THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
2:20 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: Other subjects?
Q What's the $57 on to the $200,000, and how did Chelsea make $13,000?
MR. MCCURRY: On the President's tax returns --
Q Did you release those already?
MR. MCCURRY: We have indeed. And the President and the First Lady, as you know, paid federal taxes of nearly $200,000 on an adjusted gross income just over $1 million in wages and salaries. You will see that the amount listed is $200,057 -- the President's salary being $200,000; the $57 being remaining residuals from the President's 1992 appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show. (Laughter.) Now, that amount has declined steadily over time, so the interest level in those -- that bonus performance.
Q How can he get residuals if Arsenio is off the air.?
Q Is that part of the agreement?
MR. MCCURRY: They still, from time to time do replays and there is residual income that derives to the President from the replays of that 1992 appearance and for his $57 I should tell you the President also got to file a California State income tax return indicating he owed them $2. I'm sure Governor Wilson will be happy to receive that.
Q What's Chelsea's income?
MR. MCCURRY: And Chelsea's income derives from the royalty proceeds from her grandmother's book, from Virginia Kelley's book, "Leading With My Heart." As you know from last year's returns, she had roughly the same royalty income reported, although I think she also had some interest dividend and capital gains income that was also reported on her return, which we elect not to make available.
Q It said that Mrs. Clinton had the royalty income of $742,000 and donated $609,000. What's the --
MR. MCCURRY: Let me walk through -- as a general principle, Mrs. Clinton will neither benefit nor end up in less fortunate circumstances as a result of having written her book. She -- let me walk you through the charitable contributions that the Clintons made. Mrs. Clinton donated from the royalty income that she got on the book, $742,000, she donated a total of $590,000 from that royalty income to charities which the First Lady publicly revealed in December of 1996. If you will recall at that time the First Lady's Office put out the list of all the various children's hospitals and entities that received charitable contributions from the proceeds of her book.
Under federal law, you cannot claim more than one-half of your adjusted gross income in charitable deductions. That's all you can itemize. So, they had an overall cap of $532,000 that they could claim. That's the amount you see reflected on their Schedule A. Some of that money will carry over to next year. So, if they don't reach the one-half threshold next year, she will be able to deduct some of that additional amount next year. And you can see the carry-over amount is listed on their Schedule A.
The balance, which is about $152,000, was used to pay the state and federal taxes that the Clintons owe as a result of the royalty income that Mrs. Clinton got from the book. They had, I think, about $20,000 worth of state taxes, $125,000 worth of federal taxes, and then also administrative costs just to maintain the royalty fund which she pays for from the royalty income derived from the book.
Q D.C. taxes?
Q Could that have all been avoided, Mike, if their publisher had just given the money directly to charities? I mean, they didn't pass through?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't believe you can do that. You can only, as in the case of the President, specifically decline the royalty that's -- then the publisher makes a different judgment. If royalty income is generated, it then has to be imputed to the individual and then she elects to make the balance of it in charitable contributions.
Q What state, Mike? What state taxes?
MR. MCCURRY: They pay state taxes principally in Arkansas. The President, as a federal elected office holder here in the District of Columbia, can elect to report in his state of home residence. Arkansas is his state of legal residence and voting residence. You'll note -- this question comes up every year, why does he get a home mortgage interest deduction. That's because he pays half of the mortgage on the home that Dorothy Rodham lives in Little Rock, and that is the Clintons' voting and legal residence in Arkansas.
And then, in addition, they paid, as I indicated, the de minimis amount in California state taxes for their residuals.
Q And Mrs. Clinton's royalties, the taxes on that goes to Arkansas?
MR. MCCURRY: No, the royalties on the book come to her.
Q No, the taxes on that. You said the taxes --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, that is incorporated in their overall gross income and taxes are paid for pursuant to Arkansas state law on their state return.
Q Can you walk us through the Schedule D, the capital gains that are shown here?
MR. MCCURRY: The Schedule D capital gains? Sure. The amounts there reflected in both short-term and long-term capital gains which add up to just in excess of $100,000 of the amount generated by the President's and Mrs. Clinton's blind trust, operated by Boston Harbor Trust, and that because it is a blind trust, we don't know from whence came that income, nor can we know because that's why it's a blind trust.
Q Did you make the amount going into the blind trust in '92 publicly available at that time?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not sure what they disclosed, but we have annually disclosed the activity within the fund, and it's gone up, reflecting market conditions. Presumably, there have been different amounts different years. I think it was about $88,000 last year. But they had some increase in capital gain income this year as against last year.
Obviously, the main difference in the return this year over last year is the royalty income from Mrs. Clinton's book.
Q But you never made the base public.
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I know of, unless it was included in the first annual disclosure form that the President would have filed in 1993 for the 1992 year. I'd have to go back and ask one of the accountants that question.
Q The President had no activity from his book?
MR. MCCURRY: The President, as we had previously said, elected not to receive any royalty income from his book, probably so his sales wouldn't be measured against her sales. (Laughter.) No, he allowed -- he waived any royalty income, and that allowed the publisher to make a different set of economic decisions about the book itself.
Q The old charitable giving was what Hillary set up for her book?
MR. MCCURRY: No, the charitable giving -- let me go through that a little bit so you get some sense of the Clintons. As they have in the past, they have donated considerably to charities beyond just the amounts generated from the royalty income. There is first the Henry -- I think we referred -- we have got a note on that in the release -- the Henry J. Freeman Pin Money Fund, which generates annually income of $12,000 that Mrs. Clinton elects to donate to charities, and they've used that for some of their charitable giving.
In addition, the Clintons, from other sources, have made another $7,300 worth of charitable donations. So they have a total of about $19,300 worth of charitable donations above and beyond Mrs. Clinton's book royalties. And we annually do not disclose who the specific recipients of their charitable contributions are, but I have said in the past and it is true this year that they tend to be the churches at which the Clintons worship, their alma maters, other organizations that you can expect that they would have some interest in having an affiliation with.
Q Is the White House going to release the manifests of the Air Force One and Air Force Two --
MR. MCCURRY: We will be putting out sometime later this afternoon a list of donors and finance-related travelers who flew on Air Force One in 1995 and 1996. We'll make an announcement here in Lower Press as soon as we know exactly how and when we're going to do that.
Q A list of -- so that's not complete? You said a list of some of the donors, so it's not complete?
MR. MCCURRY: No, it's all donors and finance-related travelers. It's not the full manifest, but of those who are traveling in some capacity with respect to fundraising.
Q What about '93 and '94?
MR. MCCURRY: We've been able only to compile at this point '95 and '96.
Q Mike, could you give us some insight into how people were chosen to ride on Air Force One?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll refer that to those who make the release, and you can ask them that question later.
Q What time do you think it will be?
MR. MCCURRY: As soon as it's available later this afternoon.
Q What about the Camp David visitors? Will that be released as well?
MR. MCCURRY: You can call Ann Lewis about Camp David. I don't know -- we're not making a separate disclosure with respect to Camp David, because there are only a handful of people who are there; in their capacities they're more as friends of the President than as donors. There's really not much in that category that's of interest.
Q But --
Q But when you say we can call her, does that mean she will give the information to us?
MR. MCCURRY: She can walk you through some of the individuals who have been up at Camp David. They've used it mostly as a retreat for their own private purposes.
Q Pardon me, this seems really impractical to have everybody in the room call Ann Lewis. (Laughter.) Why don't you just do it in coordination?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we'll see how we coordinate it. I think the real -- my guess is that your real focus is going to be on the Air Force One list, and then in answering questions on that, we can answer on Air Force One.
Q And how are you going to -- is Lanny Davis going to come here, or it's going to be another one of those off-camera things?
MR. MCCURRY: We're still figuring that out.
Q What time?
MR. MCCURRY: I just said as soon as it's ready to go. It will be another hour or two.
Q Any reaction to the documents that the DNC released today?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have one, no.
Q Is there anything specific you want to make about those? Any points you want to make?
MR. MCCURRY: No. I mean, they've already characterized that. This is the material they've produced to Chairman Burton's committee with respect to one of the document requests relating to John Huang. And I think the documents speak for themselves.
Q Mike, is there any --
Q Mike, since you -- since you're in a position of riding in the front of Air Force One and we're not likely the people who won't be coming in here later or not, can you give us some feel as to what kind of hospitality donors who have that privilege receive?
MR. MCCURRY: They got pretty much the hospitality that Newt Gingrich did. They sat in the same cabin. in the same seat. And the President used to visit with them from time to time. And --
Q Back door?
MR. MCCURRY: There aren't that many -- there are about -- I think -- I haven't seen the full list myself. I think in the period we're talking about -- probably several dozen total that travel.
Q Can we assume that everybody who's not on this list was an official --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, not -- you can because they were not all official trips. Some of these were campaign trips, so they were -- in some cases, if they were traveling during the campaign year, when all the costs were deemed political, they would have been either paid for their own travel or they would have been absorbed in Clinton-Gore expenses for the trip; in other cases, they're official trips; in some cases, people were traveling as guests of the President.
Q But the names on this list are people who traveled and also gave money to the campaign?
MR. MCCURRY: This -- yes, these are people who are somehow or other connected to donor activity to the party or to the President's campaign, and others who did not routinely travel with the President who had some fundraising-related capacity.
For example, we didn't include every time Chairman Fowler or Chairman Dodd traveled because they travel frequently. They went to fundraisers with the President, but they would have been traveling in their capacities as party officials. But we have included some of those who were involved in running and maintaining the donor programs for the party.
Q Just one other question -- every one of the people on this list either paid for the trip themselves or the appropriate campaign committee paid for it?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll have -- we'll be in a position to answer more questions for you later about reimbursements.
Q Has the White House been told already by Janet Reno what her decision is going to be?
MR. MCCURRY: We have not heard anything from Justice about the Attorney General's intent with respect to that matter.
Q Can I follow up to that? Yesterday, Speaker Gingrich suggested if she says no to an independent counsel once again, he would suggest she should be investigated for her behavior. Do you have any reaction to Speaker Gingrich?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, she has to make a decision based on the law and based on the facts and not based on politics. And we would hope the Speaker would consider taking the same approach.
Q Mike, do you consider that call from the Speaker and from Senator Don Nickles intimidation? Is it appropriate for them to --
MR. MCCURRY: I'll just rest with what I just said.
Q Have there been any discussion between anyone here at the White House or in the administration outside the Justice Department with Attorney General Reno or anybody at the Justice Department about this independent counsel decision?
MR. MCCURRY: I -- that's a broadly sweeping question. I can't answer on behalf of everyone in the universe. I have no way of knowing really who the Attorney General has talked to. To my knowledge, no one at the White House has communicated with her about this decision because the President has indicated that's a decision for her to make based on her understanding of the law.
Q In a recent --
MR. MCCURRY: But who she has consulted with, I'm not in a position to answer.
Q At a recent news conference though -- I think it was in response to a Wolf question -- the President indicated that even last time an independent counsel wouldn't have been considered necessary if the law had been in effect.
MR. MCCURRY: The President has consistently said that she should make the decision based on the law.
Q I'm a little unclear on the Air Force One list. If a major donor flew that the President considers his friend, would we get that name or not?
MR. MCCURRY: That's my understanding -- it would be included. But you should really follow up on that with those who would know more about the list.
Q Who pays for that seat?
MR. MCCURRY: As I say, we'll follow up with that once we make the list available.
Q Mike, how much coordination was there between the White House and the DNC about today's release? Did you discuss over -- the timing of it and what was going to be released?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I mean, I think we understood that they were doing their production of documents today or they were going to make public their production of documents today, and it struck some here as not a bad idea for us to privy some of our material today.
Q Mike, can you look ahead to tomorrow's trip? Any kind of preview on what he hopes to accomplish; how long he's going to talk; what's the tone of what he's going to say is?
MR. MCCURRY: He will I think very appropriately refer to the important historic breakthrough that Jackie Robinson's entry into major league baseball presented for the life of the nation. I think, given that he's talking on a baseball field and given what most politicians are smart enough to know about appearing before sporting crowds, I don't think he plans to be out there very long.
I think he wants to appropriately reflect on the contribution that Jackie Robinson made both through his stature, his excellent play, his demeanor as he broke an important barrier.
And I think he'll probably also remark on the stunning and thrilling breakthrough in another major sport that we witnessed this past weekend. He had an opportunity to have a short congratulatory call with Tiger Woods last night after he won the Masters. The President, among other things, said the best shot he made all day -- or the best shot he saw all day was the shot of Tiger Woods embracing his dad at the end of the 18th hole, which I think was a thrilling moment in many ways for millions of Americans.
Q Speaking of which, has he talked to him about coming to the White House?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that -- I don't know whether he invited him here or not.
Q Mike, this speech tomorrow. I mean, do you consider this a major speech on race relations and will the President give us any inkling of what he's considering doing as part of --
MR. MCCURRY: No, he's not going to deliver a major speech on race relations standing on the infield at Shea Stadium. (Laughter.) He's going to very briefly say this is an important historic moment and it's one that we should remember as we think about the status of race relations in America.
But there will be a lot more that he plans to say on the general subject, but I think celebrating these moments in our nation's life that are truly historic, like the one we had this past week here and like the one we had 50 years ago are part of coming to better and deeper understandings about what it means to be one America, which is a theme that the President will be stressing often.
Q Mike, I don't know how far you will go into the DNC documents today, but one document suggested that there was a fundraiser where it was intended that Nancy Soderberg would appear and share a table with James Riady. Don't know if it actually happened, but in principle, is it proper, is it improper, is it unusual for somebody of that rank to attend a fundraiser?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not familiar with the document or the circumstances, so I'll have to refer you to those who know more about it.
Q Mike, does the President plan to have any sort of a semiofficial meeting with Mayor Giuliani while he's in town?
MR. MCCURRY: To go over parking tickets and things? (Laughter.) I don't know and I don't know whether the Mayor is actually going to be there. Anyone know? If the Mayor is there, I know the President will look forward to seeing him. He highly values and respects the Mayor and they talk from time to time about issues affecting urban life an America and issues related to New York in particular.
Q What else is he doing with the day, then?
MR. MCCURRY: He's -- of course, as you know, he's got an event at Mark Knoller's alma mater early in the day which is, some will say, the important and interesting moment. It's a "Kick Butts" event at Adries Hudde Middle School in Brooklyn. He then goes to a DCCC luncheon at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and then a little bit of down time before they go out to Shea.
Q Some critics of the Attorney General say that the decision on an independent counsel should be triggered not only by the specifics of the law, but also if there is a need in terms of public confidence for there to be an independent inquiry. I wonder if the White House is, at all, persuaded that that's a legitimate reason?
MR. MCCURRY: The White House and the President believe that she should make the decision based on the law.
Q Mike, do you get the feeling there will be any ambassadorial appointments this week?
MR. MCCURRY: There will be sometime this year, but I don't guarantee they'll be happening this week. (Laughter.)
Q How about this one? Is the White House aware of -- does it have any knowledge about North Korea deploying Rodong missiles as the Japanese foreign minister said today?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the status of knowledge I might have on that is heavily restricted in its public availability because some of the stories you've seen make reference to intelligence information, but we have long been concerned about North Korea's missile program. Indeed, we have a venue within the dialogue that we current have to raise our proliferation-related concerns. And we've got a round of talks scheduled for New York City in May in which we have a venue for pursuing some of our proliferation objectives.
And one of the things we are doing as we carry out aspects of the agreed framework is to address some of the specific proliferation matters that we have concern about. It is one of the values of that process stemming from the 1994 Geneva agreement that we have a venue for raising precisely the concerns that you mention we might have in that very volatile region.
Q If I could try again on Speaker Gingrich and Senator Nickles' comments -- what is -- we'd assume since you don't want to -- you decline to go beyond your initial comment on that -- that you feel the comments were proper and not an attempt at intimidation.
MR. MCCURRY: I think the gave you a nice crisp sound bite that you can use on that subject.
Q I'm looking for an answer though. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: I gave you a very good answer.
MR. MCCURRY: I gave you a sense of what we feel about the matter already.
Q Mike, among the papers the DNC released today, I couldn't hear the question up front, so maybe I'm repeating myself -- were a list of names of the -- DNC of people they would have liked to have seen the President appoint to positions. How much weight was given to that list?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, most of the individuals they named were people already known to the President because they had been active. As you will note from the lists, some were appointed, some weren't. But overall, the President made ambassadorial appointments based on the merits and qualifications of the individual, irrespective of contributions -- although clearly, contributions was one way that a President would come to know people who wanted to be active in the life of our nation and wanted to render public service.
Q Did he see that list?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether or not he saw that particular document.
Q So, does that mean that the DNC advice was heeded or not?
MR. MCCURRY: I said the President would have had a number or reasons to make ambassadorial appointments beyond any recommendation or flagging for attention individuals that the DNC thought merited review. In any event, it wouldn't have been disqualifying for someone to have been recommended by the national committee.
Q Did the President act on the Fed memo he got, and do you think it's possible to get announcements later this week?
MR. MCCURRY: No, and likely not.
Q I have one more New York question -- might he be pushing any Democratic opponents for Giuliani while he's doing a luncheon tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think he's planning to do any New York City politics while he's up there.
Q Back on taxes, did he say anything about his taxes today? I know you said he met with his accountant.
MR. MCCURRY: He said he obviously pays a considerable amount of taxes. That's not new. He did say that he was proud that the First Lady had been able to sell so many books and proud that she had been in a position to give the proceeds from those books to a number of very worthy charitable causes.
Q But he thought that he paid a lot of taxes, you say?
MR. MCCURRY: He felt he -- he pays a lot of taxes. There's no question about that.
Q He thinks he --
Q Did he say anything about wanting a tax cut?
MR. MCCURRY: The President always is interested in advancing his ideas for tax relief. But as you all know, he would not likely benefit from that tax relief being a little bit above in income the amounts who would really benefit.
Q -- deduction -- the $10,000 deduction -- next year.
MR. MCCURRY: But you're right. Mr. Harris makes a good point -- that college deduction that the President's talking about is looking better and better with each passing day. (Laughter.)
Q I thought there's a cap --
MR. MCCURRY: Also contemplating the kind of tuition bills they're going to be looking at.
Q I thought there was a $100,000 a year --
Q No go.
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, that's right. Harris just withdrew the observation because he's still above the income tax on that. It phases out over -- income levels and the Clintons are well beyond that income phase-out.
Q Did he say how it felt to be a millionaire on paper?
MR. MCCURRY: Say it again?
Q Did he say how it felt to be a millionaire on paper?
Q For the first time.
MR. MCCURRY: No, but I think, as some of you know that he's got some bills hanging around. That probably diminishes enthusiasm for that designation.
Q Just ask O.J.
Q The President -- does the President have a position on cutting the inheritance tax?
MR. MCCURRY: We've not ruled out considering ideas that come from elsewhere about tax relief, but our ideas on tax relief are those that are included in our balanced budget proposal now pending before Congress. That is the right way to write tax relief to millions of Americans.
Q But you are not opposed to the idea?
MR. MCCURRY: We are in favor of our approach on tax relief, but understand that we must be flexible enough to consider ideas coming from elsewhere. Although, those concepts, as I believe -- some of the Republican-produced budget deliberations have indicated we're not -- have not been a factor in their side of the equation so far.
Anything else? Yes, sir. One last one.
Q DNC about ambassadorial positions -- about the consideration for ambassadorial positions?
MR. MCCURRY: Asked and answered. We did that already.
Q What about administrative positions beyond ambassadorial? Say, John Long was considered for a Commerce position or a State Department position?
MR. MCCURRY: The people who know the documents will be able to help you on that later.
END 2:50 P.M. EDT