THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The Briefing Room
1:52 P.M. EST
MR. LOCKHART: Let me just do one quick announcement, following up on this morning. And I don't know that this is going to please many of you, but the briefing tomorrow morning will be early, 8:30 a.m., with the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor and Ambassador Dennis Ross will give you a sense of the trip and what we hope to accomplish in the Middle East while we're there.
For those of you who can't get in who will be running around, we will effort the getting a transcript to the press plane.
Q Do you have any reason to believe it will actually begin at 8:30 a.m. or anytime near 8:30 a.m.?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think it will begin near 8:30 a.m..
Q Given the record, I mean.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, why don't I get a sense in the morning and I'll give you a call so you don't come in too early? (Laughter.)
Q Joe, does the President find the Democrat censure proposal acceptable?
MR. LOCKHART: I think as I mentioned to you this morning, the President believes the people who, in good faith, come forward with a reasonable solution to put this matter behind us in a prompt way short of impeachment should be considered. And looking at that proposal, I think it meets the criteria.
Q So there's nothing in it that the White House would reject? Do you find it acceptable?
MR. LOCKHART: I think as I said, the President's looking for a reasonable way to put this behind us, short of impeachment, and from the first look at that document that appears to meet those criteria.
Q Let me ask you about two of the points in the resolution. The first point is, "the President made false statements concerning his reprehensible conduct with a subordinate," was the language of it -- and the second is, the President wrongly took steps to delay discovery of the truth. Are you telling us the President believes that meets the criteria?
MR. LOCKHART: The President has said many times in the past that he misled both his friends, his staff and the American people, and he acknowledges that.
Q What are the false statements the President now acknowledges that he made?
MR. LOCKHART: I think he believes that he made misleading comments.
Q I know he believes he made misleading comments --
Q But I read the exact language.
Q I'm saying what were the false statements?
MR. LOCKHART: I'd have to go back and look at the record. I didn't get into that specific -- I think as a general matter, though, we think that this is a reasonable way to go forward, and I'd have to look back.
Q Would it be considered -- as saying that the President lied under oath?
MR. LOCKHART: No, it shouldn't.
Q Joe what do you think the chances are this will get to the House floor?
MR. LOCKHART: I can't predict. I think most things in the committee so far have gone along party line, and I have no reason to expect that to be different. But we made a strong case before the committee in the last few days and I expect that people have listened. And we're hopeful that people are taking those messages on board, but I can't predict somehow it will sway members in the committee.
Q Joe, when will the President start reaching out to GOP moderates in the House?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think there's been a lot of speculation about him talking to people who are undecided, who have declared that they don't know which way they will vote, and I can't rule out that that may be something he'll do in the future. But I have no way of predicting.
Let me talk a little bit about some of the things we are doing, though, because there has been a lot of talk. I think members of the staff here at senior levels have been talking to members on the Hill on both sides about the importance of providing some ability for there to be some alternative vote on the floor of the House, something that gives members a choice -- members who believe that there should be some recognition of the President's behavior, but believe as we do that these allegations fall well short of impeachment.
I think another thing is, members of our staff have been reaching out this morning to many members who are publicly undecided and offering the good offices of Mr. Ruff and Mr. Craig to go up and sit down with them to see if there are any questions they may have based on the facts, based on the law and based on the submissions we've made.
Q Did any members take you up on that?
MR. LOCKHART: This began this morning, so I don't know if any meetings have been set up.
Third, sometime today, the brief that we provided to the Judiciary Committee will be sent to the Hill to all of the members so they have a chance to look at the arguments --
Q All 435 members, every member on the Hill?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. We provided copies the other day just to the Judiciary Committee.
Q Joe, until the last several hours, you've been really reluctant to say anything about the various censure proposals, saying it's really not appropriate for you to comment or endorse one and not endorse -- now you're being more forthright and saying this would be acceptable. What's the reason for the change?
MR. LOCKHART: I think there's really only one difference, which is this -- my understanding is this is being offered before the committee. The others have been these things that have discussed whether it's member to member, whether it's been suggested at a hearing, as Mr. Weld's was yesterday or discussed generally in the public, whether it be in the newspaper or on television.
But this was my view this morning when I talked to our team that since this was going before the committee, that it would probably be appropriate to offer some view of it and I think we'd have to look at it and make some further judgment.
Q What about the third point -- the third point of that resolution says no person is above the law, and the President remains subject to criminal and civil penalties for his conduct. Does that mean after he leaves office, or is the President willing to acknowledge that perhaps while he's still in office he might be brought before the criminal bar?
MR. LOCKHART: I think it's an acknowledgement of reality, a reality that was created when that very question was put to the independent counsel and he answered in the way he did when he was before the committee -- as we've acknowledged that in the past, Mr. Ruff acknowledged that yesterday.
Q You're not just limiting it to after he leaves office?
MR. LOCKHART: I think in all practicality the lawyers have argued -- the various constitutional lawyers who have addressed this have discussed it as more likely as after, but I'm not in a position to limit and say that it only fits for after.
Q On a full House vote, since Newt Gingrich is calling for a vote next Thursday, what is your stand now on whether a vote in this lame duck Congress is valid?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't know that -- I can't advance the ball any more than I did yesterday as far as the arguments that Professor Ackerman laid out. I don't -- any studying that lawyers are doing has not been conclusive, nor has it been transmitted to me.
Q Would the White House challenge a vote next Thursday?
MR. LOCKHART: I can't answer that.
Q Joe, it could be argued that going from saying that he made misleading statements to saying he made false statements is a significant change. Should that be read --
MR. LOCKHART: Right -- I'm not arguing that -- I'm not changing the view and the articulation that the President misled to anything. I was responding in general terms to what the ideas that were put before committee are.
Q You said that you wouldn't object to that particular --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I said that in general terms this seemed to meet the criteria as reasonable people moving forward as a way to end something that's done in good faith; that met those terms.
Q Would you object to that particular word in this resolution?
MR. LOCKHART: Again, we're not in the position of negotiating with anyone and I'm not negotiating with anyone, so I would stand by what we've said before -- the President has misled.
Q Well, wait a minute. Yesterday, didn't Mr. Ruff say that a reasonable person could conclude that his statements were false?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm certainly not going to contradict the very fine presentation Mr. Ruff made.
Q -- on the Hill have spoken of the Democratic version of this censure resolution as sort of an opening bid, and that there may well be stiffer sanctions in the future. Is that something you are open to still?
MR. LOCKHART: There may well be, but, especially in the terms that you've used, I'm not going to negotiate from here.
Q Joe, could you walk us through when and how the President agreed to accept this? Can you walk us through when and how the President, himself, personally agreed to accept this censure --
MR. LOCKHART: I think you're reading a little too much into what I've said. What I'm saying is that we believe that the criteria that he's laid out, that this seems to meet the criteria of people moving forward and making a good-faith effort and being reasonable. I don't know that he sat down and looked at it word-by-word, line-by-line and said, this is definitely something acceptable. And I'm not sure that that is something that is appropriate at this very time. I just wanted to give you some sense from the White House point of view about this proposal because it will go before the committee.
Q What has the President agreed to in terms of this censure proposal?
MR. LOCKHART: I've given you a sense here --
Q Or has he agreed?
MR. LOCKHART: As far as gone line-by-line and given final approval? No. I was trying to give you a sense, because you asked this morning, about what our view of it was. And I've given you what our view is.
Q Did anyone at the White House approve the language before it was submitted?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q Part of this proposal is that he would have to sign it. Would he sign it if it was passed?
MR. LOCKHART: I can't answer that question in any final and definitive way. Certainly, there would have to be further discussions with the President. I was just trying to give you some sense of a proposal that was put forward to the committee.
Q Would you suggest that the Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Democratic leadership, put forward a proposal that calls for the President's signature without checking in advance with the President as to whether he could do this?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm suggesting they put forward to the committee and I'm not aware of any prior approval that they sought or received.
Q Were there any discussions?
MR. LOCKHART: There's no discussions that I'm personally aware of. There are people in our Counsel's Office that talk -- I don't want to rule out Mr. Craig or Mr. Ruff had discussions. I certainly wasn't aware before they moved it forward.
Q But somebody described this to the President since it's been put out, right, for you, in order to -- can you give us some sense of how that happened?
MR. LOCKHART: Sure. Sure. And I didn't ask him in any particular way. I mean, I talked to him this morning about a number of things, but not particularly on this censure item. But I thought it was legitimate to try to get some overall reaction to what they put forward, and that's what I've tried to do.
Q Did the lawyers go over this with him either yesterday or today?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know the answer to that.
Q -- your conversation --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know the answer to that.
Q Your words were that the White House is looking for a reasonable way to put this behind us short of impeachment. Now you seem to be backing off a little bit on this endorsement of a censure proposal --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm endorsing something that meets the two criteria we set out which is people looking for a reasonable way and people coming forward in good faith.
Q My question is, is there another alternative --
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of it. I know that there are a lot of different ideas and options that have been kicked around. This is the only one that I'm aware of that has really been submitted to the committee for a formal discussion.
Q Well, does Wells meet those two criteria? I mean, put forward in good faith and it seems reasonable --
MR. LOCKHART: Certainly on that, but I haven't -- there are some additional things in there that I don't have -- I don't know how the President would react to on, particularly on the specific fine, I think. But I think what I am trying to do is give you some reaction on something that has been put forward formally. I could stand here all day on every idea that's been floated out and I'm sure you all could come up with some ideas and we could talk about them -- I'm not sure how productive that would be.
Q But, Joe, I don't understand how we assess the value of your signaling to us that this is acceptable if we then say, okay, the language is "x," is that acceptable, and you say, I don't know.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, again, they have put this forward; I'm sure at some point as this process moves forward, there could be more discussions about the actual elements of it. But in a broad sense, we thought this was put forward in a good-faith effort.
Q Are you able to tell us who is making the calls here on the staff to the Hill --
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into sort of who is making calls; it would be your normal cast of characters that talks to people on the Hill and the senior staff.
Q And can you identify any Republicans on the Hill on the House side that you've talked to?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm not going to get into the names.
Q Joe, are you making any progress in rounding up enough support to avoid impeachment?
MR. LOCKHART: That's something that's very hard to assess. We believe we've made a good case, an important case in the President's defense. The President was glad that after all this time, that the White House Counsel and the Special Counsel had a chance to lay out the case to the committee, to the Congress, to the country. He thinks that the prosecutors, particularly the prosecutors, the reports he gets and the reporting of the prosecutors, many who were a bipartisan group, made a good case. We believe to the extent there are people with open minds and open hearts that this is a convincing case.
Q Do you think it's a doable thing at this point?
MR. LOCKHART: Certainly.
Q You've said that the President would like to follow some reasonable course to put this thing behind him, and you've said that within the context of discussion of the censure option in this one. Some people suggested that if the President were to win the impeachment vote, he then would not be willing, or far less eager, to sign on to a censure motion. Is that your sense of it or do you think that he would be willing, even if he wins the impeachment vote, why go ahead and sign on to a censure?
MR. LOCKHART: My sense is that the President has acknowledged the wrongdoing and is working to put that right. That is one of the reasons, though, we've said that it's most appropriate for members to be having these discussions. And, again, as we've said many times, if members come forward with a reasonable proposal, it's something we'll look at.
Q May I just add, to follow up, one of the things they're talking about is a tactic on both sides up there, is whether members will be allowed, whether the Republican leadership will make germane the rules so that they can vote on a censure resolution. And I asked in context if that is made germane, and some members say, well, I'm going to vote against impeachment because I want to vote for a censure resolution, whether one called for the President's signature, and they then voted that way on impeachment, no, in order to vote yes on the censure resolution, then discovered the President -- well, wait just a moment here, I now don't believe I have to go this route.
MR. LOCKHART: That's a tortured series of hypotheticals.
Q But that's what they say.
MR. LOCKHART: I think that is -- let me just say this. I really can't answer that, but I think that only becomes a legitimate question when and if the leadership of the House makes it clear that they will allow. And I commit to answering that question at that point.
Q Joe, isn't part of the effort to convince the leadership that they should offer a censure alternative is that members should know that the President is going to accept it and be willing to take that harsh medicine? I mean, if they don't know that, what's the point of having moderate Republicans push for one?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, again, the hypothetical nature of the question, I just can't give an answer.
Q But you said that the White House is working --
MR. LOCKHART: You're asking me --
Q It's not hypothetical. You want to get an alternative on the floor, you've said that from that podium.
MR. LOCKHART: That is correct.
Q In order to get one on the floor, don't you have to reassure members that if one is on the floor and passed, he's going to sign it?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me restate to reassure members who might have such a worry, that the President is open to an idea of censure put forward in good faith that is reasonable.
Q Joe, let me ask it this way. You talked about working out -- or reaching out for a censure resolution or at least be willing to talk about a censure resolution. Does part of the White House effort include targeting the Republican leadership to make sure that they do allow a censure resolution to come --
MR. LOCKHART: I think I've so said that. I think I've said we're reaching out to people on both sides of the aisles --
Q Including the House leadership?
MR. LOCKHART: I can't tell you in any particular who's been called, who hasn't been called. But I expect that we will talk to people on both sides of the aisle about --
Q And what's your sense of that?
MR. LOCKHART: It's unclear. I don't see a commitment now to do that. But I think we will continue to make the case.
Q -- about the White House needing to drop its legal argument and focus more on contrition, do you feel that Abbe Lowell had an effect today? And if you do, what do you base that on?
MR. LOCKHART: In what, dropping the legal argument and focusing on contrition?
Q No, Mr. Lowell focused very much on the legal argument, on the points of the referral. Is this having an effect with undecideds? Do you see any effect?
MR. LOCKHART: I think that there's a basic tension in the question, which is this in many ways involves legal issues. And I thought Mr. Ruff did a very effective job yesterday of addressing that head on and I would refer you to his comments about -- even to those who are put off by legal arguments and legalisms, these are legal issues and issues that come from and derive from 200 years of judges, lawyers and legislators making the law.
So I think it's important and I think what people who watched and listened closely yesterday will find is that the majority who have now reported out some articles or have released out some articles that they'll be considering, they haven't made the case. They haven't made a case that -- so I think there is some sentiment that they want to get off the legal argument, that they want these articles to be spare and not specific, when this is something that's very serious and I think it's incumbent upon them to show that they have a strong case.
The other thing that struck me this morning about the argument that Mr. Lowell made was how different we were from the day in July in 1974 when the counsels made statements to the committee in their closing, where both counsels, while they may have taken a different approach and used different pieces of evidence and different rhetoric, both agreed on the same thing, which is they should move forward.
I think the committee has failed to convince a single member of the Democratic minority on the committee that they've made a case.
Q The other part of my question, do you see any effect?
MR. LOCKHART: Within in the committee?
Q Within the House, because the committee, no one expects it to have an effect there.
MR. LOCKHART: I think that, again, one can only hope that those who look at this with an open mind and read through the documents and read through the evidence and look at it without what we believed was the view of the independent counsel -- which clearly, from reading the articles, had a strong influence, the referral had a strong influence on the articles -- that the evidence and the facts show something different and show that they have not made a case here.
Q Joe, to that end, with regard to the President's defense brief, on page 79, the President's lawyers changed the President's testimony in the Jones deposition from "I don't recall, do you know what they were," to the new copy, "yes, I know there were some, please help remind me."
MR. LOCKHART: Do you want to read what's before that?
Q Why would they do that?
MR. LOCKHART: Do you want to read what's before that which you didn't share with anyone else?
Q It says the "communicative gist" of the --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Do you know what that means?
Q And it is in quotes. Now, why would they change the President's testimony?
MR. LOCKHART: They did not, which is why they put the words, "communicative gist." They were trying to make the point that this is what he meant by what he was saying.
Q So they're saying that what he testified to is not what he meant?
MR. LOCKHART: They're saying that the communicative gist is what he was trying to convey to those asking him.
Q What is "communicative gist"?
MR. LOCKHART: That's a lawyer's term meaning that's what he meant.
Q So the White House is saying the President did not necessarily mean the things that he swore to in the Jones deposition? Is that also true for the grand jury testimony?
MR. LOCKHART: Scott, there were 184 pages. I think you found it appropriate to focus on one footnote where important arguments were made, where it's exculpatory information that I don't think your viewers have had access to over the last four or five months they've had, and that's a decision you have to make. But this isn't about them trying to change the President's testimony. It is one footnote where they clearly label it as a communicative gist. And I think I know what that means. If you don't, I'm sorry.
Q The White House is always unhappy when we ask about this matter on foreign trips. Since the committee is going to vote --
MR. LOCKHART: Let's have a press conference tomorrow, before we go.
Q Hear, hear.
Q Since the committee is going to vote while the President is either in Israel or on Air Force One --
MR. LOCKHART: We'll do an embargoed reaction.
Q -- can you make some kind of commitment that you will arrange for us to be able to get the President's reaction?
MR. LOCKHART: I think my cursory memory of the schedule is I think there will be a couple of times during the weekend when you'll have a chance to look him over and see what he thinks.
Q What was the President's reaction last night to news of the articles of impeachment? And can you give us a better sense of his mood in the last 12 to 18 hours?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think I tried to a little bit about how he felt about the presentation he was on. I think the President was as disappointed as anyone else here on some of the basic fairness questions. We really do have a world and a judicial process that's turned upside down. You have someone who's being accused of something who's not allowed to see what the charges are. Compounding that, you have a system where halfway through the defense, through the summation, the charges are released while the President's counsel is making his defense -- they are handed out. And then today you have something that the Republicans feel is very important -- the videotape of the President's civil case deposition, which they withheld.
Q Wait a minute, Abbe Lowell was the first one to use that today -- he's a Democrat.
MR. LOCKHART: That's fine to use it, but we were not able -- today is today, today is not yesterday. We were not able to have the same access to materials. What if we wanted to make the case that Abbe Lowell made, or the case that Mr. Shippers would make with that videotape? That was not allowed. That was not accorded to the White House. And that would never -- that wouldn't pass a laugh test in a courtroom -- any of this, the way that they have structured this. And I think it's unfair, it's clearly unfair. And, again, I think it's one of the reasons why the American public has had such a strong view that the committee shouldn't move forward.
Q How about the President's mood?
MR. LOCKHART: Focused. We've got a lot going on, we've got a big trip coming up. He's certainly aware this takes some time to get briefed, but hasn't had a chance to watch much of it, hadn't -- I talked to him just before he went to the Espy thing -- hadn't seen anything today. But he continues to focus on the job he was elected to do.
Q Isn't he angry? He is human -- isn't he angry?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President said it best, now, probably two months ago when he said this was out of his hands. There's very little he can do about this.
Q But he can still be angry and say that. He can still be angry and focused.
MR. LOCKHART: He is certainly not pleased with the way this has gone forward and the lack of attention I think the committee has given to the real record and the real evidence and the real interpretation of law.
Q Is he making any phone calls? Is he speaking to any of these undecided members?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware that he's spoken to any of the members who are undecided.
Q When you say there's very little he can do and this is out of his hands, are you referring only to the committee vote or are you talking about the House?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the action now is in the committee. I don't know. I think there are certainly things, if it moves to the floor, that may be available and we'll just have to see how that goes.
Q There might be something he can do to stop --
MR. LOCKHART: There might be, but I am not trying to signal anything in particular. I'm trying to recognize the obvious.
Q Joe, any other thoughts on any public address on this issue?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Joe, if the White House had successfully made a case and a moderate Republican thought President Clinton's conduct was not impeachable, wouldn't they in good conscience have to vote no, whether or not there was a censure alternative on the floor? And if that's the case, why was it so important to have an alternative?
MR. LOCKHART: I think people can make that case. I think what some people are in good faith struggling with is the idea of having only one option; of saying this does not rise to the level of impeachment, but doing nothing is also a situation that they don't like. I can't speak, though, for members.
Q Joe, does the White House have any reaction to the statement by a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee yesterday, Mr. Berman, quote, that the President "lied under oath"?
MR. LOCKHART: Only to say that we don't hold that view.
Q Joe, which members of Congress will be going to the Mideast with the President?
MR. LOCKHART: We'll get you a list. I don't know.
Q Will you get that today?
MR. LOCKHART: We can try. He says we can try.
Q UNSCOM reports that they have been denied access to an important facility in Iraq.
MR. LOCKHART: Yesterday.
Q Yesterday. And Richard Butler has said that he will make his report next week as to whether Saddam Hussein is cooperating. The President has said that if Saddam Hussein does not cooperate without warning, military action may be taken. Can we anticipate military action then?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, if I anticipated that for you, that would clearly be a warning, so I'm not going to do that.
Q It comes next week.
MR. LOCKHART: The President's statement stands.
Q If it comes next week, lots of things happen next week. Would one of them be taking the action the President has said he would take?
MR. LOCKHART: Sam, you can't seriously expect me to address that question from here, and I won't.
Q -- the President's statements two months ago, if I'm remembering correctly, was the fact that it's out of his hands and in the hands of God and the American public. Is the American public --
MR. LOCKHART: And Congress -- (Laughter.)
Q Well, okay.
MR. LOCKHART: Last time I checked.
Q But will the American public be a gauge of fairness now, since it's so unfair, since the administration is saying this is so unfair?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, traditionally, the American public a gauge of what's fair. And as the President said, the American public generally gets it right in the end. And I think for a long time, they've reached a conclusion on this matter. I can't tell you whether those voices are being heard in Washington.
Q Whose side is the American public on, the President's or the Republicans'?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think it's a question of being on sides. I think this is a very serious issue. The Congress is moving forward with an effort to remove the President, and the American public has made the decision without necessarily any approval of the President's behavior, but certainly they've made a statement that they don't think he should be removed from office.
Q Joe, what does the President think of that part of the impeachment resolution that would ban him from holding office again?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think he thinks much of any of the articles.
Q You said yesterday you would have a reaction on the British position to allow the extradition process of Pinochet.
MR. LOCKHART: Again, we respect the decision made by the home secretary after this being litigated within the courts, but ultimately this is a matter between the government of the United Kingdom and Spain.
Q I want to return to Iraq. It's a serious question about what the United States will do.
MR. LOCKHART: I think there are some serious questions that I'm glad to take. But I think that one is the way you formulate it.
Q If Iraq does not comply. As the President has said, Iraq must comply.
MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.
Q And as the Secretary of Defense and others have said if they don't, without further warning they can anticipate military action.
MR. LOCKHART: What I can tell you is that Mr. Butler is -- and UNSCOM are doing a series of tests. We look forward to getting a fuller briefing from him on these tests, which are designed to demonstrate Iraqis' compliance and design to demonstrate whether UNSCOM can be effective. And if they are not willing to live up to the obligations they made, that force and other options are available.
Q Let me approach it from another direction. You would not anticipate, or would you, that there could be action of this type next week as the House of Representatives begins an impeachment discussion?
MR. LOCKHART: Sam, you are back in the area -- you would not expect me to take that question in any seriousness about forecasting what might or might not happen.
Q On the Mideast trip, Israeli police officials say they're working on an assumption that some kind of terrorist attack will attempt to be made while the President's there. Various Israeli officials have suggested the President not come. Even Bibi Netanyahu says, "What am I going to do? Ask him not to come?" Why is the President continuing to go, given the peace process has stalled and there is so much violence in the area right now?
MR. LOCKHART: Because the President's agreement to the trip was an important part of the agreement made at Wye River. He believes that the trip is important to moving the process forward, to implementing the Wye River Accords, and he's doing it in the best interest of the peace process.
Q And he is certain about his security and those around him?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to discuss the President's security.
Q On that issue, is the President satisfied with the format that the Palestinian Authority has now decided to use to get those clauses in the Palestine Charter eliminated?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of any problems with the format they've chosen.
Q Do you anticipate a three-way meeting of Arafat and Netanyahu and the President on this trip?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware that one is scheduled.
Q Joe, on censure again, you said that the senior level staffers are talking to both Democrats and Republicans. When you talk to Republicans, other than appealing to their sense of fairness as you see it, is there anything else you can do to try to get a censure vote on the floor?
MR. LOCKHART: Beyond appealing -- I'm not sure what we can do, beyond appealing to a sense of fairness. This is essentially a leadership and rules committee, which traditionally -- heavily influenced by the leadership and how they move forward. It's a decision that they need to make, and we can continue to appeal to them, but I'm not in the position to get much beyond that basic argument.
Q Joe, just a historical note. As everyone knows, Richard Nixon resigned after articles of impeachment were passed up to the Judiciary Committee. This President intends to fight on even after the committee vote?
MR. LOCKHART: As a historical note, I would suggest you go back to one of the President's press conferences from earlier this year and read his transcript.
Q He's sticking with that "never" statement that he made?
MR. LOCKHART: I think that's what the transcript says.
Q So did Richard Nixon say never.
MR. LOCKHART: Okay. (Laughter.) History lesson over.
Q If I may go one more time back to his mood. This is the White House that made famous the term, the War Room. There have been all kinds of issues on which the President has moved into full fighting mode. Is he in that mode now --
MR. LOCKHART: You have seen the much vaunted War Room on things like NAFTA and other big legislative issues where the President moves forward. Somebody used the phrase early today that this is an issue where twisting arms isn't appropriate, but bending ears is. We want people to read the submission we've made, we want them to look at the facts, we want them to ask us if there are any questions, if there's anything that they're unclear on.
There's a lot of conventional wisdom and a little bit of myth and I think some of the issues, if you look at the full record rather than just the referral, you find that the case is much different than what some would like you to believe. And we want people to know that and to understand that before they make their decision.
Q Do you think that, if he did move into that full combat mode, that he would turn people off?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think we will judge our efforts here both by what we view as what's appropriate and what's effective.
Q Could you give us some specifics on what you're hearing from these people that you are talking to, what kind of things they want to hear from the President?
MR. LOCKHART: I think you know who they all are, and it would be more appropriate if they told you what they were thinking.
Q They say -- some of them say they want him to admit that he lied.
Q Thank you.
MR. LOCKHART: Thank you.
END 2:27 P.M. EST #29-12/10