THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY The Briefing Room
2:57 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCURRY: It's Friday, it's summer. Let's start with happy things. Happy birthday, Mr. President, 52 years old.
Q Why couldn't we cover that? That would be nice.
MR. MCCURRY: It was for the staff. We do this every year. The staff gives the President a donation to Have a Dream Foundation and some volunteer activity that we commit to do in and around town and in and our communities. And they had a nice cake and a little sub-unit of the Marine Band.
Q The Marine Band played on cue? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: They played on cue and drowned out all of our questions. You know, we were all saying, hey, how you doing, how are you enjoying your birthday? And he couldn't hear anything.
Q Did the President have any words?
MR. MCCURRY: The President, much as he said at the luncheon earlier today, thanked everyone for their work. Mrs. Clinton introduced him and teased him a little bit about such a momentous occasion, turning 52. And John Podesta then on behalf of the staff presented the staff gifts. And the President thanked, on behalf of the Vice President and Mrs. Gore, the First Lady, all their families -- thanked the White House staff and other political appointees who were there for the work that they have done and the record that this administration has compiled.
We ate cake. We drank ice tea. We had a jolly good time.
Q We're the Gores there?
MR. MCCURRY: No, they're on vacation.
Q Mike, do you have any details on the President's testimony Monday?
MR. MCCURRY: Let me do some more work here before we turn to the subject I know you're always so interested in.
Q How did the First Lady tease him?
MR. MCCURRY: Just teased him about such a momentous occasion. I think that was her exact words -- turning 52. She was kind of making light of the fact that this is now an annual occurrence, birthdays -- usually being annual occurrences.
The Pentagon has just a while ago announced that the President has granted a waiver which will authorize burial at Arlington National Cemetery for Julian Bartley Sr., who was, as you know, our Consul in Nairobi, and Prabhi Guptara Kavaler, who was one of the foreign service officers who were killed. They've done detail over that there, but I wanted to alert you to that. He had signed off on that during the course of the day yesterday and they notified families and relevant members of Congress today. Some members of Congress had written in support of the request for that waiver which allows burial.
Next, the President today had a 40-minute phone call with President Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation. President Clinton called President Yeltsin to review preparations for the upcoming summit that President Clinton will have with President Yeltsin in Moscow. They reviewed some of the work that Vice President Gore has been doing with Prime Minister Kiriyenko, meetings that Secretary of State Albright has had with Foreign Minister Primakov to go through some of the agenda items and some of the issues that we expect to address there.
Obviously, the two also discussed Russia's financial situation and steps the Russian government is taking to meet its obligations under the current program, jointly developed with the International Monetary Fund. Both Presidents agreed to continue to work together to find ways to improve Russia's economic situation and restore market confidence. They also talked about the situation in Kosovo and international efforts to broker an end to the conflict there.
Q Mike, the President said he had a good conversation with Yeltsin. What specific reassuring words can you give him on the economic front?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think it's more -- the reassurance comes really from the other direction, that President Yeltsin sounded strong and confident in his economic team. He surely recognized and indicated to the President that he recognized the importance of restoring economic stability and moving forward on some of the program elements that have been developed with the IMF. They discussed that; they discussed some of the steps that will be necessary to -- over the long term -- assure economic stability in Russia.
So I think that President Clinton was very satisfied that President Yeltsin understands the importance of the economic situation and that President Yeltsin himself is working and fully engaged with his economic team, including Mr. Chubais, obviously Prime Minister Kiriyenko, and others.
Q Did they discuss any possible U.S. unilateral assistance?
MR. MCCURRY: This was not a phone call about money. It was a phone call about doing the things necessary to aright an economy that has been struggling to move forward and to move forward with a program that has been developed, which we think has a prospect of restoring to the Russian people the kind of economy they deserve.
Q Mike, do you have any details on the President's testimony on Monday?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll come back to you on that. We'll stay on this subject and we'll come back.
Q Would austerity measures be a prerequisite to further economic -- further aid packages in the future?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that there is an aid program in place, which is the IMF program. It is one that we have confidence can do the work necessary, and we want to first evaluate the performance of the Russian economic officials who are administering the program that the IMF has already developed.
Q Mike, there has also been some talk that Yeltsin may reshuffle that team again. There has been some talk in Russia that Kiriyenko's days may be numbered, that some other people on the economic team -- what will that do?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, they have a vibrant political environment in Russia, and President Yeltsin is fully engaged. That subject did not arise. But as we often say, this is an issue of policies and not personalities. And the policies, the economic program that has been developed in assistance with the international financial institutions that are participating is, we believe, a good one. And it needs to be fully implemented by the Russian government so that confidence is restored.
Q Mike, there's a story that any new bailout package with Russia would be connected to the bond holders taking a hit; that is, that everybody can't be bailed out. To come again to that question I asked yesterday about the question of bad debts, Secretary Rubin had at one point said, not a nickel to the banks. That's obviously not a policy, but it does indicate an understanding that there is a lot of bad debt. How does the U.S. view this?
MR. MCCURRY: It is correct that there is bad debt, but there are numerous factors that contribute to the economic distress that Russia faces, but that, in a way, many economies face. It's true that investors in emerging markets worldwide are now taking a much closer look at what investment opportunities are; they're scrutinizing their economic decisions in a different way than they did maybe two years ago. There has also been, I think, some -- in addition to questions about monetary debt, questions about the fiscal situation and other issues, too.
There have been -- as you know, we've talked in the past about revenue collection and taxation, and those are all issues that I think are important.
Q But, Mike, has there also been. David Lipton is on his way back or is already back from Russia. Has there been any discussion with him today on how those talks wrapped up? Did he talk to the President?
MR. MCCURRY: There has been a lot of discussion with him, with Deputy Secretary Summers, with Secretary Rubin, others on the administration's economic team here, including Lael Brainard and others, even today about the situation in Russia, and I'm sure that there will be continuing discussions. The Russian economy is weathering a very difficult crisis now, and it's an important moment for the international community to work together to help the Russian government take those steps necessary to restore confidence.
Q Has there been any talk of possibly restructuring debt along the Korean line -- getting the banks to sit down and restructure existing debt over a longer-term horizon?
MR. MCCURRY: The specifics -- there has been a lot of discussion of various elements of the program. I would prefer, being outside of my field of expertise anyhow, to refer those to Treasury. I don't think that Treasury wants to discuss in any great length some of the elements that they are discussing or reviewing, because they are putting the stress properly on the same place that the President put his stress in his call with President Yeltsin: the necessity of the government there moving ahead with the program that's been developed, being fully supportive of the program that the economic team and others in Russia are implementing.
Q Mike, in the call, did President Yeltsin make any pledge not to devalue the ruble?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to discuss currency matters because, as you know, Treasury is the place to go for that. There was some discussion about the ruble, but I'd prefer to leave that to the administration's authorized spokesman on currency matters, the Treasury Secretary.
Q Are you standing by your statement this morning on the speculative nature of the stories that have come through, or is there any change?
MR. MCCURRY: I am. Look, I looked at that article again, and here's what I glean from that New York times article -- that the President will acknowledge "sexual behavior" with Ms. Lewinsky, according to senior advisers, but is not clear how the President described his relationship to his lawyers, and it's possible that he will say he never had sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky. The President publicly might make a mild and delicately worded confession or a brief explanation of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, or he might say as little as possible and smile and announce he's on vacation, according to the New York Times. (Laughter.)
The President -- continuing -- the President would stick to his statement that he had no sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky whatsoever, or he could resist questions about the nature of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky citing privacy, or he could acknowledge a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky without going into graphic detail.
Q So which is it? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: So I have no idea. I read that New York Times story start to finish five times and tried to figure out which one they came down on, and it was not entirely clear to me. Look, a lot of people are going to speculate going into this about events on Monday. And you don't know what the questions are; we don't know what the questions are. You don't know what the answers are; we don't know what the answers are that the President will give. What the President decides to say or decides not to say after the event on Monday, we will let you know as soon as we can when it's over. I can tell you something about the logistics, Mr. Pelley. Would that help?
Q We would like to move on to Kosovo. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Okay, all right. I'm glad you mentioned Kosovo. (Laughter.) Kosovo was covered in the call that President Clinton and President Yeltsin had and, of course, the two agreed on the importance of working together.
Q Before you go on to details, would that be a nationwide address that you would let us know?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I said if the President at the conclusion of his testimony on Monday has anything to say or instructs any of us to say anything on his behalf, my assumption at this point is we will have to let you know after that event. But let me tell you what I can tell you.
Q Before you get to that, can you just help clear up one thing?
MR. MCCURRY: Probably not.
Q You just read from the newspaper, the New York Times, and I think it talked about advisors within the White House. Without disclosing what he may be saying, is the President discussing with advisors here in the White House -- you, Rahm Emanuel, people like that -- this situation?
MR. MCCURRY: I would say that from time to time he talks generally about this but not specifically about the nature of his testimony. His testimony -- because I assume he wants to protect the privilege of his conversations with his attorneys -- correctly, as reported by the New York Times -- is discussed only with Mr. Kendall, Ms. Seligman, and other attorneys that are covered by the attorney-client privilege, presumably Mr. Kantor as well.
Q What do you mean by "generally"?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, you know, we sort of say, hey, Monday's a big day. What are we going to do about it? That's about as general as it gets.
Q Mike, in some of these policy meetings, you said that we don't know what he is going to answer. One, does that mean that he's going to answer differently than his public statement that he said he did not have sex with that woman?
MR. MCCURRY: The President indicated to you two Friday's ago -- two weeks ago -- he would answer truthfully and fully. So there's no change in that.
Q And that means the same.
MR. MCCURRY: No change in that. There's no change in content and again, as I was yesterday, I'm not in a position to comment, speculate, preview. There are plenty of people who think they know what the President might -- speculate. But it's very clear to me that the people who do know aren't talking. They're not talking to us, they're not talking to you, and so all of this is guesswork by all of us.
Q At the risk of provoking ire --
MR. MCCURRY: No, I don't want to provoke ire. I provoked enough ire from you yesterday.
Q Do you think he will answer all the questions?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know why he wouldn't. He's under oath, the truth is the truth, and he's got to testify, and it's a consequential thing when you go before a Grand Jury. But we don't know what is going to be asked; we obviously don't know what's going to be answered.
Q Can you put to rest the notion that there is some sort of definitional jockeying going on here?
MR. MCCURRY: I have no clue as to whether there is definitional jockeying going on.
Q Is it clear, Mike, that he's standing by the Paula Jones deposition, or is that unclear?
MR. MCCURRY: It's very clear that I'm not going to entertain questions about what the President is going to testify to, because I don't know.
Q What are the arrangements now?
MR. MCCURRY: Let's move on to arrangements. Thank you, Helen. First of all, as you know, the White House Communications Agency is going to handle the communications-related aspects of the President's testimony, including videotaping and providing a one-way live feed to a courtroom at the U.S. Courthouse. Beyond that, arrangements that are being made for the Grand Jury are not our province to discuss, so we are not, appropriately, commenting on any of the arrangements for the Grand Jury itself.
Q Mike, this is a one way? I thought they could ask questions.
MR. MCCURRY: It's described to me as a one-way live feed.
Q Starting when?
MR. MCCURRY: The deposition will be conducted in the Map Room in the Residence. In addition to the President and officials from the Office of Independent Counsel, the President's personal and official attorneys will also be present during the President's testimony. That includes Mr. Kendall, Ms. Seligman, and Mr. Ruff on behalf of the White House Legal Counsel's Office. I expect the testimony will begin about 1:00 p.m. I expect for those of you who have got to arrange your pool coverage that the representatives from the Office of Independent Counsel will probably use the Southeast Gate. They've been cleared in I think around 12:30 p.m., but give us some flexibility Monday in case that changes.
I expect Mr. Kendall and Ms. Seligman may come at different times. They may come early or may be here earlier in the day. I can't predict with certainty when they will arrive. But when they come, they generally use that same entrance over there.
Q When do you expect the testimony to end?
MR. MCCURRY: I have no way of predicting when it will end.
Q Would the President take a walk -- will he walk from the Oval Office, and would a pool shot be allowed then?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll take that request and we'll let you know Monday morning.
Q Do you have any idea whether Starr himself will be there?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't tell you who the representatives are from the OIC. I've read in some of your accounts that he will be there, but I don't know that for a fact.
Q If WHCA is taping this, does that mean a videotape will go into the presidential archives of this event?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether -- that's a question of whether that becomes a presidential record. It becomes a court document, a grand jury document, which is protected by Grand Jury Rule 6E proceeding. Whether that then becomes a presidential document, I'm not enough of an archivist or presidential historian to know.
Q You say you have no way of predicting when it ends.
Q Does the WHCA tape belong to the White House? Would the WHCA tape be property of the President?
MR. MCCURRY: I assume, as evidence, it becomes custody of the court. But I'm not enough of a lawyer to know the answer to that.
Q Could we go back to the time limit? You say you have no way of predicting when it would end. But is there an outside limit?
MR. MCCURRY: In the past, when there have been discussions with the Office of Independent Counsel, they have generally agreed on a rough time frame and generally that time frame has kind of slipped one way an hour, sometimes one way, sometimes -- so it's really very hard to predict.
Q Will it go into the next day?
MR. MCCURRY: All I know is, it's going on during the afternoon.
Q Would it go beyond Monday?
MR. MCCURRY: You all will be here.
Q Because we have been left with the impression that it was limited to one day. Is that wrong?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think that's a wrong impression.
Q Maybe four to six hours? Four hours or six hours?
MR. MCCURRY: That would be your guess.
Q The Grand Jurors -- is there an arrangement for the grand jurors to perhaps ask questions through the prosecutors, or you don't know?
MR. MCCURRY: Any arrangements made on behalf of the grand jury, it's only the province of the Court to discuss that. It's really not proper for me to address that question.
Q But if it's a one-way live feed --
MR. MCCURRY: Her question, which is a good one, is whether they have a way of relaying questions back to any of the attorneys representing the OIC's office. I don't know the answer to that. I'd prefer not to take that question, and you might want to direct that in the OIC's direction or the court's direction, because I think it's more proper for them to address that.
Q What can you tell us about the preparations that the President will undertake this weekend for this --
MR. MCCURRY: I know that Mr. Kendall has been somewhat concerned that he has not had the time that he had expected to have on the schedule because of events in East Africa, because of some of the things we've been talking about earlier with respect to Russia. I think he's hoping to have more time and some considerable block of time over the weekend with the President. But he's a little bit concerned he hasn't had quite the time to prepare that he had wanted.
Q Is there a block of time set aside for this?
MR. MCCURRY: Presumably yes, but I don't think it's been set at a certain time. I think they were going to check in with the President. The President, by the way, is meeting with his foreign policy team, as I had mentioned to you earlier, right now with respect to matters in Africa. And he will be doing some other business work.
Q Will Kendall ask for a continuance because of what happened in East Africa because the President has been busy?
MR. MCCURRY: He has no plans to that I'm aware of.
Q Is there anything else on the schedule for Saturday or Sunday?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't think so. Not that I know of, no. But for travel pool purposes, we'll check in with -- we'll check in here and we'll try to let you know.
Q Mike, can the American people expect to hear from the President after he testifies?
MR. MCCURRY: As I said earlier, Scott, we'll have to let you know the answer to that afterwards. I don't want to predict at this point.
Q Is there advice within the White House that he should talk to the American people?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll get you the directory and you can call and you can get everyone's favored advice, and that's what a lot of news organizations do report.
Q What do you think?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't want to share my personal opinion. I like to give my advice to the President confidentially.
Q Mike, is Mickey Kantor and is Mrs. Clinton participating in the prep sessions over the weekend?
MR. MCCURRY: I know Mr. Kantor, of course, has privilege and has discussed the President's testimony with the President. I don't know whether he is participating in preparation per se. I imagine the First Lady -- I have not heard that she's had any sense of involvement.
Q Harry Thomason?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I've heard of. He's been here and he was here in town, as you know, for his own performance down at the grand jury.
Q Do you expect him to leave for Martha's Vineyard Monday?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm going to be ready to go and have my bags packed Monday night. Now, in reality, I think your pool -- by the way, your correspondents, on recommendation of the Correspondents' Association and the network's pool, the press charter plane is going to depart Andrews at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, which I think is a pretty wise decision on your part. When we will be going, I can't tell you, but we will certainly make sure that whatever pool is -- if we go up Monday night, whatever pool is there will have coverage of anything that happens, although I wouldn't expect much to happen anyhow.
Q When you talk about the lack of time that his attorney feels that he's had to prepare with his witness because of events in East Africa, is there a consideration that perhaps because of political considerations about answering questions fully, et cetera, that the President as a private citizen has his legal rights somewhat curtailed in the grand jury proceeding?
MR. MCCURRY: That's a little more complicated version of what Sam asked earlier. I haven't heard that expressed by the President's attorneys, no.
Q Mike, since this is more or less a personal matter, not a government matter, and that's why he has his personal attorneys more or less handling this, will the Legal Defense Fund or the taxpayer pick up the cost of these arrangements being made Monday, especially WCHA's costs?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, whatever costs are involved for WCHA on Monday will be a minute fraction of the $40 million that Ken Starr has already spent on this investigation, so let's not make money an issue. They're making the arrangements that are satisfactory for the grand jury.
Q Can you say whether or not the President's assuming that his testimony before the grand jury on Monday is going to be leaked within the first couple of hours?
MR. MCCURRY: I've seen some of the noted senior advisers here that have opinions all over the map suggest so, and you know, who knows. We'll see.
Q Any chance you could leak it yourself? (Laughter.)
Q Why not just release the transcript?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, look, I have already indicated to you if the President has anything to say or wants us to say anything on his behalf Monday after his testimony, we'll let you know after he's done.
Q Mike, what was the President's mood going into this? Is he tired, apprehensive --
MR. MCCURRY: No, he's very buoyant. I know that he's very engaged in all of the subjects we've been discussing earlier that he had been working on today and has been less engaged with the subject of his coming testimony.
Q Mike, he has bags under his eyes again.
Q How can he be buoyant about this testimony, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: He's buoyant about -- you know, the fact that he's celebrating his birthday. He's having a good time.
Q Mike, will there be any staff with him or just lawyers?
MR. MCCURRY: Just lawyers.
Q Will he be able to consult with them as he gives testimony?
MR. MCCURRY: Presumably. I don't know whether that happens or not --
Q Will the First Lady be there?
MR. MCCURRY: She will not be there, as far as I know.
Q Mike, will the First Lady be in the White House?
MR. MCCURRY: I think she plans -- I'll have to check with her staff on her planned schedule, but I believe she's planning to be here during the day on Monday.
Q Mike, you said the President's buoyant right now, but he seems to have bags under his eyes again. When the Monica Lewinsky scandal first broke, he wasn't sleeping, and you could see bags under his eyes then. And the bags are coming back again.
MR. MCCURRY: I haven't asked him about his sleeping habits.
Q Another subject, on Kosovo?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll come back to that. Anything else on this subject, or we're done? Yes, go ahead.
Q On Kosovo, with the continuing fight in Kosovo, Kosovar refugees now are crossing the Greek-Albanian borders. Any contingency plan to prevent a type of refugee crisis since you are very concerned about the stability in the Balkans?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, as I mentioned earlier, this was a discussion point between President Yeltsin and President Clinton today. We are very aware of the pressure that has been building on the Albanian side of the border because of some of the migration flows resulting from the fighting. This has been one of the very real concerns of the international community. It has been addressed both as a humanitarian matter and as also a political/military matter in some of the diplomacy that we've undertaken.
Let me cover some points. We haven't done Kosovo recently, and I'm more than happy to go on at great length about Kosovo. We strongly support formation of an ethnic Albanian negotiating team, as has been announced by Dr. Rugova just in the last 24 hours. This conflict, in our view, cannot be resolved militarily, by either side. It must be settled through a process of negotiation.
Ambassador Christopher Hill has been in Pristina today for exploratory talks with the Kosovar side. He'll also be in contact with the Belgrade side at the proper point. We're going to encourage both sides to get substantive talks under way as soon as possible.
We strongly condemn the continuing Serb offensive in Kosovo. We and our allies and other partners have told Milosevic in the clearest terms that he must cease repression, withdraw security forces, facilitate humanitarian access in terms of those who were displaced -- which is the concern that you just cited. We also believe they need to make rapid progress in talks with Kosovar Albanians.
And it's our understanding from the reporting that Ambassador Hill has done that the negotiating process will be open to additional participants on the side of the Kosovar Albanians, which is encouraging to us. It needs to be a broad-based representative group, but we will concentrate on trying to make successful these discussions that could lead to a peaceful outcome.
We are aware that a peaceful outcome may not be within sight and within view, and for that reason the work that we've been doing with our allies through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will continue.
Q Back on the stories today, you indicated earlier that you had talked to --
MR. MCCURRY: I thought I just put that to sleep.
Q No, I almost forgot about it, and then it came back to me -- (laughter) -- that you had talked this morning and indicated that you had talked with the President's private and government attorneys and what they had told you. What are they telling you about whether or not they have disclosed some of these discussions with the President?
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, I think it's made pretty clear to me by all of them that they would not elect to share with news organizations any elements of the strategy that they're using in preparing their client for the testimony that he will give.
Now, I can't speculate on who the sources were that the New York Times had. They clearly thought they had good sources, but I think, as I attempted to point out earlier, since the article covers just about every conceivable option and indicates that we really don't know what the outcome is going to be on Monday, that that's -- you know , you should take it all with a grain of salt.
Q What was the President's response to a story in today's Washington Post that Secretary Albright had twice asked the special U.N. team not to conduct surprise inspections in Baghdad?
MR. MCCURRY: Our work to consult with Executive Chairman Butler and with UNSCOM is well known to the President, and the work that UNSCOM has been doing in Iraq is something that the President has followed carefully. So I can't tell you that he was at all surprised by the notion that we are having discussions, as Mr. Butler has indicated he's had with other members of the Security Council, properly, in the policy direction that the Council gives to UNSCOM.
But the President knows and knows fully what Secretary Albright has already said today -- that UNSCOM alone makes the operational decisions about inspections because they have the mandate to carry out the will of the international community, as reflected in U.N. Security Council resolutions. And the role that we play is the role that any permanent member of the Security Council plays in providing our own counsel and thoughts on how to best perform the mission that's been assigned to UNSCOM.
Q Are you disputing any assertions --
MR. MCCURRY: Absolutely, as I think Secretary Albright has been already very forceful in disputing any notion that we direct UNSCOM one way or another on inspections. That is a choice that is left to Mr. Butler and to UNSCOM professionals with the experience and expertise necessary.
Q Does the United States believe that perhaps it would be better not to have those challenge inspections, surprise inspections right now?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, we, as other members of the Security Council do, share our thoughts and reflect on what the different options are. I think what counts is what decisions are taken by Mr. Butler, as he's indicated he's taken, and then what they actually do in fulfillment of their mandate.
Q What thoughts are shared?
MR. MCCURRY: Many different thoughts, but I'm not going to get into all the diplomatic exchanges we have within the U.N.
Q Considering the fact that the U.S. provides the military muscle that backs up UNSCOM, is it credible to say that if the U.S. expressed an opinion to UNSCOM, they would simply ignore it?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's credible to say that as a permanent member of the Security Council the United States' views are taken with considerable weight.
Q But the thrust of the story was not that we were trying to say to UNSCOM it didn't have the final decisionmaking point, but that perhaps the timing was wrong to do it now.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, look, the article has said many things, and I think the Secretary has addressed it pretty comprehensively in her remarks.
Q Are you denying that we asked UNSCOM to wait?
MR. MCCURRY: She made very clear our views on that earlier.
Q That wasn't my question. Are you denying that we asked UNSCOM to wait?
MR. MCCURRY: We're denying that we have tried to order up inspections or un-order up inspections at a specific time.
Q I give up.
MR. MCCURRY: Good, thanks.
Q Back on Russia for one second, and then an unrelated question. There has been some talk about people coming back from vacations to deal with this. Have Larry Summers and Gene Sperling been called back?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I have heard.
COLONEL CROWLEY: They've participated through conference calls.
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, I think they have been on some of the conference calls that have occurred, and I think Deputy Secretary Summers has been involved with some of his counterparts by conference call. Not much of a vacation, presumably, but --
Q One more question completely unrelated. CBO evidently sent its FY99 sequestration report to OMB. Any way we can get a chance of getting a copy of that?
MR. MCCURRY: Attention, attention. OMB, request for CBO demonstration --
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, the sequestration report, yes. I think that's a good one to call Linda about. Is Linda around? She's on vacation? (Laughter.) You guys get to call. These guys will help out.
Q Mike, why does the President not just go see the grand jury face to face? What's the rationale behind the TV hookup?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. You can ask Mr. Kendall that.
Q Mike, you suggested this morning you would check in to whether the President has received a request for a DNA sample.
MR. MCCURRY: I didn't get any answer on that.
Q Mike, does the President's testimony Monday at least put him a step closer to being able to publicly tell his side of the story?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate on any of that. I've said all I'm going to say on that subject for today.
Q Is it a security problem, Mike, going to the courthouse? Is that why there's a TV hookup?
MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Kendall had a long and lengthy discussion with Mr. Starr and he can choose to tell you how much he wants to about that discussion.
Q And the White House didn't weigh in on those issues?
MR. MCCURRY: Not anyone here that I know of did.
Q Since Mr. Kendall wants more time with the President on the weekend, is the President going to do his radio broadcast live, or is he going to pretape it?
MR. MCCURRY: He may -- we are working on the subject matter and the schedule, and with the exception of the text of either the -- we may do it live tomorrow, but we are still going to try to prerecord it. And if all works out, we will have the text of that out later this afternoon and, with one other exception, which I will tell you about, that, otherwise, it will be our lid for the day.
Q Any -- terrorist bomb in the Tanzania and Kenya -- reported that a Turk has been arrested too.
MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to take that question and look into it -- see if we can get anything on it.
Q Mike, you said twice now that Mr. Kendall is concerned he hasn't enough time to prep the President. Is that concern so great he could ask the testimony be delayed?
MR. MCCURRY: That was asked and answered already, and I said I haven't heard of any plans for that.
Q Mike a federal court in Richmond has struck down the FDA's authority to regulate tobacco?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, this is the other matter that is under review right now at the Department of Justice. They are examining the opinion by the fourth circuit right now; it was a two to one decision. The Department is looking to see what is the best avenue available for us to make the administration's strong views on this well known. I expect that we may have a statement from the White House even today on that subject that will indicate what our intentions are.
But at the very least, the President will reiterate that he's fully committed to the FDA's regulatory role and its role in protecting our children. Reaffirming the Food and Drug Administration's authority over tobacco products is necessary to help stop young people from smoking before they stop -- or start -- by stopping advertising targeting children, by curbing access that minors have to tobacco products.
Currently, nearly 90 percent of people begin smoking before age 18, despite the laws that make it illegal to sell cigarettes to minors. And almost 3,000 people -- as you hear the President say over and over again -- become regular smokers each day; 1,000 will have their lives shortened as a result. Given that, the role that the federal government would play under our proposed regulation through the Food and Drug Administration is an essential one. It would be even better for Congress to awaken to the urgent public health need here and get on with passing legislation that would give the FDA the regulatory authority it needs to deal with tobacco products.
Q Did the court knock it down?
Q Won't you appeal it, Mike?
MR. MCCURRY: They've struck down the lower courts decision two to one, and we're looking at the opinion now and considering the question of appeal, and that's what we may have a statement on by the end of the day.
Q Was that you speaking or the President speaking?
MR. MCCURRY: That was me giving a good rendition of probably what will be in the President's statement so -- by the time we get it out.
Q Thank you, Helen.
MR. MCCURRY: 'Bye, Sam. Have a good weekend. See you Monday.
Q Mike, on the Africa issue, you said there was a briefing. Secretary Slater was in the briefing and some of the other of his Cabinet Secretaries. But other than Congo, what was discussed in that briefing?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think they were going to talk about Congo, but they were principally going to talk about Nairobi and Tanzania -- the situations in both capitals and a progress report on how the investigation is going into both bombings.
Q So it had nothing to do with the recent trips by Slater and Daley and --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether they were participating in that discussion or not. Many members of the Cabinet were over here for the President's little birthday sing-along earlier. So some of them may have been here for that. We'll have to -- maybe P.J. can check on the attendance list on that other session.
Q Mike, will you do a gaggle and a briefing on Monday?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, although we have summer hours around here. I do not anticipate being here very early in the morning, but we'll gaggle about the same time we did today, like 10:45 a.m. -- 9:45-10:00 a.m.
Q What about a briefing?
MR. MCCURRY: Sure, I'll do other subjects. I won't be able to tell you anything about what's going on at the Map Room.
Q Well, we'll all be working tomorrow and Sunday. You can imagine the number of broadcasts on everyone's network that will be all day Sunday.
MR. MCCURRY: You have to work all weekend long, don't you? You have to talk all weekend long. (Laughter.) It's going to be awful because you all won't know a thing, and you're going to just have to yak, yak, yak. (Laughter.) It's terrible.
Q It's a living.
Q Same thing you do every day. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: That's right.
END 3:32 P.M. EDT