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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 17, 1998
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                              MIKE MCCURRY 

The Briefing Room

2:24 P.M. EST

MR. MCCURRY: Two points -- no, one point. Tomorrow, since some of you will be out in Las Vegas, the President --

Q You're not going?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not. I'll be monitoring developments back here on the East Coast.

Q At your listening post in your office.

MR. MCCURRY: Correct.

Secretaries Cohen, Rubin and Albright are going to be on the Hill tomorrow to talk about the supplemental request. They're going to link up at the House Triangle at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, do a little availability and try to kick-start the administration's supplemental request. And I promised I would pass on a heads-up to all of you so you could alert your congressional colleagues to that fact, that we've got three Cabinet members up there pitching the supplemental.

Q At 12:30 p.m.?

MR. MCCURRY: At 12:30 p.m., House Triangle tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the President will be in Las Vegas and will be touring facilities at the Carpenters Joint Apprentice Training Center in Las Vegas, and attend a meeting of the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Q Does he intend to gamble at all there?


Q Is he a gambling man?

Q What does he do between --

MR. MCCURRY: We have arranged for the filing center to do that.

Q What does he do between 2:40 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.?

MR. MCCURRY: In the beautiful desert sun in the afternoon when he's got his good friend out there, when the weather is warm and the greens are beckoning --

Q He's going to play golf. (Laughter.)

Q Is that what he's doing?


Q That's a long way to go to play golf.

MR. MCCURRY: And now, Mr. Donaldson, you know why I'm not going out there.

Q That explains the 2:00 a.m. return home.

Q You ought to play golf, too, then.

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't played in a long time.

Q Does he bet a dollar a hole, or something like that?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether they play skins or what they do. Maybe, from time to time. I've never heard him talk about that very much.

Q He doesn't talk about everything that he does.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think they do a lot of -- they don't play skins and skats and stuff like that.

Q Who is the friend that you referred to?

MR. MCCURRY: I think -- is he playing -- his friend is the publisher of the paper out there he plays with a lot. I had heard that they were going to play, but I'll let your pool unravel that mystery tomorrow.

Q Mike, was it the President's idea to release the letters? And what's the tick-tock on that? When did you all think about that and how did you find them?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, when some of us heard that there were such letters, many of us felt that that would be good to try to get out on the public record after her --

Q How did you hear there were such letters?

MR. MCCURRY: I heard about it, I guess, towards the end of last week.

Q Well, how? Who had gathered them?

Q Somebody went and looked for them, right?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that people were aware that there were letters from her.

Q Who had gathered them?

Q Who? Did Nancy Hernreich bring this to your --

MR. MCCURRY: The Oval staff. I don't know who, in particular.

Q Well, Mike, what drove the White House's decision to get these out and get these out much more quickly than you've got congressional testimony out?

MR. MCCURRY: Your broadcast, 60 Minutes, Bill.

Q And why?

MR. MCCURRY: Because she was on in front of however many millions of people and there was some desire to have information on the public record that would place in some context information so Americans could understand the story.

Q The question is what you were asked this morning, why not put out the correspondence between the President and Monica Lewinsky?

MR. MCCURRY: A, I don't know if there is such correspondence. There may be, but I don't know the extent of it. B, for all the reasons that we have suggested in the past -- there's an investigative process underway and that they have been sought under subpoena by the Office of Independent Counsel. To my knowledge these materials have not been sought, but I don't rule out the possibility that the OIC will want to seek them at some point.

Q But the difference is the subpoena. One was subpoenaed and one was --

MR. MCCURRY: No, I think most -- the difference is that we had -- you know, it's a much more dramatic moment when someone goes on national television like that. And naturally, we wanted to help Americans understand the fuller context of the story.

Q But what could be much more dramatic than the first week when the Monica Lewinsky allegations broke?

MR. MCCURRY: We kept asking, as Mr. Bennett did last night, for people to just wait for additional facts to come forward. And additional facts are coming forward.

Q We're asking for additional facts, the letters of Monica Lewinsky --

MR. MCCURRY: And they're coming forward. The President's deposition is out there, among other things.

Q Why can't you just say you felt the need to defend yourself here, and so far, with Monica not speaking in public, you don't feel a need yet to defend yourself with her?

MR. MCCURRY: That's pretty accurate; I wouldn't dispute that, yes.

Q Well, why didn't you say that?

Q How much of the correspondence -- the total exchange of correspondence do we have? Do we have all of the President's responses?

MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is that it is the best the lawyers could do in the short time that they did look for this. They've assembled what they think is available through the records that they keep of the President's correspondence. That doesn't rule out that there may be additional things that they find that they have looked pretty well through what they think they can find.

Q When did they start? Because --

MR. MCCURRY: I can't tell you that. Maybe on all of these kind of like, how do they look for it questions, I think Jim Kennedy would be more useful than I can be.

Q Was the release of these letters intended to impugn Kathleen Willey's credibility by showing that she continued to write and call the White House?

MR. MCCURRY: The release of these letters were intended to provide additional information in which people could understand the context of this story.

Q What is that context?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the context of the story is that she wrote these types of letters in the time after the encounter she described on national television Sunday night.

Q One interpretation of those letters is being made that here was a woman who was broke and had lost her husband and was desperately trying to get a job, and therefore, was gilding the lily, as it were, in being so effusive trying to get a job.

MR. MCCURRY: I can't provide that interpretation. I don't know, in fact, that that was her motive or not.

Q What do you say to the suggestions that the release of the letter was a smear campaign?

MR. MCCURRY: I think it was factual information. We have not characterized these letters one way or another. People can read them and make whatever they want to of them. If they provide the interpretation that Mr. Donaldson just provided, that's their business. I'm not going to provide interpretation.

Q Do you think this investigation has wound down now to a war of public relations? And do you think the polls are showing the President still has some support?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether it has or not. It has gotten pretty far afield from the search for information relevant to a land transaction years and years ago, that's for sure.

Q -- that she might have tried to blackmail the President to get a job?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to -- I don't have any information that suggests that.

Q What do you know about the book deal?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know anything about it.

Q Have you taken a look at these polls --

Q -- interpretation is an equally plausible one is that you release information when it helps your case, you don't release it if it doesn't.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether the release of information -- there's some information about Monica Lewinsky that no doubt would be helpful to what the President has suggested in his strong denials.

Q Like what?

MR. MCCURRY: Some of the information that I know.

Q Have you taken a look at these polls? There are three network polls that say the President's approval rating is still very high; that more people believe Kathleen Willey than believe him about this incident; that most people, however, say it's all right from the standpoint of thinking the President should not be removed unless, all three polls say, he's lying, he's perjured himself.

MR. MCCURRY: Sam, as I said earlier today, I think that any poll you take at any moment in the aftermath of a big story is a snapshot. It may or may not reflect what public opinion is a week from now or two weeks from now or two months from now. I don't have any way of predicting which way it will go.

Q You mean his approval rating may be low two months from now?

MR. MCCURRY: Could be low, could be high. I think it probably will be based on the job he's doing on the issues that Americans are more interested in. For example, Medicare, which the President was working on today on Capitol Hill, which no one has asked a question about yet; the Northern Ireland peace process, which is an important one -- we're at a very critical moment, which you haven't asked a question about yet. I think people make their judgments based on things that are relevant to their lives.

Q I'll take the bait on health care.

Q But you said that you have this information -- the information you know about Monica Lewinsky that, in fact, would help the President's case. And you say you want to go on to these other issues. Well, why not come out with a full accounting, because then we could get beyond these questions?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think maybe someday we will.

Health care.

Q Yes. There's now been a report that the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill is not working. What does the President intend to do about that?

MR. MCCURRY: There are two specific things in the New York Times report, and the President addressed them earlier today. The first is insurers who provide incentives for insurance agents not to cover people. And the President, as you know, asked Secretary Shalala to send an instruction to state health insurance commissioners today on that.

The other is the problem of premiums, which is a problem and something I think we're going to have to continue to look at, which links back to what the President was on the Hill talking about today -- finding ways for people who lack coverage to be able to buy into coverage, for example, Medicare, when they need it.

Q But this proposal on Medicare specifically does not deal with affordability, it only deals with access, which is the same problem with Kennedy-Kassebaum --

MR. MCCURRY: Medicare would be in many cases a much more accessible and affordable form of health insurance than private insurance arrangements for people who suddenly find themselves without coverage. But in any event, affordability is going to continue to be a problem and one that needs to be addressed in a variety of ways that the President suggested.

Q But that's not in the proposal now?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we don't have a comprehensive program ala 1994, you're correct. But we have been continuing to work at ways that you can address both access, quality and affordability.

Q On Northern Ireland, is the President going to encourage David Trimble this afternoon to meet with Gerry Adams?

MR. MCCURRY: The President will encourage Mr. Trimble, who he has great respect for, to take advantage of the venue that is available to them in the all-party talks to directly air their differences. Making peace is a delicate, difficult process. The Prime Minister -- the Taoiseach and the President today talked about the way in which human emotion and personalities play into a peace process, and how you have to overcome the natural barriers that people sometimes have to directly engage.

The President cited some of his own experiences with the Middle East peace process. But specifically, in understanding how difficult it is for people to make that great leap, the President would ask leaders like Mr. Trimble, as he has with Mr. Hume, Mr. Adams, Mr. McMichael, Lord Alderdice, and others, to take the enormous opportunity that exists through these talks, to build on the courage they've already demonstrated by using this venue to make peace, and to take the next necessary steps to come to an agreement that will allow them to resolve their differences, and to build a peace for all the people of Ireland.

And I think there are ways in which, in time, perhaps all the leaders, all the parties will find utility in having the kind of direct dialogue that this venue can afford.

Q But in time -- if they're going to meet the May referendum deadline, that's one thing they don't really have.

MR. MCCURRY: As the President said, the time is now.

Q -- is coming to New York to receive an award, and several members of the Congress have called on the White House to invite him to the White House. Have you made any decisions?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any scheduling of that. But we will check further with National Security Council staff.

Q Mike, can you answer the first question, which was, did the President want these letters out? Did he order that these letters come out? You said the lawyers looked for them. Who else was involved?

MR. MCCURRY: I just already told you on the tick-tock on the letters, please contact Mr. Kennedy. I'm sure the President knew that we were putting the letters out and I'm sure that he approved.

Q But you've told us that you knew about these letters.

Q Did the President have any specific reaction to his meeting with Gerry Adams last night?

MR. MCCURRY: We have refrained from doing any individual readouts of his meetings since the President does look forward to his meetings coming up. But he had a very productive meeting with Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, last night. They talked in much the same spirit I just conveyed to Susan's question about the overall utility of the process, and the President -- his message, I think, could be summarized, in short phrase, to seize this moment. And it's the message he intends to convey to the other leaders when he sees them this afternoon.

Q Mike, how could the remarks of the President's lawyer last night on Larry King Live about a so-called book deal be anything other than an attempt to impugn Kathleen Willey's character?

MR. MCCURRY: He very carefully addressed that and was very careful on how he raised that issue during the show. And I think if you look carefully at it you will see it was not motivated in that fashion.

Q Mike, you said you made the letters public for Willey because in part, she went on national television and made her case. Are you saying that that's a legitimate reason that's driving the strategy in terms of how they respond to Monica Lewinsky and, in fact, if she went on national television, that perhaps the White House would be more --

MR. MCCURRY: There was enormous interest in her and there seemed to be utility in providing information that helped the American people have a broader context in which to understand this story. On other occasions, you yell at us when we don't make such information available. In this case, we were able to make it available and I'm not trying to characterize it other than to say it provides more context for people to understand the story.

Q Let me do a little more yelling about that. You told us that you and others learned about these Kathleen Willey letters, but when we've just now asked you about Monica Lewinsky letters, you said, well, I'm not certain -- I don't even know whether there are any. Surely, the same person can tell you whether there are Lewinsky letters who told you there were Willey letters.

MR. MCCURRY: The same people in the Legal Counsel's Office probably can assemble the same kind of material; that's correct.

Q Well, why haven't they?

Q Well, then, why not do it?

MR. MCCURRY: Because they choose not to because of the investigative process that's underway.

Q Because it would not be helpful -- may I just follow up -- because that would not be helpful to the President?

MR. MCCURRY: I can't speculate on their reason not knowing the content.

Q Could you describe, though, the decision to release them? Was this a decision by Ruff, a decision by the communications people?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm just not going to get into the tick-tock -- I mean, everyone concluded it would be a good idea to have these out. It was a combination of people who work as advisors to the President?

Q Still think so?

Q What's the last update you had on Yeltsin's cold? On Yeltsin's health?

MR. MCCURRY: The contacts we've had through the embassy indicate that he is being treated for an acute respiratory problem, and we wish him well for a speedy recovery. We've gotten some anecdotal information about people that he has seen in recent days.

Q When was that?

MR. MCCURRY: He saw the conductor, Rostropovich, I believe over the weekend.

Q When was your last update? When was the last contact?

MR. MCCURRY: Probably embassy in Moscow, sometime yesterday I would imagine.

Q His respiratory problem sounds like a polite way of saying pneumonia.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have anything to add to what President Yeltsin's spokesman's office have said in Moscow.

Q Are letters ordinarily filed in such a way that they could be retrieved if whatever correspondence a particular citizen's had with the President that they can be retrieved and look at the folder?

MR. MCCURRY: There are lots of different ways that correspondence gets managed and handled at the White House. I think it depends in part on whether the President sees it, whether the President responds to it. I don't want to try to provide one characterization.

Q Does he have the President's zip code that he keeps for personal correspondence?

MR. MCCURRY: I do not know the answer to that.

Q Mike, do you have any reaction to the Senate committee vote on IMF funding?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- see if we can get a response to that.

Q Mike, any reaction to Jean Kennedy Smith's decision to leave the ambassadorship in Ireland?

MR. MCCURRY: Has that been made public?

Q The President talked about it.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, she is very, very highly regarded by the President. She has been an enormously effective emissary on behalf of all America -- not only the administration, the White House, the President, but on behalf of the Irish American community and others who are so deeply interested in relations between our countries and in the prosperous relations that we enjoy with the Republic of Ireland.

She has extended her stay on occasion, partly at the President's request, just because there's been so much progress in exactly this peace process we have talked. And I know that all Americans will wish her well as she completes what has been an enormously useful term of service. If I understand correctly, she's going to be there for quite some time, and, of course, we will be looking to find someone who will be a worthy successor.

Q Mike, could you take the question of whether or not there is any Lewinsky correspondence and get us an answer?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll refer that to Mr. Kennedy.

Q Mike, I'm puzzled. You release one batch of correspondence and you won't even tell us if there is another one?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll refer to Mr. Kennedy the question if there is such correspondence.

Q The New York Times today reported that the Pentagon has been training Indonesian military forces since 1992, despite a congressional ban -- apparently, doing this under a loophole of the law. And the question raised by Representative Lane Evans in the Times today is curious to know why U.S. taxpayer dollars are being wasted on aiding and abetting of ruthless military organizations.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the Pentagon will tell you a lot more about the program under which this training is occurring. It is not a loophole, it is the joint combined exchange training that is done under law by the Pentagon. That program uses no foreign military assistance funds, which is the principal concern and the barrier that exists in current law with respect to Indonesia, because that's a program that operates, for example, under IMET funding -- that's the training that is military-to-military training that's done usually as a form of assistance for the host government receiving the training.

This training involves special forces who have got unique skills that operate in-country. They learn the language of the country that they're operating in and the benefits flow to the United States for that kind of training. It is not a program that is designed to aid or to materially affect the military capability of the country that we're training with. It is actually another form of military-to-military cooperation and exchange. A great deal more on this is being done at the Pentagon right now and I refer you to them.

Q Mike, can you talk about China's human rights record and also in connection with the Geneva meeting? And also, the President is going to talk about human rights in China during his visit?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll say in short summary of what many of you were told over the weekend, that we have seen some progress in areas related to human rights and we believe that as a way to encourage further progress in human rights we can work cooperatively through the exchanges that we are going to have with the People's Republic to advance our agenda. Thus the reason for our decision with respect to the human rights resolution in Geneva. But we will continue to press our concerns as we address them directly in the kind of high level exchanges that we believe have been fruitful as we advance dialogue on human rights and other questions.

Q Mike, what is the President going to be saying about worker training tomorrow? What's this about?

MR. MCCURRY: He's going to talk about the ways in which some of things we've identified in the State of the Union and in the budget can work to enhance economic growth and opportunities for workers to gain higher wages as we think about the post-industrial economy of the 21st century.

Q What's the audience going to be? Who's going to be there?

MR. MCCURRY: He's got a group at the Union Hall, the carpenter's apprentice program.

Q Mike, how close is the President to Nate Landow, and have they been in much contact with each other since last summer?

MR. MCCURRY: I can't answer. I can't -- obviously, he is one of many Democratic Party financial contributors. He's a former state party chairman. He's well known to many in the party. He certainly knows the President. I can't describe for you how close they are and what the last time they may have conversed.

Q Kathleen Willey wrote many times of her interest in an ambassadorship. And one of her letters there was a note from the President saying, is this what we did for Sheila Lawrence and can we do this for her. Do you have any idea --

MR. MCCURRY: That was that international fund of conservation or something? I don't know. Maybe Jim Kennedy can help you on that. Jim Kennedy is helping people on that.

Q Mike, does the White House have a view on whether the Judiciary Committee or a Select Committee should handle potential impeachment proceedings?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate; no reason why I should speculate on that.

Q Mike, tomorrow the House is debating whether to invoke the War Powers Act in Bosnia. Can you explain whether or not -- or why the administration feels it's not necessary to get Congress's approval for what's --

MR. MCCURRY: There are a lot of reasons for it. They've been addressed by the State Department on advice of their legal advisory staff there, others in the administration. In short, the answer is that this is not operation that goes under the heading of war making because it is largely a peacekeeping mission that is fulfilling the objectives of the Dayton Accords, and the environment in which they are presumed to operate in country is one that does not represent an imminent threat of hostilities, even though it does involve risk and is dangerous, does not involve the immediate risk of hostilities directed against U.S. forces or other participants in the international force.

Q In your post mortem today, did you decide -- the White House decide that it was good to put out the letters or detrimental?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that we had any kind of analysis that was that deep. We just thought it was a good thing for people to have access to additional information, and we made it available.

On the Senate vote on the IMF, there is a letter from Secretary Rubin to Chairman Stevens that expresses our views on the Senate vote and on the way in which the Senate addressed the question. We'll make that available.

Q Mike, on Nate Landow, what is the reason you can't talk about the President's relationship --

MR. MCCURRY: I just haven't inquired of it, don't know what his most recent contact was or what his relationship is.

Q Could you find out --

MR. MCCURRY: I can direct you to Mr. Kennedy.

Q Mike, Anita Hill today said that Mr. Bennett's use of those letters yesterday to impugn the credibility of Kathleen Willey reminded her of the way critics tried to impugn her credibility. Do you disagree?

MR. MCCURRY: Look, there are many people with many opinions that have flooded the airwaves. I'm not going to comment on each and every person's viewpoint. And she's entitled to express whatever viewpoint she has.

Q Mike, is it of concern to the White House that many of your supporters in the women's community get the wrong idea and think they were meant to scare her?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that we've worked very hard to make sure that they understand how carefully and prudently we are attempting to address this matter, and we hope that they see and appreciate what we're trying to do.

Q How have you tried to communicate that to them?

MR. MCCURRY: We've had a variety of contacts as we consult with them on a variety of matters.

Q Mike, on the tobacco deal, last week, Speaker Gingrich said that he is opposed to any limits on liability for the industry. And he said if the administration pushes a bill that has limits on liability, why wouldn't other industries, like the heart valve industry which is under litigation attack, want limits, and should they be given limits?

MR. MCCURRY: The Speaker will be happy to know we are not pushing legislation that codifies any liabilities. We have said that, while we don't advocate limits on liabilities, we certainly understand that some want them in any comprehensive tobacco legislation as a way of getting approval for and compliance with the requirements of that legislation; i.e., to head of protracted litigation in the courts that might jeopardize any type of comprehensive solution.

That's why we've always said that inclusion of limits on liability would not be a deal breaker for us, that we would have to examine what the whole legislation looked like to see if we were achieving our overall public health objectives. If we can get a program that gets the tobacco industry on a determined path of contributing to an effort to discourage children from smoking, discouraging 3,000 kids a day from starting to smoke, that that would be a good thing, and that the way in which you would achieve that and if it was consistent with all the principles that the President has outlined, including regulation by the FDA, limits on advertising, doing those things that will achieve the overall public health objectives, that the President can certainly see fit to consider and perhaps support the right kinds of limits on liability. But it would have to be in the context of what the overall legislation was.

Q To follow up on that, she's saying it should be a deal-breaker, that you should be able to get legislation without limits on liability.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, you may very well be, and we, of course, would prefer that if that's possible.

Q You said you had contacts with women's groups to -- with women to try to show how carefully you're dealing with this. Did you contact any women on the Hill, any of the senators or congresswomen?

MR. MCCURRY: I did not, but there may well have been contacts like that through some of our staff here.

Q Did anyone talk to Patricia Ireland at all?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I don't know who all -- but they, on any given issue, would be reaching out to a variety of constituency groups.

Q Some of these organizations have reported that people who either work now at the White House or used to, that worked with Kathleen Willey, have contacted reporters on an unsolicited basis to offer their experiences. Do you know if there was any attempt to encourage people to do that here?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any, have not heard any suggestion. To the contrary, heard it suggested that we ought to, since we are being very careful and very delicate in the way we're addressing this, that we should discourage people from making impromptu remarks on this subject. So if they're doing it, they're doing it on their own.

Q Mike, just a quick question -- were these letters were mailed or hand-delivered?


Q The letters.

Q Were they mailed or hand-delivered?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. Some of them, you get the impression that they may have been hand-delivered. I don't know the answer to that.

Q Mike, the President suggested that he'd let the deposition speak for itself. Does this mean that he is backing away from his statement made that these were legitimate questions that at a later date he'll be --

MR. MCCURRY: Same question as yesterday and there's no change in the answer, that the President indicated in the future he may well address this, but he's going to wait and see how things unfold in the future.

Q Given the fact that the Paula Jones lawyers released Kathleen Willey's deposition but not the cross by Mr. Bennett, and the President is talking about letting the depositions speak for themselves, do you think Mr. Bennett or the White House would be able to give us the cross by Mr. Bennett of Kathleen Willey?

MR. MCCURRY: That's a very good question. We may well -- since this is out minus the cross examination. Question's for Mr. Bennett.

Q The last few days, Bob Bennett has been appearing on television in many places. And his appearances have drawn mixed reviews. Does the President think he's done a good, effective job for him, or is he disappointed to some extent?

MR. MCCURRY: The President thinks he's done a very good job in very difficult circumstances and very hostile questioning, sometimes with people who have already made up their minds and are not interested in making an impartial review of the facts.

Q How does he feel about you?

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't talked to him about me.

Q So Mr. Bennett will continue to be someone that the President wants to speak for him?

MR. MCCURRY: He's a very good lawyer and he's done a very good job under circumstances that are difficult. And I think he's handled this matter -- the President believes he's handled this matter very effectively.

Q The President talked yesterday about the three incarnations of the story. Can you shed any more light on what the three incarnations are?

MR. MCCURRY: He was essentially referring to the Linda Tripp version, the Julie Steele version, the Kathleen Willey version and its many permutations and, of course, obviously, that he's got his own accounts, so there are at least four.

Q What are the many permutations of Kathleen Willey?

MR. MCCURRY: Whatever the different ones that she's given.

Q What different ones?

Q Wait a minute, Mike. What do you see as different? She gave a deposition and then she talked on television.

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not an authority on her different accounts, so I'm not going to attempt to address that.

Q Well, wait a minute. You can't suggest somebody's telling multiple stories and then back away from it.

MR. MCCURRY: I'm answering the question that was asked about what did the President mean on his three incarnations, and I gave you the answer.

Q You added the fourth.

MR. MCCURRY: The fourth was the President's version.

Q Well, what about her different permutations, because that suggest she's telling different stories? And then you say you don't know of that.

MR. MCCURRY: I thought -- there are three, there were Kathleen Willey, Julie Steele, Linda Tripp.

Q So you didn't mean to say that Kathleen Willey has many permutations?

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't mean to say that, no.

Q The Justice Department has been increasingly active in breaking up mergers of -- mergers of big corporations. If you go back and look at the legislative history of the antitrust law at the turn of the century, Congress intended to address the issue of corporate power. Sorry about this philosophical antitrust question, but is it the White House's view that corporations have too much power?

MR. MCCURRY: I think it's a good philosophical question that ought to be debated in maybe a seminar in antitrust law, but not here.

Q Mike, I want to go back to Gennifer Flowers, because I can't reconcile the President's statements. In 1992, he referred to Gennifer Flowers as "a woman that I didn't sleep with." Do you still maintain that's an accurate statement?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of that statement. I don't know whether he said that or not.

Q He said it in New Hampshire -- "woman I didn't sleep with," "draft I didn't dodge," "pot I didn't smoke," --

Q Nightline, all over --

MR. MCCURRY: I'll go back and talk to some of my colleagues that were there in that capacity in 1992 and see if they've got anything on that.

Q You could just repeat what you had to say about it in 1992. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: Thank you.

END 2:55 P.M. EST