Bill Clinton photo

Exchange With Reporters at Cardozo High School

January 19, 1998

Paula Jones Civil Lawsuit

Q. Mr. President, according to Ambassador Seitz, the British believe that Jean Kennedy Smith passed along intelligence information to the IRA. Does that concern you, sir?

On another subject—[laughter]—sir, I didn't hear, I'm sorry, I'm getting hard of hearing. Well, on another subject, after Saturday are you persuaded you may prevail if the Jones case actually does go to trial?

The President. You know, the judge asked us not to talk about it, and I think at least somebody involved in it ought to follow her instructions.

Q. You mean the judge's gag order, sir?

The President. Mr. Bennett will say anything that I have to say about that.

Attack on U.S. Citizens in Guatemala

Q. Did you see that Seitz story, sir, the Ambassador Seitz book?

You've seen the news from Guatemala. Is there anything the United States can do to safeguard U.S. citizens down there?

The President. Well, first of all, it's a terrible thing what happened with that. I have a lot of concerns, obviously, for the victims and their families. But we're persuaded that the Government is taking appropriate action. And it is— where they were, you know, there had been some difficulties. But I think that the Government is doing what it can, and we've been in touch with them. The main thing we need to do now is be concerned with the victims and their families and do whatever we can to minimize such things happening in the future.

Middle East Peace Process

Q. Are you discouraged about the advance word that Prime Minister Netanyahu may not have anything to say that would advance the peace process?

The President. Well, I'm looking forward to the meeting. I'm committed to making it a success. I'm going to do my part, and I just want us to have constructive relations where we can move this forward. And I've been working on it all morning; that's why I'm a little late here today. I'm going to be prepared to reach out a hand in cooperation to both the Prime Minister and to Mr. Arafat and we'll see what happens. But I've got high hopes. I've worked hard on it. The United States, I think, is viewed rightly as a country that just wants a just, stable, and lasting peace. And we're all going to have to make some moves if we're going to get there. But I'm looking forward to this meeting.

Participation in Community Service

Q. When was the last time you painted a wall, sir?

The President. Not very long ago. This is the third painting project I've done with the national service—with the AmeriCorps people. But we really wanted to emphasize Martin Luther King's birthday as a day of service, a day on, not a day off. And I want to thank the people from the DC school system and the city government and General Becton and the others. This is encouraging, to have all these young people out here. And all over America there are young people working today, tens of thousands of them. That's the image of our young people I'd like for the rest of America to see, and I hope that they will inspire more people of all ages to get involved in community service.

Q. Thank you.

The President. You guys need to give Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News] his cuts; he didn't have to work hard today. [Laughter]

Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith

Q. Sir, could you look into that Smith thing?

The President. Yes, I will. I will.

Participation in Community Service

Q. Mr. President, how much painting experience do you have?

The President. When I was a younger man, I did quite a bit of it.

Q. For who?

The President. For myself. That's the advantage when you elect a real middle class President—you get people who've had to do things like this in life.

Q. What's the shirt mean, Mr. President?

The President. It's just a shirt my daughter gave me.

Q. And the numbers on the back?

The President. I'm not sure. I have no idea. I hope it's not something embarrassing; I don't have a clue. [Laughter]

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:55 a.m. in Room 306 at the school, where he participated in a community service project to repaint classrooms. In his remarks, he referred to U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright; Robert S. Bennett, the President's attorney in the Paula Jones civil lawsuit; Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of Israel; Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority; and Gen. Julius W. Becton, Jr., USA (Ret.), superintendent, District of Columbia public schools. A reporter referred to Raymond G.H. Seitz, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters at Cardozo High School Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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