However, this is the first time a Democrat President has had the chance to make an appointment to the Supreme Court in nearly 25 years. And I think the President had a lot of time to make this decision. And I think it is prudent of him to evaluate as many candidates as he can and to take his time making this decision. I don't think the American people would expect any less under the circumstances. So while I think it's unfortunate, I think the President -- it's in the best interest of the country for the President to take this decision seriously and to take his time making it.
Q Isn't it unfair to the reputation of someone like his Interior Secretary to be left hanging this way --
MS. MYERS: Well, I would pose that question back to you all. I don't think it serves the process very well, but that's my opinion. I think I've made that clear to most of you.
Q We didn't make up the quotes from various White House officials.
MS. MYERS: But I think you -- the guidance you've been getting from most people has been that the President hasn't made up his mind, that he's in the process of making a decision, and that sometimes people get the wrong impression from conversations, secondor third-hand information, and that's always a dangerous thing.
Q Has the President read the work of Judge Breyer?
MS. MYERS: The President has reviewed information about potential nominees in fairly good detail.
Q How much depth? Is it more depth this time than there was with Guinier?
MS. MYERS: I think the standard is different for a Supreme Court Justice than it is for a second- or third-level appointment in a department.
Q So he doesn't expect any surprises from what he's been told?
MS. MYERS: Don't expect any.
Q Dee Dee, what has been the contact so far between the President and the Justice? Has he spoken to him by phone? What interaction has he --
MS. MYERS: I don't believe the President's spoken to him yet.
Q Dee Dee, what about the complaint from some women's organizations that the finalists all appeared to be white men?
MS. MYERS: The President has reviewed a number of candidates. It was a broad and exhaustive search. Obviously, he's narrowed the list down, but I think that there has been a very broad consideration throughout this process.
Q The New York Times says that he's concluded that Sessions should step down.
MS. MYERS: We're still waiting on the report from the Attorney General on that.
Q Back on the travel office affair. You said that the whole matter is under review by McLarty and Panetta. But this is a case of the White House investigating the White House at this point.
MS. MYERS: That's correct.
Q Would the President object to a special counsel, as Senator Dole and others have proposed?
MS. MYERS: I think we're going to wait for the results of this management review. I think it will be thorough. I think it will present the facts clearly, and hopefully will resolve a lot of the questions I know that many of you have lingering. Mr. McLarty is sort of spearheading what is a very thorough review, and I think that the results will be satisfactory.
Q Are you -- well, let me try the question another way -- are you against the appointment of a special counsel?
MS. MYERS: I think we'd like to finish this review before we make other judgments.
Q Dee Dee, are there seven people working in the travel office now?
MS. MYERS: I don't know how many are working there. I don't think so, but I don't know.
Q Could you -- is there some way we can check on that?
MS. MYERS: Sure, I'll take the question. As has been requested, what we'll do in the future is when I take questions we'll try to get answers and post them. Where do we post them?
MR. LEAVY: Post them back by the bins.
MS. MYERS: Back by the bins every day.
Q Dee Dee, what's the protocol when there is an announcement? Will he contact Senator Biden and others, and would they necessarily come down for an announcement?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I don't think we've -- I haven't been party to any discussions where we've talked about the specific protocol for talking to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But I would assume that they would be contacted, sure.
Q If there's an announcement tomorrow, how would you -- you'd just release it in the morning? What kind of timetable would you give us?
MS. MYERS: It depends on when a decision is made. I mean, we'll try to give you as much advance notice as we can, and that will depend on the circumstances. At the very least, I think we'll obviously put something out here; we'll beep on the all-call beepers; we'll make sure that the wires have it, so everybody should check the wires. But we'll do everything we can to make sure people have as much notice as possible.
Q Will you give us any readout today?
MS. MYERS: I don't expect to, although I suspect I'll get some calls.
Q At some point today, will you give us some kind of guidance on whether it will be today --
MS. MYERS: I have a feeling I may have some company in my office this afternoon.
Q What was the question?
MS. MYERS: The question was, do you plan to give any guidance on or a readout from the meeting this afternoon. And I said, I don't have any specific plans, but I expect I'll have company in my office today.
Q Which meeting?
MS. MYERS: The lunch.
Q Can you tell us what time the lunch starts?
MS. MYERS: I believe it's supposed to happen around 1:00 p.m. -- 1:00 p.m., 1:15 p.m..
Q Are you ruling out an announcement to - could you give us some guidance --
MS. MYERS: I can't rule it out. No, I can't rule it out.
Q One more on travel --
Q Can we stick on the Court, please? Has the President met with Babbitt about this issue, and if not, why not?
MS. MYERS: The President knows Secretary Babbitt well.
Q Is that the reason he hasn't talked to him personally?
MS. MYERS: I think they may have spoken by phone, and as you know Secretary Babbitt met with some members of the White House Counsel's Office. But I think the President is quite familiar with Secretary Babbitt's background and his work.
Q One more on travel, please. Senator Dole is going to have a press conference this afternoon, and he says he has some information, papers on travel purportedly showing some type of irregularities. Do you know what those might be? And what's your reaction?
MS. MYERS: We eagerly await his press conference.
Q What's your reaction to the continuing dragging out of this story?
MS. MYERS: I think we have initiated a comprehensive review precisely to deal with lingering questions. We really are trying to present the facts in as straightforward a manner as possible through this process so that we can put this thing to rest.
Q Why is the White House doing this investigation, this review? What's the White House's goal in doing it?
MS. MYERS: To get as comprehensive review of the facts as possible to understand exactly what happened, and hopefully, to make sure that the process works in the future.
Q Dee Dee, on Sessions, is the White House pressuring him to resign, hoping he'll get a hint to resign?
MS. MYERS: No, and as we've said repeatedly, the Attorney General is reviewing that matter. She said it was a high priority of hers when she was sworn in, and we expect a report from her soon.
Q For the record right now, do you want him to resign?
MS. MYERS: I think we'll wait for the results of the Attorney General's review.
Q There's apparently negotiations right now on a settlement with Judge Sessions involving his attorneys. According to all reports, they are negotiating his release.
MS. MYERS: I think the conversations are ongoing, but I would refer you to the Justice Department for specifics. We are --
Q Is the White House familiar with that?
MS. MYERS: We're waiting for a review from the Attorney General. And beyond that, I don't have anything to say. I would have to refer you to the Justice Department for any details about any conversations they might be having. I think what they've said publicly is that they're in the process of finalizing this and the Attorney General will make a recommendation to the President. They're getting close to that point. And beyond that, I don't have any comment on what they're doing.
Q Were officials here not happy when he requested an airplane to go to San Antonio recently?
MS. MYERS: I don't think we had anything to do with it. But I'll take the question.
Q But do you have a reaction to it?
MS. MYERS: I'm not familiar with the request. I know that he ended up flying commercially to San Antonio for his son's wedding, which I think is appropriate.
Q Dee Dee, back on the travel office, how is the White House responding to Republican requests for all pertinent computer files, documents, tapes and everything else that was involved in this? The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, as you know, have sent a letter formally requesting that.
MS. MYERS: Right. I think that what we're doing right now is conducting a comprehensive review and trying to make sure that we have all the pertinent facts and documents. And beyond that I don't know that we've taken any specific action with respect to those requests, but I'll take the question.
Q Dee Dee, one of the issues here is the appearance of use of the FBI for political purposes. Is that one of the aspects of the review?
MS. MYERS: I think we're looking at all elements of the review -- I mean, of the process. And I think that the comprehensive nature of it really is an honest effort by us to get to the bottom of it and to understand exactly what happened.
Q What is going to be done? I mean, here's the White House --
MS. MYERS: The review is --
Q passing judgment on the actions of the White House. Why should the American people have credibility --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we'll take a look at the review when it's done, and I think that there will be a lot of conversation about it. If more action is necessary --
Q Are you reviewing what happened or how you handled it?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q You're not reviewing the actions of the travel staff, that's the FBI?
MS. MYERS: No, that's right.
Q Does your review, though, include how, for example, the IRS would show up at the offices of UltrAir?
MS. MYERS: No, that's something that we would have -- I don't think that's being part of the review. We have no control over that. Nobody from the White House contacted the IRS. We didn't know the IRS was going to go to the UltrAir offices in Smyrna. I don't think that's a part of the review. You'd have to check with the IRS about why they went there.
Q You don't think people should just simply take your word for it?
MS. MYERS: Both the IRS and the White House have said that -- I don't think anybody is saying, at least nobody here seems to be saying that we did contact the IRS. I mean, if somebody is saying that, please let me know. But both the IRS and the White House have said there was no contact.
Q If the White House contacted the FBI and the FBI contacted the IRS, would that be proper?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on that. I don't know.
Q But you're not denying that, are you?
Q Does the White House have a policy of not contacting the IRS? I mean, what is the standing policy?
MS. MYERS: The standing policy is that any contact with the IRS would happen through the Treasury Department.
Q Dee Dee, does the White House consider it appropriate for somebody in the Counsel's Office to invoke the name of the IRS?
MS. MYERS: We are reviewing the entire matter, and I just don't -- I'm not going to comment on every particularly nuance today; I don't think it's appropriate.
Q Is that question being put to Mr. Kennedy and the Counsel's Office?
MS. MYERS: I think the broad spectrum of this is being reviewed.
Q Bob Dole says that he wants an investigation. Would those people who would be the object of that investigation be asked to take leave pending the results of that probe?
MS. MYERS: I think we'll wait and see what Senator Dole has to say later today.
Q Dee Dee, the Consumer Price Index -- how does the White House feel about the latest figures?
MS. MYERS: Obviously, it's good news. Producer prices did not go up in May, inflation was zero. W e think that that will help keep the long-term interest rates low. We're going to continue to press to get the President's economic plan through Congress. We think that the deficit reduction included in that plan has helped bring interest rates down. And we think if we get the plan passed it will help keep them down.
Q Dee Dee, what is the President planning to do about the problem of Chinese smuggling of immigrants to the United States?
MS. MYERS: It's something that he's concerned about. He did bring it up yesterday at the Domestic Policy Council meeting. As you know, the National Security Council is sort of overseeing a task force, interagency task force that's looking at that problem now.
Q Is he considering declaring an immigration emergency through to release funds to deal with this problem?
MS. MYERS: We're review it right now.
Q Dee Dee, McLarty's review is taking also a look at the Counsel's Office and its operations, isn't it?
MS. MYERS: The entire episode and all the people within the White House who were involved.
Q Is the Counsel's operation part of the staff review that's also underway in a separate way?
MS. MYERS: McLarty's --
Q Continuing staff reorganization.
MS. MYERS: I'm sure he's taking the entire functioning of the White House into consideration. But, again, I would refer you to Mack for any specifics about what changes or adjustments he might make.
Q Dee Dee, do you know the last time the President or any White House staffers spoke with Secretary Babbitt?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't.
Q Could you repeat the question?
MS. MYERS: Do I know when that last time any White House staffers may have spoken with Secretary Babbitt. And if I did know, I'm not sure I would say.
Q What about the President, himself -- do you know the last time --
MS. MYERS: I don't.
Q Dee Dee, on the budget, do you now anticipate -- do you still anticipate that there will be a budget agreement passed by both Houses out of the conference, out of the conference and passed by the time the President goes to Japan?
MS. MYERS: No, I think what -- we were hopeful that the Senate might pass its version of the President's budget before he goes to Tokyo. I don't think we expect the conference process to be complete by then.
Q So you were hopeful and you're now --
Q You're still hopeful?
MS. MYERS: That the Senate might finish its business by the July 4th recess? Yes, I think -- yes. What Senator Moynihan has said is that he expects to have a vote in the Finance Committee perhaps Thursday. So if things keep moving along -- I don't know that it will happen, but we'd like -- we're hopeful. We'd like to see it happen.
Q Dee Dee, did you have anything on the question I asked yesterday on nuclear matters?
MS. MYERS: No. Where's Don?
Q He went to look for --
MS. MYERS: I know. I know. I apologize. I thought you talked to Don Steinberg about it yesterday.
Q Somebody else, but there was supposed to be more.
MS. MYERS: I'll take it again, for the third day in a row.
Q Does the White House agree with Secretary Pena's concerns about the fuel tax?
MS. MYERS: I think the President has made his position on that clear. He's not supporting any particular proposal in the Senate Finance Committee. He supports a broad-based energy tax. He has said repeatedly that he thinks the Btu tax was the fairest, best way to achieve that. Clearly, there weren't votes in the Senate Finance Committee for it, so they're considering other alternatives. The President's not going to take a position on any of those alternatives yet. The Senate Finance Committee hasn't even resolved its position on it.
Q But his Cabinet member is taking a position against it.
MS. MYERS: Well, that's his personal view.
Q But it's not the President's view.
MS. MYERS: It is not the President's view.
Q Is the President -- do you think that if there is a fuel tax that the airline industry should get some sort of exemption because of its particular difficulties?
MS. MYERS: I think we're going to let the -- see if that is actually a proposal first before we make any determinations.
Q Do you know if the President spoke to Pena today?
MS. MYERS: He did not speak to him directly, but --
Q Through Mclarty?
MS. MYERS: -- the President's views have been communicated.
Q How were they communicated?
MS. MYERS: I believe he spoke with Mack McLarty this morning.
Q What was the message?
Q Will Mr. Pena be expressing his views again? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I think that Secretary Pena understands the President's view that we're not taking a position on this particular proposal.
Q Who initiated the call? McLarty?
MS. MYERS: I think the Secretary called Mack this morning.
Q And what was his explanation that he gave the Chief of Staff about expressing his non-administration view?
MS. MYERS: I think he said that he was expressing a personal opinion and I think he's expressed that quite clearly on the pages of The Washington Post this morning.
Q Dee Dee, I think I understood you to say that the McLarty review would not look at why the IRS descended upon UltrAir, is that right?
MS. MYERS: I don't think so. I think it is -- it is -- would that qualify as a loaded question, do you think? I don't think that's being considered because what we're looking at is the operation of the White House, the different people on the White House staff who were involved and --
Q And who would determine whether the IRS actions were appropriate?
MS. MYERS: I would assume that somebody in the Treasury -- I don't know but I would imagine someone in the Treasury Department if they think there's a problem. I don't thing that that is within the White House purview to review the IRS's actions. I don't think that's appropriate.
Q When you closed off the upper press office the reason given was that you all couldn't get a lot of work done with everybody hanging around. Has that been a problem? Are you getting a lot less work done now?
MS. MYERS: That definitely slows my day down a little. I see much more of you guys in person. But it's very pleasant, it's very -- it's a great fun. (Laughter.)
Q Have you abandoned your morning and afternoon briefing routine?
MS. MYERS: Yes. We've gone to a -- because the morning -- the original deal was that since the upper press office was closed, people said, well, we need to get some kind of facts and information in the morning. So the morning briefing was, I think, in exchange for closing the upper press office.
Q Have you abandoned the idea of an 11:30 a.m. briefing? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: We can certainly do better on timing. No, but it hasn't worked particularly well this week.
Q Can you give us next week's schedule?
MS. MYERS: I can give you a few things. I don't have much, but for the weekend, he has a 10:00 radio address
Q Are you talking about tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: This is Saturday, tomorrow.
MS. MYERS: Yes, 10:06 a.m. The same time.
Q Supreme Court.
MS. MYERS: No, I think at this point it depends on what happens. But at this point, we're moving forward with an economic message.
Q What, I don't have any positions today, but stay tuned? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Ann, are you trying to goad me into talking about principles? I'll do it. (Laughter.)
Q I take it back. I withdraw the question. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Okay. And then, Sunday, as you know, is the little bash under the tent, 6:30 p.m. Monday, unclear at this point. Tuesday morning, he'll have a Democratic leadership meeting at 10:00 a.m. On Wednesday morning he will meet with the President of Namibia -- Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m., and there will probably be some kind of an avail in conjunction with that -- the first head of an African country to come to the White House. And also on Wednesday is the CEO lunch at noon.
Q Do you have the name of the President of Namibia?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I do. President Nujoma.
Thursday he has lunch with the Vice President. Friday he has a lunch meeting and meeting with King Hussein of Jordan.
Q Will we get a photo out of the lunch today?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Still photo?
MS. MYERS: Possibly. I'll check on that.
Q Dee Dee, might a television address on the economic package be put into that schedule eventually next week?
I think at some point we'll do one. We don't have any plans to do one next week at this point, but I would reserve the right to add it.
Q What is so special about Monday? Is that being held for Supreme Court?
MS. MYERS: No, there's just a bunch of tentative meetings on here, but nothing -- it is Flag Day, which I know is important to all of you. But nothing concrete. It was not being held for anything in particular.
Q Is the Court announcement going to be done as soon as it's available, or were you going to wait until Monday? Are you going to do it tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: No, I think it will be done as soon as it's made.
Q So if it's not today, it very probably will be tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: I think that's a reasonable assumption.
Q Sorry to hear that.
Q Are you going to be discussing next week the possibility of resuming nuclear testing, as the paper suggested?
MS. MYERS: As you know, that's under review. I don't know if it's something that we'll be discussing with Congress. At this point, the President supports a phased approach. But I will take that question and see if we have any plans to talk to Congress.
Q Do you have any new guidance on Somalia?
Q clarifications on your week ahead. Tuesday, Democratic leaders, is that House and Senate?
MS. MYERS: Yes, House and Senate.
Q And Friday, what kind of visit is that for King Hussein?
MS. MYERS: It's a working visit.
Q Will they have a press conference afterwards?
MS. MYERS: I haven't seen the tentative schedule, but I would assume so.
Q On Yeltsin, does what you said yesterday still hold?
MS. MYERS: Yes. I'm a little confused about the confusion, to tell you the truth, but --
Q So are we.
MS. MYERS: Yes, I guess that's clear. Let me just make this as clear as I can. At Vancouver, President Yeltsin and President Clinton agreed to meet regularly at the summit level. President Yeltsin invited President Clinton to Moscow, President Clinton accepted. As Secretary Christopher said in Athens yesterday, the details of that visit have not been formally confirmed or announced. And I was simply responding to an erroneous wire report that suggested otherwise.
Q So you're not ruling out a meeting in Moscow either before or after the NATO summit in Brussels in December?
MS. MYERS: It's not -- the point I was trying to make was that a report suggesting that that had been confirmed is just wrong.
Q Well, the report didn't say it had been confirmed, it said that it was planned.
MS. MYERS: It was planned. There are no specific plans at this point for that, or anything else. But, yes, we will meet regularly with Yeltsin.
Q Again, you're not ruling out a meeting between the President and President Yeltsin on that time frame?
MS. MYERS: I guess I can't rule that out, no.
Q Is this your report, Gene? (Laughter.)
Q Dee Dee, didn't the President receive President Mubarak of Egypt here earlier this year?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Isn't he from Africa?
MS. MYERS: I guess that's right.
Q Oooooh. (Laughter.)
Q How many countries --
MS. MYERS: That's right. (Laughter.) I apologize. My mistake.
Q One last thing on the IRS. The White House is not looking into this story at all, or whether it's true or not. Who is?
MS. MYERS: No, no, no. We are looking into -- what The Post reported today, I think will be part of the review. Whether or not it was a --
Q It will be part of the review?
MS. MYERS: Let me just be clear. Whether or not it was appropriate for the IRS to investigate or not investigate UltrAir is something completely outside of our purview. We did not have any contact with the IRS. I don't know why -- I'd have to refer you to them for why they made a decision to go there.
Q But the White House isn't curious as to whether it was done or not?
MS. MYERS: Well, it's not something that we have any control over.
Q You would acknowledge, I would assume, that it's certainly at the very least, a large coincidence that you'd have one official apparently threaten to bring the IRS into the travel office thing, and the IRS suddenly auditing an outfit that hadn't even filed a tax return yet.
MS. MYERS: No one here, unless you guys correct me --no one here is suggesting that we had contact with the IRS.
Q And I'm not suggesting that, either.
MS. MYERS: I want to make that clear. We didn't contact them; they say that we didn't contact them. If you want to know why they decided to investigate UltrAir, I would suggest that you contact them directly. I can't answer that.
Q But that's something you're not curious about?
Q But it's against the law for them to answer that question unless the government and the person audited or company audited agree to waive the privacy laws. Would you perhaps work with the IRS to get the privacy law waived so that they could answer the question of why they showed up in Smyrna?
MS. MYERS: I'll take that. I don't know what the IRS's process are.
Q I'm just asking because you keep saying contact the IRS about why they did that. The only way they could answer is if they violated the law.
MS. MYERS: Again, I'm not familiar with the IRS process; I don't know how they handle questions about why they do investigations. All I'm saying is that it had nothing to do with us.
Q Does the President think it's appropriate for a senior official of this White House to call the FBI and say, if you don't come in and don't come in immediately we'll bring in the IRS?
MS. MYERS: Again, we're conducting a thorough review to determine exactly what happened.
Q Dee Dee, the problem is that Mack McLarty is the action officer both on the case itself and the after-action investigation.
MS. MYERS: The action that we've taken here is we've launched this investigation. It is ongoing. It will be completed relatively soon. We think it will provide a thorough review of what happened and we will make appropriate recommendations at the time. In the meantime, I just am not going to comment on all of the specific details.
Q Dee Dee, if it appears that in conference even a very scaled-back broad-based energy tax does not have sufficient support, would the administration consider supporting in lieu of that an increase in the corporate rate, individual rate, back up to 36 percent --
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to --
Q in spending cuts to make up the difference which would still meet your basic principles?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on hypotheticals.
Q Dee Dee, a couple questions please. One, first on the travel office. What is the White House understanding as to the status of the FBI involvement in this case? Is it your understanding that they are conducting an investigation into the original travel office case?
MS. MYERS: You all have it very clear to me that it's not appropriate for me to comment on FBI investigations. I would refer you to them.
Q And could you tell us why a marine amphibious ready group with 2,200 Marines is headed toward Somalia? Is that at the request of the United Nations? And what is the status of that? Has Boutros Ghali told the U.S. his determination of what happened in Somalia last week and what steps he wants to take?
MS. MYERS: My understanding is that the decision was made by General Hoar in consultation with the Joint Staff. They're in the process of packing up and will be heading for the Straits of Hormuz, and what exactly their role will be is, I think, unclear at this point. But for operational details I would refer you to the Pentagon.
Q You don't know whether Boutros Ghali has told the U.S. what his determination has been regarding the --
MS. MYERS: No. I mean, the decision to make this action was obviously a U.S. decision there under U.S. command.
Q Dee Dee, do you have any idea when the United States will be ready to show a reaction to the alleged assassination plot against former President Bush?
MS. MYERS: At this point we're awaiting the results of the FBI investigation.
Q Any idea of when you will have the results?
MS. MYERS: My understanding is that it's wrapping up, but it's not done.
Q And one other question on that subject. Is there a sense in the White House that there has, assuming the reports are confirmed in some way, that there has to be a reaction, that you can't let this sort of thing slide without doing something? I'm not asking you to tip your hands as to the attack, but you've got to do something, don't you?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we'll take whatever action we deem is appropriate based on the information in the report.
Q Would you be guided by history in such a decision?
MS. MYERS: We're always guided by history in this administration.
Q Where did you say these Marines are coming from?
MS. MYERS: They were part of a joint action in Kuwait.
Q Dee Dee, the filibuster or the cloture, the failure to get cloture on the Senate Finance Committee -- on the campaign finance reform last night, does that mean that your proposal for campaign finance reform is in trouble?
MS. MYERS: No. I believe Senator Boren and others are working to try to work out some kind of compromise. Obviously, we're disappointed that Republicans have chosen to filibuster this bill. The President proposed it. He believes it reflects the will of the American people to get real campaign finance reform to make races more competitive, to open the airwaves. And we're going to continue to push for it. We'll see what happens. But it's unfortunate that the special interests have forced the Republicans into this filibuster position.
Q Dee Dee, what's the status of the Air Force general who was bad-mouthing the President?
MS. MYERS: No change. No change.
Q Are you still waiting for something from the Air Force?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Any indication as to how soon?
MS. MYERS: No. As I said before, they said mid-June, which is coming up. But I don't know specifically when.
Q There have been different accounts of whether Mrs. Clinton is involved in looking at the Supreme Court candidates. Has she been involved, and has she been reading what Babbitt and Breyer have been writing?
MS. MYERS: She may be familiar with them, but she's not involved in the process, no.
Q Is she at the luncheon meeting?
Q She's not actively --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q She's not?
Q Who was at the lunch today?
MS. MYERS: Just the President --
Q Just the President and the Judge?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Nobody else from the Counsel's Office?
MS. MYERS: No. Although, as has been reported, he met with some folks yesterday and he may talk with others. But the lunch will be the President and the Judge.
Q on the Durenberger amendment, the alternative to --
MS. MYERS: The President proposed what he thought was the best solution, which was to eliminate the deduction for lobbying to pay for more competitive airwaves. I haven't seen -- I don't know if the President's taken a position on it.
Q The briefing is over with. (Laughter.)
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:58 P.M. EDT