View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 7, 1999
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                              JOE LOCKHART 
                           The Briefing Room   

1:30 P.M. EST

MR. LOCKHART: Hello, everyone. Good afternoon. Sorry two days in a row for the delay. Questions.

Q What's the President doing right now? Has he watched any of the proceedings in the Senate?

MR. LOCKHART: No. As we speak now, he's in the dining room having lunch with the Vice President, his weekly lunch. This morning as the proceedings got underway, he was in the residence, working over there, and I am reliably informed, was not watching.

Q And has the President heard back from anyone on the Hill on the White House lawyers' suggestion that perhaps if he stipulated to the record that the House would be willing not to call any witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: We have not heard back either formally or informally on the suggestions that we made to the senators last evening.

Q Can you just lay out that proposal?

MR. LOCKHART: Sure. Let me --

Q There is a suggestion that the Senate might go ahead and begin opening arguments in the trial having still not decided the issue of witnesses.

MR. LOCKHART: Let me suggest if they take that course that they would have difficulty meeting the basic test of fairness. I think whether you're in a trial in the Senate or you're in traffic court, the idea that when you go and start a proceeding, that the rules and procedures and evidence and witnesses -- potential witnesses -- are not clear to you at the beginning of the process is not fair. You cannot have a process that's fair to someone involved in that process where the rules get made up as you go.

Now, the Senate I think is working hard, is working in good faith to try to resolve these issue. I believe they'll continue to do that. And we may be in a situation where we do move forward without clear rules of the road. But I would suggest that that would be a situation, an environment that is manifestly unfair to the President.

Q Can you lay out the President's proposal that the White House lawyers made?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think we went up and told the bipartisan group of senators that we were willing to stipulate to the record that the House Judiciary Committee sent over in support of the articles of impeachment the two articles. This is the record that was sent along by the Independent Counsel, Ken Starr, which, I think if you go back and do a little searching, was widely praised by the Republicans on that committee as the basis for the action that they took and the articles of impeachment that they passed in the House.

We said that we would be willing to move forward quickly, start as soon as possible; on the basis of that stipulated record that we would make a presentation before the committee, an opening and a close, as they saw fit; and would look forward to their guidance on how this process will go forward.

Q Why were you willing to stipulate this time, but not before the House?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, in the House, I think as you know, we have some serious problems with the record as it was given to the House and moved on because there is a variety of exculpatory evidence that we believe was not included. There is information that the House Judiciary Committee and the Independent Counsel has that we've never had access to, and we thought that it was one-sided and not tested. Nothing was cross-examined. None of the information was tested.

We made our points I think forcefully and vigorously, day after day from here, but to no avail. The House moved forward, they took their decision. We all have to live with that decision. We are now in a situation where it's in the Senate, it's not in the House any longer. And we've come to the conclusion that based on the articles that have been presented to the Senate and based on the argument, the foundation, the constitutionality of the law, we can make a compelling defense and we can do it even based on that record that's not tested.

We will forgo our rights to test, cross-examine; we will forgo our rights to even know the evidence, the evidence that has been made available to the Judiciary Committee and to the Independent Counsel that we haven't seen -- and that is an enormous amount of information -- based on what we think is our ability to argue this case, and based on the overwhelming consensus that it is in the best interests of this country and the American people to find a way to put this whole case behind us.

Q Joe, you've also made a take it or leave it offer, right? I mean, it's conditioned upon no witnesses being called. And if --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't think we're in a position to make take-or-leave offers with the Senate, and I think they understand that; we understand that. They, in good faith, asked us to express our views. We did that; we did that in good faith. We hope our views are considered and are considered seriously. I expect they will be.

But we further made the point that, if the House managers insist on calling witnesses -- witnesses they didn't have any use for when they controlled this process in the Judiciary Committee or before the floor of the House -- that they will, in effect, extend this process and delay this process, because bringing witnesses in and not stipulating to a record opens up a whole area of motions, discovery and depositions. And that takes time.

Q But, Joe, in any criminal trial, prosecutors are allowed to call witnesses. Why is this any different? Why isn't it their choice to do so, fairly?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, this is a trial where the rules are set by the Senate, and the Senate will decide how they'll move forward, and the Senate will decide what they believe is in the best interests of this country. And I think we've made a case. But let me --

Q But, Joe, could you still explain this offer a little more clearly? You were hoping that the trial would have no witnesses. You were for the Gorton-Lieberman proposal?

MR. LOCKHART: We are certainly advocating a process that will meet our criteria of being bipartisan, fair and expeditious by moving forward this way.

Q But if you were in favor of a process that had no witnesses, you already were forgoing your right to cross-examine witnesses. I don't really understand what's new about this.

MR. LOCKHART: We're basically willing to take this record and we're not going to, in this trial, file a motion that will test or challenge the veracity of whether person x testified to action y before the grand jury. So this is a significant legal concession in order to move this process forward.

Q But you're not accepting that it is true?

MR. LOCKHART: We are not accepting interpretations. There is clearly within that record, there are facts that are in dispute, there are certainly legal interpretations that we'll question. But we're accepting that record, despite the fact that we don't know all the information it's based on, despite the fact that it's untested and not cross-examined, despite the fact that we know exculpatory information was left out. And I leave you with the most simple example of that.

In 11 months, with hundreds of witnesses, thousands of hours of testimony, tens of thousands of pages, the Independent Counsel never once asked Monica Lewinsky, were you asked to lie. Never asked Monica Lewinsky the direct question, did someone promise you a job for your silence. Mon Lewinsky had to offer that on the way out when one of the grand jurors said, do you have anything else you want to say to us.

So I think that is a testament to the kind of record this is. It is a prosecutorial-advocate document. What we're saying is that in order to move this process forward, we're willing to stipulate to that record, try this case based on that record, which I don't know that there are a lot of people in law school who would advocate the strategy, but we think we can make a compelling case to the American public that there is no constitutional or legal foundation to move forward with removing the President, and that it's manifestly in the interests of this country to do this and not walk into a process that's open-ended, open to countless delays at the behest of the floor managers of the House, who had their chance to do this and took a pass. And this is the best thing for the Senate to do, and we made that case.

Q Did the President's attorneys recommend that?

Q When you say you will stipulate to the record, does that amount to saying you will stipulate that Monica Lewinsky's testimony was truthful?

MR. LOCKHART: We will stipulate that we are not going to challenge that she made that testimony.

Q Yes, but that -- of course, nobody is going to challenge she made that testimony. That testimony is recorded in transcript.

MR. LOCKHART: We are not going to try to cross-examine that testimony, we're not going to try to test the veracity of it.

Q But will you stipulate that that testimony --

MR. LOCKHART: No, we're going to make the case based on the facts and the interpretation. I think I made that clear.

Q -- you're not stipulating it. Stipulating the record means acknowledging --

MR. LOCKHART: Deborah, I'd suggest that you don't know what stipulating the record is.


Q Joe, there are some Democrats suggesting it would be advantageous for you to have live cross-examination and also to drag out the trial, which might impact on the Republicans. What's your --

MR. LOCKHART: Listen, there are clearly legal reasons to go and test some of these so-called "facts" that have been out there. There have been those who have speculated that politically it's in the best interest of the Democrats to let the Republicans do what they did in the House in the Senate. What I'm telling you here is -- this is more than words, this is actions and deeds -- we make this offer in good faith because we think we can make an argument that will be compelling to senators and that we think it's in the best interest of this country.

Let me just read you a few things on the issue of witnesses, because I think there are people who are involved in this case who have had some very interesting things to say. Let me read you from Henry Hyde: "Well, they've already testified. I don't think we need to reinvent the wheel, to keep calling people to reiterate what they've already said under oath." He said, "As you know, we've been attacked for not producing fact witnesses, but this is the first impeachment inquiry in history with the Office of Independent Counsel in place and the referral to us consisted of 60,000 pages of sworn testimony, grand jury transcripts, depositions, statements, affidavits, videos, audio tapes, which you all saw, they all reviewed, the American public saw."

Bill McCollum said, "I don't really believe that we need more live testimony from these type of witnesses. We have sworn testimony from Monica Lewinsky, from Betty Currie, from all the principal players. We also have sworn testimony from corroborating witnesses to their testimony and I don't think we need any former witnesses. I don't think we need to bring any in."

George Gekas, who has been out talking about this in the last few days told The New York Times, "Bringing in witnesses to rehash testimony that's already concretely in the record would be a waste of time and serve no purpose at all."

Q Joe, are there no witnesses that the President should call in his own defense?

MR. LOCKHART: Scott, there is clearly some benefit to testing some of the evidence, some of the facts, some of the assertions that the Independent Counsel made in his referral and that the House Judiciary Committee accepted. But we believe that, on balance, it is in the best interest of this country to stipulate to this record so that we can move forward in an expeditious way, and we believe, even based on this record, that we can make a case that there's no constitutional or legal ground to move forward.

Q Joe, in the far more likely events, if this stipulation strategy doesn't work and the House managers do get to call witnesses, how do you then proceed?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the Senate will have to deal with some important issues of how discovery is handled, how depositions are handled, how motions are handled. And that all takes some time. I'm not -- not being a lawyer -- I do understand this from watching "Perry Mason" and "Law & Order" -- that the defense waits until the prosecution has made their case, and then they decide how they'll make their case depending on how the prosecution goes.

But let me tell you, there is a danger here that this process can move forward without the defense having any idea what the prosecution's case is going to be. The suggestion that it would be proper to move forward with opening statements and opening presentations before the issue is resolved of what the prosecution's case is, and without knowing whether they'll call witnesses and who they'll call and having the defense the ability to depose those people and understand what their testimony is going to be would be very unfair.

Q Other than just complaining about that, is there anything you can do?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, this constitutionally rests with the wisdom of the Senate, and we trust the Senate will do the right thing.

Q Joe, will you boycott the trial if you go into it without the rules being established beforehand?

MR. LOCKHART: You're getting way into hypotheticals. The Senate, I think, is working in good faith, right now, to try to resolve these issues. I think the Senate is keenly aware of trying to avoid the mistakes that the House made.

Q Does this mean you might feel compelled to call, to depose a witness who has already appeared before the grand jury and given testimony you've already seen? You'll still want to talk to that person?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, if someone was going to, they could testify on any subject. We don't know what the Independent Counsel didn't ask a particular witness. We don't know if they were asked leading questions. We don't know basically what -- we don't know if the entire testimony was provided. We don't know.

There is mountains of evidence out there that the Independent Counsel has access to, that the House Judiciary Committee has access to, that the President as the defendant here doesn't have access to. But what we're saying is that we're willing to forgo that. We're willing to move forward very quickly and very expeditiously, based on this record that was compiled by the Independent Counsel -- I don't think there's many people here who would argue that that is someone who is an ally of the White House or an ally of the President; very harshly written, adversarial prosecutorial document -- we're willing to do this based on that document, based on our belief in our ability to make our argument and based on our belief that the American people want this over now.

Q Joe, if stipulating to a record does not mean that you are accepting it as accurate and truthful, as you said a little while ago, what does it mean exactly?

MR. LOCKHART: It means that that will be the basis for the trial going forward. That will be the record. That will be what the court will use as the information where they'll decide whether someone is guilty or not guilty. And it does not give us the ability to go and bring in further exculpatory information. It doesn't give us the ability to test well, what did you mean when you said that -- you know -- were you asked a leading question or, as in many of the cases, there's multiple answers to questions. You look at some questions and you see people saying, five, six, seven, eight different things depending on when they were asked. And you see only one of those -- you remember in the referral, you'd see only one of them, the one that was most favorable to the conclusion that the Independent Counsel was trying to draw.

But we're willing to go forward and use this and legally, we would be working at a disadvantage, but we're willing to go forward and do that.

Q Joe, if this proposal were not accepted and, for example, if Monica Lewinsky was called as a witness, would you likely attack her credibility?

MR. LOCKHART: Listen, we have, in this building for a year now, not attacked Monica Lewinsky. I can't imagine that we'd start.

Q Joe, are the President's lawyers prepared to move ahead with opening statements on Monday or whenever the Senate --

MR. LOCKHART: The President's lawyers are anxiously awaiting some sense of how this process is going to move forward. I have heard nothing that indicates that anyone is planning to move forward with opening statements on Monday, but we're anxiously trying to find out what's going to happen.

Q But are they prepared to move ahead expeditiously as of this minute?

MR. LOCKHART: We're prepared to move forward expeditiously based on the rules that the Senate adopts. Clearly, if the floor managers insist on calling witnesses, they will delay this process. They will delay this process because the Senate -- and I believe the Senate recognizes there will be a need for a time of discovery, a time for depositions, a time for motions, and that will delay. And they will, by insisting on going this way, despite the fact that as I read to you -- and I can find you 100 more and bore you to tears -- that they argued forcefully in the House that they had a record, that the record was complete, it was 60,000 pages, there was no need to call witnesses.

Q Joe, why are your comments directed to the floor managers? There are a lot of Senate Republicans who want to call witnesses; why not direct your comments to them? Why are you blaming the delay on the floor managers --

MR. LOCKHART: Because the floor managers are the ones who are in now advocating -- they will make their case, they are advocating the fact that they want to call many witnesses.

Q Why do you suppose they changed their mind?

MR. LOCKHART: Legally, it's hard to find a reason why this group would do a 180-degree turn. Politically, I think it's a little easier. I think what this has been about for some members of Congress from the beginning is trying to inflict damage on the President, and I think that probably is at the root of this decision.

Q But you said the Senate Republicans, the Senate leadership is completely immune from any of those motives?

MR. LOCKHART: Pardon? I am choosing to make no comment at all on the Senate. They are in the process here; I believe they're acting in good faith and we continue to look forward to work with them.

Q Joe, can I just clarify something? The President obviously knows what the charges are -- perjury and obstruction of justice. Does he feel that if he gets the opportunity to call witnesses and cross-examining witnesses, that his chances of acquittal are weaker?


Q He thinks his chances are stronger?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the chances -- I think as we go forward we could make the case in a very compelling way. But you're talking about a process that is open-ended and could go on forever and ever. And we are not willing -- or we are not anxious, because it is not our decision, to put the country through that.

Q So, actually, the case would be stronger for him if he were to do this, he's just concerned about the delay?

MR. LOCKHART: I think, by nature, stipulating to this record -- it is the most prejudicial record that could possibly exist as it was produced by the Independent Counsel. And anything that adds to it as far as exculpatory information makes our case stronger. But we believe even with this record we can effectively make our case, and it is absolutely in everyone's interest that we move forward this way.

Q What kind of reception did you get -- did the lawyers get?

MR. LOCKHART: I'll leave it to the senators to decide that.

Q Joe, does the President think it's proper to give the State of the Union speech while the trial is going on?

MR. LOCKHART: The President believes it's proper to address the nation on his agenda and priorities for the year and plans to do it on January 19th.

Q So he's going to do it whether there's a trial or not, he's going to give it on January 19?

MR. LOCKHART: I'd refer you to my answer.

Q In the case of such profound importance, what kind of message does the President of the United States send to the nation by accepting facts that he disputes? Wouldn't he welcome a trial to repudiate those facts, or does he have something to fear from these witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: I'd suggest that you do a little more legal work and understand what stipulating to the record is.

Q What arrangements have been made for the Sergeant-at-Arms to deliver the summons to the White House?

MR. LOCKHART: I did look into that, David. The Sergeant-at-Arms will deliver it to the White House counsel. We have not yet heard on the logistics of when, where and how.

Q And what about arrangements for us to be there --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't know when, where or how. When I find out when, where or how, we'll make a determination on that.

Q But we're all invited, right?

Q Are you leaning toward having us be able to get a picture of that?

MR. LOCKHART: It's a big one. I don't know. When I find out, I'll let you know.

Q Joe, you said this morning the White House was not sending anyone to the Senate to monitor the proceedings today. You get something like 20 tickets. What happened to those tickets?

MR. LOCKHART: I have no idea.

Q Well, did you give them back? Did you give them away?

Q Can you find out?


Q Did the President make this proposal on the recommendation of his attorneys, and were they all in accord?

MR. LOCKHART: All in accord and in consultation and in a collegial way. The legal team was --

Q No one said, don't do it?

MR. LOCKHART: No. I think the legal team was united and unanimous in this being the best way to move forward.

Q Did you do this in part because you're afraid of new evidence?

MR. LOCKHART: No. We did this in part -- we did this in whole -- because this will be a way to move forward on a bipartisan basis that is fair and expeditious.

Q Joe, the stipulation strategy -- the stipulation strategy forecloses, you're acknowledging, major avenues for the President's defense. Aren't you essentially telling us that you're putting the President at risk because you're in a hurry to finish the trial?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I'm saying exactly the opposite, that even based on a record that was done by a prosecutor, we are convinced we can make a compelling case that will lead the United States Senate not to remove the President.

Q Well, related to that, is there a concern here that a longer trial could add a level of unpredictability that could ultimately work against the President?

MR. LOCKHART: I think there's a real concern here that a longer trial will make everybody in this country think we're even crazier than they already think we are.

Q Joe, this trial proposal, using this report as the basis for the trial, would it be the exclusive basis? In other words, under your proposal, the White House position is it would be this report and this report only that would be the basis of the trial.

MR. LOCKHART: That is correct, and that is standard in any trial. Before you go in, you know what's in and you base it on whether it's a trial order or, whatever the mechanism, you base the evidence and the information that you're going to litigate throughout the trial.

And that is, may I remind you, this isn't something that we picked out of the air and said, well, let's try it on this basis. This is what the House of Representatives, controlled by the Republican Party -- and I'll remind you, there were only five Democrats who voted for this process in the House -- that they, I believe in a partisan way, decided this was the best way to try to convict the President in the Senate, by sending this record. Well, we're willing to move forward, now, based on that record.

Q In other words, an effort to include evidence that was outside of that record would negate the provisions of your proposal?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think that the House of Representatives has already made that decision, when they sent over to the Senate the information that they were going to try and use during a trial.

Q Joe, you talked about how prejudicial this particular record is to the President. Can you give us an example of the kind of exculpatory evidence you would not be able to introduce as a consequence --

MR. LOCKHART: Well, some of that is like proving a negative. But I think the best example is a question that wasn't asked. If you look at the questions that were asked, you know that Miss Lewinsky was never asked whether she was asked to lie.

Q -- that's part of the record.

Q But she volunteered that information, so that's part of the record.


Q That is part of the record, because she volunteered that information. What's an example of something you wouldn't be able to raise?

MR. LOCKHART: Again, I don't know that I can prove something that we don't know. There is hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and records that we don't have access to, and there is the potential, once you depose and cross-examine someone, to find out information that is exculpatory and helpful. We haven't done that; we haven't had the ability to do that. We asked for that ability during the House proceeding and were denied that ability.

We were denied that ability because the House of Representatives made a fundamental decision, which was, because of the Independent Counsel, and because of all the work they had done, there was no need to "reinvent the wheel" -- Henry Hyde said that. There was no need for live witnesses -- Henry Hyde said that. There was no need to rehash this evidence -- Judiciary Committee members said that over and over again. And that is the standard by which they made their decisions. And, frankly, in any intergalactic planetary measure of fairness, one would think you'd have to apply their previous standard to their moving forward.

Q President Menem will be here Monday for a state visit. Traditionally, that means a joint press conference. Are we going to have a press conference on Monday?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't have a schedule for Monday.

Q For those of us chronicling the day for prosperity, can you walk us through his morning with a little bit more detail? You said he was in the residence working -- what was he doing?

MR. LOCKHART: He was in the residence until just before lunchtime. I know he did some work, he was on the phone. I don't know with who. I know he exercised -- came over about 12:15 p.m., 12:30 p.m., and was still in lunch with the Vice President when I came down.

Q Do you know what he was working on in the residence -- State of the Union? Has he met with his lawyers or spoken to them by phone?

MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.

Q Also for the sake of posterity, can I make a formal request that we be notified about the Sergeant-at-Arms coming before he comes so that we know?

MR. LOCKHART: Do we have a formal way of accepting formal requests? I know where you're coming from.

Q When the President walks in the House chamber in two weeks to deliver his State of the Union address and map out his legislation, how does he expect the United States Congress to react, considering they will be, presumably, in the throes of this impeachment trial?

MR. LOCKHART: I think that's up to -- I think most members respect the Office of the Presidency and look forward to this speech every year. But you'd have to ask members of Congress.

Q How about the fate of his legislative proposal? Does he believe that Congress can both handle the impeachment trial and get to work?

MR. LOCKHART: That is a question for Congress. All I can tell you is that we're going to keep moving forward and focusing on the people's business.

Q Joe, do you foresee any press conferences that the President might hold between now and the end of the Senate trial, or would he be afraid that anything he might say would perhaps prejudice the trial?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't have an answer to that. I don't know that there is one on the schedule right now, but --

Q Joe, can you give us any incite -- was it difficult to convince the President that abandoning major avenues of defense was the way to go, or did he think this was a great idea from the beginning?

MR. LOCKHART: I think that the President and his legal team understand the fact that we can make the case, based on this record, and they understand the importance of this not going on month after month after month.

Q When is the last time he talked with his lawyers about this?

MR. LOCKHART: When he talked with his --

Q When is the last time he talked with his lawyers?

MR. LOCKHART: I don't know specifically.

Q But it was not today, he has not talked to them today?

MR. LOCKHART: I am not aware that he had any conversations, certainly not a meeting. If he picked up the phone and called one of them, they may have done that. He did not have a meeting with them. I can't preclude that he had a phone call because I can't watch his phone calls all the time.

Q When was this strategy discussed?

MR. LOCKHART: In the last few weeks.

Q Joe, I understand that in a criminal or a civil proceeding, it's fairly routine to stipulate something while not necessarily agreeing that it's true. But in this political arena, are you worried that that will be perceived by the Congress as more legal hair-splitting?

MR. LOCKHART: No. First of all, it won't be hair-splitting because we're basically stipulating to the record that they've put forward. And I trust that all of you will explain to all of your readers and viewers this accurately and clearly.

Q Joe, you said in the last few weeks -- Joe, you were asked on Monday in the briefing whether the President was preparing to stipulate to the facts in the IC investigation, and you told us, no.

MR. LOCKHART: No, this was in response to something that Senator Torricelli said about stipulating and agreeing to the facts, and that was never in the cards.

Q Well, Joe, you said this morning that the President had signed off on this strategy or on this proposal.

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, right.

Q When did he sign off on it?

MR. LOCKHART: Sometime in the last couple weeks. I'm not going to try to put a calendar on it, but it was not last night, no.

Q And it was not this week, it was later than that?

MR. LOCKHART: Probably before this week.

Q Criminal defendants don't normally get to depose witnesses. They can talk to witnesses if witnesses want to talk to them, but they don't normally get -- why does the President feel he would be entitled --

MR. LOCKHART: Certainly, the defendants get, in any criminal case, the right of discovery and access to the same evidence and information that the prosecution has, which has been, as you know, denied the White House and the President routinely since the beginning of this process.

Q Why does the White House believe the President would be entitled to depose witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: I'd suggest you put that question to the Senate and see if they think that's appropriate for their rules.

Q Joe, why didn't you offer this proposal sooner if you've been working on it the last few weeks?

MR. LOCKHART: I think we went round and round over the last week here about why I wasn't going to talk in public. The conversations -- let me finish -- the conversations were going on the appropriate way with the appropriate parties. I said that I wasn't going to detail our views on this until the Senate invited us to come and tell them, and I think that's the appropriate way to do this and that's the rules we followed.

Q Was last night the first time that you told them about this?

MR. LOCKHART: That was the first time we formally sat down with senators and indicated to them our willingness to take these steps.

Q Joe, to follow on Josh's question, you did talk about deposing witnesses earlier. So is it your expectation that the White House will be able to depose witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: It's certainly an expectation -- there's certainly an expectation that as we move forward and if witnesses are called, that there should be an opportunity that they be deposed. And I don't know that's met a lot of resistance with the people who are making these decisions.

Q Would you delay in order to depose these witnesses?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think the Senate is going to have to decide what orderly process they'll go for. And again, I'd say that we're ready to go, we're ready to go now. But if the floor managers insist on bringing in witnesses despite all of their comments in the past and how adamantly they were against witnesses, they will force a delay in the actual testimony of witnesses.

Q Joe, is there anything new on the ETA for the elusive steel report?

MR. LOCKHART: Later today, I hope.

Q Later today?

MR. LOCKHART: Later today, I hope.

Q Joe, I always thought that Congress wanted the President to admit or deny the facts of the case, not legalistically stipulate them. And, therefore, I'm wondering whether this posture you're taking today will be received like the answers to the 81 questions, like you want to have it both ways.

MR. LOCKHART: Well, I'm sure that you'll go up there and I'm sure I'll read in your paper tomorrow that it is received like the 81 questions.

Q The Embassy of Argentina has already given the schedule and there is a press conference on it. Do you think that --

MR. LOCKHART: I don't have the schedule, like I said. I'll check on it.

Q Joe, this is often a difficult question to answer, but it isn't --


Q Mood. It's a momentous day in President Clinton's presidency. Can you give us some sense of how he's feeling?

MR. LOCKHART: Let me say that I just have to plead some ignorance today. The President came over and went right into the lunch. I haven't really had a chance to talk to him today, so I really can't update you with anything updated beyond the last couple days, when I talked to him.

Q Can you do that later, do you think?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I'll talk to him before the day is over.

Q Joe, are the White House lawyers continuing to meet with senators today, or are you just in a wait --

MR. LOCKHART: Right now we're in a wait-and-see. I think there is certainly the possibility that the bipartisan group of senators will call back and want to meet with us again. But as of 15 minutes ago -- or however long I've been out here -- when I checked, there had been no invitation or no indication that there was anything set. But they called us last night at -- I think it was after 8:00 p.m. -- so this could move quickly.

Q Joe, one of the reasons or explanations for why the House managers didn't want to call witnesses then but do want to call witnesses now is that we're in a different forum. Back then it was more like a grand jury and they were just indicting and so you didn't need to go to all the trouble. Now we're in a trial, you know, it's convict or acquit and it's a different setting --

MR. LOCKHART: No, I would suggest they go and read the Constitution and see where it says in the Constitution that they're a grand jury. By looking at that record and bringing that record in and publishing that record, I think they made a decision that the grand jury was the grand jury.

And I think, again, anyone who can put partisanship aside and just look at a simple issue of fairness can understand why it's hard to understand why a group that was so adamantly opposed to calling in witnesses and extending the process and making it go on longer and dragging through all of the information that they've already put out in the public record would now turn 180 degrees. There doesn't appear to be a legal reason for that and I think it's incumbent upon them to articulate why this change in strategy.

Q On Iraq, do you have anything on reports that Iraqis were executed by Saddam? And, also, any thoughts on Richard Butler's possible resignation?

MR. LOCKHART: I have nothing on the first. I mean, I know there has been a discussion at the State Department and at the Pentagon over the last few days, so I would refer you to those transcripts.

I'm not aware of any news that Mr. Butler is planning to resign. I think the United States government supports him completely. The work of UNSCOM is important. He has done excellent work, despite conditions designed to thwart his effort and UNSCOM's efforts, and it would be our hope that he continue doing the job.

Q To pin down one detail, did the lunch with the Vice President start before the Chief Justice --

MR. LOCKHART: I believe so, yes. Actually, I know that, because they were a little delayed.

Q So in the morning, when the actual articles were delivered he was in the residence?

MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.

Q And then when the Chief Justice was taking the oath, he was --

MR. LOCKHART: That's correct.

Q And that's just a private, one-on-one lunch?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, it's the weekly lunch that they try to have every week.

Q Is it in the dining room --

MR. LOCKHART: In the private dining room, yes.

Q This morning you said there it was baseless a report that the President had received a recommendation on what to do about the Pollard case.

MR. LOCKHART: Correct.

Q Where was that report?

MR. LOCKHART: Where was the report? I believe it was on NBC News.

Q Joe, you said a while ago, that the White House --

MR. LOCKHART: That wasn't gratuitous. She asked. (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: As long as we're on -- where's Knoller? I didn't out him this morning. I just want everyone to know that I, yesterday, for the first time in Stump the Knoller, won. I asked him, what state -- I gave him an hour -- what is the only state in the Union that has not, in the Clinton administration, had one federal disaster declaration in the state? And he came back with three.

Q Wow.

MR. LOCKHART: Didn't know. So, Mark, gotcha. (Laughter.)

Q Well, what is the answer is?

MR. LOCKHART: Well, come on, does anybody know?

Q You tried pretty hard, didn't you?

MR. LOCKHART: Wyoming.

Q Wow. (Laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: Come on up, Mark.

Q What is the only state the President has not visited?

MR. LOCKHART: Mark, do you want to take that one? Mississippi. Very good, very good.

Q What, the only state he hasn't visited?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, not in six years.

Q What do you attribute all these disasters to -- (laughter.)

MR. LOCKHART: Okay, I'm going to pay for this one. Thank you all very much. See you later, Mark.

END 2:05 P.M. EST