THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL
The Roosevelt Room
4:13 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: The ground rules for this will be the same as the last time, which is that David Kendall will read a statement on the record, and the rest of this briefing will be on background.
Q Couldn't we have it on the record, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: David Kendall will read a statement on the record, and the rest of this will be on background -- senior administration official and someone familiar with the -- David, how do you want to describe someone familiar with --
MR. KENDALL: Familiar with the records.
MS. MYERS: -- with the records. David will talk about the tax return issues, and [name deleted] will talk more about the commodities trading part of this.
Q And you object to having [name deleted] on the record?
MS. MYERS: Yes. I think we intended to do this on background.
MR. KENDALL: This is my on-the-record statement.
The President and Mrs. Clinton today released additional documents relating to their tax returns and commodity trading in 1978-80. Our review of these records discloses that the Clintons' 1979 tax returns were audited and approved by the Internal Revenue Service; that there was a small, unreported capital loss in 1979; and that a short-term capital gain of $6,498 from 1980 commodities trading was not reported. The federal tax on this gain would have been $3,315; the state tax would have been $514.
The Clintons are today paying these taxes plus accrued interest. Even though taxpayers have no obligation to correct newlydiscovered errors from 14 years ago, the President and Mrs. Clinton have repeatedly said that they will correct any mistakes in their tax returns if any errors are found; and they are doing so today.
The Clintons do not know how the error occurred, but accept responsibility for it. They view it as their duty to come forward, disclose the mistake and pay what is owed. They've made a payment to the federal government of $3,315 -- the amount of additional tax due on the 1980 return; along with a payment of $10,134 representing interest due on this amount. They have also made a payment of $514 along with a payment of $652 in interest representing the amount due the state of Arkansas. The Internal Revenue Service audited the Clintons' 1979 tax returns with a particular focus on commodity training gains and the interest deductions for that year. The IRS audit concluded that their income from commodities trading and their interest deductions were accurately reported, and no additional taxes or adjustments were required.
The Clinton's tax returns for 1979 and 1980 were professionally prepared by the their CPA in Little Rock. And in 1980 they paid $17,680 in federal income tax, and $2,836 in Arkansas state income tax. The Clintons provided their accountant with relevant financial records, including commodity trading records that they had received.
In 1978, Mrs. Clinton opened an investment account with Stephens, Inc. in Little Rock. Beginning in October 1979, her broker at Stephens initiated several commodity trades. He dealt sequentially with three commodities brokers -- Clayton Brokerage Company, 1978; Peavey Company, 1979-'80; and ACLI International Commodity Services, Inc. in 1980. This trading began with a $5,000 deposit by Mrs. Clinton on October 12, 1978, and ended when the ACLI account was closed on May 14th, 1980.
Stephens, Inc., prepared annual year-end statements on which the Clintons and their CPA relied the preparation of the family's tax returns. The Stephens year-end statement for 1980 attached to the tax return only included information on securities and bonds. Documentation provided by Peavey enabled the Clintons' CPA to document a short-term capital loss on Schedule D of their 1980 return amounting to $449.00. Although Mrs. Clinton received monthly statements from ACLI while the ACLI account was open, she apparently did not receive any year-end summary or account closing summary of the ACLI gains and losses. At that time, brokerage firms dealing with -- (inaudible).
In the analysis of the record by the Clintons' attorneys and accountant concluded over the weekend, it was determined that a small capital loss made in dollars from the Clayton account was not reported on the 1979 return. It was also determined that a shortterm capital gain of $6,498 from the ACLI account was not reported on the 1980 return.
Three of the last five presidents have been required to pay back taxes that the IRS determined were due --. Here the Clintons have reached back 14 years to a time long closed by the IRS, and after careful investigation, have made the determination themselves to pay not only the tax, but also interest for that entire period in amount that dwarfs the tax paid.
A quick correction -- that should be '79. On the second page -- one, two, third paragraph -- I beg your pardon. There is a typographical error. The last sentence of the third paragraph which begins, "This trading began with a $5,000 deposit -- (inaudible) -- 1979."
Q When were they audited?
MR. KENDALL: They were audited --
Q Shouldn't this be '79 also at the beginning of that paragraph -- the Stephens account?
MR. KENDALL: No, the Stephens account was -- let me make a brief on the record statement and then we'll take your questions on background. That's the statement you have, and the whole statement's available for the record, so let me highlight a couple of paragraphs.
The White House is today making available additional records of the First Lady's commodity transactions as documented by her brokerage house, REFCO, as well as records from commodities trading that was conducted through Stephens, Inc. The transactions covered by these records occurred during 1978 through 1980.
At the request of the White House, Mr. Leo Melamed of Chicago, Illinois, an internationally recognized expert on the commodities markets, reviewed the records over the weekend of the First Lady's commodity transactions. A statement by Mr. Melamed accompanies my statement and is available for the record with the additional documents being released today.
I would note that Mr. Melamed at the time was the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and is a former Chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, one of the foremost experts in the industry. And he concludes that she paid normal full commissions; she made money on a lot of trades, lost money on some; sometimes those losses were substantial; and on balance she did well. She received some valuable market advice and assistance and violated no rules in the course of these transactions.
That concludes my ON THE RECORD statement.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: A question was already asked. Let me clarify that. Now we're ON BACKGROUND. The Stephens account was opened in 1978, but the commodity trading didn't begin until October 12, 1979.
Q The $5,000, is that -- that's a different account from the --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is a different account.
Q Do you think you were candid with us the last --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: She started the Stephens account with $5,000 cash.
Q And what did she wind up that Stephens account with when she closed it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: When the account was closed, $10,489 was withdrawn in May of 1980.
Q Have other funds been withdrawn during the course that that account was active?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, they have not.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If you want, I could explain the math; which is, if you add the $6,498 which we reference in Mr. Kendall's statement on the taxes and I believe the $1,009 which had been deducted from her base, that she deducted from her 1979 and 1980 tax returns from the Peavey account, you get to the -- you can calculate the amount then.
Q The last time we were here talking about the Stephens account, you said she opened it with $5,000, lost $1,000 and got out.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's correct.
Q Now, that's inoperative.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is inoperative. In the course of collecting these records, we discovered this --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We determined that there was -- we finally determined that there was, in fact, a gain and that the gain of $6,498 had been unreported, and we've taken corrective action.
Q How did you finally determine it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: By a review of the records, by a collection of the records, by following through what are really three trading accounts kept by one separate brokerage account; and by really beginning back in October of '79 and doing the analysis all the way up to when the commodity accounts were closed.
Q Do you think you were candid with us when you first explained Mr. Blair's role; then two weeks later you come back and tell us something different?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. I think the question that was on the table at the time and the question I tried to respond to at the time was, did Mrs. Clinton control her own account; was she making trading decisions? And that was the thrust of the questions. I tried to give you -- in the course of preparing for this briefing, I went back and looked at the answers that I gave. I don't think I gave you any inaccurate information with regard to that.
As further questions were asked, I learned more information; and I, frankly, was able -- based on questions about how the transactions were actually carried out, and I provided that The Washington Post when asked.
Q Did you know at that time --
Q Did you learn more by talking to Mrs. Clinton?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I did.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Subsequent to the last briefing.
Q For those of us who weren't at the original briefing, you did not say then that Mrs. Clinton made her own trades, but Mrs. Clinton was making her own trade decisions. Is that what you said in the first briefing -- I'm sorry.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't have the transcript in front of me -- maybe we can get that; but I said that she was in control of her account; she made her trading decisions. I think that, again, what was clear in my comments to The Post over the weekend --
Q Did you know what his role --
Q Let him finish.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- was that she would discuss it with Mr. Blair at times, make a decision, then Blair would pass along the information. Actually, the brokers at REFCO would place the trade in a technical sense with the brokerage house.
Q Who advised her on her Stephens trading? That was a whole different account, a bunch of different commodities, it was in a difference city. Who was giving her advice on trading all those commodities through Stephens?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Primarily her broker, Bill Smith.
Q Bill Smith, at Stephens, Inc.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: At Stephens Inc.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Who was at that time at Stephens, Inc.
Q So at the time of the last briefing, you were not aware that Blair was making most of those transactions --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I was not aware that he was passing along the trading decisions that Mrs. Clinton was making.
I want to be clear about that. I think that she was making the decisions. He was not exercising discretion over her account. He would check with her, they would talk about it; sometimes she would take his advice, sometimes she wouldn't. When they reached a conclusion, he would pass along the decision.
Q But how do you know she made the decision to get in and out?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Because she has told me that and he has -- well, she has told me -- with specific reference to getting in and out, she has told me that.
Q Why is the amount of interest here so different? On the federal government's interest payment, it's 300 percent of the amount owed, whereas on the state payment, it's only about 30 percent bigger.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't give you a logical answer, but I can give you a factual answer. The IRS quarterly publishes interest charges, and those in the relevant period have ranged from 7 percent to 20 percent. It's a complicated calculation, depending upon what the quarterly interest charge is. The state of Arkansas, you simply call up the revenue people, give them the year and the date and they tell you how much you owe in interest.
Q Is there no penalty?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We did not feel that any penalty would be applicable here in either case. This is a strictly voluntary payment. It is 14 years old.
Q Is there any question, though? Could the IRS not come back and say, you do owe a penalty as a result of this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We don't believe so because the tax year has long ago closed.
Q In the earlier description of Mrs. Clinton's trading you said that she became pregnant which caused her to get cold feet or she lost the stomach for it. But these new records show she was actively trading in February, March, April, during the month that the baby was born. Right? February? And March, April, and even into May when she had a week's old infant in her arms. Does that mean that that statement was not true also?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think if you look at the trading from the time her baby was born -- and I think it's her recollection that that affected her desire to trade -- that largely she was closing out her positions through March. She made one small trade in May.
Q What was the margin call that the President talked about at the town meeting?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the President made the reference to a time in which the baby was born. I don't believe -- I think that the --
Q He said she got a margin call and then she got out.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I think he said that you haven't received a margin call; she did, and then she got out. She was having a baby. I think that that, again -- we are talking about recollections that are 15, 16 years old, and I don't believe that there was a margin call at the time Chelsea was born.
Q Was there a margin call along the way somewhere, however?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The REFCO records we released two weeks ago indicate there were margin calls.
Q? you and I talked about this, you indicated you believed that the margin call to which the President was referring was in this trading account, the second trading account, the Stephens account.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know, we are trying the best we can to reconstruct this. These are 16-year-old recollections, they're 16-year-old records. And I think that she did -- I have to get the records out -- I'll get back to you on that, but I think there was a loss that Mrs. Clinton remembered that occurred right around the time that Chelsea was born, and I think that that really was the memory that was triggered in the President's mind.
Q margin call?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think that resulted in a margin call, it was just a substantial loss, and she closed her position out and got out.
I think at this point we're just trying to match recollections with documents, rather than having a really specific recollection that there was a margin call at that point. I believe that one -- she was -- right after the baby was born, there was, as I say, a loss in one of those positions that ended up being closed in March.
Q Can you clarify when and why the IRS audit was done in '79 --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We know that the audit letter went out in January of 1982. I can't tell you why it was done. You have the letter itself, which indicates the primary areas of interest, and it was -- yes, it' back of my statement.
Q There was no audit in the '80 tax return, correct?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's correct.
Q And what is the statute of limitations on filing back taxes that were missed?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Three years. Criminal statute is five years.
Q So, legally, they didn't have to do this, but they voluntarily decided to do it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Exactly right. The President has said on many occasions that whatever the legal obligation, if they determine that a tax has not been paid that they will pay it. And this was the determination that was made here when we finally, just last weekend, the last few days, put all of the records together and ascertained that indeed there was this gain here.
Q Well, what's your best guess -- how did they miss the $6,400 --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't have a best guess and I don't have a precise explanation. The records are complicated. There were no year-end summaries either from ACLI or Stephens on the commodities part. If you look to the 1980 tax return, you will see a schedule from Stephens that does indicate bond and stock capital gains and losses. I think that the best answer is this was simply overlooked. It was not obvious from the records at hand, and it went unreported.
Q So some of the other profits from the Stephens account were reported, but the profits for the commodities were not. That's the only thing that was not reported.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's correct.
Q But the other aspects of the Stephens account were reported.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They were. And Stephens again was largely -- did the stock and bond trading. It went to other commodity brokers -- first to Clayton, second to Peavey, third to ACLI. And of those entities, it appears that only Peavey sent out year-end statements. You'll see the two Peavey yearend statements. They are there; they were reported.
Q Who were the Presidents?
Q Other than Nixon.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Reagan, Bush and Nixon were the ones I was thinking of. Bush, while he was Vice President.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: $198,000, I think, for, I think, Bush. We know that the Reagans paid $20,000, and then their only estimate to the amount of tax imposed, due to Mrs. Reagan's gifts. And then, I believe that President Nixon, we know, paid $280,000.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He also had liability for $148,000 in 1969.
Q Did Bush, because of his house in Texas and the thing in Maine -- Kennebunkport -- this was the legal argument over which one was the residence and which --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. And he ended up paying, I believe, in three -- it was not reported until later --
Q Well, this wasn't -- not unreported income; this was a dispute over which one of his --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was $198,000.
Q residences he could claim.
Q He paid taxes on $198,000 or he paid $198,000 --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- pay $198,000 in taxes.
Q Can you clarify for us again how you came to discover -- additional $6,500 in unreported taxes? Did Mrs. Clinton recall it in reviewing her own records, or did you recall it reviewing her records?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll try and describe it. We tried to put the records together as we found them from these three trading accounts that were done through Stephens. As my colleague has indicated, you begin with a $5,000 deposit in the Clayton account. There's some trading in the Clayton account, because they don't send a year-end statement, a small capital loss goes unreported. That was $80.00. Peavey does send a year-end statement for 1979, and you see that loss of $560.00 reflected on the '79 tax returns.
Early in 1980, and again you see this on the 1980 tax returns, Peavey has another loss in the amount of $449. Now, going into the ACLI account, is $3,911. However, that is $80 short of what you do when you work out the math because the Clayton commissions weren't included in there.
You get from the Peavey to ACLI transfer of $3,911. You then go through a large variety of trades, which are reflected in the ACLI records. You finally come to transfer out on 5/14/80 of $10,489 that goes back to Stephens.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: For those of you who would like to find it quickly, we provided an easy-to-use chart.
Q I think you're missing -- our point is, were you going through records in your basement and said, oh, my God, here's some Peavey account --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Your questions caused us to focus on these records and do an analysis. And that analysis has been difficult. We have just completed it on the tax aspects, and these are the results.
Q was not complete when you briefed on this before -- is that what it is?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's absolutely right.
Q When did you start the analysis? You said your questions prompted us to do an analysis. When did you start going back over this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We really began it in the last week or so in looking, at least, at least at the tax aspects of it trying to figure out what, how the numbers fit together from the various accounts.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd like to add something. I'd like to add two points. One is that in my colleague's going through the history of '79, we should add that the $72,996.00 gain reflected on the REFCO end-of-the-year statement was provided to the accountant and properly included in their -- that's a gain which they properly included in their 1979 tax returns.
Secondly, when we briefed the last time, we were primarily briefing on REFCO. At that time we said we were trying to get these other records together. When we began to assemble them, they were with my colleague, and he began to pull them together, and we tried to understand what was in them. And through the course of that, we discovered this --
Q But my question is, how come in one week, 14 years after the fact, you were able to these ACLI records showing a $6,500 gain that was not available to the Clintons in early 1981 when they were preparing their taxes?
Q their does record go to ACLI?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I can't answer the question. The records are confusing. They are over two years and three trading accounts. There are no summaries. The Clintons have accepted responsibility. It was an oversight. We don't know how it happened. They had a professional return preparer, a good accountant, as the audit indicates when the IRS checked out the 1979 returns. Everything was in order.
Q But why can't you answer that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: These were all the Clintons' records. They were in their possession at one place or another.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And we believe they were -- and, as we said, we believe they were turned over to the accountant.
Q The evidence was there --
Q They were turned over to the accountant?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We believe so. That was their standard practice.
Q You didn't have to call up -- the records were there. You didn't --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No one else has records.
Q call up ACLI and say, hey, we're missing these records?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: ACLI is long out of business. These were the Clintons' own records. And they have preserved them for 14 years. It was our own analysis that determined this. It wasn't the IRS or anything else.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that in --
Q On whose initiative did you go after these records? Was it Mrs. Clinton's, was it the President's or was it both?
Q Or yours?
Q Or Dee Dee's? (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that we were trying -- you had questions; we were trying to be as forthcoming as possible. The question was asked earlier why it took us two weeks to get it together. Frankly, we're trying to reconstruct things that happened 15 or 16 years ago. We found the records in a variety of places. But they were in the possession of the Clintons. We've pulled them together, and we're trying to provide as much information as quickly as we can. And when we get additional information, we'll provide it to you. If we find additional record -- you now have the records we have; if you find additional records, we'll be happy to provide --
Q So it was your initiative and not the Clintons. It was your initiative.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it was the -- no, I didn't say that.
Q That's what I'm asking, was it the Clintons or was it yours?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They directed us to review these records top to bottom.
Q Are these all the records or are there more records yet to come?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: These are all the records we have been able to locate. Believe me, we have looked very hard for records that would indicate some loss that would counterbalance the gain. (Laughter.)
Q When were the taxes paid?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They were paid today.
Q They paid today? How were they paid? Were they like hand-delivered in a certified check?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sent to the Treasury in the State of Arkansas.
Q [name deleted], are you doing a similar reconstruction of the Whitewater records --
Q Their income tax --
Q Are you doing a similar reconstruction with the Whitewater records as it relates to the taxes?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. We are analyzing issues as they come along on Whitewater, and we'll follow the same procedure here. Anything we determine to be erroneous will be corrected.
Q So with the documents coming out in Little Rock tomorrow, you don't know anything that's going to come out tomorrow that's going to cause you to have another one of these sessions on Thursday?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not aware of anything right now.
Q The one question I have is, when she pulled the $10,000 out of the account, she put $5,000 in and you took $10,500 out, doesn't that tell you you have a gain?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If you look at these trading records, you will see a complicated pattern of gains and losses. You will also not see any easy way to define the basis for determining what your gain is.
Q Okay, except my question is, whatever -- if you go up and down and up and down in a single year, this was a relatively short period of time -- you put in $5,000 and you take out $10,500. No matter what the trading pattern is, don't you have to pay capital gains on that $10,000?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You do, but what I'm suggesting to you is, that's not an easy calculation where you have two years at issue, three trading accounts and no year in summaries.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: And it was being traded through an account in which there was a year-end summary provided.
Q Was the $5,000 account opened with cash or is there a cancelled check on --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There's a wire transfer.
Q A wire transfer?
Q discretionary? She was the one who made those decisions?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was a discretionary account. The broker was able to make decisions, but did so in consultation with her.
Q Stephens was a discretionary account.
Q Did you offset the unreported capital loss of $80?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, we did.
Q In your discussions with Mrs. Clinton, or a discussion in which you learned that her trade, in fact, were sometimes placed by Mr. Blair, what else have you learned in the last week on a colter of how she made her decisions, and who else she got advice from; how she contacted him on a daily basis in order to instruct him to make trades for her?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that depended on how active she was in the market at the particular time. I think she'd talk to him frequently. I think there were other people who she talked with, but that he was, I think -- he was particularly active following the market on a daily basis. And, as I said in the last briefing, he was her important advisor and gave her trade advice. She didn't always take it -- sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't.
Q Can you tell us who else she got advice from?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll try to get that.
Q Did she ever actually place a trade herself?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I believe she did. I believe she did. I believe she did at REFCO. But, again, everyone's memory is not crystal clear on this, but I believe she did.
Q Have you asked her that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I have asked her that, and she believes she did.
Q With Mr. Bone?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's not clear whether it was with Mr. Bone or with one of the other brokers. I think she's met Mr. Bone.
Q Did Blair play any role, formal or informal, in the Stephens account?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think so, but I can't say that they didn't talk about some of these areas.
Q My calculation is that the Clintons today wrote out a check for $14,615 to the state and to the federal government.
Q If you add up the state and the federal --
Q Two checks totaling $14,615.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Whatever the numbers add up to, those are the checks --
Q So it would be two checks totaling that amount?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes.
Q And they went out today?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. Yes.
Q If it's cost them so far $14,000, this whole review has cost them $14,615 -- (laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: One might ask, do your lawyers exist to make you pay more taxes or save you taxes.
Q Well, the question I have is, obviously your legal fees will be added to this, whatever they may be. How much so far has this review cost the Clintons out of their pocket?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know and I'm not going to speak to the legal fees. It has cost them the amounts that you've indicated. Again, there is not a legal obligation to do that. It was a voluntary payment which they felt was the right thing to do, and they've done it.
Q Are they paying you legal fees?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I'm billing them, and they're paying me, and that's all I'm going to say about it.
Q Dee Dee, can you talk about that? Do you know whether they've paid any legal fees to Mr. Campbell? Could you find out for us --
Q Are you billing them at your standard hourly rate that you would bill me?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I am.
Q Is there any review or second-guessing going on about the internal process here at the White House, which has managed to drag this whole thing out over an extended period of time?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are trying to provide information and answers as quickly as we can get them. We're sort of damned if we do, and we're damned if we don't. If we don't provide you information, you're pounding on us that we haven't put it out quickly enough; and if we get information out and then come back with more after we've gathered and analyzed it, then we're dragging it out. Our modus operandi is to get -- as we get information that we can provide to you, we'll provide it to you. And I think the Clintons are both fully supported that. And they have -- that really goes back to the last question.
Q Did you know that Mr. Blair executed a number of trades before The Washington Post asked you?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that's a technical question, and I answered it, which is, he passed along the information. I did not know that before they asked.
Q Did you know before The Washington --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I did not know that before The Washington Post --
Q Have they filed their --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I never asked either one of them that. And I --
Q on the 15th?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We'll put out a statement on the 15th.
Q Mrs. Clinton has always been such an effective spokeswoman for any issue that's come up. Why hasn't she just directly taken this thing on head on, like tell -- a Geraldine Ferraro-type news conference on this and just dealt with all the questions that have come along?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think she's answered questions as they're posed to her, and she's going to continue to do that.
Q Is there some concern about her legal exposure on this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q Any plans for her to conduct a news conference along these lines?
Q What you're referring to are things that have happened on the run.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: On the run?
Q Yes, trips to Denver and other places.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What's that?
Q Questions that she's entertained on this subject.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: She's held press availabilities in every city she's been in. She's answered any questions --
Q How about Wall Street?
Q How about the White House?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Maybe you guys ought to invest some time and money and follow us on the road.
Q We've invested lots of time and money.
Q Why do we have to? I mean, why can't we operate from here, in the White House?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd like to add one point, which is that lost through in all this is the Melamed statement. I would reference the fact that with these additional documents, you can see that full commissions were paid in overnight trading, as opposed to day trading. It's virtually impossible to allocate trades. Many of the issues that have been sort of thrown up as problems in the trading account, I think, are answered by that statement. And if you'd like to get additional information --
Q ask him to make this review?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He did it over the weekend.
Q Part of the Melamed statement, there's a line that reads as follows: "It must be noted that she was trading was incredibly correct on the market directions of that day." Do I take it day means that era in time?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Era, yes.
Q When he says, "incredibly correct," I assume he means that in a colloquial --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that he means they made a lot of money for their clients, for a lot of clients.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no.
Q read that whole story and figured that and I didn't have to?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It won't do you any good.
(Inaudible segment away from microphone.)
Q How much time has Mrs. Clinton spent on all of this? Reconstructing stuff, talking to you -- can you give us an idea of how much times she's put into this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think she's primarily working on health care --
Q Well, yes, but I mean she's devoted some time to this.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think she has been totally responsive to me. When I ask a question, she's tried to give me the information.
Q But you don't have any idea of how many hours or -- do you see her -- do you talk to her every day on this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No -- but I talk to her quite frequently. And she's tried -- again, these are 16-year-old records. She's trying to jog her memory, and new questions come up and, frankly, with all of you pouring over the records, I'm sure they'll be more questions. I'll taken them, and I'll try to get the answers.
Q But the fact that she was still trading in commodities in 1980 is new. We were told she got out and --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that's not true.
Q But everything you say --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I said at the last briefing that following the birth of Chelsea, she basically got out of the market. She was winding her way out of the market.
Q But everything you say is what she's told you basically. You haven't gone to try to corroborate --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I've talked to Blair.
Q tried to corroborate the recollections. You've talked to Blair. Have you talked to Bone?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No.
Q So you don't know if these records or the records you gave us before actually reflect what happened, or not. They're just records that they've provided you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure, I do. Of course, they do.
Q Well, if trades were allocated, they can just make up a record for a trade after the fact. I mean, you don't know if they did that or not.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, no, no, no. I mean, I think that's more on this point, which is you can allocate trades -- if you're going to allocate trades, you need to do that on a daily basis. Once you open a position up and hold it overnight, you're at the mercy of the market. There's no more good trade for you, bad trade for him. You're at the mercy of the market. And the 30 out of 32 trades are overnight trades.
Q Okay, the stuff that you gave us the first time could not show whether or not her trades were allocated. You're saying this does.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. This shows that they were not.
Q I mean -- that's what I mean.
Q These 32 were REFCO or Stephens trades?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: REFCO. The Stephens trades were held open for long periods of time. There's one trade that was probably for five months.
Q There was a time when the expression was she was exasperated that people cared this much about this old stuff. Was that correct, and is there still that sense or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think she's understands that people are going to have questions, and she's trying to answer them.
Q What was her reaction when she was told that in fact they had -- that was unreported?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think she -- we had a hard time really sort of understanding how that was true and wanted to know exactly how that could have been possible because she was in the habit of always providing all the information and paying her taxes. And as I said in the briefing, the fact that she paid taxes on the $26,000 in 19 -- $26,000-plus in 1978, the $72,000-plus in 1979 indicates that.
So she was, I think, at first wanted to know precisely how that happened. But then when she -- when Kendall explained to her, she --
Q So these were ACLI records -- based on ACLI records that the accountant presumably had at the time but overlooked?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know, we can't be certain. The standard practice was to -- . But there was no yearend statement. And again, these were complex and confusing records. If you took these records and said -- after someone explained to you what you're looking for -- and said, go find it, it'd be pretty easy to find it. But they were -- you know, when I think Kendall first looked at them and I first looked at them, they were complex and confusing.
Q These things didn't immediately pop out when you first saw these records --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No --. It took him a long time, and he did -- he did significant --
Q And the thing -- on the REFCO booking, was he pouring over -- as well over the weekend or just Stephens or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the REFCO documents, whether he was or I was, the REFCO documents --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I checked the numbers. (Laughter.)
Q And you don't expect to be releasing any more records to us?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We have no more records, but if we get any more I'm sure we're probably get a request for them and we'll probably end up releasing them.
Q The total gains now goes up to $106,000 on $100,000?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. It could support another five gain. That was $5,000 cash. So it's $98,000 plus $6,000. Well, it was $98,000 -- it was actually $98,000 plus $5,500 because the reason there's a $6,500 gain is because she took $1,000 loss. So it's about $103,000 -- $104,000 on $6,000.
Q $104,000 on $6,000. The ratio is getting better.
Q I don't mean to belabor this point, I just want to understand --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I suppose you can make money outside of Springdale. (Laughter.)
Q These numbers that we have -- are these the ones that Kendall went over a couple weeks ago? I mean, you're saying there are no other records?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's right.
Q That he has no more details than we have?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: These are the commodity records. That's it.
Q Now, where were these records kept? Did the Clintons have all these in the White House? Were they in Arkansas, or were they scattered around?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They were scattered around.
END4:55 P.M. EDT