THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The Briefing Room
1:50 P.M. EST
MR. LOCKHART: Anyone in the back who wants to join us, sitting in your little booth, want to come up to the front? Let me do a couple of housekeeping -- a formal announcement and an informal announcement. What does he mean by that?
Friday afternoon, at approximately 5:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C., President Clinton will address the closing session, "A Global Forum on Reinventing Government," a conference being held at the State Department. This two-day conference, chaired by the Vice President, presents an opportunity to call together countries that have put in place national programs to reinvent government and exchange ideas and information with each other. The location within the State Department and coverage are TBD.
Informally, I received a lot of informal and constructive advice after yesterday's briefing of ways to make things more easy going here. I'll share a few of them with you. One was unsolicited from the 10-year-old son of an employee here, who suggested I buy a Super-soaker -- (laughter) -- I didn't know what that was, but I now know it's one of those souped-up water guns. I decided to decline that. (Laughter.)
But walking back from the briefing yesterday I decided that I really needed to find some way to search for that inner peace and calm. Unfortunately, Rahm Emmanuel has left, so he wasn't around for advice. (Laughter.) But I did get the next best thing, and I went in and talked to, sort of the Zen master here of calm and peace, John Podesta. John and I had an extensive conversation, and at one point, John brought in a third person, his friend, Skippy. (Laughter.) Skippy and I had an extensive conversation and John, Skippy and I decided that I need special friend like Skippy.
So we've decided that we're going to schedule briefings on a ad hoc basis, where sometimes my special friend will come in, talk to you all and you all can decide what his name is.
So moving on --
Q Nice Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: Nice?
Q Nice Joe.
MR. LOCKHART: No, we wouldn't do that. (Laughter.)
Q Joe, the President referenced 900 constitutional scholars in his statement this morning. What's that a reference to?
MR. LOCKHART: There is a group that put out a newspaper advertisement some months ago --
Q Right, that was 400.
MR. LOCKHART: Right. And that group has continued to grow and it's at somewhere between 800 and 900 now.
Q Is there somewhere we can reference who these people are?
MR. LOCKHART: I think -- was the original signatures, was that Cass, Sunstein? Yes, I think if you go to someone like Cass, Sunstein, I'm not sure who the other organizers are. But it's been a continual effort that has continued to sign up. And the last time that they did something I think they referenced a number like 850 or 900.
Q I'm puzzled by the President's statement that it's up to someone else to worry about the defense and that he's going to concentrate on the issues he's working on. To what extent did he have a role in putting together the 130-page trial brief? And to what extent will he watch, listen to and respond to the accusations against him when the trial begins? Because it's his personal conduct at stake, it's not a government --
MR. LOCKHART: I understand that, but the constitutional proceeding that's moving forward is not about personal contact. The House has alleged a grave offense against the state. But let me answer -- I think the answer to the whole question with each part is a limited one. I think he had a fairly limited role in putting this together. He's relying on his lawyers, but the lawyers -- here at the White House Counsel's Office and the Williams and Connolly lawyers, his private attorneys -- to put together and piece together an effective defense. I think that's the way it should be.
I can't tell you and I can't predict whether -- how much he'll watch, but I don't expect that he'll spend that much time focusing in on the proceedings in the Senate. I think he'll rely more on getting a report at the end of the day from his legal team about how the proceedings went that day. He's got a lot on his plate. He's got a big speech coming up next Tuesday; he's got the budget the following week; we've got a travel schedule we need to keep, and he's going to focus on that.
Q Joe, who will be in the Senate tomorrow at the White House table representing President Clinton?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know precisely who will be sitting at the table at all times. It will be drawn from the lawyers in the White House Counsel's Office. I think you've seen their names on filings -- Mr. Ruff, Cheryl Mills, Lanny Breuer. I don't know who actually will be sitting at the table.
Q They all will be at some point?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know.
Q And his private lawyers?
MR. LOCKHART: There will be some representation from Williams and Connolly drawn from the list that you see --
Q Isn't there any lead lawyer in all this?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President will rely on the White House Counsel -- I'm sorry, I left out Greg Craig, who has also played an integral role in this process.
Q Mr. Ruff will not be there tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: I think what I said is I don't know precisely who will be, but I started that answer with -- I think I said Mr. Ruff. If I didn't, there was no omission intended. But it will be some combination of the lawyers here who work in the Counsel's Office and lawyers who work for the Williams and Connolly law firm.
Q I figured that, but I was looking for more precise names.
MR. LOCKHART: Not today.
Q You don't know who is going to be sitting at the table when the case against the President opens tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: I do not.
Q Do you know how they're going to divide up the responsibilities next week? In other words, will Mr. Kendall have a speaking role, or will Mr. Ruff --
MR. LOCKHART: I talked to the lawyers today and they're not prepared to detail that information at this point.
Q Joe, are they actually going to be interposing objections and doing things that other trial lawyers would do during opening arguments?
MR. LOCKHART: That would be up to what the presentations are made by the House managers. We'll have to wait and see.
Q Has the White House asked for next Tuesday a day off from the trial so it wouldn't interfere with the State of the Union address?
MR. LOCKHART: The conversations that are going on about scheduling are happening between the Senate Majority and Minority Leader and I'm not going to get into that from here.
Q And because this is a constitutional process, what exactly is the role of the President's private lawyers in this affair?
MR. LOCKHART: The President's private lawyers will be there to assist the White House Counsel and his staff in presenting a defense.
Q Joe, I think you left off the list Ms. Seligman. Will she be there?
MR. LOCKHART: No, what I said was Mr. Kendall and other lawyers from Williams and Connolly, so I meant to be inclusive there.
Q Senator Lieberman said today that with a few witnesses, the trial probably could be completed by early to mid-February. Is that your assessment of how long it would take?
MR. LOCKHART: I think with a few witnesses you could probably go through a few witnesses in a couple of weeks. The problem isn't the time it takes to do the cross-examination and questioning, it's all of the work that has to get done before you can move forward with that point. You have issues of depositions, discovery, and that's going to take time, in our view.
Q So is the preference not to have witnesses?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes -- or, our preference -- yes, but let me tell you why. Because we believe that it's important to get this done in an expeditious way, and it's very difficult to see how that can be done when a whole new area of the case is brought open, because there's going to be a lot of discovery, there's going to be a lot of evidence that the White House has not had access to over the past six or seven months that the White House is going to need access to in order to prepare to deal with any such witnesses.
Q Both Senators Lieberman and Lautenberg seem pretty clear that in their mind, there would be witnesses. Does the White House share that view?
MR. LOCKHART: I think that's something that's going to be subject to a vote, and I'm not in a position to preview the results of that vote.
Q Joe, just to be clear, when you said "a couple of witnesses in a few weeks," you're saying that doesn't include all the discovery period --
MR. LOCKHART: That's correct. I can't preclude that a couple of witnesses couldn't be dispensed with, both the question and the cross-examination, in a week or two weeks. But it's just not going to be some time within the next few weeks, because I don't think you can fairly ask either side to be prepared to go forward with that without a reasonable period of discovery and depositions.
Q So witnesses can be called in a reasonable period of time without throwing the trial off balance?
MR. LOCKHART: I think what I just stated was just the opposite, which is the actual question --
Q "Reasonable" was the word you used, Joe.
MR. LOCKHART: Okay, let me say it again. I'll try to be more clear. You can actually do the questioning and the cross-examination in a reasonable time; over a week or two. The point is, is you can't do that the first week of February, you can't do that the second week of February, because you have to then have a time -- you have to have a time period intervening where the White House, the floor managers are given access to all information, there is time to depose any such witnesses -- that is going to take an extended period of time.
So some people can make the argument that, sure, it will only take us a couple days to ask these questions and you ask some questions -- but that sort of skirts the main point of when that actually would happen.
Q Joe, to follow up a little on Anne's question earlier, the President said he was going to spend as little time as possible worrying about impeachment -- he sounds and acts at times as if this is happening to somebody else. Is he really that detached about this whole process?
MR. LOCKHART: No. No. And I think you can -- there's a risk in trying to over-analyze his comments and what he's doing. As I've told you, he understands what's going on, he understands it's important, but he's making an assessment of what the best use of his time is. And the best use of his time is to concentrate on the job at hand, the agenda, the State of the Union, the budget, and that's what he's doing.
Q Is he making the assessment that that's the best use of his time or that it's important that the public perceives that that's how he's using his time?
MR. LOCKHART: I'll leave you to make an assessment of the public -- he's making an assessment that's the best use of his time, that he's got a job to do and the public has a right to expect him to do his job. And that's what he's doing.
Q Joe, aside from the lawyers who will be representing the President at the table tomorrow, what kind of a posture do you all plan to take here as the prosecution unfolds over the next three days --
MR. LOCKHART: Let me deal with this in kind of a logistical way. I think, from my understanding of the calendar, most of the days that the House managers go on start in the afternoon. So I think I'll probably have very little to say from here about that, because it won't have happened yet, because we meet around this time every day.
I think -- we have a team that will be up on the Hill and if, as appropriate, at the end of the day, if they all have something to say, I think the Senate has arranged for a place where all sides can go and make comments at the end of the day about what happened that day. So from a logistics point of view, what I would expect on most days probably more of the action to be up there, rather than here.
Q And would that reaction come on the days when not just the administration's case is being presented, but whether, for instance, the House managers --
MR. LOCKHART: Sure, potentially -- if there is something that I think our legal team believes is relevant to say after the proceedings, they're certainly able to do that from there.
Q Could I ask a question? One of the fundamental points in the trial brief is the unfairness, actually, the unconstitutionality of bundling several different allegations. For those of us who aren't lawyers, could you explain more specifically what example you can show us of where several allegations have been bundled?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I think if you look at the perjury charge, they outline four different areas that they charge on perjury. And the problem with stacking those all in one article is the Constitution is clear that they believe two-thirds of the Senate has to vote that the President of the United States should be removed from office based on a charge, based on a high crime or misdemeanor.
But when you stack them all in together in sort of a general way, you have the potential of less than two-thirds believing that one charge is true and the others aren't; and then less than two-thirds believing another part of the charge is true, but the others aren't. And when you add that all up you have the potential for a Senate where two-thirds of the Senate does not believe that the President should be removed for these actions, but you could have a vote that is two-thirds. So it's a constitutional argument that the articles should be specific and should not all be bundled in together in one article.
Q Would you prefer separate votes on each charge?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, our preference has very little to do with anything. The House chose to move forward the way they did and you'll have to ask them why they put these together. I think if they believed these charges were strong and true that they should have put them on the floor of the House in the very specific articles, and went through them one by one and let the will of the House and the will of the Senate -- they didn't do that. They chose to bundle them all up together. And I think it's more appropriate for them to explain why they did it that way.
Q But, Joe, isn't it reasonable to assume that you could put together a bunch of statements which, taken as a whole, constitutes some sort of perjury?
MR. LOCKHART: These aren't a bunch of statements. Read the article. These are areas of perjury. It's kind of a new piece of law here, which is you don't look at particular statements, like you would in any case you'd see in a courtroom in this country, you have sort of areas. And they have things -- and there are things like -- they accuse him of committing perjury because he said "on occasion," as opposed to "I did something 11 times," or "I had these many calls," or "this many" -- and "certain instances" is a perjurious statement.
I think that's dealt with very directly in the trial brief, and I would recommend that you concentrate on that, because it's an important part of the case.
Q But they do cite specifics and then say "these together constitute perjury."
MR. LOCKHART: Again, that is one area -- there's also the are of obstruction where there are several different things. You do have the constitutional issue of whether, at the end of the day, the American public will be certain if two-thirds voted in a positive way on one of the articles, whether they really were -- it really was two-thirds. And I think it's a constitutional argument and it is included in this brief for the Senate to consider.
Q Joe, the document today says that the President misremembered the date that the affair began. Are they now acknowledging that that bit of his testimony was inaccurate?
MR. LOCKHART: No. I think as I understand it, you have two different recollections. I think --
Q But the document says the President misremembered the --
MR. LOCKHART: Again, I didn't spend a lot of time on that bit, so let me come back to you on that specifically, or let me have Jim look into it. But I think on the broader point, the point that's being questioned is that they are accusing him of perjury based on the fact that one witness testified that it started in one month and another witness testified it started in a different month. I think the case they make there is that it's a recollection issue rather than a question of willfully misleading.
Q Joe, at a stakeout earlier, Lautenberg said that there are possibilities all around, spectrums how things could happen as a result of this impeachment trial, but he said what was probable, he didn't want to talk about because he was a juror. Now, that left kind of an impression that there was already a foregone conclusion of what's going to happen. Do you think that that's already the case in the Senate now, that many of them already have plotted out what they want to do, they're just not saying it?
MR. LOCKHART: I think it's up to senators to articulate what their views are. I'll tell you that based on the legal brief that was introduced today to the Senate, based on the presentations that I think will largely track that, I think senators at the end of this process will understand that there isn't a factual, a legal, a constitutional foundation for this and it doesn't reach the standards of an impeachable offense.
Q Joe, what I'm saying is, and I'm looking for an answer, that it seems to be a foregone conclusion of what's going to happen. Is the White House concerned that that is the case, that they've already made up their minds and it's going down party lines or --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think the White House believes that the Senate's going forward in good faith and that they will carefully consider the evidence placed before them. And we believe that with arguments that are like the ones set forth in the document or the trial brief today, they'll see that there isn't a factual, legal or constitutional foundation for the removal of the President.
Q Is he going to do a rehearsal of the State of the Union address today?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that he'll do that today, but he's certainly got a couple of them planned between now and next Tuesday. I'll let you know afterwards if they actually get to the point that they're into the theater and practicing.
Q One side applauding and one side sitting on their hands? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: I'm glad you brought that up, because we need a few extra stagehands. We've got the people to boo, we just need people to clap.
Q I'll go. I'll volunteer.
MR. LOCKHART: Helen, you're in. I saw that, Mara.
Q Joe, has the President ruled out voluntarily testifying before the Senate?
MR. LOCKHART: The question has not been put to him in a formal way, but I have no expectation that he'll testify, he'll testify to the grand jury and that they have all of those documents.
Q Any thought that he might go up there and watch any of the proceedings?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm sorry, I'm just trying to read a note here. Okay, let me read this. "The brief doesn't say we believe he misremembered, it says sub-Part I of the Article alleges he misremembered."
Q Sub-part one alleges the President committed perjury before the grand jury about the details of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, including apparently such insignificant matters as misremembering the precise month -- that's not in quotes, those are the words of your attorneys, correct?
MR. LOCKHART: It is the allegation made by the House managers.
Q The House managers allege that he misremembered?
MR. LOCKHART: No, they allege that he committed perjury, not that he misremembered.
Q And you're casting it as misremembering? This is a small point, but I was interested in knowing whether you were reeling this back in. The President gave a range of dates for the beginning of the affair, and he says, well --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't believe that's the case, but let me check with the lawyers. I think Jim's interpretation is correct, but there's always the chance that even Jim makes a mistake from time to time, and we'll find out.
Q There's now -- we have daily skirmishes now with Iraq. Is the United States effectively at war with Iraq?
MR. LOCKHART: No, the United States is continuing to follow a policy they followed since the end of the Gulf War federal containing the threat of Saddam Hussein.
Q I mean, we're having these daily --
MR. LOCKHART: My first answer was really good. (Laughter.)
Q I didn't hear it.
MR. LOCKHART: Okay. Trust me. (Laughter.) Let me go through the answer and then you can follow up. We've had a policy of containing Saddam Hussein since the end of the Gulf War, and that policy is based on crippling economic sanctions that have cost him $120 billion at least since the end of the war; degrading his ability to threaten his neighbors and to reconstitute or deliver weapons of mass destruction. And that's the policy we're going to continue to pursue until we see some positive change and some indication that Saddam Hussein is willing to disarm.
Q But we're seeing it going in the opposite direction, aren't you? Every day he is sort of escalating what is --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the policy towards Iraq has moved back and forth over the last six or seven years. That doesn't mean we're any less resolute. There's a credible and robust threat of force in the region; should we determine that that needs to be used, where our pilots vigorously enforce the no-fly zone and take the necessary steps in order to protect themselves to do that -- it's important work that they do in the region; it's important to the neighbors that are threatened by Saddam Hussein, and to his own people, and we'll continue to do it.
Q You're going to continue this back and forth where they shoot at a plane, we fire back -- you're going to let that go on without taking any further action?
MR. LOCKHART: You can fully understand why I'm not going to get into what options may or may not be available to our force there. But what I will say is that we will continue to pursue a policy that contains the very real threat in the region and to the world of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Q Well, Joe, has Saddam been put on notice that if he continues to paint and target American pilots that he will face serious repercussions for that, or are we just going to wait until a pilot gets shot down and then try and figure out what to do?
MR. LOCKHART: Again, I'm not going to get into what options are before us or not, but he should understand that the risks he takes in violating the no-fly zone or violating any of the agreements that he made at the end of the Gulf War.
Q Joe, as the limited response the U.S. has taken -- there have been several incidents in the past few weeks -- does this have anything to do with the fact that were still in the period of Ramadan?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think what's happened here is the fact that Saddam Hussein has chosen to test our resolve in enforcing the no-fly zone. So I think you should ask him about --
Q Every time he does we give him the same response.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, that may be your view.
Q I think the question that he is asking is, is the U.S. holding back from resuming sustained air strikes because of Ramadan?
MR. LOCKHART: We will respond as we deem appropriate to the threat; the pilots in the region will enforce the no-fly zone vigorously; they will take the steps they need to take to protect themselves. And I'm not going to get into what options may or may not be available to us in the future.
Q Joe, there's a new poll out today, it happens to be an NBC poll -- but it seems to show --
MR. LOCKHART: Did you guys get that?
Q Yes -- an erosion of support for the President. A month ago, more than two-thirds of Americans surveyed said that they didn't think that he should be convicted and removed. Now it's a little over half. Do you think that that's anomaly? Do you see any evidence of support for him eroding?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't. As anecdotal as our information is, who knows what it's attributed to -- margin of error, fatigue -- I don't know. I saw up on the screen and without any explanation the poll numbers; I don't know what it means.
Q But you haven't seen anything that suggests to you --
MR. LOCKHART: No. No.
Q What do you mean, as anecdotal as our information is? Are you saying you're not polling?
MR. LOCKHART: No. But I don't talk about that. I talk to people in the street and they tell me he's doing a great job and they want him to stay.
Q -- his remarks as they appeared to be, that he has no plans to mention impeachment in the State of the Union?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, there's no plans that I know of. If that changes, I'll let you know.
Q Joe, can I follow up on Wolf's earlier question about the State of the Union and the timing? Would the White House like to see a one-day pause in the trial so the State of the Union can be delivered?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm going to leave the discussions of Senate scheduling in the Senate and I'm sure they'll let you know, and I'm not going to express an opinion one way or the other on that.
Q But the possibility is being discussed, then?
MR. LOCKHART: Talk to the people in the Senate.
Q You're not involved?
Q If you're asking for it, why can't we talk to you?
MR. LOCKHART: And I'm saying I'm not talking about any stance we may or may not be taking in our discussions with the Senate. It's appropriate for the Senate to make these decisions. We'll keep our discussions with them private.
Q Joe, if the President is subpoenaed to appear, would he fight the subpoena or would he appear before the --
MR. LOCKHART: Ask me when you don't have "if" at the beginning of that sentence.
Q Joe, Larry Flynt's investigator, Dan Moldea, says that he has uncovered information on additional Republicans, but is going to withhold it as long as they don't criticize the President. Does this strike you as blackmail and will the White House call for him to cease and desist?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, the President has been as clear as possible that he thinks the politics of personal destruction should cease and desist, and should have ceased and desisted a long time ago. I don't know anything about this gentleman you're talking about. I believe, as the President agrees, that all of this kind of sleazy politics ought to stop and it ought to stop from the right, from the left and from the people who create the market in this stuff. And it's our hope that it does.
Q Joe, we talked a little bit about this on Monday, but the new document raises the question again. The President's brief today embraces Lewinsky's testimony throughout. Are you suggesting she's an entirely credible witness or an occasionally credible witness?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm suggesting that that's how she testified and I don't have anything more to add than I talked about on Monday.
Q Joe, the House managers are now saying that the President orchestrated an attempt to discredit Monica Lewinsky. Do you have any response to that?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know what their evidence is, but I'm not aware of any attempt. And I think if there was an attempt to orchestrate any campaign to discredit her you would have reported on it long ago and extensively, and I don't think you have.
Q Did the President telephone Michael Jordan, and is there any connection between Mrs. Clinton's trip to Chicago today and the timing of his announcement? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I know of. I don't think he's called him, but I don't want to rule that out. It would be the kind of call I think he'd love to make.
Q Joe, to follow up on that previous question, you do acknowledge that the President was involved in trying to discredit Ms. Lewinsky when he told Sid Blumenthal that she came on to him and was a stalker and all of that?
MR. LOCKHART: I haven't talked to either of those about whether that testimony -- what the veracity of that testimony or what that's all about. So I don't know anything.
Q You don't doubt the testimony of those --
MR. LOCKHART: But let me add that if there was an orchestrated campaign, you guys would have noticed it. And I think that when you look at this and you look at people here at the White House who talk to you on a regular basis -- and I think you have to recognize that over the last 12 months that that sort of stuff hasn't gone on and that needs to be recognized.
Q Joe, what do you have on Haiti? The developments down there seem to indicate the attempt to establish democracy through the occupation and so forth is now on the brink of failure.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I know Tony Lake, the President's former National Security Advisor, was there, trying to move -- trying to break the logjam that has existed there for some time. We note with concern the shooting of President Preval's sister. She is now in stable condition; her driver was killed in the incident. And we hope that those responsible for this crime are identified and quickly brought to justice.
We will continue to work with the parties, both through Mr. Lake and continuing to work with all sides there to try to break the impasse. And we continue to stress the importance of the continuity of all of Haiti's democratic institutions.
Q Joe, Lieberman also said today that public opinion -- that the Senate should take notice of public opinion, but that it shouldn't control their deliberations. What does the White House think? Does the White House think that public sentiment plays any role, should play any role in their --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I think Senator Lieberman wisely articulates the balance that needs to be struck.
Q Is the White House planning any intervention in Brazil?
MR. LOCKHART: I'll leave that to Mr. Sperling's comments. I think he went about as far as we're going to go.
Q Well, he said to expect a Treasury announcement. Can you say anything about that?
MR. LOCKHART: Expect a Treasury announcement.
Q Has the President talked to President Cardoza today? Has he spoken --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think the President has. I know that as he said earlier today, there have been administration officials who have spoken to their counterparts both in Brazil and at the IMF.
Q Did you mean to leave open the possibility that Sid Blumenthal lied under oath when he said --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I did not. I just said I'm not familiar with the circumstances of that and I'm answering a broader question here.
Q Will you take the question of whether the President disputes Sid Blumenthal's testimony?
MR. LOCKHART: No, because I'm not going to try to try the case from here. You've got plenty of action that's going to happen starting on Capitol Hill tomorrow; that's the right place for it.
Q In the check in the Paul Jones settlement, do you know whether President physically had to sign the check --
MR. LOCKHART: No. It was -- I think routinely in cases like this, law firms have escrow accounts, checks are put in there and processed, so it was, I assume, signed by some person with check writing authority --
Q Do you know who it was addressed to? Was it a single check, although it came from two different accounts?
MR. LOCKHART: You know, I'd refer you over to Mr. Bennett for confirmation. I have no reason to dispute the newspaper accounts that it was written to a series of lawyers, but I don't know myself.
Q Did the President have to take any action to have money taken from his and Mrs. Clinton's blind trust?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think it would be any different than if they needed the money to buy a new house or go and spend money.
Q But he would have to --
MR. LOCKHART: There is a process by which money is transferred out of that account, and I'm sure they followed it.
Q Is he disappointed, Joe, that he had to spend some of his own money on this?
MR. LOCKHART: I think it would make him inhuman if he didn't have some disappointment that that much cash had to come out of his account.
Q Is it true that the bulk of that money was earned by Mrs. Clinton?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, given the pay scale here at the government, it's probably true.
Q Is Secretary Cohen, being a former senator, playing any role in the impeachment matter, talking to senators?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of. I think he's got quite a full plate at the Pentagon.
Q Are you aware of The New York Post story?
MR. LOCKHART: Which one?
Q Concerning an actress?
MR. LOCKHART: Oh, I did see that this morning. I, first off, know nothing at all about that story. But I can tell you categorically that no one here at the White House or no one who works in any way with this government would ever seek to use the IRS in a political way. And I think that story, as inaccurate as it is, is instructive in telling us there are people on Capitol Hill, in the House, who have argued that somehow, some of the things the President has done is a grave offense to the state.
Using the IRS and using government is a grave offense in the state, and you all remember the last time we went through an impeachment where Richard Nixon used the FBI, the CIA, the IRS, elements of the government in order to obstruct justice. So I think it's instructive in the sense that it reminds us of what impeachment and what the Constitution had in mind when the framers of the Constitution wrote it, again as -- I'm not even quite certain from reading the article whether a direct charge is made, but I can assure you that if the charge is that somehow the White House is involved and that someone in the government is involved in this, it's not accurate.
Q Joe, could you give us a little preview of what the President's going to be doing in New York tomorrow? The Wall Street --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. As those of you who traveled with the President last year, it will be the second time he's attended this gathering. And it's a group headed by Reverend Jackson and some partners on Wall Street. As a general overview, this group is trying to extend some of what's great about American capitalism and Wall Street to all sectors of our society.
The President will attend a gala dinner Thursday night, which will be actually on the floor of the Exchange -- Thursday night -- and then will speak at the conference Friday morning.
Q Is he speaking Thursday night, Joe? At the gala?
MR. LOCKHART: I expect he might have some brief remarks. There will be an expanded pool in there, so -- but I expect his substantive remarks to be Friday morning and not Thursday night.
Q Joe, one of the new seminars at that Wall Street meeting that Reverend Jackson is running is about African investment issues. In light of all the troubles in Africa these days, what does the President have to say about the troubles in Africa and how it is derailing his African initiative?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, there certainly are a series of destabilizing problems in Africa, and this administration is working hard to defuse them. I was just talking about Tony Lake -- he leaves today, right, or tomorrow -- today or tomorrow to go and try to help in the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute. There are certainly problems going on in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that all make difficult -- but we're going to continue to work to try to work these disputes out in a peaceful way. And the President will continue to try to promote economic prosperity as a way towards moving toward democratic and market institutions on the continent.
Q Joe, the brief today points out the fact that the President was twice elected by the American people, and that he is now under assault by charges that, the brief points out, are fatally flawed and even unconstitutional. I'm just wondering, on the eve of a Senate process that threatens that office, what business of the American people could possibly be more important to the President than preserving his office and defending the will of the people.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think that, if you go out and you talk to Americans, they have a real understanding of what went on in the House and what's about to go on in the Senate. And what they expect the President to do is to focus on their problems, their interests, their issues -- whether they be education, Social Security -- things that impact their lives. And I think they'd have every right in the world to be disappointed if the President didn't do that.
Q "What's about to go on in the Senate," Joe? You said, what's gone on in the House, what's -- were you suggesting that something untoward was going to happen in the Senate?
MR. LOCKHART: No, no. I'm suggesting that most Americans have, I think -- to go back to someone's polling, that people think that what went on in the House was partisan, but a substantial majority think that the Senate can do this fairly.
Q Joe, I don't know if you spoke about this earlier in the week. If you did, you can forget about it. But --
Q Probably did.
MR. LOCKHART: Forget about it, Wolf.
Q I wonder if you want to comment on, now that that Star tabloid's report has been thoroughly debunked, what your thoughts are about the way various news organizations reported that.
MR. LOCKHART: I think it was an instructive piece of experiment that separated -- that sought to separate some of the responsible media from the irresponsible media. Those of you who reported know who you are; those of you who didn't know who you are.
Q In your brief, as you try to make the point about this not being high crimes and misdemeanors, even if it's true, you cite Alexander Hamilton from the Federalist Papers, talking about how impeachment is supposed to be "abuse or violation of some public trust."
MR. LOCKHART: Right.
Q If the President lies to the American people, and then lies under oath -- and I'm not saying he did lie under oath, but I'm saying if he did lie under oath -- that's not abusing a public trust?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think if you go on and look at -- we cite George Mason and Alexander Hamilton, he goes on and talks about "injuries done to the society itself." So I think the arguments that the framers were trying to make was, they wanted to set a different standard for a duly elected President of the United States that said, you'd need to subvert the republic or do a grave injustice to the state.
So, separating the fact that this legal brief argues that they haven't made the case, and that the President denies those, there's nothing here that does that damage or does that harm to the state. And that's what our brief is. And compared to -- you can look back over other cases -- if you look at the case of President Nixon, there I think the majority of the House -- or excuse me, the committee, because the process was ultimately short-circuited -- believe that this was -- that the government was harmed, the state was harmed.
Q So the President enjoys a different standard than the common man?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think the President is the only person -- there is only one President, and I think you can argue round and round on this, and you can probably have a lot of disingenuous sessions about "above the law," "below the law." I think if this case was brought in a courtroom, this case would be over pretty quickly, for arguments that we made here. It's not a courtroom. This is the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, and it's a process unique in and of itself.
But the Constitution we believe is clear about the standards that need to be applied. And based on those standards, this doesn't reach that level.
Now, this is a theory argument. It's a constitutional argument because this brief today also argues strongly that there is no factual or evidentiary case made on either of the articles of impeachment.
Q Joe, on the question of witnesses, one of the House managers has just said in a television interview that the House managers are in touch with Monica Lewinsky to try to obtain her testimony as a witness. Do you think that's appropriate? Have the White House lawyers been in touch with any witnesses?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think -- I'm not aware that anyone at the White House has been in touch with any witnesses. I think what would be appropriate is for the Senate to work its will. We're two weeks, three weeks away from the Senate making a decision on this, and I'll leave it for the House managers to decide what's appropriate for them.
Q Would that statement also cover them not being in touch with any of the witnesses' attorneys, Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: As far as I know. I'm just not aware that there's been any work done on that.
END 2:34 P.M. EST