View Header


                     Office of the Press Secretary
                     (Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard)
For Immediate Release                                    August 24, 1999
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY
                              JOE LOCKHART

                            Edgartown School
                      Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard

11:56 A.M. EDT

MR. LOCKHART: I have precious little to report to you. As I think we've already told you, the lid's been extended until 5:00 p.m. The President and the First Lady and Chelsea are spending the day around the house. We'll let you know later on in the afternoon if they plan to go out tonight. But I think there's a better-than-even chance that they'll stay in, so those of you who have pool duty picked the right day.

There was a question yesterday about the weekend fundraiser schedule. Here's what I know. When we arrive on Saturday, there is a fundraiser, a DNC fundraiser in the evening. There are two fundraisers at private residences, one that will start sometime after 5:00 p.m., another one probably around 7:00 p.m. And then we'll do a Saxophone Club fundraiser to end the evening Saturday night. Those are all DNC.

Q All Saturday?

MR. LOCKHART: All Saturday. So, three events Saturday, all DNC. Sunday, the First Lady does a Women's Leadership Forum, WLF fundraiser at a private residence that she will attend. The President is not expected to attend. And then that evening, both of them will attend another DNC event at a private residence.

So the President will participate in four events, the First lady in five. And I don't have any information on anything separate and apart from this. I tried to check before, but couldn't reach anybody to see if there's anything separately for the First Lady's exploratory committee, but I don't have any information on that.

That's about all I've got.

Q Joe, of the DNC stuff, how much of it is going to DSCC and, therefore, could potentially benefit Mrs. Clinton?

MR. LOCKHART: As far as I understand it, this is all DNC.

Q This is all DNC?

MR. LOCKHART: DSCC's separate. Sometimes, we do joint events with them. But this is a DNC weekend.

Q None of the money over the weekend will accrue to her exploratory committee or campaign?

MR. LOCKHART: Not directly. Obviously, stuff that the DNC does for Democrats around the country will have some residual benefit for any Democratic candidate, but not in any direct way like at DSCC or a direct fundraiser would.

Q Wolfson was estimating that about $400,000 would go to her for the weekend.

MR. LOCKHART: From the weekend? Okay. There may be another event that I don't know about. You should talk to him about it. I don't have any information --

Q Joe, you're not aware that the President's going to go to either of those for the First Lady, right?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware that he is. If he's going to go, we'll let you know. As you saw from this weekend, she had two events and he attended both of them because he was there and it was natural for him to go.

Q Are these all closed?

MR. LOCKHART: I'll get the coverage on them, but the ones that the President goes to at the private residence will have a pool reporter. I think the Saxophone Club we bring the pool into, traditionally. So my expectation is that there will be pool coverage for that.

Q Will they also be piped into the filing center?

MR. LOCKHART: Normal rules of any DNC fundraiser or any fundraiser that the President's the headliner for.

Q Is Hillary still sick?

Q You don't have a money breakdown, do you, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: We won't know that until near the end of the week. We'll get it for you near the end of the week and give it to you.

Q Is Hillary still sick? Is she sick?

MR. LOCKHART: When I talked to her last night, she still had a nagging cold. That's the reason she hung around the house last night. So it's nothing serious, but they hung around over the weekend.

Q Joe, in the Hamptons, it looks like a pretty crowded schedule of fundraisers. Is this just essentially an all-work two days?

MR. LOCKHART: I think if you look at the schedule, at least for the President's purposes, he doesn't have anything Sunday until 6:00 p.m., so he's got the whole day. So I expect he'll have some time to relax there and enjoy the wonderful natural surroundings.

Q -- Spielberg estate, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: The ocean, the beach, and potentially some fine golf courses.

Q The First Family is staying at the Spielbergs' estate, correct?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not supposed to talk about those things.

Q Joe, Mayor Giuliani yesterday was saying that the President's planning on pardoning the Puerto Rican nationalists was a mistake, given the fact that they haven't renounced violence yet. What's your take on that?

MR. LOCKHART: I think he's slightly ahead of himself here. There is a process that's ongoing. The process at the White House was led by Chuck Ruff, an interagency process that brought forward a recommendation for the President. As you well know, there have been a series of religious leaders, members of Congress, former President Carter, many others who have called for some action like this. And after a long process, the recommendation from Mr. Ruff came to the President to commute the sentence of some people based on the time served and in accordance with the Parole Commission guidelines.

But the President's decision was based on their recognition and agreement to renounce violence and also agree to the normal parole terms that anyone who receives parole. That process is ongoing.

My understanding is the groups, the people involved and the group of lawyers who have been representing them met and spoke yesterday, and we expect to hear from them quite soon. But there is a process here that is ongoing, so it was not unexpected that the group of people involved here would want to talk to their attorneys before agreeing to the details of the offer that the President has put out there.

Q So we should expect maybe that they'll renounce violence. You're saying it just for down the line, perhaps?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm saying that the process is ongoing. I know that they had a chance to speak to their attorneys yesterday, and I expect that we'll hear more. I think that there are people at the White House Counsel's -- at the Justice Department and the Counsel's Office who are involved in this process. It will move forward; if they are willing to renounce violence and agree to the parole terms that any parolee would. Their sentences will be commuted.

I would not draw any conclusion, and I think it's improper to draw any conclusion from the fact that that hasn't happened yet, because I think anyone should have the right to talk and consult with their attorney on an offer like this.

Q Joe, The Washington Times this morning quotes Jim Kennedy as saying the President has never used cocaine. Is that the President saying that, is that Jim Kennedy saying that, are you saying that?

MR. LOCKHART: Let me deal with this question and I'll come back. I just put out some bad information.

The President addressed this issue in the 1992 campaign. It hasn't changed, and Mr. Kennedy's remarks are accurate.

Q Joe, I'm not sure that the President, himself, ever addressed the issue.

MR. LOCKHART: Mr. Kennedy's authorized -- the comment from Mr. Kennedy and the Counsel's Office was both authorized and accurate.

Q Excuse me, Joe. If the rumors of this have been around for years, why did he bother to --

MR. LOCKHART: He didn't bother to choose it. He was asked by a reporter of The Washington Times the question, so -- I mean, I know the old game of asking a question and saying that we raised something, but he was asked a question and he answered it. If you want to delve into the reasons why The Washington Times raised it this week, feel free.

I gave you some bad information here which now clears up why Howard and I seem to be at odds. The Liz Robbins' fundraiser is a joint DSCC-DNC fundraiser. I'll get a breakdown for you of what the DSCC will get -- DSCC will get and what the DNC will get and how that -- I've lacked doing my homework here.

Q That is when?

MR. LOCKHART: That's the first one, Saturday afternoon. Liz Robbins is a friend of both the First Lady and the President from New York.

Q Joe, can you tell us whether you have spoken to the President and whether he has told you that he has never used cocaine or been in the presence of cocaine? Because all we have to go by are seven-year-old statements from other people around the President; we don't have anything from the President.

MR. LOCKHART: I've spoken to him about these stories, and I know that the statement made by Mr. Kennedy is both authorized and accurate.

Q And for the record?

MR. LOCKHART: For the record.

What else we got?

Q Just kind of an issue that we are getting into some tough topics here that are rather newsworthy and, unfortunately, our print brethren have a big advantage over us because we don't have a camera here. Can we make arrangements to get some of this on camera?

MR. LOCKHART: We can, starting tomorrow, do this on camera if you want. I just have to dress differently. I wasn't informed of this in advance, and my legs are not ready for prime time.

Q If nobody else has another question -- Trulock, the Department of Energy official, who says that he is resigning because he was excluded from the ongoing investigation?

MR. LOCKHART: I understand he's made some statements. There have been statements out of the Department of Energy and there is an ongoing investigation there. I think they're in a better place to comment on that.

Q If as you say, your legs are not ready for prime time, we could shoot you from the waist up and you could talk to us today.

MR. LOCKHART: I don't even want to give -- answer you from the waist up. That's even a bigger problem. (Laughter.) Next. We're going down a bad road here, so let's wrap this up.

Q Here's another one. The Boston Herald said that the President lit his cigar yesterday on the golf course and was puffing it.

MR. LOCKHART: I don't see any evidence of that. I've never seen the President light a cigar. I've seen him, obviously, chew on the end of it. I don't think he had a lit cigar. I've seen the picture, there's no smoking gun, as the case may be. (Laughter.)

Thank God this isn't on camera. (Laughter.) We all done? Thank you. We'll do it tomorrow on camera.

END 12:00 P.M. EDT