THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
2:15 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: I mentioned to some of you earlier in the day that Senator Bob Dole would be meeting with the President today. That's happening right about now. He had asked to see the President on a foreign policy matter that he is interested in and the President wanted to see him and talk to him anyhow. So they are going to get together and chat. I don't expect that there will be much to say about the meeting afterwards.
But many of your news organizations have desperately been trying to get a hold of Senator Dole for a reaction on Senator Goldwater's death, and Senator Dole asked us if we could do something to make you all -- give him access to all of you, so he will be out at the stakeout after his meeting with the President, just to make a brief statement about Senator Goldwater. And we'll try to advise you.
Q What was the foreign policy matter?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. And I don't believe anyone here does. I think he just -- my guess is, having just returned from a trip to Bosnia he has that on his mind, but we do not know the precise subject.
Q Since he's a registered foreign agent, can you find out?
MR. MCCURRY: I can find out, yes.
Q On Kosovo, did the President tell --
MR. MCCURRY: I've got several items to open with and then we'll get to your questions.
First, today is May 29th, it is Senior Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Peace Corps. And over at the Peace Corps they've been celebrating older Americans month by recognizing the talent and the energy that older Americans bring to that program. Director Mark Gearan and others there have been paying tribute to the elderly Americans who have served their nation by serving in the Peace Corps. And you can call the Peace Corps if you're interested in more on that.
Second, some personnel items that were announced with great fanfare and great applause today to the President's staff. The President's Deputy Chief of Staff, Sylvia Mathews, is being given an opportunity to get back to her roots as a policy and economics person. She is going to become the new Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Around the White House Sylvia is known for organizing and leading two of the best run State of the Union processes that we have had during the Clinton White House that included, among other things, the arrival to all of you, advanced texts -- something that was harder to do earlier in this administration. She was also the guiding hand behind the President's historic and very successful trip to Africa.
What many people here I don't think appreciated as much as those of us on the inside of the White House, she was really a very astute and important contributor to a lot of the policy work that went into the President's economic policy making. Obviously, having served with Secretary Rubin, having done work here, she had very keen interests in economic policy. She's also pretty good with budgets and number crunching and things like that, which she did a lot of in her current capacity. So she's excited about getting back over to OMB and firing up her HP12C again.
Q We can barely hear you.
MR. MCCURRY: I can barely hear myself. Yes, if there's any way you can turn the volume up or turn the truck off or do something. This is kind of ridiculous.
Q They won't --
MR. MCCURRY: I know, we've been working on that all day long. We haven't had much luck.
To replace --
Q There it is. (Laughter)
MR. MCCURRY: Sounds like a job for -- (laughter) -- yes, the assassin. (Laughter.)
Okay. To replace Sylvia as Deputy Chief of Staff, the President and Erskine Bowles are turning to someone who I think has become one of the most admired and appreciated members of the President's senior staff, the current Director of Public Liaison, Maria Echaveste. She will be -- she's currently Policy Director of Public Liaison. She has been a very key person for the President on immigration, bankruptcy reform, education, census issues. She has organized incredible outreach programs that this administration has used to keep in contact with key constituencies and communities.
She came to the White House from the Labor Department where she was the Wage and Hour Administrator. She led there an anti-sweat shop initiative that got a lot of attention with very important effort. Her real training as a corporate lawyer serving firms in both New York and California, I think, will serve her well in a capacity in which she's got to sort out a lot of the policy-related areas that Sylvia formerly had responsibility for.
And then to replace Maria at Public Liaison, the President is turning to the current Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Political Affairs Director, Minyon Moore. Those of you who know Minyon, know that she will bring a lot of zest to the Public Liaison Office. Her expertise includes six years as a Political Director and Constituency Outreach Director at the Democratic National Committee. She has really been a person who has had her finger on the political pulse of this nation. In her current job at Political Affairs, she's, I think, been extremely valuable in keeping the President rooted in communities that have a special interest in the President's race initiative, and I think that is something that will be valuable in her current role as our chief liaison outreach.
We've got personnel press releases coming on all three of those, but the White House is buzzing and excited about all of these appointments today and we congratulate all three of these people who have gotten new assignments.
Moving on. President Clinton today announces the formation of a second District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority. The President announced today his intention to appoint two new full-term members of the board and the appointment of three members from the existing first Control Board who have agreed to serve in a transitional role for a period of 90 days. The President announced that current members, Andrew Brimmer, Constance Berry Newman and Stephen Harlan will serve during this transition period. Mr. Brimmer will retain, during the transition period, his role as chair of the board.
The President also today announced his intent to appoint as two new full-term members of the board Alice Rivlin, currently the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board and our former colleague here at the White House, and also Washington Attorney Robert Watkins. Dr. Rivlin will assume the role of chair after Mr. Brimmer's departure. And during the transition period the President will name the additional new, full-term members that will after the 90-day period constitute the next full membership of the Control Board. There is a long release with a lot more detail on that, that's, I think, being distributed as I speak.
And last on my list, today the President was informed of the decision by the Health Care Finance Administration to send to Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, a notice that the hospital will lose its Medicare funding on June 21, 1998, unless the facility takes steps to ensure that the events that led to the tragic death of 15-year-old Christopher Sercye are never repeated again. I think those of you not familiar with that know that that's a young man who died of gunshot wounds 35 feet from the front door of Ravenswood Hospital.
And the President today says there was simply no excuse for that and no one should be left untreated just footsteps from a hospital entrance. And the administration today is making it clear that we stand ready to take the same kind of strong action against any facility that does not assist in a medical emergency.
Q Is that -- I mean, is that a provision of Medicare or Medicaid or whatever ?
MR. MCCURRY: Medicaid -- Medicare -- the health care financing is determined by the Health Care Financing Administration. They can suspend funding to a hospital that is not in compliance with their regulations. HCFA can tell you more about the statutory authority they're using under this today. This is, by the way, the President is also pleased that the American Hospital Association is releasing new guidelines that will advise hospitals to change policies that prevent taking appropriate actions when there's someone who needs emergency medical service.
Q What will they have to do to comply, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: They have to make sure that they don't have -- they have in place internal guidelines as part of their hospital procedures that would prevent someone not getting the care they needed, particularly when they're that proximate to the front of the hospital.
Q Was that the reason -- were there some kind of guidelines that affected, prohibited them from --
MR. MCCURRY: The hospital indicated that they felt that they were prohibited by their own internal regulations from attending to Mr. Sercye.
Q Does this extend to people who come to the hospital on an emergency basis but have no papers or insurance or anything like that -- any sort of emergency situation inside the hospital?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, those are -- that's already governed by, among other things, the Hippocratic Oath, but they -- the issue here was that they were not, had not, technically been admitted or had not arrived for treatment at the facility.
Q Which monies are being halted?
MR. MCCURRY: They're not being halted at this point. What HCFA is alerting the hospital to is that they will suspend their participation in reimbursement from Medicare on June 21st if they have not taken some type of remedial step to put in place new guidelines and regulations.
Q But Mike, despite the Oath, there have been instances where hospitals have transferred people who were very ill to --
MR. MCCURRY: And what we're trying to do is make sure that people are not in a situation where if they need emergency medical attention, they lack it. That is, I think, also an element of our Patient Bill of Rights, as well.
Q Has the President indicated any kind of intervention if Kosovo became a Bosnia when he met with the leader?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, let me give you a readout on the President's meeting with Dr. Rugova. The President and the Vice President met this morning, as you know, with Dr. Rugova, the leader of the Kosovo-Albanian population. He welcomed Dr. Rugova's long commitment to nonviolence and his courageous decision to open talks between the Kosovo Albanians and authorities in Belgrade. That is a dialogue that was really undertaken after the hard work of Ambassador Bob Gelbard and Dick Holbrooke. The President believes that that dialogue offers the only hope for a peaceful situation -- or peaceful resolution of the conflict in Kosovo. The current situation, as you know, our policy, we believe it's unjust and we strongly support efforts to achieve Kosovo autonomy within the context of the current Yugoslav Federation -- the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Dr. Rugova expressed his appreciation for U.S. leadership of international efforts to resolve the conflict and pledged to continue his own efforts. The President told Dr. Rugova that he was deeply concerned about reports that Serb authorities are again resorting to large-scale indiscriminant violence in Western Kosovo. He noted that we are already in touch with our partners in the contact group, which has been working to address that situation, much as the contact group worked together with respect to Bosnia. And we are seeking consultations to assure that there is the appropriate, swift and firm response.
Now, simultaneously, in Brussels, the NATO Foreign Ministers have been working on the problem. They decided yesterday to take a number of steps to encourage a peaceful resolution and promote stability in countries throughout the Balkans. They are examining and a wide range of options that would be available if the international community needs to look at different types of responses to the current violence. I can't speculate on the nature of those responses, but there was clearly, within the context of NATO, a desire to do everything possible to seek first, a peaceful resolution of this conflict and to be a position to be available if necessary.
Q What is the President doing in regards to Pakistan, beyond the sanctions? I mean, has he approved formally the sanctions?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think all you know that just a short while ago, the Secretary of State announced that -- on her behalf, Jamie Rubin announced that they are undertaking to organize the ministerial-level conference next week, beginning with ministerial representatives from the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to address the situation in South Asia. And that is a forum that we believe we can begin to concentrate the work of the international community as we respond to this escalation and tension. It could obviously lead to further dialogue with others who have now spoken out condemning both the tests by Pakistan and by India.
The President is encouraged that Secretary Albright received the responses she did in her effort to organize this proper response by the international community and will be working hard in coming days in anticipation of that meeting and then beyond as we take additional steps to coordinate the work we're doing with other governments to bring the right kind of pressure to bear on both Pakistan and India to turn back from this dangerous direction in which both countries have now moved.
Q The President sent strong statements through the embassies, but he warned of severe negative consequences to the bilateral relationship. What would those severe consequences be?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there are a range of things that governments can do together positively when relations are cordial. When events happen that inject a troubling element into those relations, there are, as the President suggested, consequences, and some of them include the sanctions that have been imposed. But most nations prefer amicability in their working relationship with their partners, and that status is now in jeopardy in both cases.
Q Is that a veiled threat about the trip? Is that a veiled threat to cancel the trip?
MR. MCCURRY: That's just simply a statement of what it is. There are negative consequences, and that can be reflected in a number of ways.
Q Has he signed the document?
MR. MCCURRY: That has -- we have not seen the paper on that, but our intent is to have that done soon so we can put an early lid on.
Q How about a photo of that?
MR. MCCURRY: Let's check and see where we are on that. Maybe you need to work on that, because my guess is, that will be some of the last things that happen before the afternoon ends.
Q How many bombs did Pakistan explode?
MR. MCCURRY: The government of Pakistan has suggested that they've conducted five tests. We're examining our data and there is not much more beyond that I can tell you.
Q Do you plan to recall U.S. ambassadors from Islamabad?
MR. MCCURRY: No. I think the State Department has already indicated that we are leaving Ambassador Simons in place and returning Ambassador Celeste to post in New Delhi, so we can continue the kind of dialogue with both governments that will now be urgent and necessary as we address these developments.
Q Mike, is there any consideration being given to easing or lifting these sanctions somewhere down the road if a promise is secured from either or both India and Pakistan to stop testing?
MR. MCCURRY: That is a question that we would be willing to examine once we see both governments do the kinds of things that we've suggested are now necessary: acceptance and signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty without condition; participation in the discussions about cutting off production of fissile materials; assuring the world community they are not doing things with respect to their ballistic missiles or any aspects of their weaponry that involve aspects of the nuclear programs that they have now unveiled; and further steps to de-escalate tension on the subcontinent -- doing the right things instead of the wrong things when it comes to limiting the kind of tensions that exist over issues like Kashmir and others. Once we see all of those kinds of positive steps forward, then we'd be able to examine the question of sanctions relief.
Q The Pakistanis pointedly did not promise to cease the testing immediately. Is there additional concern that there is going to be more testing on their part?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we have got a variety of assessments on that. And as I said earlier today, we continue to monitor that. We believe that there is still some danger of things that were contrary to the desire of the world community to see denuclearization, nonproliferation be the order of the day.
Q Was the decision to leave the Ambassador in Pakistan part of what you described yesterday as the sort of tonal difference in the U.S. response to the Pakistani test?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think it's more accurate to say that having strongly condemned this action, having joined with other members of the U.N. Security Council in a statement now that strongly deplores this action -- a statement that was every bit as tough as the United States government wanted it to be -- we have expressed our displeasure. What we now need to do is to work hard going forward on ways that we can positively address the situation. I think the fact that we left Ambassador Simons in place speaks for itself. But it is important that Ambassador Celeste return to his post so that he can be a part of the dialogue that now needs to occur.
Q Mike, speaking of ambassadors, this morning we asked you about the U.N. strategy that didn't seem to quite work last night. Have you any updates on how --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I mean, I explained to you the situation when there was one member of the Security Council awaiting instructions from his capital and they received it. And a very strong statement has now been issued, as you know.
Q On that tonal difference, is part of the reason there is such a tonal difference with Pakistan a concern by the U.S. that perhaps economic sanctions could, in fact, topple this government and you could end up with a worse regime?
MR. MCCURRY: We implemented the law as precisely the law requires. But there were different circumstances with respect to these two tests. Some of what we have done reflects that.
Q Mike, from the standpoint of the administration, do sanctions -- are they too rigid? Do you they take away room to maneuver if the administration would prefer to have?
MR. MCCURRY: That kind of general philosophical question --
Q Well, I'm asking about the situation.
MR. MCCURRY: I think that -- I've said this before here, this is not a position of the United States government, but it is a practical observation of reality that the imposition of economic sanctions unilaterally by the United States government often has the inadvertent effect of penalizing U.S. companies and U.S. workers who are engaged in commerce and goods and services that are then restricted. And the foreign economic competitors of the United States can take advantage of the situation. So sometimes the imposition of our sanctions helps those that we compete with in global commerce when it comes to some of the restrictions that are in place. That is a problem.
One of the things that you have heard this President and previous presidents argue is that when Congress ties the hands of the Executive Branch in the conduct of foreign policy and removes flexibility when it comes to addressing situations, we sometimes create outcomes in which we can't negotiate and we can't conduct diplomacy. And that's one of the reasons why most administrations, including this one, have chaffed at the kind of restrictions that are placed on the conduct of foreign policy-making by the Congress.
Q Three weeks after the worldwide attention and controversy over the President's taking the sacrament at a Roman Catholic Church in Soweto, on Sunday, April the 26th, presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, who's the leader of America's 2.5 million Episcopalians, was spotted in blue jeans and a plaid shirt receiving the sacrament at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Manhattan. My question is, is the President aware of his effect as an ecumenical ecclesiastical role model? And I have one follow up. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Thank you for that update. I was not aware that this good practicing southern Baptist had such impact on practitioners on other faiths. But I'll look into that and see if there's any --
Q One other thing, Mike. Last night, WCBM in Baltimore had a caller who identified himself as Craig Livingstone. Now, he sounded as like he really was. And he talked about Monica Lewinsky and you, Mike. (Laughter.) I don't mean --
MR. MCCURRY: I waited too long for this briefing, didn't I? (Laughter.)
Q He didn't say that there was any connection. He just said -- when I asked him if he knew you, he said, I did his paperwork. And my question is, what paperwork? And if this was not the real Craig, have you had any reports of an impersonator and, if so, can you confirm this is not a Carville disinformation scheme? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: If one were impersonating any individual, I can't imagine Craig Livingstone would be the choice of subject matter. But it is true that when he was here he did process different kinds of paperwork, as has been part of the public record on that --
Q Part of it was your paper.
MR. MCCURRY: I assume he processed some of my clearance papers and things like that when he was here. I don't know that for a fact, but I wouldn't be surprised. But whether or not that was the individual who called that station, I do not know.
Q Would he have processed your paper even though at that time you were at the State Department?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm glad that question didn't go the direction it sounded like -- (laughter). Say what?
Q Would he have processed your paper even though at that time that he was here, you were at the State Department?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Because on security clearance matters when you are processed for security clearances at the State Department, it's done by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and when you come here it's done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Q Mike, Sandy Berger is meeting with Gerry Adams about now.
MR. MCCURRY: I hope so, assuming we're moving on time here.
Q What's the White House message to Adams about the issue of decommissioning of parliamentary weapons in Northern Ireland?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm going to refrain from a discussion of specific things that the President will convey to Mr. Adams. I will say this, that given the historic agreement, given the courageous decision by the peoples of Ireland to ratify that agreement and place it into effect, the work of all of us now who support the peace process in Northern Ireland is to do those things that will help build confidence, will help deepen and nurture the peace process that is underway and that will be seen by all communities in both sects as positive developments.
And I think what we will be encouraging Mr. Adams and other leaders of other parties as they come here to Washington is to take those steps and do those things that will help create and inspire confidence in the process that these parties have historically launched. That's a way of saying that we want people to do the right thing, and we will certainly be encouraging that. And obviously, the President looks forward to having a brief opportunity to congratulate Mr. Adams on his work for a yes vote on the referendum as he has conveyed his congratulations to the leaders of other parties as well.
Q Mike, is it your understanding that the report by the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, David Jeremiah, on the India testing is critical to the CIA?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have an understanding, John, as to the content of that report. All I know and have heard about it is that it is going to be forwarded to relevant members of Congress next week, and that it is exactly as Director Tenet wanted -- a very candid assessment of the performance of the intelligence community. And what the contents are, whether or not it can be described as critical, I have to leave to folks at the agency, folks in the international community or to Admiral Jeremiah himself. I just don't know.
Q Has the President been briefed on it yet?
MR. MCCURRY: Not to my knowledge. I haven't heard?
COLONEL CROWLEY: Not to my knowledge.
MR. MCCURRY: We've been briefed as to the timing and our understanding, as I said, is it will probably be complete and be in a position to be presented to the Hill sometime next week.
Q Will you release it here, too?
MR. MCCURRY: We will certainly find out how they intend to handle it. I don't know to what degree it will properly be classified and have to be presented to Congress in closed session. I would have to imagine that a good part of it, if it's going to be an assessment of the performance of the intelligence community, it's going to have to be classified and probably won't be fully available publicly. Although Director Tenet has indicated, if I'm not mistaken, he wants to assure that some public version of the report is available.
COLONEL CROWLEY: I expect there will be some sort -- but the report itself is classified.
MR. MCCURRY: The report itself is classified, but some public discussion of it was anticipated by Director Tenet if I understand correctly.
Q Mike, on the D.C. Control Board, have you been able to work it out, if Alice Rivlin can stay on the Fed?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we didn't need to -- in our opinion, we didn't need to work anything out. We thought that that was fully allowed by law. We had continued to say that if we can get some kind of clarifying language, that would be welcome. And, obviously, we are consulting closely with members of Congress on the appointments that the President makes subject to his own prerogatives.
Q So it means she'll stay on the Fed, is what --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. There's nothing -- we're not aware of any reason why she can't undertake both assignments.
By the way, if you contact -- Linda Ricci at OMB can answer more questions about this. She's prepared to do that and anticipating those of you who have followed this thing -- hearing from you.
Q India, Pakistan -- what do you think of the rhetoric that we've had in the last 24 hours, declaration of a state of emergency, threatening with devastating responses?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, declaration of a state of emergency has -- just setting that aside -- let me answer your general question that there have been -- there has been alarming rhetoric that has served to add to the tensions and the uncertainties that surely the people of Pakistan and India both feel. And we would call on both governments to do what they can to do to reassure their populations to limit the provocative rhetoric to move away from belligerency in their statements and start moving towards peaceful expressions of a desire to deal now with what is a very dangerous situation.
The declaration of a state of emergency could conceivably have something to do with the very dire circumstances that some parts of the population of India now face because, in part, at some small measure at least, because of the economic penalties that India now faces, also in part because of the heat wave, because of the general economic conditions that exist in New Delhi. Unfortunately, this decision --
Q -- Pakistan --
MR. MCCURRY: -- and also in New Delhi, if I understand correctly, from what we saw earlier.
Q Mike, can you talk about the ministerials that are going to be organized? What is it, other than obviously trying to get people together, can you talk a little bit more about what -- how we hope to perceive, what we hope to get them to do in this?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I mean, I've outlined for you, I think, the steps that we think would be immediately helpful. There are things they can do with respect to dialogue, with respect to reassuring, things that they can undertake as they deal with the consequences of their testing, that we will certainly encourage on both parties. Secretary Albright and at the State Department they have now at some greater length addressed exactly how they will structure the format and what the likely agenda will be. Some of that is still in development as they await to see that the prospects of putting together this --- they want to have.
Q Mike, what is the --
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, Senator Dole is available for those of you that do need to talk to him, apparently, right now.
Q What is it you hear of the President being mentioned and the parallels being drawn in the legal arguments filed by Kenneth Starr between the current situation and the Nixon case?
MR. MCCURRY: There are no parallels that I'm aware of, First and foremost, in the case of assertions of executive privilege claims during the Nixon years, there were trials underway. There were people who had been charged with crimes, and that's obviously not the case in this situation. That's a fundamental difference and then there are obviously many others as well.
Q Well, there's executive privilege is one of the -- what he cites --
MR. MCCURRY: Executive privilege is -- you could say it goes all the way back to George Washington. So there is a parallel to George Washington's assertion and the recognition of the court in Marbury v. Madison of the executive privilege.
Q The point of his citation was to get them to move --
MR. MCCURRY: I think a more proper comparison is to George Washington than Richard Nixon.
Q -- expedite consideration of the executive privilege claim, as they did during Watergate.
MR. MCCURRY: And as I've pointed out to you, during the time which there was that claim made in the 1970s, there were trials underway before courts and juries. There are not now, as you know, because no one's been charged with a crime, correct?
Q But, Mike, will the White House meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. My understanding is by 4:30 p.m. Monday, you're likely to have a decision, although I don't anticipate one today.
Q You said you were likely to have a decision. You mean, decision on whether to appeal?
MR. MCCURRY: Likely on how they will respond to --
Q A response, you mean?
MR. LOCKHART: A response to the filing on expedited.
MR. MCCURRY: What is the 4:30 p.m. Monday?
Q Are you sure you mean that, or do you mean in order to appeal?
MR. MCCURRY: No, that's the response to the order on -- Q Well, what's the status of the appeal, the decision making on
whether to appeal and how --
MR. MCCURRY: I believe the court documents have indicated that the White House has filed an intent to appeal, but that's not the same as a pleading, which makes an argument about an appeal.
Q Why do you think you want the fast track on this?
MR. MCCURRY: Why does Starr want it? I would have to direct you to the OIC, you'd have to ask them.
Q Mike, you made a general statement about the problem of the President having to impose sanctions. But is that what he would have wanted to do actually, in this case, or is there some other type of penalty he might have imposed?
MR. MCCURRY: It's not a question of what he wanted. We have law on the books that requires nothing less. So obviously, he would move swiftly to implement the law. I think as I indicated, all Presidents -- I'm not speaking with respect to the specific situation. Most administrations, most presidents, including this one, seek the kind of flexibility so they can address each situation as the individual situation requires to be addressed. And sometimes when you preordain conclusions in law, you make it harder to unravel complex problems.
Q You mentioned dialogue a few times now. Ambassador Richardson said late last night that one thing the U.S. wants is a face-to-face meeting between the Pakistanis and the Indians. I mean, are we trying to orchestrate that?
MR. MCCURRY: We are trying to orchestrate right now the meeting at the ministerial level that I described here earlier and that the State Department announced earlier today. We'll take this one step at a time. Obviously, at some point in the future, there may be great utility in having direct dialogue between Pakistan and India. They have, in the past, undertaken that to limit the tensions that exist between them, but at the moment, we see the first step being -- the meeting that the Secretary of State is trying to organize and that they've already described at State.
Q With whom? Foreign ministers?
MR. MCCURRY: I think there's a lot that you'll be able to get from the transcript at State, because Mr. Rubin spent considerable amount of time on this.
Q Mike, yesterday you talked about a tonal difference between the responses of the United States to Pakistan's debt -- do you see that playing out in policy, or how will that make itself --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't want to add to what I've already said; I think I've already addressed that question.
Q Mike, when do you expect the President to announce his decision on MFN for China renewal?
MR. MCCURRY: Sometime before June 3rd.
Q This is the last Friday afternoon he has before June 3rd.
MR. MCCURRY: Not coming today, that I'm aware of.
Q The week ahead?
MR. MCCURRY: Last question maybe, before we --
Q Executive privilege -- was the White House caught off guard by Starr's move to put this on a fast track to the Supreme Court?
MR. MCCURRY: As far as I know.
MR. LOCKHART: It's certainly -- we're well aware that was an option available --
MR. MCCURRY: There's precedent for that step being taken, and that could have been among the steps that the Office of Independent Counsel would be pursued, but I'm not aware we had any advanced notice prior to that.
Q What is this filing going to be on Monday at 4:30 p.m.? What is it going to be?
MR. MCCURRY: Response to the motion made by the OIC in the Supreme Court yesterday.
Q Would the White House like to see this settled quickly?
Q You mean, to have a judgment?
MR. MCCURRY: That's a material question that the President's lawyers would have to address in that briefing, so I'm not going to anticipate their argument.
Q But, Mike, given all the things White House folks have said about wanting to start to wrap up its investigation, how could the White House argue that this process should be drug out?
MR. MCCURRY: Josh, I'm not a lawyer and I'm not going to anticipate the kind of arguments that the lawyers might want to make in whatever pleading they filed before the court on Monday.
Q Mike, getting back to that Nixon question I asked earlier, are you troubled by -- is the White House troubled by Starr raising this parallel?
MR. MCCURRY: It's an inappropriate parallel, so I don't know why it's raised. It arises for one and only one reason, in the view of the White House, that's because the underlying confirmation that there is an executive privilege and it's a presumptive privilege is at the heart of U.S. v. Nixon. And that's been reaffirmed now in the case in the D.C. Circuit in re Espy and been reaffirmed again by Judge Johnson in the decision in re sealed Grand Jury. So it's a matter of law, and as a matter of law, going all the way back to Marbury v. Madison, the executive privilege exists and can be asserted and the Office of Independent Counsel was wrong when it suggested to the contrary.
Q So why do you think they did suggest it?
MR. MCCURRY: Because our lawyers are better than their lawyers and that's the reason why.
Q Why we're on legal captions, what does the White House think of Starr filing this as U.S. v. Clinton? Earlier, you had objected to him filing a brief as U.S. v. Clinton. Does the White House have a problem with that?
MR. MCCURRY: I wasn't aware of -- I wasn't even aware myself that that was the case.
Let's do the week ahead.
Q One more. Can you talk at all about Sandy Berger's trip to China starting Sunday, Mike? Who is going to meet with?
MR. MCCURRY: He will meet his counterpart that he has dialogue -- I don't have the full list of everyone he will see, but there will be a series of meeting that are designed to anticipate the President's visit to China, the work that we will do in a variety of setting and with a variety of officials that he will see. They will work through some of logistic issues and substantive issues related to the trip and set the stage for what we know will be a very productive and very successful meeting.
Q What about the arrival ceremony at Tiananmen Square? Will he negotiate that?
MR. MCCURRY: If that is -- becomes a subject of Mr. Berger's discussions there he will report that to us upon his return here to the United States. I won't have any information on that until he returns.
Okay. We may not -- I had indicated earlier we might have the paper on the Pakistan sanctions today, but we -- I'm now told we may not have that today. And that might be because I had previously told them that we wanted an early lid today. So we'll check and see. It may not be ready. We'll check into that.
Q Does that mean it hasn't been signed, or they haven't been sent over, or what's the reason?
MR. MCCURRY: It means, well, it's very likely that given the complexity of how they get invoked and specific items that they're still examining -- still examining some of the legal questions that I outlined when I talked about them yesterday. There's no question of the President's intent and people are on notice about what the affects are and people who make -- need to begin to plan decisions and various things like international financial institutions and how we prepare our discussions. There are no -- what the underlying policy is, so it doesn't have any practical affect that I'm aware of.
Q But he hasn't actually signed it yet?
MR. MCCURRY: Not actually signed that yet.
Q There is actually legislation by, I think it's Hamilton and Lugar, that would allow the President to review sanctions on a case-by-case basis. Do you know if the President supports that legislation?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to look into that, whether that's -- sounds like a specific bill and I don't know whether we've taken a specific position on it.
Q He's here this weekend?
MR. MCCURRY: The President will be here this weekend. He's got his classmates coming for a reunion Saturday night.
Is Secretary Riley here? We've got an embargoed briefing that we're going to have right after this that matches the radio address that we've already put out. Sunday, the President will be off. Monday, he will see the Amir of Bahrain, possible other event in the afternoon Monday. We'll let you know more on Monday morning about that. Tuesday, he goes to Houston. He'll be discussing the census, among other subjects, and the need for an accurate census in which everybody counts.
Q Are these his first public remarks on the census?
MR. TOIV: Yes. That's what I'm told.
Q Has he ever said anything, uttered anything?
MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to go back and check and see, but he obviously will make -- in part, make the case why we need the most -- if we're going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to get a census, it ought to be an accurate one. And the advice and counsel of every expert in this country that knows anything about statistics is that sampling is a technique that has to be a part of that process. And I expect the President to make that case on Monday.
Q On Tuesday.
MR. MCCURRY: Tuesday. Tuesday. Tuesday. Then he's got a reception -- political reception that night; an event later in Dallas. Wednesday he goes to Cleveland, where he'll celebrate the annual convention of City Year. He'll be talking about the importance of citizens service for communities and for the nation. He's got a political reception that afternoon. They return to Washington. Wednesday night the President and First Lady host WETA's In Performance at the White House for an evening of gospel music. It's a millennium evening -- part of our millennium work.
MR. MCCURRY: Thursday is the SAVER Summit that will be an opportunity for the President to draw together some of the nation's leading experts and authorities on retirement income security and how we can assure that individual Americans have the savings and the pension and public resources available for a secure retirement.
Q This doesn't count as an entitlement reform town meeting?
MR. TOIV: No. This is about the private sector's role in retirement income security. We like to remind --
MR. TOIV: Not about Social Security.
MR. MCCURRY: Not about Social Security. But we like to remind people that Social Security is not the only form of retirement income that Americans need if they're to have productive and security retirements. It's always been the case that Social Security has to be supplemented by an individual's own savings and buy the kind of pension benefits that they accrue through their employment.
On Thursday the President will also be the keynote speaker at the second annual Democratic Leadership Council National Conversation at the Omni Shoreham here in Washington. Friday he goes to MIT up in Cambridge for the commencement address. And then he and the First Lady will attend the opening of the Thoreau Institute at Walden Pond, which is protecting that treasure for those who will enjoy the next century. And then that's it for the week.
Q Mike, are there any plans by the President or anybody else in the administration to attend Goldwater's funeral? I understand it's going to be Wednesday.
MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- I think we were waiting to get some details. I haven't heard yet. I know that one way or another the President, as he's already expressed condolences, will want to find some way to mark that occasion, but I'll have to find out more about what the specific arrangements are.
Q Is that Friday trip a day time trip or evening?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it is a day trip and then come back that evening.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
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