THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS ANN LEWIS
The Briefing Room
3:10 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Let me do a couple of things to start before we get to any other news you're interested in. First, let me say the President is pleased that the Senate has just voted 53-46 to release the FY'97 funds for international family planning programs. This is a victory for women, children and families all over the world, one which would not have been accomplished without bipartisan support.
For a generation the United States has led the world in support for family planning programs. The work that our country has funded in developing countries has been supportive of families, has improved women's health and has enabled generations of children to grow and be educated in safer, healthier environments. We applaud the action of the Senate today, and of course, the similar action taken earlier by the House.
A couple of other announcements. On the evening of April 15th, the President of the United States will attend the Mets versus Dodgers game up at Shea Stadium which will honor Jackie Robinson on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his first appearance in the Big Show. Mrs. Robinson and other members of the Robinson family are going to be there.
Tomorrow we have the Chilean state visit. A couple of additions to the President's schedule: He's, I think you know, talking to the Business Council on Thursday -- that will be in the morning. That's a group of --
MR. MCCURRY: No, that's over -- here in town, local hotel. They have a meeting every year to kind of talk about economic and business-related issues and he'll speak to them. It's going to be in a small room, so it's a pooled event, I am told. And then Friday, we've got again in the morning, depending on the weather either inside or outside, the President will announce new teenage smoking regulations which will take effect that day and put some focus on our efforts to encourage children to avoid taking up the habit of smoking.
Q That was Friday?
MR. MCCURRY: Friday.
Q The Thursday Business Council thing --
MR. MCCURRY: Business Council.
Q -- is that a Democratic Business Council?
MR. MCCURRY: No, no, that's a private sector group that meets annually called the Business Council. I think they've met in the past down in Williamsburg, if I'm not mistaken.
Q And where are they meeting?
MR. MCCURRY: They're meeting locally, outside -- off campus.
Q Mike, the smoking announcement, these are previously announced regulations that are going to be --
MR. MCCURRY: The President will talk about the proposed regulations, and the regulations scheduled to take effect.
Q What's new about it, though?
MR. MCCURRY: What's new is that they have concluded the period of review, the proposed regulations.
Saturday, the President, the First Lady and daughter Chelsea will go to New York to enjoy the city of New York for a private visit in honor of Chelsea's 17th birthday. They will stay overnight and they will return on Sunday. And then the President has got an event down here on Ford's Theater on Sunday night, which I don't think we had on our schedule earlier.
Q Are they staying at the Waldorf or a hotel?
MR. MCCURRY: They'll stay at a proper location in New York.
Q Do you expect certification then on Friday?
MR. MCCURRY: Say again?
Q Do you expect a certification decision on Friday since they've going out of town on Saturday?
MR. MCCURRY: We are working very hard toward that end, I am told, but I will know better tomorrow or the next day.
Now, I have some positive reinforcements here if you've got any other subjects you're interested in.
Q Are you trying to say that the lists of names you put out are all personal friends of the President?
MR. MCCURRY: No. Let me do a little bit at the top here just to talk about what we have done today. The President ran for reelection last year. At times, we forget that. He won, as I recall. A large part of his effort went to building a successful campaign structure. He did so knowing in the aftermath of the 1994 election that he had a very uphill fight, and he would likely be outspent and out-financed by the Republican Party and he put his shoulder to the wheel to raise the necessary funds to conduct an effective campaign. And even though we were in the end outspent by the Republican Party, the President did put together an effective campaign. We've put together a lot of documentation today that is designed to explain further the circumstances under which we raised money for that campaign.
I think if you look at it, an observation that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once made, he wrote an essay entitled "The Iron Law of Emulation," which I think was a ripoff of Robert Michel, although he would not probably care to admit that, but he made the observation that organizations in conflict become like one another, and that's true if you think of navies or football teams or political institutions and political parties. And I think one of the things clear in these documents. As you look at the structuring of the various donor councils, the Democratic National Committee, the effort to do things to encourage and motivate supporters, a large part of what we did was similar to, in fact, in some cases mirroring efforts that were underway at the Republican Party.
I say that because this is in a fairly detailed release of information about the mechanics of the working national campaign. Now, questions have been raised about the Republican Party's fundraising for things like Team 100, the Eagles Club, the Season Ticket Holder Program. My strong guess is that when you see the documentation, the memoranda, the record of conversations between party officials about their programs, you'll similar kinds of activity underway by the parties.
Now, if one makes a judgment that this activity is not the way we want our campaign finance system to work, then you have to inevitably arrive at the conclusion that we need to reform those laws. The President, as you know, has already arrived at that conclusion, remains a strong advocate of the McCain-Feingold legislation and will continue to press hard for passage of that legislation.
Now, Helen, in response to your question, the way we're going to divide up assignments here is, Ann Lewis you all know is the Deputy Director of Communications and has got more information available on matters pertaining to the Lincoln Bedroom. And we can start there if you would like. Mr. Lanny Davis, who you all know, the Special Counsel in the Office of White House Legal Counsel, can tell you more about other aspects of the documents.
Q I just want to ask one question. Don't you think there is a lot of hypocrisy in always advocating reform and doing exactly the opposite?
MR. MCCURRY: No, because we're not doing "exactly the opposite." The reforms the President is advocating would still allow for private fundraising activity, private contributions to support federal elections, including primary campaigns for President. The only exception is the national presidential campaign, which is publicly financed.
No one that I am aware of, including those who are the strongest advocates of reform, suggests that we should have public financing of campaigns. And if you don't got that direction with reform, you have to restrict what are voluntary private contributions. We have made some restrictions voluntarily ourselves on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, but that is the system that we are trying to change -- a system of private, voluntary contributions and we're seeking support for the legislation now pending on the Hill that would accomplish that kind of reform. And the President will continue to do that.
We will have some restrictions that exist in the raising of so-called "nonfederal or soft" money, but that is a system that will be in place until such time as we outlaw or ban that type of contribution. The President, again, would suggest to the Republican Party that, voluntarily, both parties could give up those types of contributions. But we haven't heard back from the Republicans on that point.
Q The President is advocating campaign finance reform. Aren't there already laws on the books which prohibit the use of White House executive offices for any kind of political or campaign fundraising, number one? And number two, do you conclude or is it your contention that nobody in the White House used either the White House or executive offices for any political or campaign fundraising during the last campaign?
MR. MCCURRY: You're misreading the law, because those are two separate sets of questions. Under the Hatch Act and the Hatch Act amendments, White House employees who are not covered in the same way as other federal employees can engage in political activity here in the White House; there is no legal restriction on that. The legal restriction applies to the use of government resources for that political activity. We are not, therefore, allowed to use taxpayer finance, phones, computers, hardware in order to pursue political activity. But there's nothing in the law that prohibits anyone from doing political activity here because, in fact, the law and the legislative history of the act makes clear that there was recognition by Congress that a large part of working at the White House is a political exercise. This is a political place. Many of you cover the beat as a political beat.
There's recognition in the law and the way the law is interpreted that there is a fair amount of politics that happens here at the White House. What we don't ask is for taxpayers -- again, same principle I just described -- we don't ask taxpayers to finance that type of political activity.
There is a separate restriction that exists for the solicitation of funds for political activities, which cannot occur on these premises, and what we say again and what I think the President's made clear and others have made clear is that we did not solicit here at the White House or at the residence funding for our campaigns at the various events that are described in some of these documents.
Q What about funding for the DNC?
MR. MCCURRY: Or funding with -- there was no direct solicitation of contributions at these events.
Q But what is your interpretation of how the rule on solicitation would apply to using the White House as part of an overall incentive that eventually ends with the solicitation that occurs in some other building?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, I said to you two weeks ago and I've said from time to time these events were held knowing full well that the Democratic National Committee would likely approach those who attended to see if they had been motivated to give more funds or to give any funds or to, in some cases, get a response after a presentation by the President.
The President, I think I said not too long ago, would have been surprised if they had not done that kind of follow-up. That large part of the documentation that exists now and the discussions back and forth between Mr. Ickes and people at the party committee were about that type of restriction.
Now, the important point is everyone knew what the boundaries were in the law, as I've just described them. And, Lanny, maybe you can help me with a little more clarity on that. But we've given you just now, among other documents, the guidelines that existed at the DNC. If you look at those, you will see that they also very clearly had the restrictions that existed on what they could properly do, what we could properly do with respect to these various events.
Q Mike, you insisted in recent weeks that you would not make public the list of overnight guests, that this was a private matter for the Clintons. What changed your mind?
MR. MCCURRY: What I've said -- if you look back at what I've said on many occasions, I said as a practical matter, it is very hard to separate out friends, supporters, those who have contributed to the political efforts of the President in looking at the list of people who stayed overnight as personal guests of the Clintons. And if you look at these documents, you can see exactly that. There are people who are clearly longtime friends of the Clintons, but are also well-known contributors to the Democratic Party. Maybe Ann can give you a couple of --
Q Yes, but my question is why are you shredding the Clintons privacy today when you said you wouldn't do it?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that it was important to do that in light of some of the documents released today, and also to establish the difference between the types of individuals we're talking about who were there. The President has said on occasion that most of the people who have stayed there were friends and supporters, relatives, folks from Arkansas and also people who, partly because they were friends in many cases were also contributors.
Q Mike, along those lines, there's a memo from Evelyn Lieberman specifically says -- refers to the coffees as fundraisers. Is there something amiss there, or are you now acknowledging that the coffees were fundraisers?
MR. MCCURRY: No, they were not fundraisers, because fundraisers -- I've been to them, you've been to them -- you've been there when the President's been there, everyone in this room has been to fundraisers -- you buy a ticket, you sit down, you have a bad chicken meal and you listen to the speech. But you have to buy the ticket to get in. These were not events in which you had to buy a ticket to get in, nor was there any solicitation of funds made by the President at the occasion, and that's why they were not fundraisers.
Q And just to follow up on that, when the DNC documents show --
MR. MCCURRY: They clearly were related to the effort to build financial support for the party, and I think I've acknowledged that all along.
Q When they show that they expect to get, say, $250,000, $300,000 from a particular coffee, that again doesn't turn the coffee into a fundraiser?
MR. MCCURRY: No, it doesn't turn it into a fundraiser, but it makes it part of the effort to build financial support for the party. Now, another important point to make, if you look at that list that we gave you a long time ago, those who attended fundraising coffees, if that's what you want to call them, you will notice that many of those people didn't give funds. At the end of the day, some of the people who attended those events did not wind up contributing for whatever reason of their own personal choice. So the notion that there was any specific requirement that they give money was not a feature of the coffees themselves, but they clearly were designed to get people motivated, interested in the President, his program, his priorities, and I think the President would have been surprised, as I've said in the past, if the DNC did not follow up and try to encourage those people to be supportive, including by giving funds.
Q But Mike, the DNC did more than that, and we talked about this yesterday. They've solicited up to $50,000 from people prior to the coffees.
MR. MCCURRY: Right.
Q Now, is the difference only that the DNC asked for the money and then gave the coffee with the President and that the President didn't solicit the money here on the grounds?
MR. MCCURRY: No, the difference in that case would be if they did so, they did so directly contrary to the guidelines that their own employers at the Democratic National Committee had given them and as we said today they were also acting contrary to the wishes of the President, to the guidelines that we had in place here at the White House. The President, if that occurred, clearly would regret that type of presentation because that's contrary to the guidelines that we've just given you.
Q Mike, have you released all these documents today because Mr. Ickes's set of documents had been given to congressional investigators -- you would rather put them out now preemptively with your interpretation insofar as you can, than wait to have the congressional investigator dribble them out day after day after day?
MR. MCCURRY: I think our statement and the statement we put out earlier today speaks for itself. This is a matter of sufficient interest to you and sufficient interest to the public that we want the facts to be there. We're not characterizing these documents other than to say here's what happened. I think the President has acknowledged that there were shortcomings in the conduct of the 1996 campaign. Those have to be explored, but they have to also lead to some reasonable destination. The President also hopes that that will build support as these matters are examined for the campaign finance reform measure that he advocates.
And, by the way, there will be additional -- these are not, and by no means would we represent these as being all the documents that exist. We have now pending document request from a variety of entities. We are compiling that information. We'll make that available to those that have requested it. And also in a similar fashion, make additional documentation available because that will lend more volume to your understanding of how the campaign was conducted.
Q But just in terms of the timing, you said earlier it was important to do this today in light of the documents that were released. Were you referring to Harold's documents?
MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Ickes, through his representative, has sent these documents to the Hill and we even late last night had some notion that some discussion of those documents was beginning to occur, so we were prepared and had been preparing to release them.
But, first and foremost, going back to November when the President gave us all instructions to deal with these matters in a very candid, forthright manner, we had believed it was important to put out on the public record these materials. You'll also notice in the statement we put out today is that the President indicates that he will not assert any executive privilege against any of the documents that would be provided or will be provided pursuant to the legitimate inquiries related to campaign finance.
Let me do maybe one or two, and then I want to turn it over to you guys.
Q Mike, can we go back to one thing that we were talking about earlier, the $50,000 and Rosen and others apparently were violating the spirit here in the White House not to raise money going into this?
MR. MCCURRY: Paul, let me roll that back for just a second. I can't accept the premise of the question; I don't know whether that happened or not. Now, there have been a couple news reports saying that it happened, quoting unnamed individuals who said that it happened. I don't know whether it happened or not, but what I've given you are the guidelines that say specifically that that should not have happened.
Q Then that seems to counter with this memo in which Clinton is scribbling $100,000 and $50,000 -- and in the light -- I mean, why wouldn't people think, well, now, that's what we should ask?
MR. MCCURRY: Ann, in particular, has had a conversation with the President about that.
MS. LEWIS: I can talk a little bit about the President's many friends. Yes, he does have thousands of friends and perhaps it's only restraint that we've only had 958 so far. I think it's clear, if you look at the list that we've given so far, the number of people who have been to the White House during the past four years, to state the obvious -- the President and Mrs. Clinton enjoy spending time with their friends. They regularly asked people to stay at the White House. That was especially old friends and sometimes people they had met more recently and -- here's the key -- wanted an opportunity to talk to them in a personal and nonofficial setting when they could.
I would say, having talked to the President quite recently, it's very clear he feels it important as President that he continues to take the initiative to reach out, to see and talk to people beyond a small circle that he would otherwise see all the time, because it is frighteningly easy for a President to get isolated. And so he does try to take it and reach out.
And I'd also say, having gone over the list and having read through it this weekend, I can now see why the President and the First Family are proud of the people who came to the White House as their personal guests.
Now, moving on to the memo -- and I think Paul's question was about some of the President's comments. If you go back and look at the memo itself, it was in this context: Terry McAuliffe told the President that many of his old friends and supporters from '92 and beyond, frankly, -- even earlier than that -- felt they really had been left out and that they hadn't heard from anyone in a long time. It was very much the President's decision that he wanted to see and connect to people who were his friends and supporters. As he has said, they were his friends; they had been with him and for him for a long time. He liked being with them, and he also felt when he talked with them he learned things about how the world was going on.
So there were three actions alluded to in that memo and those are in the notes that you will see. First, he said yes to the program recommended to Terry, which is let's bring people in, let's bring them in in small enough numbers that we can have real conversations. And I would add that you will see there is no reference in the memo by Terry of anybody coming to the White House, because as any of us know who work with the President, the White House is for personal guests. We would not have been involved in those decisions.
Second, the President asked for lists of his supporters -- not just the 10 biggest donors who are on the copy -- and that's where that reference comes to. He said, give me the lists of people who've helped raise money all the way down -- $100,000, $50,000, whatever -- I want to know who they are because when I see them, if I meet them, I want to thank them again. I don't want people to feel that I don't know who they are or what they've done. So that was the request for the list.
Q Wait a minute -- that wasn't how much he wanted those people to donate, that's how much those people he thought --
MS. LEWIS: He was saying -- now, you are all writing professionals and I'm sure when you make notes on documents you write them in ordered paragraphs and they're always full sentences. But what you have here is the President, who has not been a writing professional, writing quick notes of what he wanted to do. And, as I say, three memos, three actions.
First, he has to go ahead with the program. Second, I want to see who those people are, the names of people beyond the top 10 -- because what's on the face page is give me the 10 -- he said, I want to see who these people are who have helped because when I see them again I want to acknowledge them, I want the ability to reach out with them.
And, third, he decided he wanted to see his old friends -- and this is important to this -- in settings that would enable him to have real conversations with people. And as he said before, just standing up and giving a speech to people isn't the same as talking to them and hearing from them. That would sometimes, not usually and certainly not always, but that might sometimes mean inviting some of these friends to stay.
One last point on this -- I'd say with all the discussion about the Lincoln Bedroom, I just want to make clear in the interest of clarity that there are several rooms at the White House; the people whose names you saw would have stayed in the Queen's Bedroom, I am told, the Lincoln Bedroom, and then several rooms on the third floor which apparently do not have names, but are called the third floor.
And one last point about this. This is a very special place and all of us who work here know that we are lucky to walk in here every day. And the President and Mrs. Clinton revere the White House. They know how fortunate they are to be able to live here and to be able to share that opportunity with their guests. And once again, this was never contingent upon a campaign contribution. These guests were and are their personal guests.
Q Ann, you characterized Terry McAuliffe's request as one to thank contributors. Yet, he clearly says this will be an excellent way to energize our key people for the upcoming year.
MS. LEWIS: I'm sorry, but I thought I said was that many of his friends and supporters from '92 and beyond felt they had not been well-treated, felt they'd been sort of left behind. So the President -- in terms of talking to them -- now I'm putting more language in --
Q But that's not the point that Terry McAuliffe appears to make in this, it's to energize these key people in the upcoming year. And since they're major contributors, wouldn't it be fair to assume that what he's talking about is putting the arm on these guys for more money?
MS. LEWIS: No, that wouldn't be -- that would neither be fair -- but it would be fair to say, as Mike said, that there was going to be an election coming up. And we've always said that it was in that context. But I just want to go back and give the full context.
Q Ann, I would like to ask about the 10 names that were listed there. Those do not correspond to the top 10 contributors.
MS. LEWIS: I don't know -- I have not asked why they were listed as the 10 biggest supporters.
Q Could you find out?
MS. LEWIS: I will see how they gained that characterization.
MR. MCCURRY: On that one, why don't we -- if we can, we'll try to call Terry. Those are the 10 that he identified that he clearly wanted to -- they were key supporters that he wanted energized. And I think -- Mick, in response to your question, we clearly -- the President clearly knew we had an uphill fight, he had just come off a fairly brutal defeat in 1994 and he knew he was going to have to energize our ranks of supporters, including those who were going to raise money and contribute money, if we were going to be successful in 1996. I think that's pretty self-evident.
Q A technical question: this is dated January '93. Should that be --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, on that we think that is just a type of -- you can see the materials attached to it and the sequence in which those documents are listed. All the documents that are attached to that related to requests for appointments are all in 1995. I think it's just a simple typo.
Q And just in terms of this being all just personal guests, I mean, during the campaign you guys made a really big deal about all the ordinary Americans who would always be on stage introducing the President. And in terms of the impression that this gives off, that basically you don't get to come here and spend the night unless you're pretty well off and have given money, I mean, can you point to some people on this list who are actually the ordinary people the President --
MS. LEWIS: I'm very surprised to hear you say that because the Arkansas friends --
Q No, no, I'm not talking about Arkansas friends. I'm talking about in the category --
MS. LEWIS: All right. But in the -- of the people who have stayed at the White House, it's 958 people, many of whom which gave more than once, and I'll continue. The only way to look at who stayed at the White House is to look at this list. Of those, 370 are Arkansas friends. They would, I think, identify themselves in many cases as pretty representative people. And the next set, 155 are friends whom the Clintons have known, in some cases, going back to high school.
There is an article I saw recently in a Nashville paper of someone who had been to college with the President, a gentleman who was then the headmaster of a school in Nashville who was dying of cancer. And his wife wrote -- I believe he was very ill -- we aren't, you know, we aren't rich. Bill Clinton had been an old friend. He invited that friend to spend the night, and they talked about how much it meant to them. So I have examples of people who have spent the night. But I'd say again, if you look at Arkansas friend, if you look at long-time friends, which is more than half the list, if you look at friends and supporters, and then if you look at public officials, those elected officials, the dignitaries, that's a pretty wide mix of Americans.
Q Could you just help us in friends and supporters and the 111 -- who in there are people like those ordinary Americans that he would --
MS. LEWIS: Well, go back and see -- again, I'm not sure why -- since they all stayed in -- I'm a little puzzled because if people stayed in '95 and '96, they might have been -- they were Arkansas friends, they were long-time friends and sometimes -- and we divided this to make it easier to see how many people he knew from when -- there were people he'd met in '91 and '92. So friends and supporters are going to be sprinkled throughout that. We were just trying to give you a sense of how long some of these friendships had come.
Q Ann, you made the classification, did the Clintons themselves get involved in designating people as old or new or Arkansas or post-high school?
MS. LEWIS: No. I worked people inside the staff. We were trying to find a way to present 958 names and make it easier to get a handle on it. And these categories we designed.
Q Can we get a clarification, please, on the question that Rita asked? There is one memo from Evelyn Lieberman, the date of which I don't remember --
MS. LEWIS: I think I will turn that over back to Mike.
Q -- I just don't have the date of it, I'm sorry. Oh, January 19, 1996, in which Evelyn herself clearly refers to these DNC White House coffees as fundraisers.
MR. MCCURRY: Right. Look, I've answered that I think already, Mick. A fundraiser is the kind of event that you all have been to before.
Q No, no, I understand what your definition is --
MR. MCCURRY: That's clearly not what these --
Q -- but Evelyn Lieberman, in this memo, clearly designated these coffees as fundraisers.
MR. MCCURRY: They weren't.
Q Mike, is it better to characterize the coffees --
MR. MCCURRY: And, Mara, back to your question for a second, on one -- remember you all in this room by and large covered the campaign, and think of the quantity of time this President spent out in the country, countless hours he spent talking to people in ropelines. I mean, this, by no way, shape, or form, describes his contact with the American people during the period we're looking at here, from 1995 to 1996. And the category you're -- the one-ninth or so of the people that we're talking about in that list of friends and supporters, those are clearly the places where he included in people that he wanted to acknowledge, thank, motivate, energize for the political year ahead.
Q Mike, can I ask you about the last 958 names, how many were actual donors? Because under arts and letters you have people like David Geffen, who are big fundraisers.
MR. MCCURRY: That's right. Or you had -- going back to what I said earlier, one of the reasons why it's hard to separate out contributors, friends, relatives, is because in many cases they're combinations of all of the above. In one case, long-term friends that were not from Arkansas -- I mentioned the Lawrences who everyone in Democratic politics knows for a long time, they are significant financial contributors to be sure. So there are people who overlap in every case. And I don't think we have -- you didn't run a number on how many were actually contributors?
MS. LEWIS: We do not have -- our list would not have, and none of the documents we have here indicates how any of the people who spent the night, whether they were contributors or not. That's exactly the point I've been trying to make. That isn't why they were invited and that isn't maintained here, so we didn't have it.
Q But, Ann, couldn't you have -- I mean, in the vaunted database couldn't you have cross-indexed it if you had chosen?
MS. LEWIS: No, because the database did not include, as I understand, such new information.
Q But would it be safe to say that --
MS. LEWIS: I don't think political information was inputted into it as it went along.
MR. MCCURRY: There was some.
MS. LEWIS: Some, but it was old. As I understand it that information --
Q But wouldn't it be safe to assume that almost every person on this list -- not every, but a high proportion -- gave some political contribution to the President by virtue of one or other of their associations -- old friends, official --
MS. LEWIS: No, I'd be surprised. Certainly, when you get to public officials and dignitaries, I'd be surprised. I see a fairly high number of governors, mayors and elected officials in here. You asked -- there was one name I remember that we had not known more -- under people in '92 whom they met, and that I believe would be the Dawsons. And Mr. Dawson was -- Joseph and Melba Dawson under 1992 was a veteran whom the President met, I think during the D-Day celebration and they invited to come back and spend the evening and spend the night.
So it's going to be a mix. I talked today to somebody who was a college roommate of the President who said, you know, I think I contributed. Well, that isn't why he was invited. He was invited because he's been an old friend for a long time.
Q Ann, the McAuliffe memo -- the original McAuliffe memo to which the President responded suggested that the President give up to an hour of time to each of the people on the list. He mentioned breakfast, lunch, dinner, and he said, spend up to an hour. How did the --
MS. LEWIS: As I recall, he said spend an hour, but those were broken into events for 10 or 12 people at a time.
Q How did the President make the transition from breakfast, lunch, dinner, or an hour, no matter how many people, to let's have them spend the night?
MS. LEWIS: This was, we would need one hour of the President's time pre to those meetings. That could be a meeting with 10 people, 12 people. But it was a chance for that kind of conversation I'm talking about.
Q In your conversations who did he --
MS. LEWIS: I did not ask. Again, those were his personal guests, and those are decisions he made as he looked at the list of people who had been friends and supporters for a long time who he would, as Mike says, hope would be helping him again in the future. And he decided how he wanted to see them.
MR. MCCURRY: I mean, he had -- remember, by that point in 1995, he had had lots of guests at the White House and enjoyed having lots of guests there. So he was not -- he was, I think someone would describe him as being enthusiastic about the idea of having people over. Now, I think what really -- that reference in Terry's memo is more about the genesis of what's now known as the coffee program, because he was saying, look, we've got to have a way of touching base in a setting that will allow people to have some conversation with the President, that will allow people to feel like that they're being encouraged to support and being listened to, being heard from.
Q Mike, I know you've released -- can I ask one more -- I know you've released some guidelines on access to the President right after the Inauguration, after the election. Has there been any change, though, in how overnight hospitality is -- is his thinking on whose going to be allowed upstairs been changed, altered at all because of all this?
MR. MCCURRY: I haven't seen any list of -- this list obviously runs only through 1996, but we know of some people like Reverend Schuller is an example, I think -- there have been people who have been staying overnight; he continues to enjoy having people in the residence as his personal guests. And I -- the First Lady and Chelsea do as well, too.
Q Excuse me if this has been asked, but could you run us through what happens, what are they accorded when they get in? Do they have meals with the President?
MS. LEWIS: I think the best way I can answer that is about if I'd asked it of people who come to your house. It's going to depend on the evening, it's going to depend on what your plans are; it's going to depend on what your schedules are. The key to this is, they are their personal guests.
Q Ann, this number of guests in this period of time, does this mean that the Queen's Bedroom and the Lincoln Bedroom are effectively occupied just about every night the Clintons are here by guests --
MS. LEWIS: No, not from the list I saw.
Q Would you say like --
MS. LEWIS: But the third floor rooms -- remember also there are third floor rooms and my list only says third floor rooms. I don't know how many there are, though. I guess I can check. No, it's not.
Q Do they tend to have overnight guests two or three times a week, or every night, or --
MS. LEWIS: Well, I'm sure it's not every night. I'll try to find a better way to characterize it.
Q Mike, on the coffees, are you saying the coffees were not fundraisers in the classic sense -- you pay a ticket, you get your visit -- but that they did take place in the context of a campaign where you needed to raise funds and there is nothing wrong with that legally, although perhaps some people may not like it, but that the place was used sort of as bait, but not in that classic sense?
MR. MCCURRY: There are a lot of characterizations there. Let me just stick with the facts. The facts are that the President enjoyed these encounters with the range of people he saw at the coffees, the list that you have seen. He has described these events as being opportunities for him to talk about his own vision for the future, and then also to hear from those who were there and participating. And obviously, he hoped that they would be motivated by his description of what he saw for the future of the country to be supportive of him.
Now, I've also said and made it pretty clear that we had no doubt that the DNC would follow up and try to encourage people to be supportive, including by giving funds. Everyone who has been to a fundraiser -- and everyone here has been to a fundraiser -- you buy a ticket to go, and that's not -- these events were not of that nature.
Q Would most of them -- slightly speculative -- but would most of them likely have taken place if there were not a need to raise funds, if this were not a campaign season?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, interestingly, they started -- the first coffees that were held were really used more for I'd call political purposes, not necessarily fundraising purposes. Some of the early coffees that were held were really run more by our political people; they were to put together the leadership of the campaign, state by state, in some cases. So they were held for purposes other than fundraising on some cases.
Q But then they were eventually used for fundraising, though not technically being fundraisers?
MR. MCCURRY: Technically used not for fundraising, but they became an element of the financial program that we were trying to pursue in connection with the campaign.
Q Well, isn't that really a distinction without a difference?
MR. MCCURRY: No, because the law is what counts, Bill. And, Lanny, why don't you step in. The law is the law. The law goes to the question of solicitation, and that's the issue. And there was no solicitation -- and that's the question.
MR. DAVIS: I just wanted to remind you that the law that we're talking about is the Hatch Act. And the Hatch Act permits political activities, as Mike indicated, and permits political activities that have a whole myriad of purposes. In this case, the guidelines were strictly followed regarding solicitation and a requirement to give money in order to come to the event. Those are the two words that legally are kept firmly in mind as these events are organized.
The memo circulated by the Democratic National Committee, which we gave out to you, if you look on page 9, we also see the DNC strictly informing its fundraisers of that access. And the two paragraphs that I would point out that we believe the DNC communicated to its fundraisers and if they weren't followed, it was contrary to these policies, state "special care must be taken to avoid giving any donor the impression that he or she will enjoy any special access to, or favor from any administration official or agency, whether in connection with the event or elsewhere" -- it goes on to say, "in no event should any DNC staff ever promise a meeting with or access to any governmental official or agency in connection with a donation, or ever imply that such contact or access can be arranged, or ever contact an administration official on behalf of a donor for any reason."
So, regarding the coffee events, we clearly told our people involved in organizing those events, no requirement to give; if you ask afterwards and the answer is no, the answer is no; and no promise of special favor; and no governmental action or policy is affected by this President because somebody gave him a contribution.
Q Lanny, it's not just action, it's access. And implicit in the whole nature of these coffees is access.
MR. DAVIS: Well, I think the words used here are special access. Of course, people coming to the White House have access to the President by definition because he's there. But we regard the notion of special access because a contribution is made as something that is contrary to our policies.
Q Can you explain an August '96 memo on Texas fundraising where Harold Ickes explicitly says that there's a coffee -- a POTUS coffee that's expected to bring in $350,000 as part of a three-pronged effort, including the birthday bash?
MR. DAVIS: I think Harold, in drafting that memo -- perhaps Evelyn Lieberman and others used those expressions as expectation, as hope, as wanting to accomplish something without any assurance that they would, because the people who came to these events had the option to say no when asked. Many of them said yes as would be expected because they were friends and supporters.
Q Was that coffee held in the White House? And if it was, is that appropriate when they're expecting that that coffee bring in $350,000?
MR. DAVIS: It was expected, hoped; I'm not sure it did. In any case, those events were perfectly appropriate if they were held, as they were, for friends and supporters of the President; afterwards we would have expected that political and financial support would result from hearing the President at those events.
MR. MCCURRY: Let me take a try at that question, too. I mean, those of you who are familiar with campaigns know that fundraisers, the fundraisers that the DNC would have target figures that they might associate with any combination of activities that they were going to pursue. Now, they were sometimes met, sometimes not met. But they were working against for them what they hoped would be a general target figure that they were trying to raise based on various types of activities they had. Now, they had no way of knowing whether they were going to meet those targets or not because it would depend on how successful they were in going back to people and encouraging them to be supportive --
Q But the memo does suggest that target figures were set for these coffees that were held in the White House.
MR. MCCURRY: I think that you can see all throughout all of these documents the different ways in which they structured the fundraising program at the DNC, which -- and as everybody here knows, I think, that when you structure a fundraising program, you have different target figures associated with different events, you have sometimes target figures associated with different people who are actually doing the fundraising on behalf of the National Committee.
Q Is it appropriate to set target figures for coffees held in the White House with the President?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's appropriate to suggest target figures for those who are doing the fundraising, who have got the responsibility of going out and doing the solicitation. There were not --
Q Can I follow up? Senator Trent Lott, as a result -- partially as a result of these documents released today and the Lincoln Bedroom stuff, has now called for an independent counsel to investigate the improper campaign fundraising activities. Is the White House reconsidering its stance on this?
MR. MCCURRY: Our stance on this is as it always has been, that that is a determination made by the Attorney General, and she is the judge of the evidence and makes the determination.
Q Mike, you're standing here talking about the letter of the law and how carefully the letter of the law was observed. What's your response to someone viewing this from afar who says maybe the letter of the law was observed, but it's clear that this was a fundraising operation run through the White House?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's clear from these documents that the President was engaged in raising money to conduct the political activity of the Democratic Party and to further his own reelection efforts in the period 1995 to 1996. He was a candidate for office, Bill. You would expect him to conduct himself as a candidate for office who, under our system of law, has a responsibility for raising funds for his own primary campaign and to help the party that he leads raise funds for the campaigns that Democrats across the board are going to run. I mean, I don't think people would be too terribly surprised by that.
Q Just to follow up, though -- you guys are here acknowledging today that the Democratic National Committee and the President's fundraising apparatus and the campaign organization set targets, however vague and unsure they might have been, set targets based on these White House coffees. You are acknowledging that.
MR. MCCURRY: Look, I want to -- on that particular question and as they relate to the coffees, these are internal documents that may have been reflecting the work they were doing at the DNC. I can describe to you how the President approached the coffees, how we here at the White House treated the coffees. Now, what they did with them at the DNC we would expect to be consistent with the guidelines we have put there. Now, how they raise the money off these events or how they went off to solicit people who were there, that's really their business and they should more appropriately address it.
Q On a second follow-up, though, if a fundraiser or a volunteer acting on behalf of the Finance Committee of the DNC, or anybody involved in raising money for Clinton-Gore or the DNC, said in advance of one of these coffees, "Joe, I can get you into a coffee with the President on August 13th, there's an empty slot and I need $50,000 to the party," you're saying that was an explicit violation of the President's wishes, of United States law, the policy of this White House?
MR. MCCURRY: No, specific violation of the President's wishes contrary to the guidelines that the DNC had laid upon those who were raising the money, so they would have been acting in contrary to their guidelines that they were supposed to be following as fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee. I'm not aware that that represents a violation of law. I don't believe it does, but, at the same time, it violates the spirit of the guidelines that were in place to govern this type of activity.
Q Just one final follow-up -- do you have any indication that's credible to you all that such solicitation/demands occurred?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I mean, I've read articles in which people who are treated credibly by various news organizations have said that that happened. I don't know whether it did happen or not. But we can -- we've seen the same news reports you have.
Q I've heard the description of the overnight stays here. How do you all explain the President's notation about getting started on the overnights?
MR. MCCURRY: You mean, just the history of it?
MS. LEWIS: I thought I had, but --
Q No, his response to the McAuliffe note.
MS. LEWIS: No. I think his response was, let's get started. Let me go back and look at those notes, but on the overnights, it says "ready to start overnights." That was, as I went back and said -- maybe I didn't do it clearly -- he looked at this, he'd had a conversation with Terry. Terry, in preparing to be finance chair of Clinton-Gore, as Mike has said, went around talking to people who had been very helpful to the President in the '92 campaign, found that some of them were feeling, frankly, left out and they hadn't been heard from, went back and reported to the President and then sent in a memo that said, I think we need a systematic way for you to talk with these people, that's why they're going to be supporters because they believe in you.
The President, looking at the list, said, yes, let's start that program, which is bringing people in, maybe an hour at a time. Second, he said we will -- get me the list of other people, not just the top 10, I want to know who these people are; and third -- and this had not been in Terry's memo, but as he thought about it, he said, I want to spend time with people, I'm going to think about ways to do it. And he wrote the word "overnight" as a note that he was going to invite some of his old friends back in settings where they could have conversations. One of those ways -- not the usual, not as we can see the most frequent -- one of those ways would be to invite some people to come in and stay overnight.
Q As you just indicated, this was in response to dealings with supporters -- old friends, as part of the campaign, so there's no doubt about --
MS. LEWIS: Oh, no.
Q So there's no doubt about the fact that the President was setting up his overnight stays for political purposes.
MS. LEWIS: No. I'm sure the context is a President who had had literally hundreds of people staying overnight in the first two years. As I started by saying, he enjoyed having people come, he enjoyed having friends come, he enjoyed having lots of old friends come. When he heard that there were people who had been strong friends and supporters of his who he hadn't had contact with, he wanted to reestablish contact with them and he wanted to do so in personal ways. That was going to include asking some of them to stay --
Q With respect, are you suggesting that this memo from Terry McAuliffe was an admonition to the President that he needed to maintain contact with old friends of his --
MS. LEWIS: No. I said --
Q -- that his social contacts were poor?
MS. LEWIS: No. I said exactly what I said and I did not suggest. I said that it started with Terry saying as he went around and talked to people who had been active in '92, found that some of them were feeling they just hadn't heard from the President, they hadn't been included.
Q The memo says nothing whatsoever about old friends. The memo is strictly a political context.
MS. LEWIS: I've tried to explain it. What I've explained may not be -- that's right.
Q I'm trying to reconcile your explanation with what's on the memo itself.
MS. LEWIS: Well, I was trying to give you the context of what happened in that memo. Maybe every memo you write also substitutes for a conversation. But that memo was part of a larger conversation, and that was the context of the larger conversation. And I would say again, this is a President who had hundreds of friends coming to stay. This is one of the ways he likes to see people, talk with them, spend time with them. These were people, as has been made clear and as Mike has made clear, he hoped would be active supporters on his behalf for the '96 campaign, financially and politically. They were going to be very active, he hoped, active supporters in his campaign, including financially; he was finding ways to reach out to them. And the example I can give of them --
Q These are the names of 10 people who were dissatisfied with the --
MS. LEWIS: No, that is not. And that's why this is being interpreted as line by line -- I cannot tell you that those 10 were dissatisfied. That was a list of 10 that were identified at the time as your biggest supporters. I would add the fact that the majority of those 10 were not invited to stay overnight suggests that there was not the clear connection that you're suggesting between, oh, let's move -- it's political, we'll move them in. That wasn't what happened.
Q How did the notation "overnights" get put on that memo?
MS. LEWIS: The President, in looking at it, said, I ought to ask some of these old friends to stay overnight, and that was a note to remember that that was what he wanted to do.
Q That was Nancy Hernreich's note, right?
Q You're saying that he's only doing this for personal reasons, they have nothing whatsoever to do with politics?
MS. LEWIS: No, I didn't say that.
MR. MCCURRY: I think he indicated earlier that he recalls having a conversation with his staff in the Oval Office, and they wrote that. And then when he jotted his own notes following up on it, he said he was ready to start including these people in as guests at the residence.
Q And have you had occasion to review your own statements about this? As I recall -- and I haven't looked up the quote today, but at the time this came out in August, it was a Common Cause report that suggested there was a clear linkage between fundraising and stays in the bedroom, and you reacted with outrage at that time saying there was no relationship between, as I recall, no relationship between money and stays.
MS. LEWIS: There was a report that said the people -- that, literally, the people were -- I'm trying to think of the words, it was for rent. That was an outrageous statement, it was wholly untrue. I reacted then; I will react now. That's absolutely wrong. Any suggestion that stays at the White House in any room were contingent upon a political contribution are wrong, factually wrong, and I thought it was important to say so then, think it is important to say so now. As I started by saying, this is a wonderful building. It's something -- that's what we --
Q Well, that's why a lot of people were invited, because they contributed -- or they had collected at least $50,000 or $100,000.
MS. LEWIS: Well, then, you didn't hear everything I just said until now, because what I said is these are personal friends. And if you look at a list of 958 people, they were his friends. If you look at the language of overnights, in context of getting together with people who had been my friends and supporters before and who I hope to see again in '96, that was part of their program.
Q Ann, there's a memo from Harold Ickes to the President in which he, Harold, suggests that the President invite Vernon Jordan and think it's --
Q John Rockefeller --
Q -- John Rockefeller and somebody else -- three people -- and sit them down and tell them the importance of fundraising and asking them, I think each to raise $3 million for him. Is that a fundraising discussion, and is that the kind of thing that goes on in the White House?
MS. LEWIS: That is a little just off my specialty, so I'm going to go back.
Q -- and did that breakfast actually happen?
MR. DAVIS: I don't know whether the breakfast actually happened. I believe that it did. But, Rita, there were meetings in the White House in the Ward Room regularly to discuss the fundraising programs and plans and activities of the campaign --
Q But we're talking about asking, calling these outsiders and asking them to raise money. And I wondered if that, as you define it, is a legal -- that's not fundraising, even if the President asks somebody to raise money for him?
MR. DAVIS: It is not fundraising under any definition you can find under the Hatch Act, and it's certainly not illegal in our opinion, and it's not inappropriate.
Q Could you find if that breakfast in fact actually occurred?
MR. DAVIS: I will check on that.
Q And you used the phrase, "friends and supporters." Are you saying that all friends were supporters and all supporters were friends, or are there some friends and some supporters and some who were both, and what's a supporter who is not a friend?
MS. LEWIS: I'm saying they were all personal guests. The vast majority were friends. In a few cases, there were people the President and First Lady wanted to spend more time with -- weren't friends yet, but hoped -- had met and wanted to spend time with. And this would be true sometimes of an entertainer who had come in, some of the elected officials who came in, and that we know that among those friends were people who were supporters. Many of the President's longtime friends were supporters of his campaigns.
Q Were there supporters who were not friends who were brought in --
MS. LEWIS: No, these were personal guests. No, you're drawing a conclusion again -- that's why I'm trying to say that the reason we wrote it that way is some of those friends will include supporters. They were all personal guests. And the difference is, they may not -- not necessarily the length of time, but the fact that they knew them and wanted them as their personal guests in the Residence, and that part was wholly unconnected to whether or not they were supporters.
MR. MCCURRY: This is in response to Rita's earlier question. We got a note saying the breakfast that was suggested did not happen, the President did not make those individual calls. I'll see if I can get anything further on that.
John, to follow up on your question, too, I mean, one problem in releasing this list is that there are a lot of people who are supporters who are not -- and significant supporters of the Democratic Party who were not included in this expression of gratitude. And not all people who were active in the financial life of the Democratic Party were invited to be personal guests of the President at the residence. It goes without saying.
Q Does that mean he's going to have a harder time raising money now or --
Q Is he still going to have coffees, Mike, so he can bring people in and forward his agenda?
MR. MCCURRY: The President is going to continue to look for ways that he can talk to people and have human interaction with them, as opposed to the stale kind of events where he stands in a receiving line and shakes -- and doesn't get an opportunity to learn anything. Over and over again, the President said, look, I enjoyed having people over to the residence to stay overnight on occasion. I enjoyed having these smaller, more intimate gatherings because I could listen and learn something.
Most of the time when you're out working in behalf of the political effort of your own campaign or your party, you're giving speeches, you're shaking a lot of hands and you're smiling for the camera, and you don't really get a chance to engage with people and learn anything. So he will continue one way or another, whether it's related to fundraising or not, and he will continue to talk to people and look for opportunities to engage with them.
Now, I suspect that we're going to be conducting the President's participation in the fundraising aspects of the Democratic National Committee's effort in a much different fashion. Chairman Grossman and Chairman Romer have both said as much. And that's proper for them to decide, but this President will look for ways to continue to treat people like people.
Q One of the memos in here -- I have not seen it yet -- is Ickes to Cardozo, describing that union members were making contributions -- I think these were AFSCME members making contributions to the legal defense fund? Does this ring a bell?
MR. MCCURRY: That doesn't ring a bell. And I know that the trustees of the President's legal expense fund, who have also been asked to produce some documents I believe with respect to their work, also have an interest in some of Mr. Ickes documents. You may wish to contact them directly on that point.
Q Some people would look at this set of documents and say it's clear here's a President who's very determined to raise a lot of money for his reelection campaign. And that sent a message to people working for him, that they need to raise a lot of money and the message that it needed to follow these strict legal and ethical guidelines might have gotten lost in that message that you need a lot of money. Do you think that's a fair analysis?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that's possible and that is one of the dangers and one of the facts of life of being a Democrat is that you always are looking over your shoulder at a Republican Party that is better financed, better equipped to raise money. And those of us who have worked in the life of our Party for a long time always feel like doing a better job at pulling together the resources necessary for the conduct of a campaign.
But the guidelines are clear. The President would have expected them to be followed. Frankly, the superiors of the people involved raising the money at the DNC should have expected the guidelines to be followed. And if they weren't -- and, again, we're relying in most cases on you to give us the examples of where they may not have been followed to the letter of the guidelines -- the President clearly would regret that that happened.
Q Mike, before these copies the President got briefing material about who was going to attend, what their interests were, that kind of thing. I want to make sure I understand -- in that briefing that he got before he walked into the coffees, was he given information about the DNC fundraising targets for that group also?
MR. MCCURRY: No. in fact, if I'm not mistaken, you see in some of the documents we've given you samples of some of these briefing memos. They tended to be memos saying, here's so and so, he runs an auto dealership, he's been active in the party, or he's a member of the Business Council, or he's a member of our Business Leadership Forum. Sometimes there was no biographical information at all. But some of those types of documents are in the material that you've been given.
Q So Mr. Ickes or Mr. Rosen wouldn't have pulled the President aside and said, we hope we can raise $350,000 out of this group?
MR. MCCURRY: Not to my knowledge, they would do that. The President -- frankly, they would not have -- they would have been more interested in trying to describe here's so and so, here's where he's from, here's what he does for a living, you may want to talk to him about subject X, or you might want to ask him about this or that or the other. It was more that type of briefing.
Q Why would that have been inappropriate even if it did happen?
MR. MCCURRY: To?
Q To have informed him of the wishes about the targets, the expectations, the hopes --
MR. MCCURRY: I just don't know that they did. I don't know that that --
Q I know, but I'm just asking -- sorting out what is actually wrong here and what isn't.
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that there would have been anything wrong. If they said, look, we're going to try to go back to this group and collectively over time generate X amount of money. I just don't think they did that because I don't think the structure of these events were such that you could do that.
Q Can I go back to the scribbled note -- and I understand Ann's contention that this was all about massaging old friends and making up for lost contact, but do you reject outright that when Clinton says, let's start the overnights right away, give me the top 10 list back along with the 100, that that doesn't leave a rational person to assume that he's quantifying people by donation?
MR. MCCURRY: He wanted to see -- I think it's fair to say -- I mean, Ann answered that earlier. He wanted to see the universe of people out there, because he did not mind having people, hosting people in the residence, he enjoyed having them over. Frankly, he's told several of us it's one of the things he likes about the job, because it would be a chance to sit and talk with people and see people in circumstances you wouldn't normally encounter when you're whisked in and out of events and you're in and out of motorcades and in and out of stale hotels for events.
Q But when he puts the numbers in dollar figures there, it leads you --
MR. MCCURRY: He's trying to get a sense of the universe of people that we could go out and talk to. Obviously, not everybody was included in those, and some people who gave little amounts of money were included and some people who gave large amounts of money were excluded, for whatever reason -- but those are personal decisions they made because they were personal guests.
Q But he's not asking -- he's asking for a list which is all inclusive.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, who's out there who's been helping us that I ought to consider having over.
Q When you say not everybody was included, not every large giver or every small giver -- why wouldn't they have been if he asked for the list of $100k and --
MR. MCCURRY: Because it was his own choice. Some of the people may have been --
Q But he didn't choose the names.
MR. MCCURRY: You know, I know some of these people and, frankly, I wouldn't want to have them over to my house. (Laughter.)
Q But he didn't choose, he asked for a list of names.
MS. LEWIS: From which he'd choose.
MR. MCCURRY: From which he chose. He extended the invitation.
MS. LEWIS: He asked for the list from which he would make the choice. He didn't say, we will invite everybody at X to X event. He said, give me the list. That's exactly Mike's point.
MR. MCCURRY: He would eventually extend the invitation on behalf of the First Lady. He and the First Lady got to invite people to come stay. And as I indicated and hinted, there's some people who I think are going to miffed that they didn't get invited.
Q Mike, has the United States government discussed with or made a deal with the Chinese on bringing the North Korean defector, Mr. Hwang, from Beijing here?
MR. MCCURRY: We are aware that there's a news account that suggests that. I've found no reliable information to indicate that that is, in fact, the case -- and we will check further with Secretary Albright with respect to that. But we're not aware, based on any reporting from her trip so far that such arrangements occurred. I would not rule out the possibility she had discussions related to that matter, but I'm not aware of any arrangement of that nature.
Q Lanny, in that last section of documents on the legal defense fund, are those all Harold's notes?
MR. DAVIS: Yes.
Q -- and the Trie stuff, is that the Trie stuff we already knew about --
MR. DAVIS: Yes.
Q -- or was Trie involved in fundraising for the --
MR. MCCURRY: First of all, I want to take a poll here. How many people can actually read that handwriting? Not finding many takers here. I think it's accurate to say most -- those are notes that are reflective of the discussions that have already been briefed by Michael Cardozo related to legal expense fund.
Q Senator Murkowski came to the White House today to meet with the Chief of Staff, and I was just trying to find out more information about that meeting, whether or not it dealt with Yucca Mountain and what's the status on that?
MR. MCCURRY: It was a good meeting. They had a good exchange of views. It did deal with the question of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. I don't know that any views were changed, but it was a good opportunity for us to hear the Senator's thinking on the issue, for perhaps the Senator to hear a little more about administration policy on the matter.
Q Are there any appointments yet or a timetable for when the appointments to the Gaming Commission will come out?
MR. MCCURRY: I haven't heard anything new on that. They're still -- they're nearing selections, but no final decision is made.
Q Since this will be -- with the continuing Turkish violation and threats -- is going to proceed with a well-known expected U.S. initiative for a peace in solution to those problems?
MR. MCCURRY: The President will continue to proceed with meticulous effort to address the problem of Cypress in the bilateral context we have with both governments. And those are ongoing. As you know, we have had opportunities to exchange views with representatives of both the Turkish and Greek governments. Cypress has been high on that agenda. We will continue to look for opportunities for the United States to play an effective role in bringing this long standing dispute to a conclusion.
Q One more question. It was reported -- that President Clinton -- invite the Turkish Prime Minister, -- will the Greek Prime Minister be invited, too?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President would always look forward to such an exchange, but I'm not aware of any scheduling decisions that have been made at this point.
Q Mike, can I follow up on the China response? You said you were going to check with Albright. Obviously, she's not out of pocket. I mean, an issue like this, isn't that something --
MR. MCCURRY: If you had made that flight all the way through and landed at Elmendorf and gotten home in mid-afternoon, out of pocket is about where you are. (Laughter.)
Q Well, wouldn't it be safe to say that if such a proposal were extended and discussed that you would have already known about it?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's safe to say yes.
Q Is the Pena nomination at all a factor in the nuclear waste discussion?
MR. MCCURRY: I think Senator Murkowski has good principled reasons to be concerned about the status of radioactive waste disposal. I wouldn't want to suggest that.
Q As long as we're on foreign policy, anything in particular on the agenda for Friday?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I'm glad you asked. Unless you want to talk about the Chilean state visit tomorrow -- no. This will be President Frei's first visit of the second term. It marks the beginning of really a 13-month period that leads up to the second Summit of the Americas, which will be held in Santiago in March of 1998. The President's agenda reflects much of the work he'll be doing with respect to the hemisphere in coming months. He's got a trip, as you know -- very important trip to Mexico. He will then be going to other countries in the region in May. And it will build on the foundation that the President set by hosting the Summit of the Americas in Miami just over two years ago.
The summit process will advance the hemisphere's remarkable progress towards trade liberalization, towards democracy, towards the promotion of human rights. Major items on the agenda tomorrow are going to include hemispheric market opening, strengthening democracy, cooperation on law enforcement, insuring that members of society share in the benefits of economic growth, which is increasingly a subject that we see in bilateral dialogue we have with all the governments in this hemisphere.
Chile, as you know, is a member of APEC, the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, so we have interests in our common efforts with respect to the Asian community that will be under discussion as well. They are a relatively new member -- they are now a new member of APEC. We'll discuss that. There are also aspects of the Ecuador-Peru boundary dispute that will be under consideration. And certainly not the least of the subjects to be discussed, Chile is an excellent candidate for the first use of fast-track authority, given the progress that Chile itself has made negotiating free trade agreements with other governments in the hemisphere. And I suspect that free trade and the liberalization of trade will be an item very high on the agenda.
Q Do you expect a specific timetable for enlargement of NAFTA to come out of this meeting tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: I suspect they will talk further on the subject. I do not expect, based on what we've heard and what President Frei himself has said before arriving in the United States, that you would have any discussion of a specific timetable.
Q Will they discuss the arms sales to Latin America -- the American policy towards arms sales?
MR. MCCURRY: Regional security issues will be on the agenda. I'm not aware that we've got any plans to get to deeply into that subject, but we'll give you a readout after the meeting tomorrow. Of course, the two presidents will jointly address your questions after their meeting.
Q On the Saudi visit, did you hear anything today to ease your concerns about the Khobar bombing investigation?
MR. MCCURRY: There of course is an ongoing investigation. It's really more appropriate for the FBI to give you some sense of the status, but we have been working with the Saudis and there have been cooperative exchanges between law enforcement counterparts. We've received some cooperation with respect to the investigation. The President made clear today we expect to receive more. He was delighted to have assurances from Prince Sultan that reflect the assurances previously given by the King and by Ambassador Bandar that there would be that cooperation.
Q On drug strategy, there are reports that Constantine -- had information on General Gutierrez Rebollo, and that this was not given to General McCaffrey. Is there a turf war that is hurting the U.S. effort, the anti-drug effort?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any information to that respect, and General McCaffrey addressed a question pertinent to that earlier.
Q Mike, any comment on Senator Landrieu's announcement that she'll support the Republican balanced budget amendment?
MR. MCCURRY: I think she made a principled decision based on what she felt was in the best interests of her constituents. She is a very strong believer in the balanced budget; so is the President of the United States. And we look forward to working with her as we actually balance the budget. Obviously, we have differences on the question of the amendment, but she will be a strong supporter of this President, and we will work closely with her as we actually do the hard work of balance the budget.
Q Are you worried that your ability to block a balanced budget amendment --
MR. MCCURRY: It's obviously going to be a very close vote, and we will continue to work hard to express our point of view.
Q Do you have a date on the Ted Danson-Mary Steenburgen -- do you know if it was before or after when they got married?
MS. LEWIS: I don't.
MR. MCCURRY: And, Paul, don't make assumptions that you shouldn't make.
Q Well, they weren't here after it.
MR. MCCURRY: Or -- go talk to Peter.
Q Were they in different rooms?
MR. MCCURRY: Go talk to Peter.
Q -- legal defense fund is going to have a news conference tomorrow essentially saying that -- policy doesn't work and they're going to drag out service members to essentially -- what's your assessment of --
MR. MCCURRY: I believe -- did Ken do that today? Did he talk about that?
MR. JOHNSON: No, we expect him to do that tomorrow. I think that announcement is not out by the group to which he refers.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, the group that you're referring to is expected to make that announcement tomorrow. I believe that the Pentagon, they're going to be prepared to deal some of that. Obviously, they have strong views on the implementation of the policy and the importance of the President's policy and they'll be talking about it more and as needed we will here, too.
Q In your view, has it worked, though?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that -- there have been different experiences in different places with implementation of the policy. But on balance, the President believes that it represents the right policy.
Okay, thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 4:20 P.M. EST