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Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters During a Meeting With District of Columbia Police Chief Maurice Turner

July 27, 1989

The President. I just want to take this opportunity to welcome Chief Turner, whom I've known as a friend for several years, into the Republican Party. This is a significant switch. The man has been a lifelong Democrat, but he made a principled decision based on what he feels is the best answer to helping solve the problems of urban America. And I think we share the same family values that unite our party and with the chief himself. I feel very good about this day. I think it's a major step for our party as we try to broaden it out and have the broadest possible appeal. And so, welcome!

Mr. Turner. I thank you very much, Mr. President. It's an honor to be here, and I will hopefully add something to some of the problems -- especially the drug problems that we're having in this city and in most urban areas of the country.

The President. Well, I know we'd be working with you anyway, but Bill Bennett, who I'm sure will be as enthusiastic about this, and having you as close in as possible with your day-to-day experience in fighting drugs. And I think this is a very good move. But anyway, in any event, welcome.

Mr. Turner. Thank you again, Mr. President.

Q. You going to be running for mayor, Chief?

Mr. Turner. No, right now I'm just becoming a member of the Republican Party. I'm not running for mayor at this time.

Q. Have you given the job any consideration?

Jesse Jackson

Q. Mr. President, do you have some advice for Jesse Jackson if he wants to run for mayor of the District? Would you like to get involved in that?

The President. I gave Jesse my advice all last year -- [laughter] -- all during the campaign, in a gentle, kind way. And I might note, he gave me plenty, too -- and still is.

Q. Mr. President, since this seems to be sort of a question op -- --

The President. Yes, this is a limited photo-op, in which we will permit four questions.

Felix Bloch Espionage Investigation

Q. There has been some discussion that maybe the Felix Bloch case has shown up some need for change in our counterintelligence capabilities, and that maybe even in the defense bill some think you could go into putting more money into changing or tightening embassy security and whatnot. I just wanted to know if you think that there is a need for such change.

The President. Well, I ran the Central Intelligence Agency and the entire intelligence community for a year, and you are always concerned about people who are willing to betray their country. And I will say on this case, it's allegation at this juncture, and it's being investigated. I will also point out that it is the counterintelligence capability of our country that at least is bringing some of the facts to light so far. But the question is: Can we improve counterintelligence? We always want to be striving to do that. Can embassy security be improved? We go through this periodically, and the answer is, I'm sure it can. Nobody is sanguine. And even back then I was unrelaxed about moles or spies or people that would betray our country by dealing with the Soviets in this regard. But again, I want to be very clear: I am not passing judgment on this case which is under investigation.

Q. Are they going to be able to charge Mr. Bloch?

The President. As I say, this matter is under investigation, and I can add nothing more.

Third question. One to go.

Eastern European Reforms

Q. Mr. President, on another subject, are you at all concerned about the problems Mr. Gorbachev is having in the Soviet Union -- his ability to push reform and East Europe might be in jeopardy?

The President. I don't think the economic reform and political change taking place in Eastern Europe is in jeopardy. As you know, I have said time and again, and I'll repeat it here, we want perestroika and reform to succeed. And I think it might be somewhat inappropriate to comment on every problem inside the Soviet Union that Mr. Gorbachev is facing in this time of enormous change.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:32 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. Felix S. Bloch was a State Department official suspected of espionage.

George Bush, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters During a Meeting With District of Columbia Police Chief Maurice Turner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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