Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
1:43 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: A couple of quick things. First of all, as you know -- at 4:00 p.m. today in the OEOB the different departments will meet on radiation. There will be representatives there from Veterans, Defense, Energy, OMB, Justice, NASA and HHS, as well as White House officials. It is being coordinated by Phil Lader and Christine Varney. Mark Gearan will also attend that meeting and be here in the briefing room sometime, probably between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. for a readout.
Q: Can we have a little photo op?
MS. MYERS: No, probably not, but I'll take it and see if we want to do that. And perhaps a White House photo, but I'm not sure we can turn it around quick enough. So we'll take a look at that and let you know.
Q: What's this again? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: This is the radiation meeting. You know, there's been this issue -- (laughter.)
Q? Will the President drop in?
MS. MYERS: I think it's unlikely. It's still possible. It's not on his schedule. He said that he may drop by. He may choose to do that, but I think it will probably be conducted on a staff level.
And then I just thought a little readout from this morning's health care meeting --
Q: Before you do that, can I ask who Markey was meeting with?
MS. MYERS: Markey came over -- I'm not sure who all he met with, but he did -- as you know, he produced a report -- his office produced a report on this issue sometime ago. Many of the issues that are now being discussed were covered in that report, and he came over here to talk with some White House officials about what his --
Q: Why is the CIA not at this meeting today? Because there has been some information from Markey and others that the CIA is not being as cooperative as some of these other agencies in releasing their information.
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure why they're not there, but I'll certainly take the question and find out if they were ever part of this process and what the status of that is.
Q: Does the President agree with what Secretary O'Leary said about compensation? What is the latest thinking about whether compensation should be made to all who have been affected, including --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that's the goal of this meeting, is to find out -- to begin a fact-finding process to find out exactly what the status is, what the state of play is and then begin to make decisions about how best to proceed.
I think if there were injustices rendered that need to look at compensation, the President certainly believes that. But I think at this point I think the process needs to move forward with the fact-finding.
Q: Did the White House give O'Leary the go-ahead before she made this promise to compensate victims?
MS. MYERS: I think it's been something that she's been working on at the DOE. Certainly the President -- part of what initiated this process was the President's directive last year to begin declassification of documents, something he certainly supports. I think we'll see where the process goes from here.
Q: But did she go to the White House first and ask permission before she came out publicly with this?
MS. MYERS: No, I think -- I'm not sure that she asked for permission, but it is something that she's discussed with White House officials.
Q: Did she notify the White House in advance of the amount that she was going to make?
MS. MYERS: Of the compensation?
Q: Well, the first part -- and separately, the conversation.
MS. MYERS: Yes, yes. I'm not sure about the compensation but it's certainly -- because I'm not sure what the exact chronology was. But it's certainly something that she's been in discussion about, as she is about a number of issues that they're undertaking at DOE.
Q: Could you give us a health care readout?
MS. MYERS: Sure. As you know, the President called together the working group on health care today to kick off the new year. I can -- what we'll do is post the list of -- I guess you guys saw the attendees. We don't need to do that.
He began by thanking the Cabinet members for their work on health care over the previous year, and for the appearances that many of them made, particularly in the last few months since the President announced the health care plan in September. He talked about the importance of continuing to coordinate closely between agencies, about the importance of the initiative, about getting health care passed this year, about the absolute immutability of universal coverage and comprehensive benefits that can never be taken away.
The First Lady, I think, underscored that. She talked about the importance of coordination and consultation between the various agencies. And I think they talked about a number of areas where coordination is particularly important on a policy level, on a legislative level -- as all the different agencies will have legislative liaisons on the Hill working the various committees and members of Congress who will be key players on this. They talked about communications, making sure that we all work together on a communications level, and outreach to various constituencies who will be affected by health care reform.
The First Lady suggested that there should be regular meetings of this working group, which is something that's been fairly regular throughout the previous year and will certainly be intensified this year -- and I think talked a little bit about -- the President talked a little bit about how health care would fit into his overall domestic agenda for the coming year; how important it is both to the continued economic recovery, to other initiatives -- everything from worker training to welfare reform; how all of those initiatives fit together; how health care reform is central to achieving other points of the President's domestic agenda.
The meeting lasted about 50 minutes.
Q: How many agencies would be involved in this consultation-coordination? And obviously, that were not involved before. And how many lobbyists does that mean on the Hill for the administration if each agency sends people up?
MS. MYERS: Well, the Cabinet agencies that were represented today -- the Secretaries who were there were Bentsen, Shalala, Ron Brown, Jesse Brown, Reich, Riley, Reno, Cisneros; the Vice President, obviously, was there and Laura Tyson. So those are just the various Cabinet members that were present at the meeting. Each of those agencies has had and will continue to have a role in health care reform.
Q: They will be the ones who will be consulting?
MS. MYERS: Sure, as part of the overall working group. I think our strategy is to work collectively, to have a collective strategy that deals with both the policy issues as well as the legislative issues. There will be a number of committees. I think that still remains to be seen in the Senate. There are three primary committees in the House, plus additional committees that will be -- have primary jurisdiction over the health care bill. And then there will certainly be other committees that will have different pieces of it. So there will be no shortage of members of Congress involved, and certainly the administration wants to work closely with them.
Q: Did anyone in this meeting sit down and give the President an objective assessment of where Congress is on this issue right now?
MS. MYERS: No. I think that's something that we've certainly followed very closely last year and continuing to evolve. I think that there is generally optimism that this is something the President believes that we can get done this year. It is something that we have no illusions that it will be a very difficult fight. It's a complicated issue, and one that affects one-seventh of the domestic economy. I think that generally the assessments were that people are ready to buckle down and to work very hard to get this done this year, and that Congress is also willing to go along. But it's going to be a tough fight.
Q: The President spoke about the need for crime, for education, job training and health care reform, but didn't say anything about welfare reform in his agenda for this new year that he outlined --
MS. MYERS: He did touch on it in the radio address. I think it's certainly something -- health care reform is certainly a component of welfare reform. It's something the President has always said that until you can guarantee people the same benefits by working that they now receive by being on welfare, then you can't either get them to move from welfare to work or keep them working -- unless they have a guarantee that their children will be provided for, that their families will provided for. So it's certainly an important component of welfare reform. But the President will also have a comprehensive welfare reform package this year.
Q: Does that mean -- just to go back -- that until health care reform, really the outline of the deal is struck, there's no sense in going ahead with welfare reform -- to delay welfare reform for the time being?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't want to say that. There are certainly -- but health care is an important component of welfare reform, just as the earned income tax credit which was passed last year is an important component of welfare reform. But the President will come forward with a comprehensive welfare reform proposal, and we'll have to see exactly how the sequencing and timing of that works out.
Q: You're not saying January anymore?
MS. MYERS: I think -- I'm not sure that we'll have the whole comprehensive package. I think it's something that the President will certainly address in the State of the Union on the 25th.
Q: Mrs. Clinton talked about the human working groups this group is going to need. Does she mean at the Cabinet level? Are they actually going to spend their time rather than their deputies?
MS. MYERS: No, I think there's certainly be -- I think this group will be convened periodically, but the majority of the work will be done at an assistant level: assistant secretaries, deputy secretaries, other staff members.
Q: The President said beyond universal coverage he's willing to talk about the details when he was asked about compromise. It seems like an awfully early time for him to be responding that way and agreeing to compromise.
MS. MYERS: That's been our position for months, that the two components of this that we're absolutely not able to compromise on were universal coverage and comprehensive benefits that can't be taken away. That's not a new position.
Q: That's right, he's reiterated his willingness to compromise beyond that point. I'm wondering why, before the fight is even underway, he's talking compromise.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we've outlined a very comprehensive, detailed health care plan -- one that addresses everything from financing to the specific benefits included in the package. As we move into a debate in Congress, I think that the onus will be on other people with other plans now to be as detailed, to be as comprehensive as the President has been.
So far we haven't seen that from any of the other plans. I think at that point, once other people have put forward the specific details of their financing, where the money's going to come from, or have outlined the specific benefits that will be covered in their packages, we can discuss how best to go about it. I think when the President made the announcement of the health care package, he said he didn't come down from the mountain with the stone tablets. That's certainly our posture. What we did do was put together what we think is the best plan, the most comprehensive plan, and it should be a benchmark in terms of specificity.
Q: Have you seen any one thing he likes in any of these other plans?
MS. MYERS: I think there are a lot of elements that are shared. A couple of the plans include universal coverage. Others include elements that he likes. I still think that the President's view is that his plan is the best plan; that's why he put it forward. Certainly things like the employer mandate looked at a number of ways of providing universal coverage. He thinks that's the best. But as the process goes forward, we're certainly going to debate this and look at a number of other ideas.
Q: Can you give us some sense of how the President's preparing for his trip to Europe?
MS. MYERS: He's going to be spending a lot of time this week in briefings, both at a staff level. He has a couple of briefings today at a --
Q: Who is briefing him?
MS. MYERS: He has one with the Joint Chiefs this afternoon, and most of them are done at staff level. Tony Lake is coordinating a series of briefings. I believe -- there are certainly people from the State Department who will be participating. Strobe Talbott was here this morning for a briefing. I believe Secretary Christopher is here part of this afternoon. But mostly it's NSC, State Department officials. He'll also meet with some outside people -- has a dinner tonight -- I mean, tomorrow night with outside experts to talk just generally about --
Q: With Kissinger --
MS. MYERS: I don't have a list, but we can certainly see if we can provide that for you. So there will be a --
Q: You'll find out what -- all parts of it, or NATO?
MS. MYERS: Different parts of it. There are, obviously, a number of different parts, and I think the -- outsiders will represent a variety of different areas of expertise. Today, he's looking at some overall -- sort of the overall trip. That was this morning. There will be a meeting to look at NATO and one to look at Central Europe. Certainly he'll spend time discussing Russia as well as the Middle East, in preparation for the meeting.
Q: Does he have decisions to make? I mean, the policy is, as has been described by State Department briefers in recent days in terms of the balance between Partnership for Peace and the Russian involvement. Those decisions have been made or does he actually have decision-making meetings?
MS. MYERS: Most of the decisions in reference to the trip have been made. So this is to bring him up to speed on all the details of the schedule. Certainly, he's got a number of bilaterals, he's got a number of multilateral meetings to prepare him for the substance of those meetings so that he can have thoughtful, meaningful conversations just to continue to bring him up.
Q: He's not for taking Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO at this time?
MS. MYERS: The Partnership for Peace establishes a vehicle for evolution, for full participation. And it is, I think, a truly historic initiative, and one that we'll be discussing after the NATO summit. We will start briefings for you all perhaps as early as tomorrow, but definitely by Wednesday, and we'll do a number on a number of different issues from, again, NATO, Central Europe, Russia, Belarus, and then probably what's going to happen in Geneva.
Q: Can we get a briefing with Strobe?
MS. MYERS: I think he was one of the briefers, and I'm hopeful that that will not change, given his new responsibilities.
Q: He's much too important now.
MS. MYERS: He's a veritable Bigfoot now. (Laughter.)
Q: Do decisions have to be made on a specific aid package? Is a new aid package being announced in Moscow?
MS. MYERS: I don't think so. No.
Q: We're not going there with any type of new --
MS. MYERS: No. I mean, the purpose of it I think is to continue to work with the Russians to encourage them on the road to democratic and market economic reforms, and to talk about a number of ways we can help them in that transition. But I don't expect the President to announce any major new aid package.
Q: How do we encourage them? I mean, what incentives do we offer?
MS. MYERS: Well, part of it has been outlined before in helping to make sure that the aid that we've already promised gets delivered efficiently, working with them on a number of -- everything from economic cooperation to a number of initiatives that we've already talked about -- environmental, other economic, energy -- just to continue to move forward on those kinds of initiatives. And we can certainly have more details on exactly the content of those meetings as we move a little bit closer to it.
Q: What does the President expect to get out of this trip?
MS. MYERS: I think in NATO, I think we plan to underscore that this is still the most important geopolitical relationship to the United States -- and certainly NATO has been the most effective such partnership in history -- and that it will continue to be the central organization for our relationships in Europe. We'll also meet with leaders from the EU to continue to discuss ways to increase our economic relationship with Europe.
Then we'll move on to Prague where we'll continue to work with the Central European countries, the Visegrad countries, in their transitions to democracy. We want to continue to encourage them and to help them in their transition.
And then on to Russia -- same thing. Certainly the stop in Minsk will underscore, among other things, the importance of their initiatives to denuclearize. And then on to Geneva.
Q: Back to Moscow. Is there any change of heart in meeting with Zhirinovsky?
MS. MYERS: No schedule -- no plans to meet with Zhirinovsky.
Q: On that point, in July, even before the election in Japan, the President went out of his way to meet with opposition leaders, including the man who became the Prime Minister. Why would he go to Moscow immediately following an election that signaled a lot of opposition to the guy we've thrown in with and not see anyone? Not even -- it wouldn't have to be Zhirinovsky.
MS. MYERS: We're not -- that is incorrect. We are seeing other people, certainly.
Q: Who are they?
MS. MYERS: We will have a more detailed schedule, but we will certainly meet with other members of Parliament, members of the democratic -- other democrats there who aren't necessarily Yeltsin supporters. I think we fully expect to expand out contacts while in Moscow. That's part of the reason for the trip.
Q: Isn't it unusual that you're kind of not -- you're not going to meet with the person who is considered the key -- the biggest opposition leader? And you've said, leading up to this trip, of course, you plan to meet with all opposition leaders.
MS. MYERS: Well, I don't know that he's the key. I don't think that's necessarily our assessment.
Q: Well, 25 percent --
MS. MYERS: Twenty-five percent of one portion of the vote does not reflect his strength in the Duma. Certainly there are a lot of other forces there, which is why we, again, are going to expand our contacts and meet with some other folks while we're in Russia. But I think many of the views that Zhirinovsky had expressed are an anathema to what we believe, and at this point we have no plans to meet with him.
Q: To meet --
MS. MYERS: We just have no -- absolutely.
Q: Has he asked for a meeting with the President?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of.
Q: When you say, "we're meeting with these democrats," you mean Clinton?
MS. MYERS: Yes. I'm sorry, we -- pretty much me and Don and -- (laughter.)
Q: What happens in the end?
MS. MYERS: We have no plans to meet with him. I don't expect that that will change.
Q: Has Zhirinovsky requested a meeting with you or any of the advisers?
MS. MYERS: Again -- just asked that question, and the answer is, not that I know of. I don't think there have been any requests from Zhirinovsky or his people for a meeting.
Q: Will there be meetings with members of any parties outside the two reformist parties?
MS. MYERS: We'll have a more complete list now, but I do expect us to expand.
MS. MYERS: I think it will be confined mostly to reformists. But, again, I'll wait until we have a more complete list.
Q: Do you expect him to see President Kravchuk in Moscow?
MS. MYERS: I believe there will be some meetings, not with -- are you sure? We'll have to get back to you on that. I'll take that question.
Q: Dee Dee, has the President spoken with anyone in the Israeli government, and is he concerned about the Middle East peace process at this point?
MS. MYERS: He has not spoken to anybody in the last, certainly recently. The question is, has the President spoken to anybody in the Israeli government, and is he concerned about the peace process. With regard to the peace process, obviously he is interested in seeing the principles in the declaration implemented, we're continuing to encourage the parties there to work toward that. As you know, they are continuing, some point, face-to-face meetings in Egypt, and we certainly expect that process to go forward, and we'll do what we can to encourage it to go forward.
Q: Dole and Gingrich yesterday both called for an appointment of a special prosecutor in the Whitewater case. Does the White House think that would be appropriate at this time, and do you think that the Republicans have just seen a political opening here and are trying to take advantage of it?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I think -- yes. The Republicans would be political? I find that hard to believe. (Laughter.) Yes, I do think it's not a coincidence that people who have been staunch opponents of reauthorizing special prosecutor statute -- independent prosecutor statute -- are now calling for an independent prosecutor. I don't think that's that hard to figure out.
At this point, we have taken the initiative and turned over all of the --
Q: No, you haven't yet, have you?
MS. MYERS: I'm sorry, we have not. We're in the process -- they're being catalogued and will be turned over within the next couple of weeks.
Q: Why catalogued?
MS. MYERS: There's actually quite a bit of documents, and this includes campaign files, personal files, things -- there's quite a bit, and we just want to make sure that it's catalogued as complete and we will hand it over to the Justice Department.
Q: Dee Dee, is it also not a coincidence that someone -- that people who said that this administration have always supported an independent council law would now be resisting it?
MS. MYERS: I don't think we're resisting it. It's not up to us to make that decision. The Attorney General said today that she wasn't going to appoint a special prosecutor, but I think that there's no -- first of all, we handed over the Whitewater documents in support of an ongoing investigation in the Madison Guaranty. There is no other investigation that we know of, ongoing, and I don't think we have anything to add to what we've already said about this.
Q: To whom are you giving these documents if they weren't requested?
MS. MYERS: We turned them over --
Q: Which office --
MS. MYERS: -- of our own initiative, but we will turn them over to the Justice Department.
Q: to the people pursuing --
MS. MYERS: Madison.
Q: You haven't turned them over yet?
MS. MYERS: We're in the process. We've made clear our intention to turn them over.
Q: It's going to take a few more weeks?
MS. MYERS: It will take a couple of weeks.
Q: Who is doing this cataloging?
MS. MYERS: It's being coordinated, I believe, by the White House Counsel's Office, but I will take that question and make sure.
Q: Are these the files that were in his private lawyer's --
MS. MYERS: Some of them are in the private lawyer's, some of them are --
Q: Why would the House Counsel's Office be overseeing that?
MS. MYERS: I'm taking the question. I think that they're playing a role, but I'm not sure that they're the ultimate point person.
Q: How many documents are you talking about? Like boxes --
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I think that there are some documents -- campaign -- as you know, we went through this once in the campaign. There are a number of files there. Most of it is public -- a lot of it, I'm sure, in those files is public information, things that were collected through the campaign.
Q: Did you finish your answer to Gwen? You said some of them were in the custody of private lawyers, some are -- who has the rest?
MS. MYERS: Some are in the campaign, and I think that's it.
Q: So there's none here now?
MS. MYERS: No, those were turned over.
Q: Dee Dee, does the President still support the reauthorization of the independent counsel law?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: Why does he think that's a good law? What is the purpose?
MS. MYERS: He believes that it helps provide independent inquiry and has --
Q: In what kind of cases?
MS. MYERS: Cases of alleged public corruption, I suppose. He hasn't said a whole lot about that. I think that the parameters of the statute are pretty obvious.
Q: Dee Dee, a number of us have asked on various occasions whether, in fact, Mrs. Clinton got the power of attorney she requested over Whitewater. Can you answer that question for us now, and if not, why not?
MS. MYERS: I failed to find out the answer to that. I'm not sure, Deborah, and I'll have to take it and get back to you.
Q: Have you asked Mrs. Clinton's people? I mean, it's a simple question.
MS. MYERS: I just don't have an answer for you, I'm sorry. I apologize. I will take the question.
Q: What is the position regarding making these documents, once they have been catalogued, public, available to all of us?
MS. MYERS: We're going to hand them over to the Justice Department and have no plans to make them public.
Q: Why is that?
MS. MYERS: We'll let the Justice Department review them.
Q: Why not make them public? Wouldn't that just clear the air entirely?
MS. MYERS: Again, I would just emphasize that there is no investigation ongoing -- we turned over these documents in support of an investigation into a savings and loan. There is no investigation. There is no allegations of impropriety with reference to the Clintons.
Q: No, but there certainly is an air of questions --
MS. MYERS: We voluntarily handed these over to the Justice Department -- are in the process of handing these over to the Justice Department, and we think that that's sufficient. And I have nothing else to say about this.
Q: Is the President ready to normalize relationships with Vietnam?
MS. MYERS: As you know, the President has maintained that that is contingent on progress on POW and MIA issues. Certainly there has been some progress and we've taken a couple of steps -- or took a couple of steps last year, allowing IFI funding and allowing American companies to participate in some of those projects. Further change in the relationship will be contingent on additional progress. Win Lord came back from Vietnam; it was a good trip, a productive trip. And we're still reviewing the status of that.
Q: Is the White House looking into evidence that American POWs or MIAs may have been held by Laos after the war was over?
MS. MYERS: That's something that's been looked into, but as you know, the criteria we have for progress -- there are four areas, and one of them is the trilateral relationship, Vietnam, the U.S., and Laos. So it's always been something that we felt was an important part of our sort of progress, of guaranteeing progress, and something that we'll be looking at. But none of this information, I don't think, is really new.
Q: Do you have any comment on the government in Mexico --
Q: But that's not the point.
MS. MYERS: No. I think, certainly they're handling it there. (Laughter.)
Q: I don't think it's correct to say that none of the information is new. We're saying for the first time that U.S. intelligence officials may have been aware that there was as many as 300 POWs in Laos and that -- I mean, in the same way that you're going back through the files and finding out who knew what about radiation experiments, are you not going back and trying to figure out who knew what about POWs?
MS. MYERS: There were a number of congressional inquiries into this. I think the files were looked at. I don't want to suggest that there won't be new evidence coming to light, but -- and I think the officials at the time were fairly extensively interviewed and testified as to this. But I want to make it clear that the trilateral relationship between Laos, Vietnam and the U.S. is an important part of our furthering relationships with Vietnam, and anything that's new will be, I'm sure, reviewed.
Q: But you're not going back to make sure that there's not new information or there's no information that perhaps has never come to light?
MS. MYERS: I'll have to take that and see exactly what, if anything, is being done about that right now.
Q: Could you explain the current situation with North Korea?
MS. MYERS: There's been no change in that, and dialogue is ongoing. We think that there has been some progress, but dialogue is ongoing and our criteria has not changed.
Q: It's now a month after the IEA suggested it had to know within weeks, had to inspect within weeks. What's the state of the urgency now? Where are we now in terms of being able to continue to certify North Korea does not have nuclear weapons?
MS. MYERS: Well, there's been no certification of a break in inspection. I think, again, that we feel like we've made some progress in the dialogue. The dialogue is ongoing and we're continuing to move forward on that. I think, again, we continue to insist on full inspections. We think we're going to get inspections. And we will continue to work with the North Koreans as we work toward final resolution of this.
But again, I wouldn't suggest that it all has been completed, but I think there is some -- has been some progress.
Q: If I can follow, since we have not inspected and since the time continues to pass, where's the progress?
MS. MYERS: The progress is in the dialogue.
Q: Then where was the initial urgency to inspect?
MS. MYERS: I think that there is still a sense of urgency attached to this. I don't think we ever attached a deadline to it. We certainly didn't, and I don't remember hearing the IAEA attach a specific deadline to it. I think that the dialogue has been ongoing, there have been a number of meetings in New York between North Korea and the U.S. on this. As those meetings have progressed, there has been some progress. We do believe, as Secretary Christopher said last week, that we're moving toward inspection. That's important and there's been no -- we believe there has been continuity, and at this time we're going to continue to press for a resolution. And we think we're making progress toward that.
Q: What about the deal that Kim was talking about in his New Year's radio address, saying that the North Koreans had reached some sort of agreement with the United States?
MS. MYERS: I think that's the status of the dialogue now. I think we're still in dialogue, so I don't want to suggest that it's completed. But I think as President Kim sort of indicated, that there will be inspections.
Q: But we have made a deal?
MS. MYERS: We're not there yet.
Q: There was a report this morning from South Korea saying that IAEA inspectors could get into North Korea as soon as January 10th. Is that consistent with the progress you mentioned or --
MS. MYERS: I don't have any specific deadlines, other than to say that the discussions are ongoing.
Q: Has the White House received the Justice Department's report on Pollard?
MS. MYERS: Not yet.
Q: Do you anticipate it this week?
MS. MYERS: I think the Attorney General wanted to comment and ask -- said that hers wouldn't be ready until after today -- until at least the 3rd. So I think we expect it soon, although we don't have any specific deadlines. It could come as soon as this week.
Q: What's the focus of the Thursday speech?
MS. MYERS: On Thursday, the President goes back to the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee where he gave his democracy speech in October of '92, toward the latter months of the campaign. This will be, I think, also about looking forward to the European trip, talking about the importance of Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe in our geopolitical view and our continuing efforts to build on NATO and the European union. So it will sort of foreshadow, I think, in many ways why the American people should care about this, how does it affect the United States.
Q: Day trip?
MS. MYERS: It's a day trip. He'll go to Milwaukee in the morning, give the speech, I believe at 11:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m., meet with some local leaders there and then come back by evening.
Q: What's the coverage of the meeting with the local leaders? It's not like a town meeting?
MS. MYERS: No, no. It will be private meetings. It's conceivable we could do a pool spray, but I don't think we've decided that yet.
Q: Who is this to?
MS. MYERS: The speech is to -- it's at the Pabst Theater and it's sort of foreign relations organization, different ethnic groups and people that will come. It's sort of a communitywide -- it's not any particular organization, but just organizations that will invite both their members and their friends. The theater holds a couple of hundred people.
Q: How about tomorrow, the CIA?
MS. MYERS: Let me give you the week ahead here. Tomorrow, 10:15 a.m., he will be at the CIA in the lobby of the headquarters where he will speak briefly to employees. Then he will --
Q: Is that open coverage?
MS. MYERS: Yes, it will be open coverage, yes.
Q: What's the subject?
MS. MYERS: The subject will be --
Q: Can't talk about it. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I think generally about thanking them for their work, about the importance of intelligence in a changing world, and just sort of welcoming them to the Clinton team. (Laughter.)
Periodically, he has gone to a number of different agencies and spoken to employees. As you recall, he's been to Justice and Treasury and other places not only to talk to them about issues of concern, but to talk to them about his views a little bit since they are now part of the Clinton team.
Q: Is he going to lay out his vision of the role of intelligence?
MS. MYERS: No. (Laughter.)
Q: How many minutes?
MS. MYERS: It's about 20 minutes.
Q: A 20-minute speech?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: Is this the first time he's been to the CIA?
MS. MYERS: I believe this is the first time as President, and I don't know if he'd ever been there before. I don't know.
MS. MYERS: But he will certainly talk -- I just wouldn't look for this to be a major policy overview of the importance of intelligence. It's more of a periodic view, and then he will be briefed privately out of the view of your eyes and ears.
Then he will have lunch with the Vice President. At 5:00 p.m. he will meet with Prime Minister Lubbers of Holland. That will be followed by a written readout. There's a photo op at the top -- pool spray at the top of that meeting.
Q: What time does he meet?
MS. MYERS: Five o'clock. Five to five-thirty in the Oval Office with the Prime Minister of Holland followed -- and again, the readout will be written.
On Wednesday, at this point, the President has no public schedule, although he has a number of briefings with regard to the upcoming trip and other meetings at the White House.
On Thursday, as we talked about, he will go to Milwaukee. The Pabst Theater speech is a 11:30 a.m. He will leave and be back here sometime in the late evening.
On Friday, he will be briefed -- he will meet with congressional leaders, bipartisan congressional leaders regarding the Europe trip in the morning. And as of right now, that is the only public schedule, public event on the schedule.
Saturday, he will give his radio address live at 10:06 a.m. and then leave that night at roughly 11:00 p.m., maybe a little bit before, for Brussels.
Q: Lubbers is not an official -- I mean, it's not a full-scale --
MS. MYERS: It's not the longer working format.
Q: You said you'll have a written statement after?
MS. MYERS: Yes. So 5:00 p.m. pool spray, 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oval Office meeting; written readout at some point as soon as possible.
Q: Dee Dee, can I ask a question on Saturday? Are there any other events that you're planning as like a farewell beyond his radio address?
MS. MYERS: No. He'll spend the rest of the day probably doing some work here and some final briefings for the trip. But that's it.
Q: On the "don't ask, don't tell" revision late last month, why did the White House find it necessary to bring the Joint Chiefs over here and ask them not to criticize it publicly?
MS. MYERS: That's fiction. And I think General Shalikashvili will issue a statement to that effect later today.
Q: Well, he wasn't at the meeting.
MS. MYERS: You might check, but the Joint Chiefs were -- certainly General Powell who was the Chairman at the time, was very involved in the development of the "don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue" policy. It something that we have consulted closely with them throughout.
Q: Which part of the story are you saying is fiction? That there was a meeting at all?
MS. MYERS: That they were somehow muzzled, which is the implication of the article.
Q: Was there such a meeting where they came and --
Q: What were they asked at the meeting?
MS. MYERS: They had been consulted regularly about this, and certainly made aware of progress on the debate. I'm not sure who was at the meeting, so I can certainly take that.
Q: Were the Joint Chiefs here on that day for a meeting on that topic?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure who all was here on that day for a meeting. There were a number of meetings. I'll have to check specifically who was here. But again, a number of them have been here periodically, have certainly been consulted on this process throughout, have worked closely with the White House both in the drafting and in the drafting of the regulations about it.
Q: So are you saying that there was a meeting; it was for the White House to inform them of the announcement after it was made and to brief them in advance, not to tell them please don't go out and attack this --
MS. MYERS: Correct. I mean, it was something that they had worked with us on throughout.
Q: Well, why did they have to be told about a policy that Aspin was going to announce?
MS. MYERS: I think they were --
Q: Don't they kind of work for Aspin in a way over there?
MS. MYERS: I think they work for the President ultimately. And I think that since the White House was working closely with DOD, that it was certainly part of the process to let them know. And again, I didn't check -- I need to check to see exactly who may have been at the meeting. But the point is that they were involved throughout the process, that they were informed about the process and the progress as it went along, and that they were certainly never muzzled.
Q: If your going to inform them in advance of the think, aren't you going to ask them to wait before they comment until after the Secretary speaks? Aren't you at least going to muzzle them to that degree?
MS. MYERS: As you do with any policy announcement. But that's different, that's not what the allegation is.
Q: Markey said before he went into this meeting that he would recommend that not just the agencies represented here this afternoon, but CIA and others that may have sponsored radiation testing also ought to be examined to see what went on and that there be full tracking of people who, unbeknownst to themselves, were exposed to this. In addition, he said he wanted the government then to provide medical follow-up tests and compensation where damage was done. Do those recommendations track current White House thinking or do they go beyond what you folks have in mind at this point?
MS. MYERS: Well, as you know, Congressman Markey met with people here at the White House today, and I think that the point of the meeting this afternoon is to review the state of play and to decide what steps to take next. I think that we'll wait until this meeting takes place and see what the results are of that meeting.
Q: Do you expect some policy guidance following the meeting?
MS. MYERS: Yes. As I said at the beginning of this, Mark Gearan will give a readout after the meeting. What level --
Q: Who's running this meeting? What level is it at and --
MS. MYERS: Phil Lader's running it here for us. Certainly Mack, Phil and John Podesta and Christine Varney have been sort of the point people in the White House as this thing has come together over the last few days.
Q: Will Mark be able to walk us through the President's specific involvement from beginning to end in this -- exactly when he was notified about it and how -- what the directives have been?
MS. MYERS: Sure, we can get that for you by then.
Q: Will Mark be for camera?
MS. MYERS: Probably. The first five minutes probably.
Q: Can we get a list of the people participating in this meeting?
MS. MYERS: Sure. That can be part of Mark's readout.
Q: Can we get back to North Korea for a second? Reuters is quoting a senior U.S. official as saying that the United States and North Korea are near a deal on Pyong Young's nuclear program that could be wrapped up this week.
Q: Is that you?
MS. MYERS: Exactly. (Laughter.) I said they were making progress. You're -- as always, Wolf, you're ahead of me on that. I'll have to --
Q: Is that possible that this week they could wrap up a deal?
MS. MYERS: I would be very reluctant to put any kind of deadline on that. I mean, I think we are making good progress, and we'll have an announcement when we have an announcement. Hopefully, soon.
Q: On these nuclear experiments, do you know whether they are conducted on any non-Americans, outside of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
MS. MYERS: I don't know, and again, that's something that we -- (laughter.) Not that I know of. We'll have more on all of that sometime between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m when Mark comes back.
END 2:19 P.M. EST
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/269673