THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release August 28, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY BARRY TOIV Edgartown Elementary School Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts
11:58 A.M. EDT
MR. TOIV: Let me make a few announcements first. As you know, Sandy Berger and a cast of thousands will brief this afternoon at about 4:00 p.m. on the President's trip to Russia and Ireland, and so they will be able to answer a lot of your questions on that subject, although I'll try to be of a little help to you for right now.
The event this afternoon -- I'm not sure if we've handed out the paper on it, but the paper, I think, lists the participants, lists the speakers. As you know, it commemorates the 35th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. John Lewis -- there will also be a reception after the event highlighting Congressman Lewis's autobiography which was just recently published, called "Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement," and as you all know, John Lewis was one of the planners and keynote speakers at that address.
As far as you all attending, you need to get there between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., and there are seats there for you, but if you're not there by 1:30 p.m., there won't be.
I have some travel plans for September that we wanted to make sure you all had. September 9th, the President will travel to Orlando and Miami, Florida for the Buddy MacKay for Governor campaign. The President will participate in an education event as well in Orlando and he will attend a fundraising lunch in Orlando and a fundraising dinner in Miami.
On September 14th, the President will travel to New York City to attend a Democratic unity lunch and a unity dinner, and there's also a performance of "The Lion King," which is actually, I guess, a major fundraising event for that day.
Q That's the 14th?
MR. TOIV: That's the 14th. On the 17th, the President will travel to Cincinnati for a DCCC lunch and then on to Boston for a Unity reception. And then in the 21st, the President will travel to New York City for an address to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. He will attend the "Strengthening Democracy and the Global Economy" and opening dialogue conference at NYU.
Let me try to say that a little differently. The President will attend a conference at NYU called, "Strengthening Democracy in the Global Economy," subtitled "An Opening Dialogue," sponsored by the NYU Law School in affiliation with the Progressive Policy Institute and the World Policy Institute.
Q Is he going to speak there, Barry?
MR. TOIV: What I have is attend. Why don't I take that question. I can't imagine he won't speak, but it doesn't say that, literally, on the paper, so let me check.
Let me give you a quick week ahead. You know most of it, but we're going to do -- he's going to deliver the Radio Address live tomorrow. I think I'm going to withhold on the topic. But he's going to do it at the school, but it is closed.
Q This school?
MR. TOIV: Yes, this school, like he did last year.
Q Is there a pool to that?
MR. TOIV: No.
Q But the travel pool will have to accompany him.
MR. TOIV: Yes. But in terms of the actual radio address.
MR. TOIV: No plans for that.
We leave on Sunday. Unfortunately, I cannot be of any help to you yet on what time we leave Sunday.
On Monday, the President is going to take the opportunity of the first day of school for many millions of school kids around the country to -- although not all of them, by any means -- but the President will make remarks at an event on the subject of education. That will be Monday. We don't have a time yet, and I don't have a place for it yet, either. And then at 2:00 p.m., the President and First Lady depart the White House en route Andrews, and then on to Moscow.
Q Do you expect departure remarks, Barry?
MR. TOIV: Don't know yet.
Q What time is departure?
MR. TOIV: Departure is 2:00 p.m. from the White House. And then, the rest of the week is the trip and they come back on Saturday, sometime Saturday.
Okay, now one more announcement. And I'm very pleased to make both of these announcements. We have two changes to announce in the White House Press Office. The first is, hard as it is to do, we need to replace Mr. Joe Lockhart in the Lower Press Office, and you all know his replacement, Amy Weiss Tobe, who has served since November of '97, as you all know, as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary. She's worked closely with all of you, handling operational issues and administration and now you'll get to know her even better.
I think a lot of you know her background, over at the DNC from January '96 to November '97, she was press secretary and then communications director. And she handled all sorts of controversial issues there, as you all know, such as the delegate selection process, matters like that. Prior to the DNC, she worked for several years for the late Congressman Mike Synar, who some of you probably knew until his death in January '96. Congressman Synar was Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Environment, Energy and Natural Resources and he served on Judiciary and Commerce Committees, and so Amy was responsible for those issues there, and, of course, his work on tobacco and campaign finance reform.
She then served as communications director, as well as a founder of the group that he formed after he left Congress, a reform group called the Campaign For America Project. And Amy also worked five years as communications director for the Center for National Policy which you're all familiar with, I know. So we're all very pleased to have Amy coming down to Lower Press.
Replacing Amy is a very good friend of mine, I might say, Jennifer Palmieri. Jennifer has a sterling background. You can't have a better background than this for working in the Press Office. She served first from 1988 to 1992 as a legislative assistant for Congressman Leon Panetta. And she worked for about a year and a half as a legislative assistant at the Office of Management and Budget. She worked in the Legislative Affairs Office there.
And then she worked in the Chief of Staff's Office at the White House, working, coincidentally, for Leon Panetta. But since then, she has, since March of '97 she's been Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Scheduling, working with Stephanie Streett, and she's done a great job. She's just someone who gets things done. She's great to work with. I think you guys are all going to enjoy working with her as I have over the years, and you'll all meet her when you get back, for those of you who have not met her before. She will have the title of Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for Operations.
Those are my announcements. Do you have any questions?
Q Will the President speak on Russia today during the civil rights speech?
MR. TOIV: I wouldn't rule it out, but I don't know the answer to that at this point. But I can tell you that he spoke by phone this morning. He had a conference call with the Vice President and his National Security and Economic Advisors. He was updated on the situation in Moscow by Strobe Talbott who, as you all know, is there. He was updated by Larry Summers, Deputy Secretary of Treasury on the situation of the Russian economy. And they went over preparations for next week's trip, and the President reiterated his commitment to go.
As you've all seen reported, Strobe met with President Yeltsin today on summit preparations, and President Yeltsin reiterated his commitment to serve out his term in office as President. So there you are.
Q Barry, in that regard, some Soviet analysts are saying that it doesn't make much sense for the President to go because Yeltsin is in such a weakened position, we don't, indeed, expect anything really substantial to come out of this. And in light of this environment, the President has not even reconsidered doing this trip at another time?
MR. TOIV: No, the President has reiterated his commitment to go. And he had a very good discussion today about the trip and about preparations for the trip, and he will be going. As far as -- there are a lot of good questions to ask Sandy and his colleagues at the briefing this afternoon.
Q But if I can follow, given the turmoil, what does the President realistically hope to accomplish there?
MR. TOIV: That is a great question for Sandy, but I'll bet you he will answer it before you get to ask it.
Q Also on Russia, another major bank has collapsed. They're bringing the rate down on the ruble. And I realize this may be a Sandy question as well, but is there any talk whatsoever of possibly the President showing up with some kind of a relief package or something along those lines?
MR. TOIV: That's probably a good Gene Sperling or Larry Summers question, actually.
Q I mean, no talk whatsoever at this point?
MR. TOIV: I'm going to let them answer those questions.
Q Barry, the President spoke to Talbott after Talbott had --
MR. TOIV: After Talbott met with --
Q How long did he speak directly with Talbott?
MR. TOIV: How long did the President speak -- well, Talbott was part of the discussion. The whole conference call took a little over a half hour. But I don't think he spoke with Talbott one on one; Talbott was part of the conference call.
Q And what did Talbott say about Yeltsin's state of mind and how he appeared? What did he tell the President?
MR. TOIV: I'll let Sandy take that one, or -- probably Sandy will want to take that question this afternoon.
Q Does the President believe that his going to the is important to maintaining any kind of stability in Russia or to maintaining Yeltsin in office?
MR. TOIV: These are all -- you're going to be briefed in a few hours by people far more qualified to answer those questions.
Q Do you have any reaction to Scott Ritter's comments this morning about U.S. change in policy on Iraq and his criticism of this administration's unwillingness to press the inspections issue?
MR. TOIV: Look, I can help you a little bit, but again, Sandy can probably do a lot better. But U.S. policy toward Iraq has not changed. Our goal since 1991 has been to contain this dangerous regime and keep them from getting dangerous weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has repeatedly challenged those goals and in every instance the U.S. has led an international response that has forced them to back down.
We're engaging in mobilizing the international community again to press Iraq and we've already received strong backing from the Security Council that Iraq's actions are totally unacceptable, and the President will be raising this issue next week in Moscow as well.
We are seeking a U.N. resolution to suspend sanctions reviews indefinitely until Iraq complies, and that sends Baghdad a sharp signal that its actions have further extended the sanctions that have already cost them over $120 billion. We are also tightening the sanctions enforcement further by cutting down on illegal Iraqi oil exports in the Gulf, and we've not ruled out using other options at a time and place of our own choosing, if diplomatic means do not convince Iraq to comply.
I'll leave any follow-ups to Sandy.
Q Any reaction to Libya's call for negotiations on the trials and the return of the suspects?
MR. TOIV: Yes. Let me try something on that, too. As you all know, the Security Council last night unanimously endorsed the proposal by the United States and the United Kingdom, and this should leave no doubt that the only choice for Libya at this point is in media compliance. The resolution provides for suspension of U.N. sanctions against Libya once the bombing suspects arrive in The Netherlands.
At the same time, the resolution threatens additional measures against Libya if the suspects do not appear in The Netherlands promptly. Let me add, our sole motivation here is to seek justice on behalf of the victims and families of the Pan Am 103 tragedy. And if Gadhafi is serious, we would expect the Secretary General's notification that the suspects have been transported to The Netherlands and are in custody.
Q Barry, back on Russia. We've not heard from the President this week on the subject. Do you anticipate we might later today or tomorrow?
MR. TOIV: Yes, Randy asked me that before and I said I wouldn't rule it out, but I didn't have a definite answer for him.
Q Can you categorically rule out that the radio address will be used to address his personal controversy and Ms. Lewinsky?
MR. TOIV: I've heard no plans to do that.
Q Might it be Russia? Is that why -- I mean, some of us had heard it's going to be health care. Has that gone away?
MR. TOIV: I think -- no, no. I think health care is a decent bet. But until Saturday morning I'm always cautious.
Q The President once intervened with American Airlines when they were about to go on strike. Anything with Northwest?
MR. TOIV: No, nothing new on Northwest. We encourage the parties to continue negotiating. As you know, members of the administration have already stated that nobody should make any assumptions about what occurs or does not occur midnight Friday as far as any actions by the administration. So the best course of action for both parties is to stay at the negotiating table and resolve their differences.
Q Is that intended to hold out a possibility of intervention by the administration?
MR. TOIV: No, it's not intended to do anything. It's intended to say nobody should assume what actions would or would not be taken.
Q For our planning purposes, do you expect to make any kind of statement at midnight?
MR. TOIV: I don't know. I don't know, but if I've given you that -- if I've led you to that impression, then I did so --
Q -- signal of a possibility of intervention?
MR. TOIV: No, not at all. And I apologize if I've done that. What I'm trying to say is that any party that is expecting one particular action or another, whether it's action or no action, should not make any assumptions to that effect.
Q What kind of monitoring will you be doing up until midnight tonight, both in Washington and here?
MR. TOIV: We have had members of the administration -- I have to check on who, I assume it's either Secretary Herman or someone else at the Labor Department -- well, at least the Labor Department keeping a close eye on this, probably Transportation as well. I'll have to get more for you on specifically who is keeping in touch, but we do try to keep in touch to find out where both parties are on these matters.
Q Do you know if the President is following it?
MR. TOIV: He's well aware of the situation, yes.
Q Why shouldn't people assume that the President will do exactly what he did with the American Airlines -- what differentiates the two?
MR. TOIV: I'm not going to characterize this situation right now. All I'm going to do is encourage both parties to continue negotiating.
Q What's the progress that the President and First Lady are making in terms of this healing --
MR. TOIV: I don't have anything to report to you on that.
Q Is he still speaking to congressman regarding any possible statements or feedback?
MR. TOIV: I don't know if he's spoken with any today, but he has for the last few days talked -- over the last few days talked to a number of members of Congress.
Q How many roughly -- 20, 30?
MR. TOIV: Don't have a number for you.
Q Are you able to characterize what he's been saying in these phone calls?
MR. TOIV: No. No, I'm not going to do that.
Q But it's about his status as President and the Monica Lewinsky matter?
MR. TOIV: He's been talking to them about that issue, yes.
Q We've seen congressional candidates around the country decline to invite the President, saying he wouldn't be welcome to campaign with them. What are we supposed to read into this trip to Florida for Buddy MacKay and these Democratic Unity fundraisers? Is it a sign that the President is trying to show that he's still a force?
MR. TOIV: Well, this is a trip that's been planned. They've been working on planning it, and we're announcing it to make sure you're all aware of it, because I know you all like to make travel plans.
Q But should we read anything into --
MR. TOIV: I'm not going to speak for Buddy MacKay. If you're asking me, does this mean Buddy MacKay wants the President to visit Florida and campaign on his behalf, I would have to assume the answer to that is yes, because we're going. But I'm not going to speak for Buddy MacKay; I'd encourage you to talk to him.
Q -- that the administration is satisfied Florida Democrats are getting along now?
MR. TOIV: I think what it signifies is that we have an extraordinary candidate for governor in Buddy MacKay and the President wants to do everything he can to see that he's elected.
Q The day before yesterday you were not ruling out an additional presidential statement on Monica Lewinsky in the aftermath. Given the reality of the schedule -- are you expecting that for the first time that he is going to see these issues raised is in that joint news conference with Boris Yeltsin?
MR. TOIV: I'm just going to repeat what I've been saying about that. If and when the President decides to speak to that issue again, he will do so, and he'll make that decision and he'll, frankly, let the rest of us know -- us and you. And he will then do that, and I don't have any information on any plans to do so. But I also will not rule out his doing so on any occasion that he chooses.
Q Even before you take off for Moscow?
MR. TOIV: I put a period at the end of that last sentence.
Q How would you characterize the President's remarks this afternoon?
MR. TOIV: I think primarily he'll be speaking directly to the subject of the event, which is the March on Washington. I'm sure that he he'll expand a little bit on the issue of civil rights and the importance of that issue in our own time as well as 35 years ago. But beyond that, I think I'll let him speak for himself.
Q Is Lewis coming up here for this event or has he been here on the island?
MR. TOIV: I don't know. This was an event that was planned already, and the President is joining this event. This event is not something that we initially put together. But I don't know how long Congressman Lewis has been on the island or how long he'll stay.
Q Will the President get any golf in before this is over?
MR. TOIV: We'll see.
Q A possibility tomorrow?
MR. TOIV: We'll see.
Q Is the President taking any Republican congressmen to Russia and how large is the congressional delegation?
MR. TOIV: I don't know the answer to either of those questions. Again, hopefully, Sandy will.
Q Could you check on whether Chelsea is going to be going on this trip?
MR. TOIV: I don't have an answer to that at this point.
Q The radio address tomorrow, did you say there is going to be an audience of locals?
MR. TOIV: I didn't say. I'm not sure what the audience will be at this point, but it's closed as far as press coverage.
Q So no pool spray, no stills?
MR. TOIV: Nothing planned.
Q He won't do it from that microphone, in other words?
MR. TOIV: No -- that's correct.
Q Will it be piped in?
MR. TOIV: Oh, yes, it will be piped in.
Anything else? Thank you.
END 12:21 P.M. EDT