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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 6, 1999
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                             JOE LOCKHART 
                           The Briefing Room    

1:30 P.M. EST

MR. LOCKHART: Good afternoon, everyone. Sorry to be a little bit late.

Q Why are you? (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: Well, Helen, it's a long story. Do you want to hear it from the beginning or do you want just the short --

Q The beginning.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I've got an awful lot of stuff to read here and I got a little slowed down during the day, so there you go. Questions. Enough about me.

Q Your wife forgives you, doesn't she?

MR. LOCKHART: I hope so.

Q Can you read us some of the stuff?

MR. LOCKHART: Sure. How about a statement by the President on the black farmers' settlement. I'm sure you don't want to hear that, so let's get right to what you really want to talk about.

Q Impeachment.

MR. LOCKHART: Oh, not that. What's up? Questions.

Q Daschle said this morning that the Democratic Caucus is "not prepared to accept any witnesses." Is that agreeable to the White House? Does the President need witnesses to make his defense?

MR. LOCKHART: I think as we've said, the President is looking for a process that's fair, bipartisan and expeditious. I think Senator Daschle raised some concerns about how you could do that based on some of the ideas that I think he's getting from across the aisle. But again, as I've said before, we'll prefer to let the Senate do its business and let the Senate know on an informal basis where they need some input from us.

Q You're indifferent, Joe, to --

MR. LOCKHART: I didn't say I was indifferent, Scott, I told you I wasn't going to tell you and negotiate from here.

Q But Daschle is clearly the surrogate for the White House on this issue, and he essentially laid down the gauntlet today. He said, "As soon as the first witness is called, all bets are off with regard to agreeing on a procedure." Is that the White House view?

MR. LOCKHART: I would suggest, David, that Senator Daschle speaks for the Democratic Caucus for the Senate as the duly elected minority leader. As I just said, I think he raises some serious issues and serious concerns. But again I'll repeat, this is a process for the Senate to work out. We don't believe it's been particularly appropriate the way the House has tried to interject themselves into this process. We will not do that. We will not follow in kind and make the same mistake they've made. I am not going to make comments about the attention span of the average senator, like some House members have. And we're going to proceed the way we have been.

Q If I could follow up, Joe. It's pretty clear that -- Senator Lott said today that the Senate Republicans are inclined to defer to the House prosecutors as to how they want to present the case, at least within certain bounds. It's not the Senate Democrats or anyone in the Senate that's going to present the White House case. It's the White House that's going to present the White House case.

MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.

Q So if Senator Daschle is saying that once there's no agreement on an end game all bets are off on how the White House proceeds with it's defense, he would presumably be saying that based upon conversations he's had with the White House.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, you can assume that Senator Daschle has conversations with the White House and understands our view. He raises some concerns and I have said here that we share some of those concerns. But it is the Senate, not the White House -- it is the Senate, and not the House -- it is the Senate and not the floor managers and not the Judiciary Committee who have had their say who will decide how they proceed. And I will remind you yesterday of Senator Lott's comments yesterday that he wants this done expeditiously and fairly.

Q So why does the White House have nothing to say?

MR. LOCKHART: Because it is the Senate that is going to proceed with dictating the rules. And I think many senators have appropriately said that it's an issue that they think they should work out among themselves. Where they want our input, they know where to find us, but I'm not going to do it from here.

Q Excuse me, you disputed the suggestion that the President spent more time with his lawyers recently.


Q Why do you dispute it and --

MR. LOCKHART: Because it's not true, that's why.

Q Well, considering this is the President's -- the future of his presidency on the line, can you explain to us why he isn't spending time with his lawyers and why he isn't --

MR. LOCKHART: Ask me serious questions, because that's not one. He is spending the appropriate amount of time he needs to on this. His defender -- his counsel and legal team are working in difficult circumstances because they don't know what the process will be. But we will know soon, I would imagine. I think Senators Lott and Daschle are going to be meeting very soon and maybe we'll get some news out of that. But he will spend the appropriate amount of time. But over the last few days his time has been focused on other issues.

Q What's wrong with House managers, as the prosecutors in this, telling senators, here's the time, here's the process we think is appropriate to present our case -- what's wrong with that?

MR. LOCKHART: Because I think the Senate will decide how they should proceed. I don't remember anyone in the Senate telling members of the House how they should proceed.

Q Joe, does the White House agree with Senator Lieberman's statement, once you call witnesses you cannot avoid sexual detail? And does the White House think that a trial on charges of lying about sex can be a real trial if it excludes all mention of sex and all witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: I think Senator Lieberman echoed some of what Senator Daschle said, and I think as I've already said, his concern about witnesses is a serious concern and needs to be further litigated.

Q Joe, if there's no agreement worked out between the Republicans and the Democrats and there are witnesses, is the White House still leaving open the option of a constitutional challenge to the lame-duck aspect of the 105th Congress?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not in the business of foreclosing any challenges, but I think I've spoken to that the last two days. I haven't changed my position.

Q Has that changed at all?

MR. LOCKHART: Not since yesterday or the day before.

Q Last night Senator Daschle said that he wouldn't oppose the White House raising any objections --

MR. LOCKHART: Our position hasn't changed since yesterday or the day before.

Q If this trial opens tomorrow, what's your sense of what Americans think about this? Do they see this as just a political circus, or are they really taking this seriously --

MR. LOCKHART: I think we're in an important period where the Senate can come forward and lay out a process that's fair and bipartisan and can be done with quickly to put this behind us. But we're at a crucial point, and I think if this descends into the kind of partisanship we saw in the House, the American public will reject the process the way they did with the House process.

Q But have they paid attention to it and given it all the import that such a proceeding deserves?

MR. LOCKHART: It's impossible for me to know. It's impossible to see how they could be ignoring it.

Q Does the White House still maintain that there are no circumstances under which 67 senators would ever vote to impeach the President?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that I've ever proclaimed that.

Q Well, do you believe that --

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to try to speak for 100 senators.

Q So you would say that it is possible that they could vote to impeach the President?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't think that given -- if you look at what the House will send over as the record, and you look at the facts and you look at the Constitution, I don't see how it would be possible for two-thirds of the Senate to vote to remove the President.

Q So, Joe, given that, why would you call any witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, that involves legal strategy and I'm not going to get into legal strategy.

Q Did UNSCOM's offices in any way facilitate some kind of intelligence gathering?

MR. LOCKHART: I think it's the same question, so I'll take -- keep going.

Q Kofi Annan expressed some concerns about UNSCOM having cooperated with U.S. intelligence prior to the attacks on Baghdad. If these allegations are proven true, does it not compromise the UNSCOM operation and cast serious doubt on the legitimacy --

MR. LOCKHART: Let me make a couple points. One is that, as you know, I'm not going to discuss intelligence matters from here. But, secondly, you are probably referencing what other people have said about Kofi Annan and what other people have speculated he thinks. I would draw your attention to his statement, which I think reflects what he thinks, the statement he put out today. I'd also draw your attention to the statements in the Q&A that Mr. Butler engaged in with reporters

Secondly, this is a -- we wouldn't be standing here having this conversation if it wasn't for the intransigence of Saddam Hussein. UNSCOM wouldn't need any assistance if he would cooperate, if he would just comply with the agreements he made at the end of the Gulf War as a condition for ending the Gulf War.

Finally, I can say that UNSCOM, and UNSCOM alone, decides what they will do with the information and the support they receive from member states. As you well know, UNSCOM, as early as 1993, was faced with a situation where they couldn't do their work because of the methods of concealment and deception being employed by Saddam Hussein. They reached out to member nations around the world for assistance -- that's well-known -- and they continued to do that until they left.

Q But, Joe, you're stopping short of denying that the United States may have obtained classified information from UNSCOM.

MR. LOCKHART: What I'm telling you is that I'm not going to get in here and talk about classified material from here.

Q But are you saying that there could have been some information passed to the U.S. --

MR. LOCKHART: I'm saying that I'm not going to discuss intelligence and classified material from this podium. And you can read that any way you want, but I would not make any assumptions.

Q Does the United State believe that UNSCOM -- respect the independence of UNSCOM as something that should not be used by a single country for intelligence purposes?

MR. LOCKHART: The United States respects the work that UNSCOM and Mr. Butler has done. And they have done their work and have gone to great lengths to do the work despite the difficulty created for them by the Iraqis.

Q Joe, when you say that you don't see how it would be possible for the Senate to convict based on these articles of impeachment, aren't you inviting the House managers to call witnesses? Aren't you goading them to make their case?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think they have made their case. They called no witnesses when they were making their case in the House. I think it's up to the Senate to decide.

Q You're saying now that the President could not possibly be convicted. Aren't you telling them to make their case?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I am not. They have made their case. They've had their part in the process. It was called the House Judiciary Committee. They passed the articles. They called no witnesses in that process. They didn't feel the need to. And I said, based on the Constitution and based on the facts as we know them, I don't see how they could. Doesn't mean that they won't. I'm answering the question.

Q Joe, has the White House received any indication that the trial would be limited to the evidence and materials in Ken Starr's referral? And if you have not received that assurance or indication, is that troubling?

MR. LOCKHART: We've received no such assurance.

Q Are you troubled by it?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, one would assume that this would be confined to the articles that are sent over and the record that the House Judiciary Committee developed.

Q Joe, does the White House agree with Minority Leader Gephardt's statement, "We need to stop destroying imperfect people at the altar of an unobtainable morality"?

MR. LOCKHART: I think Representative Gephardt, in the context he said that, conveyed a very eloquent and thoughtful view.

Q Do you agree that remaining faithful to your --

MR. LOCKHART: Surprise he has a follow-up --

Q -- spouse is now unobtainable in the United States?

MR. LOCKHART: Say again?

Q Do you agree that remaining faithful to your spouse is now unobtainable in the United States? And would you contend that nobody in this room who is married is not an adulterer? (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: Barry. Anybody?

MR. TOIV: Why are you turning to me? (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: Just looking for guidance here. (Laughter.) Why don't I pass on that one. I'm going to take my one mulligan of this briefing.

Q How is the President feeling today in view of all of this?

Q Anxious?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I think I'll avoid that word since context is a hard thing for some people in this room.

Q Can you give us a sense of his mood --

MR. LOCKHART: The President's mood hasn't changed since the last time you asked me this. He's focused on doing his job.

Q Well, how could it not change?

MR. LOCKHART: He is concerned about how this process will unfold. He wants, like all of us do here, for the Senate to come forward and let us know so we can properly prepare. And once we know, we will prepare in the proper way and make our case.

Q You make him so detached, you know, as though --

MR. LOCKHART: No, Helen, I answered the question carefully. If you interpret that as making it so detached that is your right, but that was not my intention.

Q Congressman Dan Burton today accused the administration of concealing a cocaine bust in Colombia, to cover it up due to the upcoming announcement on the change in Cuba policy.

MR. LOCKHART: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Dan Burton shows up again. This is a guy who -- a successful drug bust in Colombia, that the Colombian government in their counternarcotics efforts, which we've encouraged, makes a successful operation, successful arrest, and somehow Congressman Burton can find fault in the U.S. government for something that the Colombian government has done successfully. I think it is only instructive in why so many people go to him for comic relief.

Q Senator Lott's on the floor right now saying that he is certain the trial will take more than a day, more than three or four days, could take more than three weeks. So the Senate will proceed on two tracks, doing that on the floor, but proceed with the committee work so the Supreme Court can proceed with its agenda, as well. Does that sound reasonable to you and --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I would have to go and consult with my colleagues here who deal with that. I hadn't seen that.

Q Joe, I realize the format of the Senate action is still up in the air, but is the White House confident that no matter what format they adopt the President can prevail, contending that you should not --

MR. LOCKHART: Based on the facts and based on the Constitution, the President will prevail.

Q So it doesn't matter from your perspective whether they do call witnesses, don't call witnesses --

MR. LOCKHART: I think what matters is the American public has about had it up to here with this process and it's time to get it over with. It's time to sit down and work in a bipartisan way to find an expeditious solution to this.

Q But in substance, in the Senate, do you feel you can prevail?

MR. LOCKHART: We believe based on the facts and on the Constitution that the President's defenders will make a compelling case.

Q Joe, Senator Lott also said that there may not be an agreement on how to proceed "until we get started" -- presumably on Monday. Is that acceptable to the White House?

MR. LOCKHART: I would think that the fundamental tenants of fairness say that anyone who is trying to defend themselves should understand what the process is from the outset and not find out what the rules of the game are halfway through.

Q Joe, a book is going to come out tomorrow saying the United States and France cooperated in an operation to try to capture Radovan Karadzic and that Chirac and Clinton discussed this at the Dayton Accords and at subsequent meetings. Is that true?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't have any comment on that.

Q Joe, I wonder if you are aware, in connection with Cuba, that the majority of the people of Cuba are represented in this country, but it's only five percent of the population of the people who are here -- that is the same 75 percent since 1868 to 1898 liberated Cuba against Spain. And these people are not consulted as the people of African descent. And the President is a man who tried to get together the races, but never consulted the majority -- but the majority of the people of Cuba -- African descent -- because Fidel -- against the will of the people because they are afraid, have distrust, of the majority of the people here, the 95 percent who are not of African descent. Is the President ready, willing and able to listen to the descendants of the founding father of Cuba who are represented here and are not consulted? What is your response?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the President is willing, as he always is, to listen to all views on the subject, and our policy is well-known.

Q Joe, the President took a call from Senators Daschle and Lott this morning regarding the convening of the Senate; is that correct? Did they call him to notify him that the Senate was in session?

MR. LOCKHART: That I'll have to check on. I wasn't aware of that. I know that we sometimes do phone calls at the beginning and at the end of a session, but we'll check on that.

Q That would have been the normal procedure --

MR. LOCKHART: It is at the end. I don't know if it is at the beginning, but we'll check.

Q Well, they said that they had contacted the President to inform him --

MR. LOCKHART: We'll check. Could be.

Q And in checking, the obvious question is, did anything about the impeachment procedure come up?

MR. LOCKHART: We'll check.

Q Joe, Senator Judd Gregg said, and this is a quote, "This is an extraordinarily serious event and I don't think anybody wants to rush it." Would you also say, Joe, that nobody at all wants to rush it?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that there's any sentiment that it should be rushed. But the circumstances surrounding this event haven't changed much since last month and I think there is incentive for all parties to find an expeditious way to bring this to conclusion.

Q Doesn't it seem to you that a lot of those Democrats in the Senate want to rush this?

MR. LOCKHART: No, it doesn't seem to me.

Q -- heard earlier that the President was going to have meetings this afternoon preparing for the State of the Union. Can you be a little more specific about --

MR. LOCKHART: He'll meet with his economic team later this afternoon. There are some economic-budgetary and other issues that that team helps the President with; that some decisions still need to be made as far as what will be in the speech and how the President will articulate his policies. So it's one of many meetings, but it's --

Q Social Security --

MR. LOCKHART: Certainly, that will be included, given the make-up of the economic team.

Q Joe, are you disappointed that Senator Lott went to the floor and talked about the possible length of the trial without apparently consulting you or talking to you and informing you?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I understand that both Senator Lott and Senator Daschle made statements at the opening, once the ceremonial thing was over, and that they'll be meeting afterwards. So I'm certain that through one source or another we'll get a sense of whether they've reached some agreement.

Q Joe, no matter what day the President gives the address -- the State of the Union address -- are there any big announcements expected to come out of this State of the Union address?

MR. LOCKHART: Yep. (Laughter.)

Q Can you elaborate on it?

MR. LOCKHART: Nope. Wait for the State of the Union.

Q Social Security, health care, race -- anything?

MR. LOCKHART: Foreign policy, too, David reminds me.

Q Is that still set for the 19th?

MR. LOCKHART: It is. I could, but I won't elaborate. I think I'll leave some things for the President.

Q In person?

MR. LOCKHART: In person.

Q Was there a phone call?

MR. TOIV: The answers are, yes and no.

MR. LOCKHART: Yes and no. Yes, there was a phone call. No, the subject did not come up.

Q You spoke a moment ago about how essentially fundamentally unfair if the White House did not know going into a trial what the parameters of that trial would be. Senator Daschle said earlier today that it might not be in our interest to move ahead on Monday if there's no deal, if we don't know. So what happens on Monday in the estimation of the White House if the Republicans want to proceed without saying where it ends?

MR. LOCKHART: To answer that question would preclude any hope that they would come to some agreement on a process. And we have not precluded that hope. In fact, we believe that they still can. And there's a good chance they will. And I don't believe that the Majority Leader who has said that he wants to be fair would want to move forward with a process that the rules of the road were not clear.

Q He said this morning, we might not know until we get started.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think that if he wants to stay true to the criteria that he laid down, that that would be difficult to do.

Q Will the President be having a news conference as usual when Menem visits on Monday?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know what the schedule is. I can check on that for you.

Q Joe, any progress on the steel report to --

MR. LOCKHART: Again the report may be ready by the end of the day, maybe tomorrow. But when it's ready we'll let you know.

Q Joe, what do you make of Senator Byrd's -- some of Senator Byrd's recent statements, including the one in which he said he could vote either way on --

MR. LOCKHART: I think Senator Byrd has made the proper points that this is a matter for the Senate, that others should tread lightly or tread warily if they want to try to influence. And I think he represented the view that any juror has the right to represent, which is that he'll look at what's presented to him and make a decision.

Q Joe, back to the issue of consultation. You talked about informal consultation between the Senate and the President's lawyers. What is the difference between that kind of consultation and, in fact, formal consultation, which you say you'd like to see as soon as possible, and the kind of input that apparently has been sought from the House managers?

MR. LOCKHART: I think through conversations with both Democrats and Republicans on the Hill, they have a sense of what our view is, and based on -- in most broad terms what I've said from here -- but I think we believe it's proper that they go about and set out the format or the process for how they'll proceed in this trial. And if that is something that creates fundamental fairness problems for the White House, we will address it then.

Q But I'm saying, though, the question the House managers trying to give their input, just as much as the pr's lawyers might like input --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think that we have approached this differently and I imagine if you took a secret ballot with 100 United States senators and asked who did it more effectively and who offended more Senate sensibilities, we might win that one, or lose that one, depending on how you marked it.

Q -- they did.

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I mean, I don't -- well, I don't think it would have been particularly effective for me to stand here and talk about how I needed to dumb down some of the arguments because senators don't have very long attention spans, as Representative Barr did. I don't think I would have made some of the public comments that some of the House managers have done about how the system has to be. I think it's up to the Senate and we'll leave it there.

Q But, Joe, that is not likely to be a very effective argument with members of the Senate who jealously guard their power. Are you suggesting that the aspersions might have an effect or that there might be some political pressure being put by Republican House members on members of their own party in the Senate?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not suggesting the latter, although I wouldn't -- I'm certain it is the Senate, it is the place where politicians work, so I don't know what the political considerations are. I can tell you that, judging just from what I read, there were people who didn't appreciate the way the House proceeded with making their case.

Q That's likely to work to your benefit. What is it that Republican managers are doing in regard to the Senate that you're concerned about?

MR. LOCKHART: I think what they should do is let the Senate go about their business and come up with a process for doing this fairly and expeditiously.

Q Joe, if the Senate decides to call witnesses, is it safe to assume that the White House would like to call its own witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: It's safe to assume that we will make our legal strategy -- we will make our legal decisions based on the process they lay out, and I'm not in a position to share them with you now.

Q Senator Byrd was also very critical of the President for coming out to the South Lawn after he was impeached and having the Democrats gathered around him. Do you have any reaction to his comments there?

MR. LOCKHART: I think he is certainly entitled to his opinion. We think Senator Byrd is a thoughtful and very effective legislator. We just, on that point, don't agree with him. I think what happened in the House was a partisan, political process, and I think Democrats in the House came down here to demonstrate that what had happened was not a legitimate use of the powers of the House, but was more a partisan exercise.

Q Once the shape of the Senate's decision on the trial is evident, which should happen in the next day or two, would it be too much to expect the White House then to respond and to speak with one voice, perhaps yours?

MR. LOCKHART: No, it would not be too much to expect. I would expect to do it.

Q Joe, the Los Angeles Times reports that, I think it was at the Christmas party that the President had some very funny jokes about Larry Flynt. Is the President sorry about that?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of the President telling any funny jokes about Larry Flynt.

Q Is the Los Angeles Times wrong in reporting this?

MR. LOCKHART: I read the Los Angeles Times religiously, it's a good newspaper. And I don't remember him telling any jokes about Larry Flynt.

Q You don't remember?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't.

Q On the surplus, typically that number is included in the budget release -- that's only a few weeks away. Is there a particular reason that you all released that information --

MR. LOCKHART: No, we generally get various updates through the process. There will be a budget number in -- excuse me, a surplus number in the budget. It may deviate by a little, as more information comes in. But we get this number on a regular basis and we release it when it's a good number.

Q What have you got on tap for tomorrow?

MR. LOCKHART: Tomorrow we're doing an education event here at the White House.

Q Is Friday's economic speech a preview of State of the Union or unveiling anything else that will be in the State of the Union?

MR. LOCKHART: I think there will be some news in the speech. I don't know that it will be directly related to the State of the Union, it's more of a thematic look at the President's economic philosophy.

Q It hasn't changed?

MR. LOCKHART: No. But we have lots of challenges ahead of us and he's going to talk about some of those.

Q Does the White House agree with Senator Daschle that if there is a prolonged trial that it's unlikely anything substantive will get done on education, Social Security or other issues?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think Senator Daschle knows a lot more about the business of the Senate than I do, but it's our hope that we can get this done expeditiously so we don't ever have to face that choice.

Q Joe, are you concerned that material accumulated by Starr during his investigation that was not introduced in a Judiciary Committee process would be introduced into the Senate?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, again, one would assume if you used the basic tenets of fairness, that the floor managers in the House would confine themselves to the information that they produced.

Q Joe, the President's lawyers have said in the past that they were not clear on what the President is being charged with. On the eve of the beginning of the trial, does the President now have a complete understanding of the charges against him and do his lawyers understand them?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think that the charges are vague and we look forward to a more complete accounting of exactly what we are defending ourselves against. Whether that comes in the floor managers' presentation or in some preliminary forum, we look forward to that.

Q How can you defend yourself if you don't know going in?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, we did what I thought was a good job of making a case in the House with the rules that seemed to change on a daily basis. We'll do the best we can, whatever procedure is laid out in front of us.

Q Can I ask about Iraq? The President met with his foreign policy team today. Can you tell us who was there and what they discussed about Iraq?

MR. LOCKHART: The foreign policy team -- Secretary Cohen, Secretary Albright, Sandy Berger, CIA Director Tenet, General Shelton. It was a chance for the President to do sort of a broad review of some of the foreign policy issues that his team has been spending time on, which include Iraq, Middle East peace process, military readiness, which the President has talked about in the last few days.

Q Is there any decision on whether to fund the opposition yet with this $97 million?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think if you look at the Iraq Liberation Act, they call for a report within 90 days. We are working to meet that, to communicate with the Hill on some of our thinking. Again, as we expressed in the past, we want to make sure that we use this money effectively and prudently with groups to ultimately see a day where the Iraqi people can see a government that more reflects what their needs are.

Q There were some calls yesterday after the midair engagement of the Iraqi and the U.S. planes from some Republican senators, that the administration ought to move aggressively, take out the air bases, take out those planes so as to protect the lives of American flyers. Is that something that we're considering?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into any operational details of what we may be considering, except to say that I believe that Secretary Cohen and General Shelton put the best interests of their troops first when it comes to the preparations we've made.

Q Were any decisions made --

MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of. And if there were, they probably wouldn't let me talk about it.

Q Can you say whether King Hussein expressed any concerns about the overall direction of the U.S.-Iraq policy in his meetings with the President?

MR. LOCKHART: That has not been expressed to me.

Q Joe, the Senate already has impeachment rules in place. Does the White House have any objections to those rules, or going forward under those procedures?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, the Senate has made it clear that they don't necessarily plan to follow those rules.

Q But those are the rules in effect. If the trial starts, that's --

MR. LOCKHART: If there's a good-faith effort across the aisle to try to find some solution to this, which would not be helped by me speculating on what the rules could be in a default basis, so I'm going to let Senator Lott and Senator Daschle do their work.

Q Joe, last year the President advanced the need for a child care initiative. And this morning he was talking about tax relief for middle-income families. It appeared that he was saying that until Social Security is solved first, any surplus can't be used for any additional tax cuts. Does that mean the administration does not plan to propose offsets for child care initiatives this year and would be dependent on surplus --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I'm not going to get into budgetary items and how we're going to offset things. But I will repeat what the President has said, which is the surplus has been reserved for Social Security and the tax relief that the President does plan to offer will be paid for.

Q But last year the child care initiative was not a surplus-funded initiative, there were those offsets.

MR. LOCKHART: Correct.

Q By making the distinction, pointing out child care this year is something that apparently needs to wait, are you saying the President is planning to use --

MR. LOCKHART: I don't believe it was his intention to draw any distinction there.

Q Joe, when are we likely to see the President next in a forum where he'll take questions of any sort?

MR. LOCKHART: He'll take questions Friday, at the Detroit Economic Club.

Q From the likes of us. (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. I'll let you know.

Thank you.

END 2:00 P.M. EST