THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Albuquerque, New Mexico) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 27, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY BARRY TOIV
Hyatt Regency Hotel Albuquerque, New Mexico
3:25 P.M. MDT
MR. TOIV: Good afternoon. I have a statement by Charles Ruff, Counsel to the President:
We are disappointed that the Court of Appeals has decided that, unlike every other attorney and client in this country, government attorneys and their clients do not enjoy the right to have confidential communications.
The practical result of the court's decision is that the President and all other government officials will be less likely to receive full and frank advice about their official obligations and duties from government attorneys.
Government officials and lawyers need to have frank and candid conversations. The attorney-client privilege serves the public interest by fostering fully-informed and more accurate decision-making, because officials are more likely to seek legal advice and attorneys to provide that advice. Without the privilege, frank and candid exchange of information and advice will be chilled.
After reviewing the opinion thoroughly, we will decide whether to appeal.
Thank you. I'll be back to answer your questions in a few minutes.
Q Can you shed more light on whether the President will testify? Less light?
MR. TOIV: Does anybody have any questions?
Q Barry, there are people in the White House today, according to AP, who are talking about the President's thinking about fighting the subpoena if the negotiations with Starr do not go as planned. This was a senior advisor to the President saying that. Do you know if that's the case?
MR. TOIV: The only thing I can tell you about that issue is that you ought to talk to Mr. Kendall, who continues to discuss this issue with the Office of the Independent Counsel. My understanding is that he has talked to some reporters today. He's also issued a statement and I would encourage you to read that and I would encourage you to try to talk to him.
Q These were White House officials commenting on this.
MR. TOIV: I still don't have anything to add to that.
Q Are you all going to bring the grand jury into the White House?
MR. TOIV: Same answer.
Q Are you going to video --
Q Is there any change in his schedule tomorrow?
MR. TOIV: Tomorrow, he is going to speak at the -- he's going to attend and speak at the memorial to the slain Capitol Hill police officers. As I understand it, he will speak and the Vice President will speak, as well. And that is at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow afternoon. It's a fairly short service, like maybe a half hour. My understanding is that Senator Lott, Speaker Gingrich, and the Chief of Capitol Hill Police will also speak at that.
Q He was given a piece of paper in the middle of one of his -- the forum today, the early forum. Was that something important that we ought to know about?
MR. TOIV: No, I think it was a note about one of the issues being discussed in the forum.
Q When was the President informed about the decision?
MR. TOIV: I believe after he worked the ropeline at the event, because -- but I don't know exactly when. The fact is, at that time the press had the decision, as I understand it, before the Counsel's Office did. I don't even know for sure if the Counsel's Office has the decision now.
Q So you believe he didn't know until after the event?
MR. TOIV: Right.
Q There have been many opportunities for us to ask questions in the last two days with the President, and he tends to completely ignore us. Is that the official White House strategy? Does the President not believe these are legitimate questions that should be answered?
MR. TOIV: Sometimes the President answers questions, sometimes he doesn't. But he has answered this question on a number of occasions and we have answered the question on a number of occasions. We have been suggesting to you for weeks now that Mr. Kendall has been discussing this issue with the Office of Independent Counsel. That's what the President has said; it's what Mike has said. And so I'm not sure what different answer you're expecting.
Q Who notified the President?
MR. TOIV: I don't know.
Q If the President does testify, do you expect that he will want that testimony to be made public because he thinks that Americans, not just the people on the grand jury, deserve an explanation?
MR. TOIV: Could you repeat that?
Q If the President does testify, will he want that testimony to be made public, since he wants the American people to have an explanation -- since he's indicated he wants the American people to have an explanation?
MR. TOIV: I'm sorry. I've got one answer to all those questions and I've already given it.
Q What else do you know?
MR. TOIV: I know a lot.
Q Do you have that same answer to Monica Lewinsky supposedly meeting with prosecutors today?
MR. TOIV: I don't have any answer to that.
Q Do you feel like you're in a state of siege, Barry?
MR. TOIV: No, I'm waiting for more questions.
Q Has the President spoken to Bruce Lindsey today?
MR. TOIV: I don't know the answer to that. Not that I'm aware of, though.
Q Bruce Lindsey had been doing a lot of the trips with the President -- I mean, almost every trip, and he hasn't lately. Why?
MR. TOIV: I don't know the answer to that.
Q The question was asked before, the one question that the White House still has not officially answered, at least to my knowledge, is whether or not the President has been subpoenaed. Is that a question that the public has a right to know, if their President has been subpoenaed?
MR. TOIV: Mike has answered that question on a number of occasions I know -- not necessarily to your satisfaction. The fact is we do not know whether or not that's the case, and so I'm not in a position to answer it. I don't have any information for you on it.
I've got to get going here. We told the pool about the President's phone call to Officer Gibson's wife. You're all aware of that? Okay.
Q He spoke to the other widow yesterday?
MR. TOIV: Yes, he did.
Q Did he ever follow through --
MR. TOIV: And he also spoke with the woman who was injured as well.
Q There was some talk about a call to Jesse Jackson.
MR. TOIV: I'm not sure if he -- I don't think he has been able to call Reverend Jackson, at least at this time.
Okay, got to go.
END 3:35 P.M. MDT