Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
1:50 P.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: A couple of -- the briefing schedule for the G-7, first of all. Tomorrow afternoon, probably 2:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. we'll begin with a logistics briefing. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, we'll do a series of other briefings, which I do not yet have exact times. But they will include a briefing of the principals, which will be Secretaries Bentsen and Christopher. That will be on the record for camera. We'll also do a background briefing on Russian aid, a background briefing on African debt, and a background briefing on the overall goals and expectations. It will probably be Anne Edwards and others who have -- who can go through the specifics of the schedule.
As you know, the Cabinet met this morning. It lasted about 90 minutes. They talked about a number of things. The President, as you know, introduced Lee Brown -- Secretary Brown. They talked some about reconciliation. The Vice President gave an extensive review of the national performance review. It was an update. He also talked about national service and his trip to San Francisco, where they unveiled the summer of service. They talked a little bit about -- Secretary Aspin reported on the base closure commission wrapping up its work this week. And Secretary Babbitt talked a little bit about progress on the forest issues.
Q: What is your sense of the political impact of what happened this weekend -- how it may help Bill Clinton?
MS. MYERS: I think the President made a decision based very specifically on the evidence at hand. There were no political considerations involved, and I think we'll leave those details to you all.
Q: Well, there may have been no political considerations involved, but nonetheless, his poll numbers, we believe, have escalated considerably in the wake of this. There will be more about that tonight. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: CBS news exclusive.
Q: This almost is. (Laughter.)
Q: Were they up --
Q: There is some obvious benefit here, which certainly had to be in the calculation of the President and those around him, or at least they had to expect that this might very well happen.
MS. MYERS: It absolutely was not part of the calculation; absolutely was not. The President was presented with a series of facts that made it very clear that this was a case of state-sponsored terrorism against a former United States president, and that President Clinton took very direction action in response to that; there were no other considerations.
Q: How do you know that since you, by your own statements, were not part of any meetings having anything to do with this?
MS. MYERS: I've had a number of conversations about what happened.
Q: secondhand --
MS. MYERS: That's correct.
Q: What was Mandy doing here Saturday?
MS. MYERS: Mandy came in to help produce the President's statement. That is something she has quite a bit of experience at.
Q: Then no political discussions with Many --
MS. MYERS: Absolutely not. As you know, the decision was made Thursday night; President Clinton gave the order on Friday.
Q: Dee, you've been reported to be concerned about the impact of the weekend on your credibility and on your office because of the erroneous lid that was put on because of the statement you made Thursday, not knowing, apparently, some things that were going on behind the scenes. Can you talk about that a little bit, your concerns?
MS. MYERS: As I said, it was an honest mistake, something that we've had a number of conversations about here, and something that we'll try to change in the future.
Q: What do you mean a number of conversations? Did you complain about it?
MS. MYERS: I think there's obviously some concern. There was never any attention to mislead the media; that was not our objective. I think it was an oversight and something that we'll work to correct.
Q: There are quotes in the paper suggesting that it wasn't a mistake, it was a necessary way to keep the secrecy of the operation. What specifically do you mean when you say mistakes?
MS. MYERS: Well, obviously I'm speaking specifically about my comment on Friday that the President had not received the FBI report; which, as you know now, he received on Thursday. I think that in hindsight, I don't know that the contents of my briefing were part of the calculus when they were deciding who should be informed and who shouldn't be informed. It was something that came up sporadically, certainly not every day. And I just don't think that was part of the calculus. In hindsight, I think perhaps things might have been done differently, and I think we'll take steps to make sure that doesn't happen again.
Q: What should have been -- differently, because if you had known about it, you wouldn't have wanted to signal something. So how does one get around that problem?
Q: If you had known, what would you have said?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think there's -- I don't want to get into discussing too many of the details about it, but I think there are ways that it could have been -- I could have avoided saying something that might have been interpreted as misleading.
Q: Did you -- have you talked to the President about this and do you have better access now?
MS. MYERS: Well, I don't know that I'll ever have access to meetings where security issues are -- I mean, decisions are made about specifically how to respond militarily. That's not something that I think is necessarily something that I would be privy to.
Q: No, but, well, Stephanopoulos and Mark Gearan and the others --
MS. MYERS: No, Mark Gearan was not --
Q: Mark Gearan wasn't on it --
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q: But they don't make decisions either on a military response.
MS. MYERS: Well, that's why they weren't there. I mean, George has a different role, he's a Senior Policy Adviser to the President and in that capacity has a much different role than I do, but none --
Q: You've got the necessary clearances?
MS. MYERS: Do I?
Q: Do you have the necessary clearances?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: Dee Dee, on Capitol Hill, when did you consult and with whom did you consult in --
Q: Can we finish this? You also gave a lid on Saturday when you knew something was brewing. If you had not given a lid, people who had been covering all day would -- I mean, you wouldn't have to tell them anything, but they would just know there wasn't a lid; and they went home. In a matter of ten or 15 minutes, I think, was the, sort of a change.
MS. MYERS: No, it was actually, I don't know exactly how long it was. We shouldn't have put a lid on on Saturday, but we -- I mean, that's a simple one that -- I think there's a lot of uncertainty on weekends. I think that's a fair point.
Q: Did you ask the question on Friday as to whether or not the report was in, and you got misinformation or did you just assume it wasn't in the way it --
MS. MYERS: I asked people who also did not know. In other words, I asked the question, but I asked the wrong people. I didn't ask anybody -- any of the few people in the White House who knew.
Q: Well, how can you be sure that any information you offer from the podium is within the realm of believability if you don't know who has the answers?
MS. MYERS: I think this is a fairly unique case. I think it involves a -- obviously highly sensitive national security issue. I think that the information that you get from this podium is quite accurate, although not always complete. And we try hard -- and I try hard to go back and answer questions that I don't have answers to. Again, I think this is a fairly unique set of circumstances and I think there are ways we can guard against that in the future ,and I think there's a commitment here to do that.
Q: I'd like to clear something up if I can. There are at least two public reports which suggest that the lid was allowed to go on on Saturday deliberately, whether or not --
MS. MYERS: But that's --
Q: whether or not you knew about it in order to help preserve the secrecy of the operation.
MS. MYERS: That's not true. There was just never any discussion about it. It didn't come -- wasn't part of the conversation.
Q: Dee Dee, do you mean to tell me that they don't let you in on national security? They certainly should do it.
MS. MYERS: No, they do. They do, Sarah. Just -- I wasn't in the particular meeting where options were discussed.
Q: Well, if they're doing anything that big, anything that great, they should have called you and asked you in there.
MS. MYERS: I'll relay that to them. (Laughter.)
Q: Well, do they listen to this briefing -- I mean, are you guys listening?
Q: Was David Gergen involved in the decision --
Q: They're watching, too.
Q: to exclude you from the process -- from the information?
MS. MYERS: He was in the meeting, and you'll have to -- I mean, I don't know that it was a --
Q: Dee Dee, we can't hear anything back here. Was the question about Gergen -- was he in the loop?
MS. MYERS: The question was -- no, the question was, was Gergen part of the decision to exclude me from the loop. And the answer is that Gergen was in the meetings where the decisions were made, and --
Q: Disgusting -- (laughter).
MS. MYERS: I don't know that it was a proactive decision or just a decision that nobody who was in the meeting needed to be told.
Q: Did he not contribute -- I mean, he's supposed to be contributing his past White House experience, and given that he had been through a very similar situation, did he not argue against?
MS. MYERS: Again, I think -- again, this wasn't a topic that came up everyday, although it came up fairly regularly; but it didn't come up every day. And I don't think that the people who are necessarily making the decisions thought about whether it would come up. And I think it was an assumption that it wouldn't come up, which was incorrect.
Q: Dee Dee, a follow-up on Bill's question. Mark said yesterday that the was some concern that if the lid had not been imposed that it would have raised some questions. I think the way he put it was, that we didn't want raised; that there would have been some suspicion. I think he told Bill the exact opposite. Which way is it?
MS. MYERS: I don't know that either of us were ever -- putting a lid on is something that happens fairly routinely. Usually, whoever is running the lower press office checks with some senior person. I don't know if they checked with Mark; they didn't check with me that day; we were both in and out. I think, again, that's a mistake. I think we may have been able to keep the lid off without --
Q: When did you know?
MS. MYERS: I was told -- found out before in advance of the operation on Saturday, but obviously after Friday.
Q: Did you find out after the lid went on, or before?
MS. MYERS: Before, but it just didn't occur to me about the lid.
Q: lid could be off just because he might have go out to dinner --
MS. MYERS: Right. I think that the intention, then, was to let things proceed as normally as possible and not tip anything off. Obviously there was a great deal of concern and priority given to keeping this mission secret. We didn't want to jeopardize the success of the mission. And I think that the results speak for themselves. However, there were clearly some things that could have been done differently.
Q: -- consultation with the Hill?
Q: Just so we know how you work this in the future, if you had known something as sensitive as that, that for national security reasons you can't let out, and you are asked a question point-blank in the briefing like you were on Thursday and Friday, would you have lied --
MS. MYERS: No, of course not.
Q: What was the question?
Q: How do you get around that?
Q: What was the question?
MS. MYERS: The question was, had I known about the operation on Friday, would I have lied. And the answer is, no, I think there are ways you can be accurate without lying.
Q: I don't mean to offend you by that question, but if somebody -- if you knew and somebody asked you, "Dee Dee, has the report given to the President?"; you know the report has been given to the President -- seriously, how do you answer that question?
MS. MYERS: I think there are ways to -- obviously, sometimes you're in a better position when you are not in a position to have to lie. On the other hand, I think there are ways that you can guide against giving what could be construed as misleading information without jeopardizing or without knowing all the details.
Q: Is it better sometimes not to know?
MS. MYERS: That is the debate of the ages, as I stand on this side and you stand on that side. I think --
Q: Well, you want to know next time, or would you rather be in the position --
MS. MYERS: No, these are all broad questions --
Q: Please answer this question for this gentleman back here. He's been waiting forever. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I bow to the house -- to the House Etiquette Committee here.
Q: My question is, can you tell us who you consulted with on the Hill; when you consulted with them; and what you told him?
MS. MYERS: Most of the congressional leaders were contacted between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Saturday -- probably between 4:20 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. After the strike was launched but before the missiles landed, we contacted the congressional leadership. I don't have an exact list. I can get that for you. Many --
Q: that list.
MS. MYERS: Yes, we can get it. We'll post it.
Q: And, by the way, Dee Dee, I would like to point out right here that consulting with congressional leaders is not consulting with Congress. Now, you almost got us into a war if you haven't gotten us into a war already. You've got us --
Q: What, is this a speech? What is this a speech?
Q: Sarah --
MS. MYERS: Go ahead.
Q: What did you tell the congressional leaders that you talked with --
MS. MYERS: The President told them that the strike was underway. But many of them -- he placed calls to a lot of them who he did not reach. For example, Senator Dole, as you know, was on an airplane flying back from Mrs. Nixon's funeral. Others weren't in.
Q: Do you know whether he tried to reach Ron Dellums?
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q: Dee Dee, were those phone calls --
Q: Ron Dellums was complaining today that he was not consulted as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Do you know if he tried to reach him?
MS. MYERS: I just told Andrea I do not know. Again, we'll get the list and post the members who --
Q: If it turns out that Dellums was not consulted -- obviously, that question will come up here again -- could you, in the course of posting the list, take a question and answer it about what -- if it turns out he hadn't been consulted, why?
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q: the President --
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: Was there concern, Dee Dee, that to talk to them in advance of the operation might compromise the security of the operation?
MS. MYERS: That's always something that you weigh. I think the President thought it was important to consult -- or notify members of Congress. And he did so.
Q: Did he do it personally?
MS. MYERS: Yes, he placed the calls himself. I don't know if he placed them himself, but he tried -- he did speak to a number of members.
Q: In terms of semantics, that's one of Dellums' questions. You're not saying that Congress was consulted. They were simply notified?
MS. MYERS: Notified.
Q: But why would he consult -- excuse me, why would he notify the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services and not the Chairman of the House --
MS. MYERS: Let me just make sure, I mean, I don't know that -- I mean, Dellums says he wasn't consulted. I take him at his word, but let me just find out. I don't have a complete list of who was.
Q: It sounds a bit too easy when you say you might have done things differently without getting yourself into bind of a appearing to lie. In this kind of situation you can either tell the truth, in which case you tip off Saddam in advance; you can say no comment, which can lead to the same result as having advance speculative stories that the strike may be afoot; or you can do what was done over the weekend, which is also unsatisfactory. Can you give us any kind of --
MS. MYERS: Well, Leo, basically what you just outlined is a set of, sort of Hobson's choices, there's no good option.
Q: Okay, but that's different from what you said. You said that you were going to review the situation and come up with a modus operandi next time that might be satisfactory all around, the way I understood you. Now you're saying that really there is no --
MS. MYERS: No, no. The way you outlined it -- what I said was, I think that there is a way or there might be a way in the future to be accurate and not appear to be misleading without tipping off the operation. Obviously, it's a very delicate balance. It's one of the most difficult questions that we face in trying to provide accurate information.
Q: But how do you do that in the context of being asked, what's the status of the FBI report --
MS. MYERS: I can't give you any more information than that, Leo.
Q: you'd switch from no FBI report to no comment. Isn't that the same thing as having a comment?
MS. MYERS: It's done. I think --
Q: In the future, would you consult with Tony Lake rather than with Mark or someone else? In other words, the practice used to be that Fitzwater would call the National Security Adviser, who unfortunately during Grenada lied to the Press Secretary.
MS. MYERS: Correct. I consult regularly with Tony Lake and a number of other people -- senior foreign policy people in this administration. I didn't happen to ask him that question that day.
Q: And if he says preposterous, would you let us know right away?
MS. MYERS: Bill, you'll be the first to know.
Q: Thanks very much.
Q: Dee Dee, did the threats against the targets in New York come into play in the decision to send this signal to Saddam Hussein at that time? Then why would the President -- could I follow up on this -- then why would the President and the senior advisers who were Saturday night say that they'd hoped also that other potential -- other terrorists contemplating action would take this as a warning as well?
MS. MYERS: I think in the case of Saturday night's action, it was made on the basis of very specific evidence. The FBI and others concluded that this was a case of state-sponsored terrorism and acted accordingly. Now, clearly this was intended to send a message not only to Iraq, but to any other countries that might be contemplating or involving similar kinds of state-sponsored terrorism. It's unacceptable, and the United States will respond appropriately.
Q: Dee Dee, I just want to clarify the question on Iraq policy. What is the administration's policy toward Saddam Hussein? Is it this administration's policy that it seeks the removal of Saddam Hussein; or is it this administration's policy that it just wants to moderate his behavior, keep him there and maintain the territorial integrity of Iraq?
MS. MYERS: Our position is that -- what we've said in the past is that this is something that's based on behavior. But we don't believe that Iraq's behavior will change as long as Saddam Hussein is in power.
Q: Dee Dee, that's a little different than Vice President Gore's comments this morning with John Holliman of CNN.
MS. MYERS: I think it's consistent. (Laughter.) This just in --
Q: Charlie Gibson. (Laughter.)
Q: And what he told Harry Smith. (Laughter.)
Q: What Gore said this morning is that U.S. policy wants to see the regime of Saddam Hussein removed, and that it's hoping and believes that the sanctions will achieve that result.
MS. MYERS: U.S. policy is that we do not -- I mean, I think -- I don't think there's inconsistency here -- it's based on behavior. Our actions are intended to change Iraq's behavior. But we don't believe Iraq's behavior is going to change entirely until Saddam Hussein is gone.
Q: Dee Dee, CNN has reported that Norman Schwarzkopf is getting extra protection because of the possibility -- he's also been threatened. Can you give us any confirmation or denial of that?
MS. MYERS: I can't confirm or deny. I would have to refer you to the agencies who are supposedly protecting him.
Q: Could you tell us what role the Attorney General played in either informing the President of the details or helping to brief the President on the details of the FBI inquiry or -- and/or the discussions that ensued about what to do?
MS. MYERS: As you know, she prepared the report. It was prepared at her direction. She was not present at the Thursday night meeting. I don't -- she was not present. And I don't believe that the President and the Attorney General spoke directly, but I'll have to double-check that.
Q: Was she present at the Wednesday night meeting?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe so.
Q: Well, we were briefed that --
MS. MYERS: I'll have to double-check.
Q: it came from Woolsey and Reno. I may be confused.
MS. MYERS: The report came from Woolsey and Reno on Thursday, but I don't know -- I'll have to check on who exactly --
Q: Well, he briefed -- an advanced briefing on it, didn't he, on Wednesday?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: What are you talking about?
Q: Was that presented by Lake, do you know, or who?
MS. MYERS: I don't know who all the players were in that meeting.
And then on Thursday during the day the reports by Reno and Woolsey were presented to the President. He read them. On Thursday night, they had a broader meeting where options were discussed.
Q: Did she discuss it with him on Thursday when she was over here for the other --
MS. MYERS: I don't believe they discussed it in any detail.
Q: Dee Dee, the FBI in New York apparently wants Sheik Omar Rahman picked up and thrown out. Attorney General Reno is opposed --. Senator D'Amato, as you know, asked the President the other day to please arrest him.
MS. MYERS: The decision was made by the Attorney General, which is appropriate. The White House was not involved.
Q: not been reviewed by the National Security Council?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe so.
Q: Could you check?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: Did the President make any attempt to reach the new Canadian Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, before the strike?
MS. MYERS: He talked to her. I don't think they talked about the strike, but I'll have to double-check that.
Q: When did he talk to her?
MS. MYERS: He talked to about a dozen world leaders on Friday and Saturday.
Q: But did he specifically talk about the strike? I understood he talked to her Friday --
MS. MYERS: I'll have to check. I'm not sure who all -- he didn't reach everybody. I'm not sure who all he reached.
Q: Could we get a list of the people he called on Friday and Saturday, a complete list?
Q: And what about.
MS. MYERS: He called Campbell at one point. I just don't know if he reached her subsequently. He called to congratulate her. It was a very brief conversation where he said I look forward to seeing you in Tokyo. And I just don't know if he reached her again.
Q: So what you're saying is he called foreign leaders and told them of the intended operation before he told the American congressional leaders that the operation was being considered?
MS. MYERS: He talked to them on Friday and Saturday, correct.
Q: Were some of them told Friday that the operation was afoot -- foreign leaders?
MS. MYERS: He talked to them, and I don't know if he told them that it was actually underway or that it was being considered.
Q: What was the reason for not calling Congress earlier, because of fear of leaks?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I think -- well, I think he wanted to wait until the operation was underway and then make sure that they knew in advance.
Q: Which congressmen do you think would leak it? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: You are much better judges of that than I am.
Q: Has he spoken to George Bush since their chat Saturday night?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: Foley says he got a call around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, which would have been before the 4:22 p.m. launch. So Foley was called in advance.
MS. MYERS: Again, I said I will try to post a list of who he called --
Q: With the list, could you give the days they were called?
Q: And the foreign --
MS. MYERS: The congressional leaders were all called on Saturday.
Q: Can you put the world leaders on the list?
MS. MYERS: I'll see if that's available.
Q: Speaking of world leaders, is the President satisfied with the support or lack of support from some of the countries?
MS. MYERS: Oh, I think he's very gratified by the support. I think that he's received tremendous support from world leaders in Europe and elsewhere. Russia, traditionally neutral Sweden -- I think he's been very, very well supported.
MS. MYERS: Well, it's not unanimous, but I think even the countries that have raised some questions haven't raised many questions about the appropriateness of the action.
Q: I have a question, but first a request. A couple of weeks ago we asked if you could mic the questions so the people in the back don't constantly have to ask what --
MS. MYERS: We're working on it and -- what the status of it is.
Q: My question is, what is it about this attack that you think will deter acts of terrorism as opposed to discourage them? When you say that this is sending a message to terrorists, why will it deter them?
MS. MYERS: I think it's the fact of the action. That this -- as soon as it concluded that Iraq was involved, was responsible for this attempt on President Bush's life, we took swift and deliberate action. It was proportional, but it was very -- I think it made a very strong statement. There was no delay, the President acted decisively. And I think that it sends a clear message to others considering the same thing. This is just unacceptable and we will respond.
Q: Which one of those -- leaders contacted raised questions?
MS. MYERS: They weren't -- no, they weren't -- two separate issues. One was who did the President contact on the phone; the other one was what's been the response of world leaders, which I'm mostly referring to press accounts of.
Q: Can you tell us on what basis you judge proportionality as Bill Safire raised the question today, is an exPresident' s life worth one office building? Or how do you figure that? (Laughter.)
Q: What was the question?
MS. MYERS: Bill Saffire raised the question that is a ex-President's life worth one office building? How do we judge proportionality? The President decided in this case that what he wanted to do was to send a message and to take out, or do serious damage to Iraq's capability to put together a plan and execute similar missions in the future. He clearly did not want to take a lot of civilian casualties, and that's why -- the site was chosen because it is the center of intelligence operations, it is the site where this attack on President Bush was being planned. It was chosen -- the time was chosen in order to minimize civilian casualties.
Q: Can you -- administration policy on a point that was discussed earlier? Under what circumstances will the administration allow spokepersons to make public statements about administration policy in ignorance of what's actually going on? You said this is a particular case. What are the principles the administration will use to do that?
MS. MYERS: I don't know that we have a written policy on it, but I think under no circumstances does this administration want to see a spokesperson go out and give inaccurate information. I think that's clearly the goal. Obviously we have some rethinking to do in the wake of this event.
Q: But in the future, is it your expectation that no spokesperson will be briefing in ignorance of -- a significant matter of public interest?
MS. MYERS: I can't say that with absolute certainty.
Q: Dee Dee, isn't it possible that they deliberately kept you in the dark because they wanted to prevent or preserve the element of surprise --
MS. MYERS: I wouldn't -- yes, I don't think that's necessarily the issue. I think what --
Q: Well, early on you said no, that you weren't deliberately -- I think you -- at least --
MS. MYERS: I didn't mean to imply that. I think that the circle of people who knew about the action was deliberately kept very small -- very small. And the people who were notified were people that were in -- directly in the decision-making process.
Q: Dee Dee, how often do you talk to the President? Do you talk to him --
MS. MYERS: Several times a day.
Q: Before briefings, do you ask him specific questions?
MS. MYERS: Always before briefings I talk to him.
Q: Dee Dee, can you talk a little bit about the nature of the conversations the President had with these foreign leaders on Friday and Saturday?
MS. MYERS: I'm not prepared to -- no. I said I would get back on that.
Q: Dee Dee, when you told us on Friday that the President had not received the FBI report, was your statement based on anything you received from anybody here in the previous 24 hours, or were you just winging it?
MS. MYERS: We receive updated guidance everyday. I think -- I was not winging it.
Q: So somebody gave you false information.
MS. MYERS: Somebody who was not in a position to know. Again, I don't know --
Q: Why would they give an answer to you if they're not --
MS. MYERS: That's why we are reevaluating this and looking at it and trying to figure out how to avoid making a similar mistake in the future.
Q: Since you're in the spotlight, having said on Friday what you did, who gave you that erroneous information?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to tell you.
Q: And just for the record, does the President or any of his senior advisers believe that for national security reasons it is ever all right to lie to the press?
MS. MYERS: You know, I don't -- I hope not. I don't know.
Q: Dee Dee, who put out the guidance on Friday morning?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to point fingers.
Q: Have you talked to the President about --
MS. MYERS: Briefly.
Q: Can you share with us whether he --
MS. MYERS: Prefer not to.
Q: How are you going to resolve it in the future? Will you be in the loop next time? Will you know what the answer is?
MS. MYERS: We're in the process of discussing it.
Q: Could you talk about the schedule this week -- particularly -- will there be decisions and when on gays in the military, nuclear testing and timber?
Q: And the Travel Office.
Q: Travel Office.
Q: Travel Office report?
MS. MYERS: A particular favorite of Debra Orin. Obviously there will be a number of reports coming in this week. As decisions are made, I will certainly let you know. I think there will be a number of things that will come down, but I can't say at this point exactly what.
Q: Actual decisions or just receiving the report?
Q: Dee Dee, you said that Mandy was involved in the production --
MS. MYERS: Decisions.
Q: of the President's address.
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q: I think I understand what that means, technically and everything. But did she have anything at all do to with the drafting of his comments?
MS. MYERS: Not a thing.
Q: Comments that he made?
MS. MYERS: Nothing.
Q: Who drafted, NSC?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: When was she brought into the loop?
MS. MYERS: She arrived here at about 6:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. Actually it was later than that; it was sometime between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night.
Q: Did she have the power cord?
MS. MYERS: She forgot the power cord.
Q: Does the President believe that the Voting Rights Act allows state legislatures to draw districts to specifically -- to create a district that is likely to elect a minority member of Congress?
MS. MYERS: I will have to take that question.
Q: Getting back to that earlier question, what else is on the agenda this week -- tomorrow and --
MS. MYERS: This week. Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. the President will give a speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses at the Hyatt Regency. That's tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
Q: Goes to the Hyatt Regency?
MS. MYERS: At the Hyatt Regency. He's giving a speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Then at 11:30 a.m. President Menem of Argentina will be here. The schedule is 11:30 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. Oval Office meeting, 12:20 p.m. to 1:25 p.m. a working lunch, 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 a press availability in the East Room. On Wednesday there's a bipartisan leadership meeting here at 10:00 a.m.
On Thursday, Secretary Lee Brown will be sworn in. He'll have lunch with the Vice President and then the usual Thursday photo ops and Friday nothing currently scheduled. Saturday radio address; Sunday, Philadelphia.
Q: Friday, don't you have foreign leaders --
Q: He'll be down Saturday?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I'm sorry. de Klerk and Mandela in separate meetings. That has been confirmed.
MS. MYERS: I don't have all the details, but he will go ring the Liberty Bell, among other things.
Q: When will he meet de Klerk and Mandela?
MS. MYERS: Friday afternoon here.
Q: Is the event tonight open now?
MS. MYERS: It's pool. We'll let the pool in for the President's remarks.
Q: So he's not doing de Klerk and Mandela giving the medals --
MS. MYERS: No, Mayor Rendell is giving them a Medal of Freedom. It's a City of Philadelphia Medal of Freedom on Sunday. There's two events in Philadelphia. One is the sort of traditional bell-ringing around noontime, I believe. And then there's a separate event which President Clinton will also attend where Mayor Rendell will present de Klerk and Mandela with the Philadelphia Medals of Freedom.
Q: Do you know what the remarks tonight are about?
MS. MYERS: I don't. I don't think he's -- certainly not intended to make news. I think it will be sort of general.
Q: Last week when we were doing the gays in the military discussions, the White House -- or the White House said that the President wanted a full briefing on the implications of whatever language was settled on. Has Secretary Aspin given the President such a briefing yet?
MS. MYERS: Not to my knowledge.
Q: Will you check?
MS. MYERS: I have not checked. That's --
Q: It could of occurred and you just wouldn't know about it --
MS. MYERS: It's possible, but I don't think so.
Q: Regarding base closings, is the President receptive to or inviting meetings and discussions with lawmakers and special interests of those bases targeted for closure?
MS. MYERS: No, he'll consult with Secretary Aspin and Chairman Powell. But, as you know, the proposal will either be submitted totally or rejected totally. And the President will make a decision in consultation with the Secretary and the General.
Q: When do you think the Travel Office report will be done?
MS. MYERS: Hopefully this week.
Q: Dee Dee, is the President being kept abreast of the progress of the talks in New York between Aristide and Cedras?
MS. MYERS: Yes, of course. We have no further details on it. They're ongoing.
Q: President Bush, according to reports, is supposed to have said that even before he went to Kuwait on this visit, he had intimations that there might be an attempt on his life, but he was not going to be cowed and therefore proceeded with the trip. My question is, do you know whether President Bush ever consulted with anyone in the government as to the advisability of making the trip and, B, was there any guidance given him from anyone in the government as to whether he should or should not go?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I would imagine that President Bush consulted with the security detail or the Secret Service, but you'd have to check with President Bush.
Q: Can you check with NSC people or so on as to whether there was any consultations before the trip?
MS. MYERS: I'll check. I don't know whether we'll be able to answer that.
Q: Dee Dee, what's the President's view on the failure of the Japanese-U.S. trade negotiation in Tokyo today?
MS. MYERS: Well, Secretary Bentsen will be here later this afternoon to brief the President, talk about G-7. I think the word that we've gotten out of Tokyo is that they did make some progress over the weekend. Clearly, the framework is not done and may not be done before the President goes to Tokyo. But Secretary Bentsen will have more details about that this afternoon.
Q: What is the impact of that going to be on the President's effort to get Japan's global trade surplus down if the framework is not ready when it's supposed to be?
MS. MYERS: I think we'll wait and let Secretary Bentsen report to the President on exactly where those talks stand.
Q: What time is he coming and will he be at the stakeout?
MS. MYERS: I don't know that he chooses to go there very often, but I think 4:00 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. I think, 4:30 p.m.
Q: President Bush, when he was at the White House, let the United States Attorneys Office in Atlanta know that he did not want to prosecute a case involving Kennametal of Pennsylvania, which was sending a tool to make the atomic bomb to Saddam Hussein before and during the war. I wonder if this White House is going to do something about prosecuting this Kennametal Company in Pennsylvania, which is still in business and which is threatening anybody who criticizes -- $3 million suit as of July 1.
MS. MYERS: We talked about this before and we're looking into it. I don't have any more information for you.
Q: You are looking into it?
Q: Have the talks broken off in Japan?
MS. MYERS: They've finished for the weekend. I think they wrapped up this morning or last night. And Bo Cutter, as you know, is leading that delegation and will be returning tomorrow.
Now, what he said is that they need another meeting before they can complete it, and he doesn't know whether it will be done before G-7.
Q: wouldn't --
MS. MYERS: No, Bo said he didn't know. Secretary Bentsen had a slightly different view.
Q: What is the President doing today to try to influence the vote in the House on the space station?
MS. MYERS: I don't know that he's -- he may make some calls, I don't know.
Q: You don't know if he's called members already?
Q: Did Bo Cutter say that the political turmoil in Japan had slowed down the process and that's why?
MS. MYERS: I think it's clearly had an impact on the process. And exactly how it will affect the final outcome remains to be seen.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:25 P.M. EDT
William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/269239