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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 20, 1998
                           REMARKS IN GAGGLE
                            BY MIKE MCCURRY

The White House

Q -- (in progress) -- several things on his mind, and how does he -- you always here a lot about departmentalization. How does he handle two big things like this at once?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think that he's got his priorities straight. I mean, in the realm of his privacy he's most concerned about his family. He's been spending a lot of time like that and a lot of time with the First Lady and with Chelsea. And I think that they are working through some issues. And that's hard, but I think he always is Commander in Chief and President at the same time, and his family understands that. Certainly the First Lady understands that. The First Lady was fully aware of what he was going through and the decision-making that was involved.

Q She was aware that there was --

Q -- for a number of days she's been aware?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know exactly what she was aware -- but I think she certainly is very aware that he's been dealing with a very serious --

Q -- the deal with what Kendall was worried about not having enough preparation?


Q Is that the reason?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Well, I'll take that back. Mr. Kendall did not know the nature; he knew that the President was working on a very serious foreign policy project. I doubt very much he knew what the nature of it was.

Q Is there going to be a second speech --

Q Mike, both Coats and Specter did not do the partisanship ends at the water's edge on this one. Did you hear their remarks?

MR. MCCURRY: I heard about them, and all I will say is that the Speaker and Majority Leader Lott, who were both briefed and consulted, consistent with the War Powers Act, prior to, made extremely supportive statements. And I think that they -- my guess is that both of those Senators, in light of the two Republican leaders making very supportive statements and understanding fully the mission, having been briefed, will, in retrospect, probably wish that they had been a little more careful in what they said.

Q Did Coats --

MR. MCCURRY: That's not true. They received it at the same time -- I'm told.

Q Did Gingrich know about this a week ago or so? He indicated to CNN that he's known -- had a hint something was up.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I know, as Sandy indicated -- Sandy talked to him yesterday -- he may, he certainly probably had some additional intelligence briefings in which he had more knowledge about some of the things that the President knew. But it would be accurate to say he was closely consulted.

Q -- like a week or so ago?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I can't tell you for sure. I don't know for sure when he had -- he certainly had a lot of information available to him.

Q Maybe this has been answered in another briefing, but you said they were briefed under the War Powers Act, so this was officially considered an act of war?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's not an act -- no. The War Powers Act, when you take certain types of military action, you consult with Congress -- not war, but certain types of military action, as specified in the act.

Q Mike, can you give us some sense of what decisions he had to make on Monday or what plans were finalized in that meeting he had Monday before he went into the deposition?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- I know that he had to deal specifically with this matter prior to his testimony on Monday, but I don't know the nature of what he had to do.

Q There was a meeting -- of whether he had to actually make an operational decision?

MR. MCCURRY: I think he had to deal with this matter, but I don't know operationally what he had to decide. I know he had to deal with -- he had several aspects of this he had to deal with.

Q Did he have to do much over the weekend, too? I mean, Berger talked about what he did Thursday and Friday. What about the weekend, do you know?

MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is, yes.

Q Would he like to do a second speech?

MR. MCCURRY: Look, you guys probably know better than I because there have been some contacts down here while we've been up there. I think that there are some different thinking around here about it. I'll tell you, the President -- nobody has approached the President with that formal plan. And I think the President, for obvious reasons, had been concentrating on this. I think a lot of people who had been floating the idea of doing some additional speeches probably were not aware that this activity would be going on today.

Q The rest of today he is talking with foreign leaders and possibly reviewing other information from this?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, well he'll get a -- if they get information -- he specifically asked his foreign policy team today if you get any information at all from any source that gives us a better picture of how successful we were with our effort today, let me know, wake me up whenever you get the information. I can tell you that it sounds to me that it's more likely that the better picture will develop tomorrow.

Q Albright said she had talked to Muslim leaders who were supportive. Can we find out who they are?

MR. MCCURRY: Let me refer you to State on that because they've worked that track and they should put that out over there.

Q Do you need to wait for daylight over the sites before you can get --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to get into that.

Q Mike, will he go back tomorrow?

MR. MCCURRY: He'll probably go up tomorrow. My guess is he'll go up sometime tomorrow afternoon. By tomorrow morning when I gaggle, I'll give you better sense of what the schedule is. But I think his thinking was he'll probably go up tomorrow afternoon.

Q Will you go back with him?

Q Mike, there were several breaks during the deposition on Monday. Did he have to excuse himself at any time to deal with the national security issues during the course of the deposition?

MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. Not that I'm aware of. And I am reasonably sure he did not, but I can double-check.

Q He's been pretty cloistered, it sounds like, up there in Martha's Vineyard. I mean, was he -- you've said he's taken some calls. Was he also working on this? I mean, are these essentially work days up there for him and that's one reason he's not --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I'll tell you, this morning when I went over just to kind of run through what the plans were with him and he and the First Lady were talking, they had been talking this morning and they were sitting at the table and he was working on the remarks that he was going to make here. And she was looking at it, too. They were both talking about it and talking about this situation. But they've obviously been talking about their family matters, too.

Q What's he going to do tomorrow before he leaves?

MR. MCCURRY: Mostly work on this. I don't think he's got anything else planned.

Q Are you going back?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I've got to, I've got all my clothes and everything up there.

Q Will the national security people be coming here in the morning?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to let you know that. I would probably assume that they would, but there may not be a reason for them to gather. They may not need to gather directly -- they can all get on the phone or something tomorrow.

Q Was Mrs. Clinton looking at the bombing remarks this morning?

MR. MCCURRY: She was glancing at his remarks for here in the Oval.

Q Had the attack yet taken place?

MR. MCCURRY: It was in progress at that point.

Q Has he started trip prep yet for Russia and Ireland?

MR. MCCURRY: As a matter of fact, he must have, because we got talking about other things and Russia was one of them. And he was telling me a lot about some of the discussions he's had with Rubin and Summers and others about Russia. And it's clear that that subject has been very much on his mind recently, too, for obvious reasons.

Q Do you know, briefing-wise, are you guys going to do it up there for us, pre-trip or --

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know yet. We aren't doing this week. (Laughter.)

Q You've got Friday left. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: That will be Barry's problem. All right.

Q Will you gaggle tomorrow, normal time?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll try to, yes -- why don't we say 9:30 a.m., just to be kind of a normal day.

Q Do you know anything more about day trips on Monday and Wednesday of next week?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I think -- obviously, the collective wisdom at the White House on day trips and everything may change as a result of today. So we've got to go back and do another -- I think that we're not really sure what --

Q Mike, there's some TV footage showing the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. Do you have any --

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't looked at the TV, I've been talking to these people here.

Q Mike, I may have missed this, but if these strikes did not achieve their aim, is there any possibility of follow-up strikes?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that there was some indication by Secretary Cohen that they did not rule out further action already for that.

Q Is any country helping bin Laden in his efforts against the United States or to carry out the terrorist activities?

MR. MCCURRY: I think we made clear from our two foreign policy principals here that we are -- that it's going to take a determined effort worldwide to combat terrorism.

Q -- relations between Sudan and Afghanistan, where we don't have embassies that are active there?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we do have an embassy in Sudan.