Press Briefing by Mike McCurry
The Briefing Room
1:24 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: All right. I thought it useful to check in on that.
Q: What's new on Whitewater?
MR. MCCURRY: What is new? Nothing new.
Q: Do you have anything -- can you tell us how you expect the budget talks to unfold tonight? What are your plans?
MR. MCCURRY: I do not. They've had an initial session. My understanding is they will go back into session early this afternoon.
Q: Has the White House presented some new ideas for breaking the impasse?
MR. MCCURRY: The President has instructed his negotiators to conduct these deliberations in good faith. We did present some new ideas today that are designed to bridge some of the gaps that exist between the Republican majority in Congress and the White House while still protecting the President's fundamental priorities that we must protect Medicare and Medicaid, protect our efforts to keep America's environment clean, keep investing in education so we can grow the economy into the 21st century, and avoid unnecessary tax increases on the working poor.
Q: What are those new ideas?
MR. MCCURRY: Those new ideas were presented to Republican negotiators today and they've agreed they will not discuss them.
Q: Has a temporary CR come up in the negotiations --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to discuss the substance of the deliberations today.
Q: There's one report from -- at least one of the Republicans said among the proposals was to take all taxes off the table. Was that --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to discuss the deliberations that are underway.
Q: But since the President issued a seven-year budget, came a long way toward the Republicans in some numbers, some areas -- cuts in discretionary spending, that sort of thing -- and now there are other new ideas which presumably bring the President's position even closer to the Republicans, are the Republicans offering you anything?
MR. MCCURRY: The Republicans can speak to what they have presented at the table, but they have offered ideas themselves.
Q: Did they come toward the President?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm just not going to characterize the deliberations. I'm sorry, that's -- they've agreed they are not going to do that.
Q: Does this kind of news blackout on the negotiations indicate you're getting pretty close to an agreement here?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't want to comment on whether there's any progress one way or another.
Q: This constant refrain of good faith, haven't you been negotiating in good faith in the past?
MR. MCCURRY: I think in the past there's been an effort on both sides -- I'll be candid about this -- to help the American people understand what's at stake because there are very fundamental differences that exist between this President and this Congress on how we are to balance the budget. Both sides agree the budget should be in balance within a time certain -- seven years they've now agreed to. But how you get to that important goal reflects a lot of differences in philosophy between the President and between the Republican majority in Congress.
Q: So you haven't been negotiating so far?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't believe that we would characterize a lot of the discussions that have occurred in the last several weeks as negotiations. They been, in a sense, trying to manage the very real differences that exist. But now the President wants to see if we can't bridge these differences, write a balanced budget plan, get on with business and make sure that we keep our government open.
Q: If there's no breakthrough in terms of the seven-year plan today, is the White House ready to accept a very short -- very, very short-term temporary spending bill?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President wants to keep the government open, and he certainly tried to demonstrate his willingness to be flexible in discussions with those he disagrees with as we wrestle with the problem of how to balance the budget. He's gone the extra mile in presenting ideas and presenting a seven-year plan and responding to some of the concerns that have been expressed by the Republican majority. All he asks of them is that they respond to some of his priorities -- that we balance the budget in a way that's right for the American people and that protects programs that are fundamentally important to the nation's elderly and to those who want clean air and clean water and those who believe there shouldn't be unnecessary tax burdens on the poorest of the working poor.
Q: Do you feel at this point that the White House has made all the concessions and the Republicans haven't made any? And if so, could you talk about what --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President has instructed his negotiators to be open to negotiation. And that's going to require give-and-take on both sides.
Q: Mike, has the President --
Q: -- no comment on the tax cut question --
Q: Oh, go ahead. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Did you have a question, Terry?
Q: Yes. Has the President spoken with either Dole or Gingrich today, and-or does he intend to?
MR. MCCURRY: I forgot to check whether he's had any conversations today with them. My understanding is that he had a brief conversation with Senator Dole on the way back from Paris last night. I do not know whether they've talked today. We can maybe find out. I don't believe so, but we'll find out.
Q: Can you give us any details of that conversation?
MR. MCCURRY: It was positive, and the President indicated his willingness, as Senator Dole has said, to get down to work, write this balanced budget, and get on with business. That was the tone and substance, and the President indicated, as I've just indicated to you, that he's instructed his negotiators to move forward and try to break the impasse.
Q: Mike, you no-commented the tax cut question. This morning, however, you said that the President's middle class tax cut remains as part of his priorities. Has anything changed between this morning --
MR. MCCURRY: No. I was asked this morning if tax relief for average working Americans is still one of the President's priorities, and it is.
Q: How strong a priority?
Q: You were asked about his tax cut this morning --
MR. MCCURRY: I was asked whether tax relief was one of his priorities, and I said it is.
Q: Mike, meanwhile some of the governors are off talking about maybe finding a way on Medicaid to satisfy their needs for flexibility while maybe getting rid of that word, "entitlement." Would such a middle way be possible from the White House's standpoint?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President believes there are fundamental commitments that we've made to elderly Americans, to poor Americans who need access to doctors and medicine, and that those are guaranteed by the federal government. He is interested in that guarantee, regardless of how you call it. That same is true when we talk about poor children who need assistance when they are in poverty through no fault of their own.
So I don't want to get caught up too much in semantic differences, but the important thing is the federal government ought to be there with the necessary assistance to help protect people in indigency from illnesses from lack of proper health care and from the effects of poverty when they need assistance.
Q: And to follow up on Paul's question, the governors out there the other day said that they would be reporting back before Christmas they hoped. But since Medicaid is a key part of this dispute, would that hold up the negotiations at all? Would the President wait for their report? I mean, how do they figure into it?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the governors have played a very constructive role in working through the issues that are important to them as chief fiscal officers in their state. The President has valued their input, as a former governor himself. We will remain open to suggestions they have as the process goes on, but the President, obviously, believes that the process must move forward, particularly with the deadline facing us that would, in effect, shut down the large portion of the government.
Q: Senator Dole said this morning that if the talks today were serious that he could support a CR. Would you characterize today's talks as serious?
MR. MCCURRY: I think I made it real clear I'm not in a position to characterize the talks. They've occurred on Capitol Hill. They're taking a brief recess, and they will resume. And just for obvious reasons, I'm not going to characterize those discussions.
Q: Mike, since I was the one who asked the question about the tax relief, actually the question was, does the administration still think that tax relief for the middle class is a top priority?
MR. MCCURRY: That's exactly what I said. He does.
Q: Does that mean that only the -- are you only talking about the earned income tax credit, or are you really considering --
MR. MCCURRY: No. No, the President has a proposal that would provide middle income Americans with necessary tax relief for child care so they can work, earn better incomes and for educational expenses so they can get more skills, become higher wage earners in the economy of the next century, and that those remain priorities of the President. He believes that they should be addressed in the context of a budget.
Q: You didn't actually mention that in your list when you were outlining -- when you just came in and made a statement. You didn't actually mention the middle class tax relief in that list. You said environment and all that. The fact that it was missing should not be read in --
MR. MCCURRY: No, you should not read into it. He continues to believe that tax relief ought to be an element of a balanced budget plan. But, again, look, there's a negotiation going on. The attitude that the President wants his negotiators to have is to be flexible, to see if we can bridge differences that exist. And for that reason, we just can't predict, as we are here now and not a part of those discussions, how the negotiators will do to settle those issues.
Q: Well, this is where we sense a weakness in your -- on the tax cut. You've never really always pronounced it along with Medicare and so forth. There's some obvious flexibility there.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, thank you. (Laughter.) You're complimenting us on our willingness to attempt to bridge these differences so we can keep our government open, keep it doing what it needs --
Q: So you would compromise on that?
MR. MCCURRY: -- keep it doing what it needs to do for the American people. And I think you are also complimenting the President on the flexibility we've shown in these discussions -- (laughter) -- and I'm sure he'll be grateful for your endorsement.
Q: Were you hired as a propagandist or a press secretary?
Q: Can we ask Helen if that's what she's doing? (Laughter.)
Q: In view of the White House's forthcomingness on the budget in the last few days, does it strike you that the Republicans stated willingness only to consider a CR running until Monday or Tuesday is excessively stingy?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to characterize a very large and somewhat divided Republican caucus in the Congress one way or the other. What's clear is that there are multiple points of view within the Republican caucus and that's reflected in the tone of many of the public comments they've made. So it would be improper for me to characterize them en blanc as being stingy or anything else.
Q: Were you just in Paris?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. I like that.
Q: What's that?
Q: Very nice.
Q: In white?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it was wrong, wasn't it? It's en masse. That's what happens when you only spend eight hours -- you spend more time getting to and from Paris than actually being there.
Q: Are the Republicans indicating to you that some of the $135 billion that became available as a result of the new CBO forecasting is going to be targeted towards your priorities?
MR. MCCURRY: That's a good try, Wolf. Look, I can't -- I'm not going to -- let's not spend a lot of time trying to elicit things that I can't comment on. I can't comment on the discussions that have occurred up there today by agreement, the agreement of the negotiators. The negotiators on the Hill have agreed that they are going to continue their work today, and they're going to refrain from talking to the press. So I'm going to abide by that.
Q: With good reason, there are an awful lot of people who are interested in at least the part about shutting down the government. Can you give us any indication of how that might go or at what point they might know?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't. The President hopes that they will do it and do it quickly today so we don't have uncertainty. There are over a quarter -- over a third of a million federal workers who want to be able to know when they leave work today whether they're going to have jobs to come to on Monday morning. And the President understands that. He believes that they shouldn't -- he has said all along that they should not be put in that position of uncertainty in this holiday season. And that's why he's repeatedly asked the Congress to take the crisis of a government shutdown off the table to do this serious work of negotiating a budget without the threat of a government shutdown looming over everyone's head.
We've said that repeatedly. We've made that point as often as we can to the Republican negotiators. The President would prefer, as you all know, to see an extension of the continuing resolution beyond the holiday season into next year so these negotiators can wrestle with very difficult budget issues and write a budget that balances. That's difficult work. And there are differences that exist between the two sides that need to be dealt with. But that's not the situation we're in, unfortunately. And I don't think anyone can fairly say that the President has put the negotiations in that position.
Q: If I can follow up. You've mentioned repeatedly, and again today, the idea of negotiating with this deadline over your heads. Do you feel the deadline has imposed a pressure that has brought the two sides together? We have more serious negotiations going on now by your own admission than have before. Would putting off into next year enable people to drift off into, again, explaining positions to the American rather than negotiating?
MR. MCCURRY: I have no way of predicting. I think that it has set deadlines that negotiators are cognizant of as they try to balance the budget. But in the President's view that's an unnecessary way to try to force the dialogue. There ought to be a good-faith dialogue that attempts to resolve these budget issues, that writes a balanced budget plan, but that ought to be separate from the question of how we're going to pay for the legitimate exercise of the federal government as we go into a fiscal year with no total funding authority.
Q: Can we go on to Whitewater?
MR. MCCURRY: Anything else to clear up?
Q: Will the President be spending this weekend working on the budget, or what does he want to do this weekend?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we'll know more as we see how the situation develops today. But he obviously stands ready to work with his team to address either the consequences of a government shutdown. And there's, as you might well imagine, the OMB has done extensive preparation work and has a plan in place if we do face a shutdown situation. That's one possibility. The other possibility is that we'll be into serious negotiations over the weekend. The President obviously is prepared for that possibility as well.
Q: Mike, are there continued discussions between D'Amato and the White House over trying to really resolve something, or have you folks said, this is it, we're going to Senate floor on --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there hasn't been -- there hasn't been so far to date, as far as I understand, from the legal counsel's office. Obviously, we were disappointed by the vote of the committee. The President has made it clear that he is willing to give to the committee the information they seek only -- just as long as they can acknowledge the importance of his right to have representation by an attorney. And we've tried a variety of ways to work something out with the committee so that can be done. And it's disappointing, obviously, that they're not choosing that course.
Q: But, Mike, will there be no more offers, do you think, between now --
MR. MCCURRY: No, we remain open to any suggestion. We remain open to offering suggestions on how to satisfy the committee's interest in receiving the material.
Q: Have you gotten a request or a subpoena from Starr for that material?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know, and I would have to refer that question to the President's legal representatives.
Q: Can you give us some idea when the President is going to veto Commerce, State and Justice?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't. We are waiting to hear from the Secretary's office when that might happen. I believe it will be sometime this afternoon.
Q: Will he sign anything today? There's another bill --
Q: Securities litigation.
MR. MCCURRY: I don't -- the only other matter pending that we've received is the securities litigation legislation, and I don't fully expect that to be dealt with today. And that's the only other item pending.
Q: Back to a Whitewater question. And you've said couple times that the President, if there is a question of privilege, that should be decided by the courts. So would you urge Democratic senators, if this goes to the floor, not to try to block it through parliamentary maneuvers?
MR. MCCURRY: No, we're not making suggestions on how the legislative branch ought to deal with that issue. What the President is saying on behalf of the executive branch is that the precedent of a President's right to have legal representation involves issues that are fundamentally important. There are separation of powers arguments; and for that reason he believes that the judicial branch ought to make that type of decision.
Q: Mike, could you try to clarify -- I'm still -- because it is confusing -- would the President turn over the notes if no questions were asked, if nobody on the staff or none of his private lawyers were questioned? Could you rephrase what the situation is?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I can't phrase it any better than the letter that Jane Sherburne, who is Special Counsel to the President, sent to Special Counsel Chertoff yesterday. But we made it very clear that the notes in question that the committee seeks the President is happy to provide, in fact, has absolutely no problem at all providing, but it needs to be done with the understanding that he has not waived any aspect of his attorney-client privilege in so doing. And we've asked that the committee work out arrangements so that that is made explicit. We've said to the committee they have a full right to interrogate any government attorneys pursuant to those notes, and we've suggested that we need to protect the President's privilege -- confidential privilege conversations with his attorneys as they relate to some of the other inquiries that are underway, since obviously this committee's inquiry is not the only inquiry in town.
That seems fairly reasonable to most people who look at it, and it raises the issue of why force this confrontation if the confrontation is not necessary.
Q: Why is it D'Amato's responsibility to go around and get every other committee chairmen and to get Starr to sign off on it?
MR. MCCURRY: It's not. We would be happy to work with Chairman D'Amato in seeking those types of understandings from other bodies -- from either the independent counsel or anyone else who might seek to obtain testimony based on that.
The importance is you cannot waive for some discrete matter the attorney-client without jeopardizing intrusions into the relationship as it pertains to any of the subject matter that relates to that specific item. And that's a fundamental principle of law. There are legal experts now who have come forward and said the President is right about this; there is a common interest between those government attorneys and his private attorneys who are working on this matter, and the privilege needs to be protected. It's a matter of principle, and the President is standing on a matter of principle.
Q: Mike, Senator D'Amato says Watergate showed that this privilege argument does not hold up. Senator Shelby calls your defense Nixonian. Can you compare --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, those are Republicans that are trying to rewrite a very sorry episode in American history related to a Republican President, where there was stonewalling going on, where there was a refusal to cooperate. The 180-degree reverse of that situation exists here. There is a President who has provided tens of thousands of pages of material to a committee, who has instructed and encouraged scores of employees to offer up their testimony, and who's allowed these inquiries to go on with his full cooperation. So it is exactly the opposite of the Watergate situation, if you want to look at it that way.
Q: Why was the claim of privilege being made for these notes and saying that there could be no way around it earlier in the week, and now, suddenly, we find out that the White House decided that the notes aren't privileged?
MR. MCCURRY: No. We have all along been trying to work with the committee to devise a way that we could satisfy their inquiries. We suggested at one point that they should be allowed to talk to those who were present at the meeting as to their knowledge prior to the meeting, talk to them about their actions subsequent to the meeting. The importance of the notes is that they reflect a conversation that the President and his legal counsel believe is a privileged attorney-client conversation, and related to the relationship that exists between the President and his attorneys. And if you waive the privilege for one aspect of a subject matter it's waived in its entirety. And that is the concern. The concern then is the President has essentially forfeited any President's right to have confidential conversations with a legal representative.
Q: But the point, Mike, if I could just follow up, the point is that earlier in this week you said those notes could not be turned over. Now, today, you're saying those can be turned over with certain caveats.
MR. MCCURRY: That's not right. We have consistently said the issue is not the notes, the issue is the privilege itself, the right of the President to have representation by his attorney. Because we've said all along that notes are --
Q: Did you say earlier this week the notes could be turned over? You did not.
MR. MCCURRY: We said the notes were not the issue. The issue was the privilege.
Q: But you would not turn them over.
MR. MCCURRY: We can't turn the notes over unless there is a specific acknowledgement by those who are attempting to obtain the notes the President has not waived the attorney-client privilege.
Q: Mike, forgive me if this was covered earlier, but if there should be a shutdown, what would be the weekend effects of this? Because there are so many more appropriations bills passed now -- type of thing, many vital things would go forward. Would you guys make any provision tomorrow to talk a little bit about that if there is a shutdown? Would Alice come out and do what she did before?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I can run through some of the things. I mean, they're very similar to what we faced last time around. The big difference between government shutdown two and government shutdown one is that there are more regular appropriations bills that are now on line, so some of the services that the American people lost in the last shutdown would now continue. Happily, the White House Press Office could be open for business, for example.
Q: April is very happy about that. (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: Mike McCurry is very happy. But there are other aspects of government service that would not continue and that would be jeopardized if there was a lack of funding. I can run through some. Some of them are the same as last time, so you've heard some of this before. But the National Park Service facilities would be closed. On an average day in December, for this time of year, there are about 383,000 people who visit National Park Service's facilities around the country. That blossoms in the summer, so that really, the daily averages around three quarters of a million, but that reflects higher use of parks during the summer.
But this time of year, there are still at our park facilities almost 400,000 people a day who go to facilities, and that includes here in town -- you all know that museums and the National Gallery and things that would be open to tourists this time a year are very heavily used during a holiday period, and a lot of people who are spending time with family here in the Washington area would expect and want to be able to see some of our national treasures.
But the kinds of things that are also consequential we talked during the last shutdown about -- FHA mortgage activity, and again on an average day, about 2,500 home purchase loans and refinancings are occurring, so that all becomes jeopardized. That's activity that the Federal Housing Administration carries out that would be lost. That's almost $200 million worth of mortgage loans, by the way, for low- and moderate-income families, so you're taking that activity output in those people's homeownership opportunities at jeopardy.
This time of year, the State Department gets about 23,000 applications for passports as people plan to travel -- go through -- go away for the holidays or shortly thereafter the holidays, so people's travel plans overseas, 23,000 applications for passports per day. That I think is a typo. Can we check that? I think that figure should be 2,300. I think they've got an extra zero there, I recall from last time around.
This time around, veterans -- the claims applications that the Veterans Administration would be processing would be in jeopardy -- 3.3 million veterans and survivors won't receive their January 1st benefits, won't receive their benefit checks on time if the appropriation is not enacted now by next Thursday, so that they're running without a regular appropriations bill, and you all know the VA-HUD appropriations bill is one that the President has clearly said he would have to veto; if they don't have funding authority beyond next Thursday, they're going to have to delay the January 1 benefit checks.
The one that I thought last time was interesting, deadbeat dads that are located by the Federal Parent Locator Service -- since that service is closed, we can't track down people who are not making child support payments. And there are about over 20,000 cases per day that are referred to that locator service. So people who are trying to track down those who are not making their due payments won't get the service of government.
Small businesses -- there will be small business loans that won't be processed over at the SBA. People will lose opportunities to start up businesses, meaning that jobs will not be provided in the economy. The Labor Department would be operating without any regular funding so there won't be a way to check into complaints that workers might have about workplace safety since OSHA won't be operating. There will be -- on any given day there's about 150 to 170 workplace inspections, usually as a result of some of those complaints. The Labor Department won't be able to conduct those.
Over at the EPA, they won't be able to check into complaints about unsafe drinking water. You getting enough of this? (Laughter.) Do you want more --
Q: Does the President want workers to be told this afternoon one way or another?
MR. MCCURRY: Look, the point of all that -- and we can make more of that available because there is more -- the point of all that is this your government at work. And this government does important things for the American people. And we found out last time around the American people don't like it when they lose the services of their government. And federal workers, obviously, don't like it when they have to be sent home and placed on furlough with no guarantee -- even though did it last time -- no guarantee that they're going to get back pay for the time they're furloughed. So it creates a miserable mess at a time of year that ought to be filled with a lot of happiness. And there's no reason for it. That's the President's point. There's no reason for it.
They are making -- whatever progress they make today, they are making it because there's an attitude on both sides to negotiate these budget issues. That's not the issue. There's nothing about this deadline that forces someone to negotiate because they're already negotiating. So why not remove that threat, why not just pass some type of continuing resolution so that the government can stay open?
Q: Why do you think they are not doing it?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I don't think anyone can fairly say that the White House has had any desire to see this government shut down. So you need to go --
Q: You mean they don't need this leverage anymore?
MR. MCCURRY: You need to go and ask those who have threatened that, and I think you can find them over on the House side and I think you know who they are.
Q: Two more on Whitewater. It seems clear D'Amato won't take any deal where there are strings attached, and that this at least initially will go to the courts. Does the White House, Justice or the personal -- the President's personal lawyer handle this stuff early on? Is there a special team being formed to fight the case?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know, but I'll refer that to Mark Fabiani, he'll be able to tell you.
Q: A follow-up to the earlier question about its comparison to Watergate. It's much different, but the specific issue of privileges is the exact same, isn't it?
MR. MCCURRY: No, because in the case of Watergate there was executive privilege claimed because of activities of White House staffers who were not attorneys. And that executive privilege has not been asserted by President Clinton. He has asserted his right to have the services of a personal attorney, as our brief made quite clear.
Q: Can we expect that the President will call in VA workers on an emergency basis --
MR. MCCURRY: He will -- as we did last time, he will review day by day the impact of a shutdown and be willing to respond to emergency situations. Remember -- the one thing we'd like to do this time around is please get it straight on the idea of essential versus nonessential federal employees. There is no such thing as a nonessential federal employee, particularly since we've now eliminated 250,000 positions and cut the size of this government to the smallest its been in terms of federal employees since the days of President Kennedy. So everyone who is here does important work.
The question is are they doing work that is emergency in nature and that poses some type of risk to the American people's life and health if they don't perform their functions. And those emergency-type activities can be funded, even during the period of a shut down.
Q: What are your plans logistic-wise for this evening? Are you all going to stay in operation here as long as talks are going on?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll know better this afternoon as we hear back from the negotiators.
Q: Will the President talk about this tomorrow in his radio broadcast?
MR. MCCURRY: It remains to be seen.
Q: Back to Whitewater. If the Senate votes as expected next Tuesday or Wednesday to throw this into the courts, it gives the political campaign of '96 a Whitewater issue that could last for months.
MR. MCCURRY: I have no way of knowing whether that's true or not.
Q: Under NAFTA, December 18th is the date for cross-border trucking between the U.S. and Mexico to begin. Does the President plan to implement that deadline, or does he want to block that?
MR. MCCURRY: Cross-border trucking, we'll have to look into that. I don't know the answer.
Q: What has the President said to you on the defense authorization --
MR. MCCURRY: I'll take that -- we'll take that question, how we're going to respond under cross-border trucking.
Q: What's the President's attitude on the defense authorization bill? Will he veto it?
MR. MCCURRY: We have got a statement of administration policy that went to the House today as they debate H.R. 1530, and it suggests because of the impingement on the President's constitutional authority and because of numerous policy differences that we have with the bill -- with the conference report, particularly in the area of ballistic missile defense, and other areas related to our national security, the President, if presented the bill in its current form, would exercise his right to veto.
Q: Do you have something on drug testing for federal offenders?
MR. MCCURRY: I can tell you that the President intends to address this on Monday, and I'll give you just a real brief preview because it has been reported.
The President will -- does plan to announce on Monday and sign a directive to the Attorney General that will establish a policy in which federal prosecutors will move to drug-test anyone arrested in a federal criminal justice system prior to his or her first appearance in court, which will help determine what type of bail conditions might exist for people who are suspected or implicated in drug use. It obviously responds to what we see as a very direct link between drug use and crime, and it would make it more possible that we could keep dangerous criminal offenders off the streets in periods when they might pose risks to law abiding American citizens.
But the President will explicitly lay out the directive and his instructions to the Attorney General in a statement on Monday.
Q: He can do that legally? He can do that legally?
MR. MCCURRY: He sure can, and he will.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 1:56 P.M. EST
William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Mike McCurry Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/270167