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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 23, 1998
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                             MIKE MCCURRY 
                        The Briefing Room            

1:30 P.M. EDT

MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and all the ships at sea. Mr. Bloom, have a seat. So good to have you here. Let me start with a phone call the President had a short while ago with James Lee Witt. James Lee Witt, our Federal Emergency Management Administrator, wanted to update the President on Hurricane Georges' impact and the preparations underway in the federal government to deal with what is obviously a very wicked looking storm.

The FEMA Director briefed the President on the damage that we've seen so far from the storm's impact on the Caribbean and the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico. The President was particularly concerned about the damage in Puerto Rico, and given that so many folks here in the United States have got relatives and others there, they're making a special assessment of that damage.

James Lee reported that the storm is picking up some strength as it heads towards Southern Florida and the Florida Keys. I think most of you have known and reported that a mandatory evacuation has been ordered. And James Lee says this is very possibly going to be the worst storm that the Keys have had since 1935. So we're going to be watching that carefully.

The President asked about the various federal teams that are in place to provide resources should the damage in Florida be bad, and he's received some assurances that everything that they can think of doing and know to do from experience is underway.

The only other thing I had is some travel announcements I've got to do. Are you ready for those? Always exciting.

October 2, Cleveland and Philadelphia. These are mostly political trips, the campaign season being underway now. Friday, October 2, the President travels to Cleveland to attend a fundraiser for a Senate candidate; travels to Philadelphia to attend a DNC dinner; returns to the White House.

October 12 and 13, New York and Miami. On Monday, October 12, he is traveling to New York to attend a dinner for Chuck Shumer, and then he goes down and overnights in Miami and does events Tuesday in Miami -- a Unity lunch in Palm Beach, a Unity dinner in Miami. And probably some other morning event will be added to the schedule. We'll let you know.

October 16, out to the Midwest -- Chicago and St. Louis; does an event for Carol Moseley-Braun in Chicago, and then on to St. Louis for a Unity dinner that night; back to the White House that evening.

October 17th, the President will go up to New Haven, Connecticut for his 25th Yale Law School reunion; then comes back that night.

Then October 20th and 21st, they'll go out to the West Coast. The final details are being put together, but we just wanted to advise you of West Coast travel the 20th and 21st.

Q Mike, the leadership -- the Democratic leadership on the House side today called for an expeditious end to the investigation. What does the White House look for?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the White House, as we have said the last several days, looks for the correct course of action here that a bipartisan -- a very strong bipartisan majority in Congress can support, consistent with what the American people feel is right. And the White House well understands the desire of many Americans to see this matter resolved in some fashion and can certainly understand the Minority Leader suggesting that we need to get on with this and try to resolve the issue one way or another. And we are obviously in conversations to indicate our willingness to do the part that we must do to help bring this to some kind of conclusion.

Q Gephardt said 30 days.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, 30 days -- he said 30 days, 40 days -- I think he was suggesting that it's time for this country to kind of move on and deal with this matter in some fashion, and we certainly can understand that sentiment.

Q Mike, you said the willingness on the part of the White House to do what we must do. What it is that you must do at the White House?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we can't say, David. As we've told you the last several days, it's not our place to suggest to the House of Representatives, which has the responsibility under the Constitution to deal with a referral under this statute, it's not our place to decide that. But we certainly have to be a part of any solution if there is to be a solution that can allow this country to heal and to move on.

Q Mike, you said that the President or the White House has expressed a willingness to do something.


Q What has the White House expressed a willingness to do?

MR. MCCURRY: We've indicated and talked to people up there about our willingness to participate in some process that brings this to a conclusion. I can't predict for you what it would be; I don't know what it would be at this point.

Q Just generally, does the President think that some punishment is appropriate for his misconduct?

MR. MCCURRY: The President, who has punished himself a great deal already, certainly understands there's more punishment that he's likely going to receive.

Q Have the Democrats asked you to do anything in exchange for a shortened process?

MR. MCCURRY: Look, there have been all kinds of conversations. I'm not going to repeat them. Some of them are, of necessity, confidential. But in any event, whatever is the result of these conversations, it is going to be the responsibility of the House of Representatives to deal with this matter. All I'm suggesting is that I think many Americans would like to see the House of Representatives, the White House, others here in Washington deal with this matter and get on with their business. And we are willing to do that.

Q Mike, you make it sound like the White House is willing to go along with whatever the Congress does. Isn't it more active than that -- wouldn't the White House actually like to see it ended?

MR. MCCURRY: We would like to see this matter ended, yes. There's plenty of information out there, a lot of factual information that can be assessed. We would suggest that it needs to be assessed fairly and not from a position of advocacy. But it seems reasonable, as the Minority Leader has suggested, for the Congress to deal with this matter, for the people of the United States to have some closure on this matter, and for all of us in this town to get back to doing the jobs that we need to do for the people of the United States.

Q Has the President personally discussed this with any member of Congress?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure he has, but I'm not going to detail those private conversations.

Q Is there anything in the ideas that have been floating around that the White House has decided would be debilitating to the office of the presidency, like if the President was to go up and receive a censure in person on the floor of the Senate or House?

MR. MCCURRY: We've assessed a lot of the different ideas. Short of saying that we do not believe that the evidence suggests that any of this matter rises to the level of an impeachable offense, I don't think I can go through all the assessments we have on all the ideas that are out there at this point.

Q You've made assessments, you just don't want to share them?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't think -- it wouldn't be accurate to say there's any final assessments because there's no definitive course of action that's been put forward.

Q Would the President be willing to testify before --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate on what the President might or might not do. We're just going to tell you that we've been having conversations, we've indicated our willingness to try to do our part to bring this matter to some kind of definitive conclusion, and we'll see where it goes. Ultimately, it's not going to be our place to decide how that gets resolved. It's going to be the House of Representatives that does it.

Q Are you convinced that Gingrich and others are trying to do just the opposite of what Democrats are suggesting?

MR. MCCURRY: We have our concerns that might be the case.

Q Your previous answer suggest a likely answer to this one, but let me try. If money is on the table as part of this punishment, is the President willing to consider that?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate about that. Look, there is pain with any of these courses of action. There's pain just with the simple idea that this matter is part of the historical record of this presidency. This President already has significant debt incurred because of the expense that he's had in dealing with this matter for four and a half years, a large part of which has not resulted in any allegation or rising against him. But we want life to go on, we want to get back to work for this country and set this matter behind us.

Q When Bob Dole came here last week --

Q Earlier today you said Newt Gingrich is dragging things out. Why is he dragging --

MR. MCCURRY: I did not say that. I said that those who are trying to bring this matter to closure by putting forward what are reasonable ideas -- like Senator John Kerry -- are getting drowned out by those who seem to want to let this matter go on and on and on, and one has to imagine, is that for partisan, political purposes?

Q You said that that was laid at the door of Newt Gingrich. My question is --

MR. MCCURRY: While it's laid at the door of the Speaker of the House because the Chairman, Mr. Hyde, has indicated that these matters are above his pay grade, he's not making the calls on these matters. Presumably, the Speaker is. So I think it is fair to sort of say it looks like it's the Speaker who's calling the shots.

Q My question is, why isn't it acceptable to let the House Judiciary Committee make a decision as to whether there is an impeachable case?

MR. MCCURRY: Oh, I think that would be acceptable if that is, in fact, the process that was underway. Mr. Hyde has indicated that's not the process. The process is the higher pay grade, presumably the Speaker, is the one making the decision.

Q -- dictating them?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't know. You'd have to ask chairman Hyde that.

Q When Bob Dole came here last Friday, we were told that it was to talk to the President about Kosovo. Now we understand that he may have also talked to Senator Dole about probably negotiating or some deal with the Hill. Can you go into that for us?

MR. MCCURRY: When he came here, he came here to discuss the trip that he's made to Kosovo. Senator Dole, I think most of you know, has had a very active interest in and involvement in issues related to the Balkans. He's been particularly concerned about the humanitarian conditions facing the Kosovar Albanians who have had to leave Kosovo and find refuge elsewhere. He's even suggested that it's time for the West to consider stronger measures in response to that.

But obviously the President has grown to have a great deal of respect for Senator Dole's judgment, and if they discussed this matter and did so privately, I wouldn't be surprised.

Q Mike, doesn't Congress have an obligation to weigh the issue of impeachment carefully? And wouldn't that mean that they have to do this more slowly than you're looking for?

MR. MCCURRY: They obviously have to do it carefully, but they obviously also have to do it consistent with what's in the best interest of the United States of America. And given how this matter is affecting the United States of America as a domestic matter, affecting citizens here at home, as it affects the United States as we look around the world and deal with issues like Kosovo and Iraq and the other things that we have to deal with given our leadership responsibilities in the world, and given the God-awful amount of information that is already publicly in front of the House of Representatives and the American people, one can fairly ask, isn't it time to bring this awful matter to an end?

Q Mike, when Congressman Gephardt laid out his plan today for a 30- or a 40- or a 50-day timetable, he specifically said it would be after that that you would then consider any remedies or ideas. So are you suggesting that even that is too slow?

MR. MCCURRY: No, no, no. I'm suggesting that the Minority Leader, I think in good faith today, suggested, look, let's try to find some way to get this matter behind us. And that's what -- all we're saying is that we're in favor of doing that, too. We're not trying to stipulate as to how the process would work or what the timetable would be. It's ultimately not our place to do that anyhow. It's going to be up to the House.

Q Mike, do you have any realistic expectation that this matter, as you have put it, can be brought to an end by election day in November, before election day in November?

MR. MCCURRY: Only if common sense and good judgment prevails.

Q On whose part?

MR. MCCURRY: On the part of all of us.

Q How crucial do you think the election will be to the President's survival in office?

MR. MCCURRY: I can't predict that at this point.

Q Mike, what can the White House or the President do to bring -- as its contribution to bringing the situation to an end quickly?

MR. MCCURRY: To be reasonable, to treat this process with the solemnity and dignity that it requires, to understand what his responsibilities are under the Constitution, and try to work in good faith to assure that it is a solution that is in the best interest of this country. And we've indicated to all the leadership folks and to others who are part of this process that that's the role that we will play.

Q Mike, would the President accept a pardon from Congress in exchange for his resignation?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate on how the House of Representatives might deal with this matter.

Q Mike, you said you didn't want to go into detail in private conversations, but there are reports that the President has made some phone calls to the Hill. Can you quantify for us in any way how personally involved he is in trying to bring this to conclusion?

MR. MCCURRY: He is personally involved. He's made more than a handful of calls. He is seeking the advice and good judgment of people that he trusts and that he knows that are in leadership positions here in Washington and in our nation. That's exactly what you would expect him to do, consistent with our desire to try to play the role that we want to play, which is in the best interests of this country.

Q You describe it as seeking advice. Is he also suggesting to congressmen what possible ways out might be?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think he's in a position to suggest that to members of Congress. He's in a position to hear them out, to hear what their sentiments are, to see what are the avenues that are available.

Q Has the President had any reaction to what President Carter said yesterday?

MR. MCCURRY: Only the one I gave you this morning.

Q This morning you said that the idea of a censure only was a bipartisan idea. Who were the Republicans who are on board on that? We've heard Democrats talking about it --

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say that censure is at this moment an idea that has bipartisan support. I didn't say that.

Q So it's maybe --

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say that. I don't know to what degree that is a possible solution or not.

Q Do you know if any Republicans are advocating --

MR. MCCURRY: No, I don't, but you all are reporters, so presumably you can find out.

Q Mike, let me just try to get you pinned down a little bit on this Carter-Bush stuff.

MR. MCCURRY: You can try, it's been a little hard. (Laughter.)

Q Carter said specifically that he does not believe that the President told the truth either in his earlier Jones deposition or in August --

MR. MCCURRY: I said earlier that President Bush, who's had some things to say, President Carter, who's had some things to say, like any American citizens, they're entitled to have opinions and freely express those opinions.

Q Do you disagree with what Carter said?

MR. MCCURRY: That's all I'm going to say on it.

Q Mike, would you rule out the President going to Congress and admitting to, say, perjury only --

MR. MCCURRY: I'm just not discussing what the -- you don't have any way of knowing, we don't have any way of knowing of what the likely outcome will be. But it's not up to us, in any event. I'm not the person you should be asking.

Q Mike, do you feel that the country and the government's business day to day is sort of at a standstill until this issue is resolved?

MR. MCCURRY: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Our work has to continue, and most people around here kind of get through every day by doing the work that they're supposed to do for the American people . The difference is we're in an environment right now where they can't find out about -- I mean, the American people can't find out about what their government is doing because this is the only matter that preoccupies you. And that's just the reality and there's not much we can do about that.

Q You said before, if it's only the press that's paying attention to this, you said that --

MR. MCCURRY: No, I didn't say it's only the press. It's the American people clearly are paying attention to it, as well, because they get a good heavy dose of it from you all day long.

Q But earlier you said that Congress has to look at how this is in the best interest of the United States and how it affects the situation around the world. Are you saying it has affected the way the U.S. can do its business around the world, or not?

MR. MCCURRY: It certainly has had an impact on the way leaders and governments around the world perceive the United States, yes. And we've heard that from the leaders we've had contact with.

Q So it's not affecting the President's ability to handle these matters, or is it?

MR. MCCURRY: Sure it has some impact, because it has to occupy some mental energy in one way or another. But the President, I think to his credit, understands that his job is to continue to do what he was elected by the American people to do, and so he works very, very hard at staying focused at the job he's been elected to do. And he does it and life goes on, and we've been working on the budget, and we've been working on foreign policy issues, we've been working on natural disasters and that work continues. At some point you've got to remember that this is a big government that continues, irrespective of whatever hot story you're interested in.

Q The White House yesterday cited some of Lewinsky's testimony, especially on obstruction of justice and witness tampering, as being exculpatory. Does the White House believe that all of her testimony is equally credible?

MR. MCCURRY: The White House believes that as with any body of evidence, through cross-examination, through the effort to get fact, which is part of the adversarial process we have in litigation, you come to a better understanding of truth. And her testimony and the President's testimony has not been subjected to that kind of rigorous cross-examination, nor have we been able to put in any defense case, in effect, that refutes the adversarial argument that has been made by the prosecutor. So there are lots of different ways in which you would come at a better understanding of truth if you had a better opportunity to measure what different people's recollections are about specific events.

Q You seem to be taking at face value a couple of statements that she made.

MR. MCCURRY: She made one very important statement, declarative and unambiguous, that was not cited in the Starr report, that is a grievous oversight at best and a deliberate and misleading oversight more likely.

Q I'm just asking you whether or not -- I mean, you seem to give her a great deal of credibility, the White House, in yesterday's --

MR. MCCURRY: That statement, it would be hard for anyone who is trying to make a fair assessment of fact not to give that statement, as unambiguous as it was, some weight, at least to hold it up and test it and examine it. But the independent counsel chose to ignore it, which is evidence of the argument we made, which is that that is not a fair and balanced assessment of fact; it is, in fact, a document of advocacy designed to make a very pointed case.

Q I understand your point, but the question really goes to whether or not, in accepting that as being the truth, and her credibility being essentially sustained by what she said, then why is not everything she says equally credible?

MR. MCCURRY: Every statement that she says under oath can be tested and examined and cross-examined. That's the way in which we adduce fact when we are in a court of law in America.

Q Mike, the committee venue would be one place where the President's side would get to advance its case and make its own adversarial arguments. But it sounds like you were saying earlier that's not necessary, the body of fact is sufficiently known that Congress has the information to act now. Right?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, Congress has a question before it right now, which is whether or not to proceed to an impeachment inquiry. We've argued strenuously that the body of evidence is not there to proceed to that inquiry.

Q Back to the business of government. Do you see any cases where there is bipartisan cooperation by the White House and the Congress on issues on the domestic agenda while this thing is going on -- or is cooperation in suspension at this point?

MR. MCCURRY: No, there have been and there must be. I think particularly in the area of foreign policy, as we deal with the issues that we face around the world there needs to be a bipartisanship. And we have been working hard at that. I think, as we look at the situation we face in Kosovo, in Iraq; as we see the Middle East peace process and its requirements unfold -- I don't detect a degree of partisanship in discussion of those issues. There's disagreement. There are certainly those on the Hill who are strongly critical of the administration's foreign policy, but I think that that's been done in the boundaries of good debate and good faith. And in general, those things have resulted in some progress.

On the domestic side, because we are in the appropriations process right now, there has not been as much evidence of bipartisanship because we're in the very contentious process of writing appropriations bills. Congress has only passed one bill. We're almost -- we're a week away now from the end of the fiscal year, and they're not getting that job done and we're going to have to fight it out on those things in the coming weeks.

Q Mike, you've charged that Republicans are trying to drag this process out, that some Republicans are. But I'm trying to figure out what the point of difference is between the Republicans and the Democrats. Speaker Gingrich said today that there ought not be some sort of solution short of impeachment hearings taking place. Congressman Gephardt said the same thing, that we ought to have 30, 40, 50 days -- it might be before the election, it might be after the election. So what do you see as the difference between what the two sides are saying?

MR. MCCURRY: The degree of -- the timing and the degree to which we will move to try to get on with this matter or get it over with is where the difference lies. Privately, Democratic leaders on the Hill today were told by the Speaker that this matter could go on for months and months and months, if not years. And that is very dispiriting, and I imagine it will be very dispiriting to the American people to hear that they might have to deal with this for the balance of this year, for all of next year, going into the year 2000, as we go into a new century. I think, good God, people are going to say, why on Earth do we have to go through that?

Q Republicans said that? Republicans said --

MR. MCCURRY: That's the understanding that we had from the conversations held privately on the Hill today.

Q Clearly, there's some sentiment toward resolution. But how are the American people to rebuild confidence in President Clinton when the new edition of Capitol Style magazine details a December 1992 advance by the President-elect at the time, less than a year after the "60 Minutes" confrontation?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any clue what you're talking about in that report, but the American people will judge their President based on the job they see him do, one way or another.

Q Just to change the subject slightly -- the Iraqi Vice President yesterday announced that Iraq will never submit to any further weapons inspections. Do you have any reaction to that?

MR. MCCURRY: The reaction has already been rendered by the United Nations Security Council in a 15 to 0 vote on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1994, indicating that not only does that for the foreseeable remove any prospect for sanctions relief for the government of Iraq, but it also alerts the international community of the responsibility they're going to have to consider further measures necessary to compel compliance by the government of Iraq with previous U.N. Security Council resolutions. And discussions to that effect have been a major part of deliberations that the Security Council has undertaken on that subject, and certainly discussions the President has had with his senior foreign policy advisors in recent weeks here in Washington.

Q Mike, do you have any idea what options may be under consideration?

MR. MCCURRY: There are a number of options. We don't rule any in or rule any out at this point.

Q Mike, what you're saying today seems to indicate that the White House is seeking some sort of a plea bargain with the Congress. Why is the White House not arguing that the President is going to defend himself and be vindicated on the 11 allegations of impeachment?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we've more than indicated that we believe, as a question of law and as a question of constitutional process, that we can defend the President from the argument that an impeachment inquiry should arise based on the referral made by the Office of Independent Counsel. And we will vigorously defend that, and the President has authorized his lawyers to vigorously press that point. I don't know at this point if there is any other argument that we need to make because there is no other indication that any process is proceeding.

Q So why cut a deal now? Why not fight for the President's vindication?

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say anything about cutting a deal, but I've indicated that finding a course of action that is in the best interest of this country is the determination of this White House and the interest of this President.

Q You believe the President can be vindicated, though, if put to the test?

MR. MCCURRY: I believe that -- I don't know what you mean by "vindication." I think that given what the President has admitted to and given the responsibility he has taken on himself for his behavior, I don't know how that can be vindicated other than through the patient penance that he has indicated he is going to offer over time. I don't think that's an immediate prospect.

Q Mike, is the President contemplating at all a press conference -- not a joint press conference with another leader, but --

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I'll ask our long-term scheduling people that.

Q On the letter regarding military readiness -- is the administration open to using the budget surplus in the future to help fund as part of this year 2000 multiyear plan --

MR. MCCURRY: As the letter indicates, the President has authorized OMB, working with the National Security Council, to look at a process by which we would move into budget deliberations for the fiscal year 2000 budget proposal that would take into account some of the readiness arguments that have been made by the Chiefs. It would be way premature at this point to speculate on how you would draft out the bottom line in the budget process that is underway. But as the President now indicates, we'll have to take into account some of the arguments about readiness.

Q Mike, is the President seeking any medical treatment for the memory loss, the great memory loss that he says he's suffered over the past six years?

MR. MCCURRY: Not that's been reported to me by his doctor.

Q Was that just an exaggeration on his part, or has he really suffered a great loss of memory?

MR. MCCURRY: He testified that his memory was not as good as it used to be when he was a young man.

Q Mike, why should the White House not be seen as trying to speed up the Judiciary Committee deliberations for its own political purposes, even as you accuse the Republicans of trying to drag it out?

MR. MCCURRY: Mark, that's a fair point. It is in the President's personal interests, it's in his political interests, it's in the interests of the policy measures that we want to advance, and we believe it's ultimately in the interests of the country for us to try to accelerate this process and get it underway.

I did not mean to suggest there's not a measure of self-interest here. But we also fundamentally believe at this point the country wants us to get this matter behind us and to get on with their business and their work. And that's the argument that we think is compelling.

Q On that point, I'm a little confused. Are you blaming Republicans, are you charging that Gingrich is trying to slow this down and string it out as long as possible?

MR. MCCURRY: We have concern that everything we're hearing tells us that they want to string this matter out forever and ever. And that is of concern to us, yes.

Q And you think that they would be doing that for political purposes and not to sort of soberly -- the facts?

MR. MCCURRY: We don't think they are doing it in the best interests of the country.

Q Did the President have any conversation with the Speaker while he was up on the Hill today?

MR. MCCURRY: I have not had a report on that yet, whether he and the Speaker had an opportunity to have any conversation on this or other matters. I don't know the answer to that. But we'll try to see -- maybe we can find out.

Q Mike, whatever the duration, is the White House pretty much reconciled to the idea that there will be impeachment hearings, at a minimum?

MR. MCCURRY: Realistically speaking, I guess you'd have to be reconciled to that. Hopefully, in the interests of our country, in the desire to see common sense and good judgment prevail, maybe not. Maybe as the debate unfolds in coming days, people will get to a different place than they are now.

Q Given that you only have a week left before the start of the fiscal year, is the administration willing to support a clean continuing resolution for those appropriations bills not --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, there has been one passed. It would be far better with the end of the fiscal year approaching for Congress to get on to the work of doing the full appropriations bills that have been done. We've got one passed, and we'll look at it. I guess the time for action on it expires October 2nd, so we have until October 2nd to deal with it.

MR. TOIV: -- September 30th.

MR. MCCURRY: September 30th is the end of the fiscal year; that's correct.

Q So he's getting ready for a veto?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we'll see.

Q Did the President ever discuss this matter with President Carter?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer definitively to that, but I suspect not.

Q Mike, could the preliminary Judiciary inquiry process be speeded up if the President would pledge to the members of the committee to work with them at this phase, personally, to answer their questions, personally, and to make all White House officials available to them?

MR. MCCURRY: He has certainly pledged to work with them, personally. We are interested in expediting consideration of that. We are open to discussions about how best to do that, what is the procedure necessary or what requirements would they have to do that. And if the congressional leadership gets serious about -- or the House leadership gets serious about that, I'm sure the President would entertain that. And I think he has assured people that he would be willing to personally be a part of any action that's a correct action that would gain support in Congress and that would be acceptable to the American people.

Q Does "personally" mean in person on the Hill? What does "personally" mean?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to go beyond that. I'm not going to speculate what it means. That obviously is going to be the subject of further conversations that would have to occur.

Q It sounds like you're opening the door to a trip to Capitol Hill.

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't mean to do that -- (laughter) --but I'm sure some of you will interpret it that way.

Q Mike, is the White House in negotiation, or attempting to negotiate, with the Congress on an end game for this, or are they willing to?

MR. MCCURRY: We have had numerous conversations with them, and I don't think there is a negotiation that can be had with an institution. It's a negotiation that is held with individual people, and individual people have different points of view.

Q Mike, has he talked to members of both parties, personally?

MR. MCCURRY: He has talked to at least some members on both sides of the aisle, yes. I don't mean to suggest on the leadership side.

Q Do you have any indication whatsoever that Republicans are at all receptive to this notion of something short of impeachment or resignation?

MR. MCCURRY: I think it would be accurate to say that there are some Republicans who would like to see this matter resolved in some fashion to spare the country further debilitating discussions. Not many of them are willing to say so publicly because they fly in the face of the jihad caucus of their own party, but that's the reality.

Q Mike, is the President considering asking a statesman of the Democratic Party to be like a liaison with Congress?

MR. MCCURRY: We've had numerous conversations with many statesmen -- wise people, I think I would prefer to say.

Q And what have these wise people said? What have they said about the idea --

MR. MCCURRY: They've had very good advice. Many of them have had good suggestions. Many of them had been willing to be in contact with the American public and with the elected representatives of the American people. And the President and the White House greatly appreciate their contribution.

Q -- one person or two persons?

MR. MCCURRY: You have seen some of them have been outspoken publicly and some of them have been talking to folks on the Hill. And it's all, I think, readily available to you.

Q Mike, does the threat of indictment have to be lifted in any sort of deal that's made?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to -- you know, you use the word plea bargain. I'm not going to write it here for you, Scott.

Okay, anything else?

Q Yesterday, the President said he wasn't paying much attention to any of this. But now that some time has gone by, there's been some news analysis that has said he did a pretty skillful, pretty fair job. Has he taken any comfort in that reaction or any of the polls?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think a human being could take any comfort over what this testimony was about, over what our county went through, over what he as President went through. There's nothing comforting about it whatsoever.

Q But some analysis that said he'd handled himself okay -- that doesn't bring him any --

MR. MCCURRY: The pundits will probably by this time next week have a different view on this, or the story would have moved elsewhere, so what does it matter?

Q Your use of the phrase of the "jihad caucus" -- do you think some people up there think they are engaged in a holy war against the President?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. You'd have to ask them.

Q But it was your phrase. (Laughter.)

Q We have to ask you.

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think it's necessarily inappropriate.

Q Well, I understand that you may have not seen the Capitol Style report. Could you get back to us?

MR. MCCURRY: Do you work for them or something? Are you the publisher? (Laughter.)

Q No, I'm not.

MR. MCCURRY: Who do you work for?

Q I work for Investors Business Daily. I saw the report, and I wanted to know if you could get back to us on it.

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to comment on something that I haven't seen.

Q Thank you.


Q Mike, does the President plan to campaign this fall for members of Congress? Are you getting invitations to do that?

MR. MCCURRY: Absolutely, yes, as I just indicated. I just gave you an extensive --

Q Well, are these campaign or fundraising stuff?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, these are all political events in one sort or another for members who, I think, appreciate the fact the President's going to be campaigning for them.

Q Other than Glendening, have their been any cancellations?

MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to check -- not that I've heard of. Okay, thank you.

END 2:06 P.M. EDT