Life to the full on November 5, 1986
Midi Atlantique
OBAMA REMARKS ON OIL
President Barack Obama meets with Cabinet Members to discuss the administration's response to the BP Oil Spill POOL SPRAY Obama remarks after meeting STIX & CUTS: 12:24:08 OBAMA: All right. Everybody set? 12:24:12 Well, I just completed a meeting with the Cabinet that is directly in charge of dealing with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. From the beginning, we activated 15 agencies for what is now the largest national response ever to an environmental disaster. And what we wanted to do is make sure that agency was coordinating and that there was clarity about how we're going to proceed in coming months. Now, we have gotten reports that have been confirmed by our independent scientists that the top hat mechanism that was put in place is beginning to capture some of the oil. We are still trying to get a better determination as to how much it's capturing. And we are pushing B.P. 12:25:05 very hard to make sure that all the facilities are available, so that as the oil is being captured, it's also being separated properly, that there are receptacles for that oil to go, that we have thought through contingencies in case there is an emergency or a hurricane, so that these mechanisms are not disrupted, and that there's a lot of redundancy built in. 12:25:31 But here's what we know. Even if we are successful in containing some or much of this oil, we are not going to get this problem completely solved until we actually have the relief well completed. And that is going to take a couple more months. We also know that there's already a lot of oil that's been released, and that there's going to be more oil released no matter how successful this containment effort is. And that's why it's so important for us to continue to put every asset that we have -- boom, skimmers, vessels, hiring local folks and local fishermen with their facilities, equipping them with skimmers -- getting 12:26:08 every asset that we have out there to make sure that we are minimizing the amount of oil that is actually coming to shore. Now, there are a number of other issues that were raised during this meeting that I just want to touch on. 12:26:24 Number one, when I was down in the Gulf on Friday meeting with fishermen and small-business owners, what is clear is that the economic impact of this disaster is going to be substantial, and it is going to be ongoing. And as I said on Friday, and I want to repeat, I do not want to see B.P. nickel-and-diming these businesses that are having a very tough time. Now, we've got the SBA in there helping to provide bridge loans, and we've got the Department of Commerce helping businesses to prepare and document the damages that they're experiencing. But what we also need is B.P. being quick and responsive to the needs of these local communities. We have individuals who have been assigned specifically to ride herd on B.P., to make sure that that's happening. We want the people who are in charge of B.P.'s claims process to be meeting with us on a regular basis. 12:27:25 But we are going to insist that that money flows quickly, in a timely basis, so that you don't have a shrimp processor or a fishermen who's going out of business before B.P. finally makes up its mind as to whether or not it's going to pay out. And that's going to be one of our top priorities, because we know that no matter how successful we are over the next few weeks in some of the containment efforts, the damages are still going to be there. OBAMA: The second thing we talked about quite a bit is the issue of the health of workers who are out there dealing with this spill. So far, we have seen that on shore we are not seeing huge elevations in toxins in the air or in the water. 12:28:11 But that may not be the case out where people are actually doing the work. And we've got to make sure that we are providing all the protections that are necessary. We've put processes in place to make sure that workers out there are getting the equipment and the training they need to protect themselves and their health, but this is something that we're going to have to continue to monitor because there are a lot of workers out there, and increasingly we're starting to get individuals who may not be experienced in oil cleanup, because we're trying to get an all hands on deck process. We've got to make sure that they are protected. Obviously, we're also monitoring very carefully the impact to people who are not working out there. And that's where the Environmental Protection Agency is doing constant monitoring of the air and the water quality. And we are also doing testing on the seafood to make sure that toxins aren't being introduced into the overall population. A couple of other points I just want to make. Dr. Lubchenco of NOAA reported on convening a scientific conference to make sure that on issues like the plume that's been reported in the news and other questions about how large is this, what kind of damage do we anticipate, et cetera, that we have full transparency, that the information is out there, that it's subject to scientific review so that nobody has any surprises. And what we're going to continue to strive for is complete transparency in real time, so that as we get information, the public as a whole gets information, academics, scientists, researchers, get this information, in what is going to be a fluid and evolving process. Let me make just one final point -- and I think this was something that was emphasized by everybody here, and it's something that I want to say to the American people. 12:30:09 OBAMA: This will be contained. It may take some time, and it's going to take a whole lot of effort. There is going to be damage done to the Gulf Coast, and there is going to be economic damages that we've got to make sure B.P. is responsible for and compensates people for. But the one thing I'm absolutely confident about is that, as we have before, we will get through this crisis. And it -- one of the things that I wanted to make sure we understand is that not only are we going to control the damages to the Gulf Coast, but we want to actually use this as an opportunity to re-examine and work with states and local communities to restore the coast in ways that actually enhance the livelihoods and the quality of life for people in that area. It's going to take some time. It's not going to be easy. But, you know, this is a resilient ecosystem. These are resilient people, down on the Gulf Coast. I had a chance to talk to them, and they've gone 12:31:19 through all kinds of stuff over the last 50, 100 years. And they bounce back. And they're going to bounce back this time. They're going to need help from the entire country. They're going to need constant, vigilant attention from this administration. That's what they're going to get. But we are going to be -- we are confident that not only are we going to be able to get past this immediate crisis, but we're going to be focusing our attention on making sure that the coast fully recovers, and that eventually it comes back even stronger than it was before this crisis. All right? Thank you very much, everybody. (CROSSTALK) OBAMA: Thank you very much, everybody. CUTS 12:37:29 WS of table 12:38:15 extreme WS of table Obama talking 12:38:21 push to MS of Eric Holder and Peter Orszag listening pan to Obama talking wide Ms 12:38:43 WS of table 12:41:27 MS of Obama 12:42:51 push to wide MS of Obama talking
SENATE HEARING / COMPUTER SECURITY (1998)
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee holds a hearing on weak government computer security.
OSCARS LIVE
00:00:00:00 [Arrivals Oscars]/ Ext SOT Donald O'Connor/ SOT Peter Cetera (0:00)/
ABC NEWS ARCHIVES - SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS: JOHN MITCHELL
SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS COMMITTEE TESTIMONY OF JOHN MITCHELL, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DIRECTOR OF THE COMMITTEE TO REELECT THE PRESIDENT. OFF AIR HISTORY OF SPECIAL REPORT AIRED 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM. Live ABC coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into the cover-up of the break-in at Democratic Party National Headquarters in the Watergate Office Building, Washington D.C. ABC rejoins the hearings just after Committee Chairman Sam Ervin gaveled the Committee to order. Minority Counsel Fred Thompson questions former Attorney General John Mitchell. After Fred Thompson is finished, ABC News takes a station break. Complete traranscript of aftrnoon session: Senator ERVIN. The committee will come to order. Mr. Thompson. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, you have testified concerning the so called 1970 plan or the Huston plan or the Huston project, and then in answering questions from Mr. Dash you went into talking about what is known as the Plumbers project in the White House. Would you say that the Plumbers in the White House as you now know them to be, was a logical extension of this 1970 plan which was evidently rescinded? Mr. MITCHELL: I would not say so, Mr. Thompson, because of the {It is at this point ABC News joins the hearings for broadcast} time frame intervening and also the consideration of the Interagency Evaluation Commission---Committee--in the meantime. I think that was somewhat of a self-starter later on caused by events and if I would have to guess, without knowing, it was probably generated about the time of the Pentagon Papers. Now, these are opinions I am giving to you. I have no knowledge on it. Mr. THOMPSON: You mentioned a field for need of coordination between the intelligence-gathering agencies, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, I do. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this just in the White House or was this also in the intelligence community? Mr. MITCHELL: Well. it was in parts of the intelligence community and it certainly was in the Justice Department. We, as I think I mentioned this morning, found that we were receiving intelligence from quarters where we might not have expected it in connection with anticipation of violent acts in connection with demonstration and at other times just pure violent acts. I mentioned the Alcoholic Tax and Firearms Bureau which had, I thought, quite a very competent intelligence capacity certainly, in connection with some of the problems that we had in the Justice Department. I know that Mr. Hoover and Mr. Helms had broken off their liaison that they had established in connection with the CIA and the FBI. There was great interest in finding a vehicle to reestablish that in a meaningful way, and so that basically the implementation of the Interagency Evaluation Commission was to take personnel from the different intelligence gathering areas, put them into one room where they could sort out and exchange ideas and, of course, evaluate what intelligence they had. One of the problems that I found in government was that there was very frequently a great deal of collection of intelligence but the evaluation and dissemination lacked a great deal. Mr. THOMPSON: Then, was this need for better coordination because of problems that the agencies themselves were having internally or was it because of external considerations, or both? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I think I can best answer that to point out that there were many events that happened in this country, including the bombing of the Capitol and other such events that, if we had had appropriate intelligence in advance, we might have been able to prohibit it. I know that in connection with many of the large demonstrations that we had in Washington, while 99 percent of those people who came, came for peaceful protest and to petition their Government, that there was always that lunatic fringe that was bound to and deter- mined to thrash the place and cause damage, and if we had had better intelligence in some of these areas, and I am not excluding them to those but in other areas, but perhaps a great deal of that could have been prevented. That was the basis upon which the Interagency Evaluation Committee was considered in concept and put into place. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me leave that for a moment and invite your attention to the November 24, 1971, meeting which I believe you had with Mr. Liddy and Mr. Dean when Mr. Dean brought Mr. Liddy to your office. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. MR. THOMPSON: And I believe introduced him to you. I believe your response to questioning this morning was to the effect that at that time you were not aware that Mr. Liddy was to be involved in intelligence activities as such but that later on you understood that he would be. Mr. MITCHELL: NO; I don't think that is quite true, Mr. Thompson. What I referred to was the Liddy prospectus about his job description at that time, which was one of the Dean exhibits, had a one-line reference to it in connection with gathering of information of intelligence or whatever it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: Just the one line. Do you recall any discussion about that? Mr. MITCHELL: I don't. As a matter of fact, it is one sentence, not one line. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have that before you? Mr. MITCHELL: This is exhibit 11* of the Dean exhibits. I don't know what committee exhibit it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: And you don't remember any discussion about that at the time? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir; the meeting didn't last long enough. Mr. THOMPSON: Did there come a time between that time and the meeting on January 27 when you became aware, or had a greater understanding as to what his role would be in the intelligence field? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I might say that sometime during early December, before Liddy was hired by the Committee To Re-Elect the President, Mr. Krogh brought Liddy over, and I may have been-along with other people to discuss the Drug Abuse Law Enforcements in which he had been working and which was my knowledge of Mr. Liddy's activities in the White House. I do not recall any meetings, and I am sure they didn't take place, in which Liddy's intelligence activities were discussed. It could very -well be that Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir; I can give you the exact date if you wish. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall right offhand whether it was before or after he went to the Committee To Re-Elect? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. It was 6 months later before I learned of the so-called Plumbers activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you even aware that he worked at the White House at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, I was aware he was at the White House be-cause it was so represented at that meeting. Mr. THOMPSON: Whose office did you understand that he was working in? Mr. MITCHELL: He was working under Mr. Krogh's aegis in connection with the drug program over there. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Did you know of any other activities that Mr. Krogh had at that time Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; he was very much involved in the 'White House relationship with the District of Columbia here. In fact, he was their prime contact. But as far as his activities in the area which has since been developed and become common knowledge, I had no such ideas. Mr. THOMPSON: I see. When you met with Liddy and Krogh in December did you inquire of Mr. Krogh then or did you have any discussion as to the nature of Liddy's work at the White House involving any of the Plumbers? Mr. MITCHELL: None whatsoever. We discussed entirely the DALE program, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Neither of them mentioned anything having to do with his previous Plumbers activities. Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir, I can assure you of that. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: I think I see what you mean and I do not want to try to draw names out that you do not want to present, but you have just presented one name. Would it be your opinion, if you care to give us your opinion, as to whether or not it might have come from more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: It is always conceivable. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have any reason to believe that it was either one source or more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I have no ability to weigh the potentials for the sources of concern in this area. Mr. THOMPSON: Knowing Mr. MITCHELL: I am sure it could not have been anybody in the White House. It must have been somebody in the White House with which he had a working relationship which he thought perhaps was in the interest of the campaign or somebody who had what you might refer to as superior authority. Mr. THOMPSON: A working relationship during the campaign or prior to the campaign? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would put this very much on the basis of a working relationship during the campaign that goes to some of the testimony here of the people who have evidenced an interest in this intelligence-gathering field. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, there were many people in the White House involved in the campaign, were there not? Mr. MITCHELL: What is your question, were there many people? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe that the record shows there were quite a few. Mr. THOMPSON: Maybe too many people, would you think? Mr. MITCHELL: At times, that was my opinion. Mr. THOMPSON: You were discussing some of Mr. Reisner's testimony this morning with Mr. Dash, with regard to the Gemstone documents. I have here, verbatim, Mr. Reisner's testimony. I would like to ask you a couple of questions after I read that. I believe Mr. Reisner was talking about Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: So as far as you are concerned, your remembrance is that the Mitchell file was not in fact your file, but his file which he was using to bring documents to you? Mr. MITCHELL: The only thing that I can identify it as is a folder in which he brought up these memorandums to the office. Mr. THOMPSON: What color was it, if you recall? Mr. MITCHELL: I do not recall, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: You never saw any Gemstone documents that you remember? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: In retrospect, would there be any materials that were a product of electronic surveillance without your knowing that they were? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would believe that electronic surveillance, after my experience in the Justice Department-I do not know in what forms they are; I have not seen them to this date. But after my experience in the Justice Department, I think I would have a pretty good idea of what the source of it might have been, unless it was totally disguised. Mr. THOMPSON: So Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it was probably that whoever was doing it, it was in the misguided concept that it was in the interests of the campaign. But as I have observed before, I couldn't conceive of what would be in the Democratic National Committee on the 30th of Mayor the 17th of June that would be in the interest of the process of the campaign of the reelection of the President at that particular time. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Mr. THOMPSON: At the time that the break-in occurred, what was your professional political judgment as to how the President stood with regard to his chances for reelection? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, we go back to the middle of June and, of course, he had improved substantially from his previous lows vis-a-vis the then front runner, Senator Muskie. That looked like he was on the ascendency. Mr. THOMPSON: Had not some polls indicated that, at one time or another, Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; but I believe, if my recollection is correct, that this was somewhat earlier than in June. Mr. THOMPSON: You didn't consider him in trouble at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: I am not sure I understand the thrust of that question. Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I would think that if you thought you had the nomination or the election locked up, that you would sit back and take no chances whatsoever, any person running a campaign, if you could avoid them. On the other hand, if you considered yourself in trouble, you might take risks that you would not otherwise take. I am not even saying necessarily illegal risks. Mr. MITCHELL: They are both hypothetical questions as of June 17with respect to the first one. I don't believe that anybody thought the election was locked up, certainly with respect to the time element of June 17, with the potentials of the people that might become the Democratic candidate at the convention that was taking place in July. There were a great deal of uncertainties as to who the candidate might be and as to what the circumstances might be vis-a-vis the incumbent who was seeking reelection. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, let me ask you about another point. Here is an excerpt from the civil deposition which you gave in the Democratic Party suit against the Committee To Re-Elect the President and I think I am quoting you verbatim in your testimony, when you were asked this question: "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present or about which you heard when you were campaign director concerning having any form of surveillance of the Democratic National Committee headquarters?" Your answer was: "No, sir, I can't imagine a less productive activity than that."Is that a correct--? Mr. MITCHELL: I think the total context, as I remember it, Mr. Thompson, had to do with the discussion of Mr. McCord and the security group. The answer was given in that context. Mr. THOMPSON: But this particular question, "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present"-and of course, I assume just from reading this question that that would involve any discussion with anyone. Are you saying that it is not your understanding of it? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection of the testimony that I gave had to do with the so-called security group in the Committee To Re-Elect the President which discussed Mr. McCord and the security group. And the answer was in response to that, to my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, as it reads, as I have read it, of course, it is not an accurate response Mr. MITCHELL: No, I say as you read it, but I think if you will look at the total context of the questioning, it referred to the security group that involved Mr. McCord which was the subject of the conversation. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you not asked any other broader questions about any knowledge you might have had of any surveillance activities? Mr. MITCHELL: I was asked broader questions with respect to did I ever receive documents that I could identify as coming from electronic surveillance and broad questions like that. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall any broader questions concerning conversations that you had? Mr. MITCHELL: NO, sir, I do not. Mr. THOMPSON: Is it just a case of not having asked you the right question? Mr. MITCHELL I think that that is the case. Mr. THOMPSON. Let me refer to June 19 or 20, I am not quite sure when it was, Mr. Mitchell: As I understand it, Mardian and La- Rue debriefed Liddy and found out what he knew about the break in, his involvement, and the involvement of others. And at that time, he related to them some of the White House horror stories; I believe you characterized them as, the plumbers' activities and so forth. I will go back to that in a minute, but as I understand your testimony this morning, the knowledge you got from that debriefing was really the reason why you, in effect, stood by while Mr. Magruder was preparing a story which, according to what you knew from Liddy, was going to be a false story, to present to the grand jury. Mr. MITCHELL: Along, Mr. Thompson, with some of the other stories that Mr. Dean brought forward to him, the Diem papers and the suspected extracurricular wiretapping, and a few of the others. Mr. THOMPSON: OK. That caused you to take that position with regard to Magruder. And also, I assume that those factors were the reasons why you, in effect, acquiesced, anyway, in the payments to the families of support money and lawyers' fees and that sort of thing, which I am sure you realize could have been pretty embarrassing, to say the least, if not illegal, at that time. Would that be correct as far as your motivations are concerned? Mr. MITCHELL: That is a correct summary of my motivation and rationale for the actions that I did take. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date on which Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue related this conversation of Liddy's to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, he certainly didn't debrief them on the 19th, I am sure of that, because they were in transit. Whether it was the 20th or 21st, I am not certain. Mr. THOMPSON: Did they talk to you the same day they talked to him? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection is they talked to me the next day, but I am not certain about that, either. But in any event, it was in the time frame of the 21st or 22d, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Can you recall in a little more detail what they said that Liddy had related to them? You have already mentioned the fact that Liddy said that Magruder had pushed him in the break-in at the Ellsberg psychiatrist's office, I believe, and the Dita Beard situation. What did Liddy supposedly say with regard to the Dita Beard situation? What did he supposedly know about White House involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: To the best of my recollection, and, of course, I have heard these horror stories in different versions from different people over the period of the years, the fact that he was either the one or assisted in spiriting her out of town, I believe was the discussion at that particular time. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he indicate, according to them, that the budget for the electronic surveillance operation which led to the break-in of the DNC had been approved by the White House? Mr. MITCHELL: You are testing my memory pretty hard. I am inclined to think that he did say that, but this is a-not that he said it, but that Mardian or LaRue reported to me that he had said it. But you are testing my memory pretty hard on a substance of which I have heard dozens and dozens of repetitions of it. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever verify any of these facts with the President? Mr. MITCHELL: I never discussed those specific factors with Mr. Haldeman until a later date. It was at that time that Mr. Dean was acting as a liaison between the White House and the committee with respect to these matters. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever talk directly with Ehrlichman about these matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, yes, possibly before the end of 1972, certainly in 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: At this time did you know of Hunt's involvement? Did Liddy tell them about Hunt's involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe he did. In fact, I am sure he did. Mr. THOMPSON: So, in effect, what you are saying is that you were basing your later activities concerning Magruder's testimony and concerning the payments and these sorts of things as embarrassment upon the hearsay information of this man that presented these outlandish and wild eyed proposals in your office. It would seem like you would want some verification from him. Mr. MITCHELL: Let us back up, Mr. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. Mr. MITCHELL: So it was not just what Mr. Liddy had told Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue on the 20th, 21st, and 22d of June. There were further affirmations of the facts that came out of the White House from Mr. Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Such as what, concerning these matters that we have been discussing? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, as I said a minute ago one of the things that I did not believe that Mr. Liddy had any reference to in the Mardian-LaRue Diem briefing was the papers and how they had been handled. Mr. THOMPSON: Did Mr. Dean verify this to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Dean so stated, he did not show me the spliced cables but he told me about the circumstances. Mr. THOMPSON: But as early as June the money started flowing, the payments started flowing and, of course-- Mr. MITCHELL: Well, now, you are assuming, Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I will ask you when you first became aware of- Mr. MITCHELL: As I said this morning, it was much later than that and I believe it was at the time that Mr. Kalmbach ceased in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date that you became aware of any money being paid to any of the defendants or families or attorneys? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I do not recall the date but it was well after the matter was in progress and in operation. Let me perhaps help you a little bit on that, Mr. THOMPSON: June 23 or 24, I believe. Mr. MITCHELL: On June 28. - Mr. THOMPSON: And 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: June 28. You see, Mr. Dean had testified that they had been playing games with the CIA up to the 28th. Then, Mr. Dean testified that there was a meeting in my office with Mardian, LaRue, and Mitchell and I do not know who all else including Mr. Dean in the afternoon of the 28th in which it was decided, naturally Mitchell was always deciding these things, according to Dean, that the White House, somebody in the White House, John Ehrlichman should call Kalmbach and ask him to fly back from California that night of the28th, which led to their meetings on the 29th. The only problem with all of that was that I was in New York and could not have been at such a meeting, and I was not aware of it. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe your logs reflect that, Mr. MITCHELL: I would hope so because I have been so stating for quite some time. Mr. THOMPSON: It reflects that, according to your logs, you were in New York on the 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes. Mr. THOMPSON: And that you arrived in the District of Columbia at 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: There is no indication of any meeting after 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: And I assume there was none. Mr. MITCHELL: The passenger that I had with me coming back from New York was not about to allow me to go to any more meetings on that particular day. [Laughter.] Mr. THOMPSON: I am not going to pursue that any further. Getting back to your knowledge of the money, perhaps my question should have been, "When was the first time that you heard of the need for the payment of money," and I ask it because of this: Dean testified that the first time he heard any discussions of the need for money to take care of those who were involved in the break-in was in a meeting which occurred on either June 23, Saturday, or June 24 attended by Dean, Mardian, LaRue, and yourself. Mr. MITCHELL: That is quite possible because as I recall the conversation of Mr. Liddy that he had with Mr. MITCHELL: That was the basis for the White House activities, that is absolutely correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Without getting into a great deal more detail, Mr. Mitchell, besides the Diem cables can you answer any further point of verification that Mr. Dean gave you concerning these matters we mentioned, the Ellsberg psychiatrist, the Dita Beard situation, any of those matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, of course, there was the purported firebombing of the Brookings Institution which had been discussed and so forth, I have already- Mr. THOMPSON: Did Dean tell you that was seriously proposed at one time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that I took it as a very serious proposal because of the fact that he flew across the country in order to get it turned off. Mr. THOMPSON: For that particular reason as you understood it? Mr. MITCHELL: Pardon? Mr. THOMPSON: He made this trip for that particular reason? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the way he so testified and I believe advised it at that particular time because, as you recall, it was tied into the Mardian trip to the west coast also. And also, it seems to me, that I have a pretty clear recollection there was general discussion of, as I say, the extracurricular wiretapping activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you consider these matters national security matters at the time you were considering them? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, since I didn't really know about them I could not make an assessment about them. Mr. THOMPSON: In your mind as you were seeking to justify your position, if you were, when these things were realized by you, did you consider them to be matters of national security no one had any right to know, that they should be covered up in effect, or were these just political decisions? Mr. MITCHELL: They were obviously elements of that in connection with some of these activities. But I think we would have to parcel it out in details before you could make that determination. Mr. THOMPSON: Would it be accurate to say your motivations were generally more out of political considerations at that time, in the midst of a campaign, than matters of national security? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would think if you would put the aggregate of the subject matters we are talking about it would have to be from that point of view rather than from national security...- Mr. THOMPSON: What correlation do you put together there? Mr. MITCHELL: The fact that Mr. Hunt worked for Mr. Colson. With the second part about it with which there was particularly at the time frame in which he is talking about, there is considerable interest at that time as to, about the money that had been through Barker's bank and the Ogarrio checks that were coming out that had come from Mexico, et cetera, et cetera. This is the subject matter and that particular week in which Mr. Stans and perhaps Mitchell and others were asking the White House about. You will also, of course, recognize that the newspapers and Liddy himself, I believe, in the debriefing that Mardian got, referred to the fact that they had had CIA documents or materials, et cetera, et cetera. So there was a very considerable interest in, was there any CIA involvement, No. 1, in connection with the break-in, No. 2 in connection with the personnel involved and, No. 3, in connection with this gentleman from Mexico City, Mr. Ogarrio I believe his name was, in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: You would not categorize those things as part of a cover up, would you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, that is what I say, Mr. Dean, I think, has put a blanket over activities that are happening at that particular time and talked about them as a cover up; this is where I started, I thought, my very lengthy answer. I am sorry to be so long. Mr. THOMPSON: That is all right. You have already stated that Dean's testimony about a meeting of June 28, and I believe I am quoting him correctly, where he said: Mitchell asked me to get the approval of Ehrlichman and Haldeman to get Herb Kalmbach to raise the necessary money. Mr. MITCHELL: That is right. Mr. THOMPSON: You stated that was false. Mr. MITCHELL: There was no such meeting; I made no such request, ever. Mr. THOMPSON: With regard to asking- Mr. MITCHELL: Ask Dean to ask Haldeman to get Kalmbach, to my recollection I have never made such a request. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever ask anyone to get Kalmbach to raise money for these purposes? Mr. MITCHELL: Not to my recollection. As I recall this scenario that Mr. Kalmbach did at the request of somebody, according to Dean, it was somebody in the White House, Kalmbach to Washington on the28th and met on the 29th with these people. He proceeded into this operation. There came a time in the fall, I believe it was September or October, where because of adverse publicity or whatever it was he wanted out and that was the end of it, and I certainly don't believe that I would have the audacity to ask him back into such an operation. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that after the President's statement on August 29 referring to the Dean report he began thinking that he might be being set up in case the whole thing crumbled at a later time. He testified he discussed this with you and others and that you assured him that he need not worry because you didn't believe anyone in the White House would do that to him. Do you recall such a conversation with Mr. Dean? Mr. MITCHELL: I recall such a conversation, Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall when? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I don't recall the date but it was much, much further. In fact, I think it was into 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the month? Was it into April, per-haps, as late as April? Mr. MITCHELL: No, it would be before that. It would be in February or March I would believe. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he state to you the basis of his fears? Mr. MITCHELL: No I don't believe he did. As a matter of fact, to the best of my recollection I only had, of course, one conversation with Mr. Dean in April, and a very limited number of them in March so it had to be sometime in early March or February. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified: That during the first week of December you called Dean and said that you would have to use some of the$350,000 at the White House to take care of the demands that were being made by Hunt and the others for money, and that you asked him to get Haldeman's approval for that. Is that a correct statement? Mr. MITCHELL: No, that is absolutely untrue as far as I am concerned. I had no official capacity, I have no control over the money and there would be no reason why I should call Dean or anybody else with respect to it and I did not so call Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that shortly before the trial when the demands for money were reaching the crescendo point again you called Dean and once again asked him to ask Haldeman to make the necessary funds available and that after Dean talked to Haldeman the decision was made to send the entire $350,000. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would respond to that the same way I did to your last question. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that on January 10 he received a call from O'Brien and you indicating that since Hunt had been given assurances of clemency and that those assurances were being passed to Hunt and others that Caulfield should give the same assurances to McCord who was becoming an increasing problem and again Dean was told that McCord's lawyer was having problems with him. Is that true? Mr. MITCHELL: I think that Mr. Dean, if he will go back and check his logs will find that I was out of town in Florida when he started the McCord dialog, and that there would be no reason in the world for me to direct Mr. Dean to do anything vis-a-vis Caulfield or McCord or anybody else. Mr. THOMPSON: The logs indicate, I believe, you were in Key Biscayne from January 1 through January 7. Mr. MITCHELL: I think it was December 20 through January 8, 1believe. Mr. THOMPSON: All right, sir. Let me ask you about one more piece of testimony, the meeting on March 22 which you had with Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean; I understand you met with them and that afternoon you met with the President. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe that Dean testified that Ehrlichman turned to you and asked if Hunt had been taken care of, or his money situation had been taken care of, and you assured him that he had been taken care of, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: It is absolutely false as far as I am concerned be-cause I have never, to my knowledge, discussed any of these payments with John Ehrlichman and any of the specifics of that nature with respect to any individual, and I wouldn't have known on the 22d of March whether Mr. Hunt had been taken care of or hadn't been taken care of. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you think Mr. Dean could be mistaken about these various points? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, you said it, not I. Mr. THOMPSON: Are you saying that perhaps Mr. Dean's memory might not have been quite that good? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it certainly cannot be with respect to the specifics of the March 22 meeting. I am sure of that. Mr. THOMPSON: Or with these other points about-well, is that a matter of memory as to whether or not you called him and asked that the $350,000 be sent over or as to whether or not you requested that Kalmbach be used to make deliveries of moneys to families? Is that a matter of memory? Mr. MITCHELL: I think it is a matter of confusion of people. I think as you look at this total picture, you get two aegises, one over in 1701 and one over in-what is the White House 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue? Mr. THOMPSON: I am sure you know better than I, Mr. Mitchell. Mr. MITCHELL: And Mr. Thompson, this fellow, you know he was just carrying messages back and forth, according to his statement. He had to have somebody over there as principals with which to get to do all of this. Unfortunately, at times, he has picked out some of these principals that just were not on the scene at the particular time, as I have indicated about the meeting of the 28th Mr. THOMPSON: Do you know of any other indications of this? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I can go back through the testimony and I am sure provide you with some, if that is your desire. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall that as you remember his statement or have you read his statement? Have you read his statement? I assume that you have- Mr. MITCHELL: I have read his statement, yes. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall whether or not there are other points, without specifically naming one, if you cannot? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, there are. I am not sure I could pinpoint them today, but I can provide you with material, if it is something- Mr. THOMPSON: If you return tomorrow, as I expect you will, if tonight you could go through his statement- Mr. MITCHELL: You mean I am going to be invited back tomorrow? Mr. THOMPSON: Most cordially. Mr. MITCHELL: Thank you. Mr. THOMPSON: And refresh your memory on those points. Some of the Senators might want to ask some questions. Mr. MITCHELL: I will attempt to do so, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you about one more meeting, the meeting you had with, not with Mr. Dean, but Mr. Ehrlichman on April 13 at the White House. Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Ehrlichman? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe the meeting was on April 14, if I am not mistaken. It was a Saturday. Mr. THOMPSON: What was discussed at that meeting? Mr. MITCHELL: Very little other than the fact that I had known that Mr. Magruder had tried to be the first one into the prosecutor's office and that he had already been there, and that Mr. Ehrlichman had learned that and had talked to Mr. Magruder and Mr. Ehrlichman advised me as to what Mr. Magruder was saying. I said, thank you very much and he said, would you not like to see the President? And I said under the circumstances of what is unfolding here; I think it would be inappropriate for me to see the President. So we left it at that. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this, in effect, telling you that from Ehrlichman's standpoint, anyway, from what was going on, that you could anticipate problems? Mr. MITCHELL: That I could? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I do not think it is so much that way as he was re-counting to me what Magruder had said, which, of course, did involve me. Now, as to Mr. Ehrlichman's motive, I am not trying to guesstimate that. Mr. THOMPSON: We have some evidence before the committee of a taped conversation between Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Kleindienst. I wonder if you have any reason to believe that this or any other conversation that you might have had with Mr. Ehrlichman was taped? Mr. MITCHELL: In reflection, I would think that this conversation probably was taped. Mr. THOMPSON: Why? Mr. MITCHELL: For the reason that most of the time that I met in John Ehrlichman's office, why, we sat on a sofa around a coffee table and so forth. Mr. THOMPSON: This is the one we heard about in the Pat Gray testimony about the documents? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that is the same coffee table and set of chairs. But at this particular time, he invited me over to sit in the chair at his desk and fidgeted around a little bit. So it occurred to me that a switch in the pattern of operation might very well have had something to do with as to where the microphone was. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you one more question, Mr. Mitchell: Obviously, the only verification, I suppose, direct verification of the fact that you were not the one who pushed Liddy, or to the contrary, the only one who could definitely testify that you did push Liddy, would be Liddy himself. And, of course, he has not favored us with his testimony so far. I notice here a call in your logs on April 17 with a Mr. Peter Maroulis. Mr. MITCHELL: Maroulis, yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe he is Mr. Liddy's attorney? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Could you tell us the nature of that conversation? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, that was a return of a call to Mr. Maroulis, who had made a call to me, and Mr. Maroulis, within a day or two, came to see me. He was looking for guidance. What had apparently occurred, according to Mr. Maroulis, and I have not checked this out with the parties to know whether it is true or not, but the President had made his statement by that time, whichever one it was, in which he asked everybody to come forward and disclose what they knew about this matter. I guess that might have been-well, whatever date it was, the President or somebody on his behalf had asked, I believe, Henry Petersen to go to Mr. Liddy's local counsel here in the District-- Mr. Kennelly, and Mr. Kennelly carried the message from Petersen to Kennelly to Mr. Maroulis about the fact that the President wanted everybody to come forward. Well, Mr. Maroulis had spent a lot of time-he is a personal friend of Mr. Liddy. It was his opinion that Mr. Liddy had a valid case on appeal because of the errors made by the court and other matters that were involved, and he wondered if I could give him any guidance as to what the President meant by that particular phrase, which apparently had been quoted verbatim from Petersen to Kennelly to Maroulis. I told him that I could not add anything to it, that I had not talked to the President about it; I knew what the President's wishes were, but he as a lawyer was going to have to make his own decision as to what his client's interests were. Mr. THOMPSON. Is that the last conversation you had with him concerning Liddy's position? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the only conversation I have ever had with the gentleman. Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Mitchell: I have no further questions.
Film clip: "Karate Kid" et péter cetera "the glory of love"
Midi Atlantique
SONGWRITERS HALL OF
00:00:00:00 [Scenes from reception prior to 24th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame]--Sot Jule Styne, who receives the Johnny Mercer Award, 3:30/ rerack/ photo-op of Paul Anka, who will be inducted/ ...
1970S TELEVISION SHOWS
Back in Studio INTERVIEW RESUMES: David Susskind you spend your life sticking out celebrities photographing them, when they're not aware they're being photographed? How do you feel about them? Do they fake their resentment at being photographed being interviewed, Dick Corkery I myself, I find them more, I don't know, more compassionate life than most people are more sensitive. And most people were in the theater and they'd like some more privacy than actually what we give them. But I don't know if it's I don't care what Ron Galella the publicity they love it. Especially when our anonymous they they want to be recognized. They want their picture taken. They want their names in a paper. But it's when they become superstars that it becomes ambiguous and contradictory. David Susskind Jacqueline Kennedy, she could avoid half of the pictures and publicity she gets. She didn't have to go to that party. She didn't have to see a movie at the theater, she could have a screening, Ron Galella right? She goes to openings now. Ballet David Susskind she wants the publicity Dick Corkery their private life. See once they become public when they come to it. Yeah, an affair that's going to be covered by newspapers and TV, then it's public, what their private lives I thought you were talking about when we wait outside their homes, and go to their estates where they're riding horseback and whatnot, and somehow sneak into it and get in there and capture them. David Susskind Which of the big stars really sabers publicy the most loves it. Even though she gives you or he gives you a hard time Gene Spatz , Suzanne Somers loves. And she's very gracious about it, she makes sure that she stops and make sure that everybody gets Ron Galella All the Charlie's Angel. Girls love it, right. In fact, most of the TV stars like you'd hardly find one bad TV star. Tell me one caveat. Dick Corkery Jackson was just in here last week in New York. And like, she didn't want the publicity, she was talking, she came out of the elevator. And she hid immediately and then caught herself, and then thought that wait a second image image. And she smiled and walked out a little fast while she wasn't going to run because we want to be cool at Ron Galella that point we want to make here is that they want the publicity, but they want it on their terms. They want to control it, you see. And we on the other hand, we want to control it. We say we the artists were the press. And if there's freedom of the press, we have a right to say what we want when we want to photograph them in public areas. It's fair game. That's the conflict. The controversy is they want to control a picture they say like that Barbra Streisand, she wouldn't like that picture that we showed, because it's not a flattering picture. Adam Scull But getting back to the question you asked, you said how do we feel about it? We always think that it's a problem because we don't like having to bother them. We know that some people are very, very conservative for the press. And they don't want any. It's always on our minds, but that we're not there to dwell upon that. We have to go out and do an assignment or a job or that's our business. We have to do it. David Susskind Is That somebody can't stand that you Adam Scull Oh there quite a few. David Susskind Who can't you stand? Adam Scull I don't know I can't stand I find it frustrating to work with someone like Woody Allen or Warren Beatty David Susskind Why do you dislike Warren Beatty, Adam Scull because he is so much in the public eye. He won't stop for a moment and have a picture taken over. David Susskind Are you jealous of him and frustrated by him? Adam Scull Not at all. I just want to know, Dick Corkery but he doesn't push for publicity ever. I think Sylvester Stallone is a fellow who you could sort of dislike. I mean, he's sort of Ron Galella went to his head I think fill me fill me. Rocky went to his head. It really Dick Corkery is he his bodyguards intimidate. He plays I'll never have that trouble. Warren Beatty, Warren Beatty will just walk by he'll put his head down. He's not gonna cooperate for the picture. But yeah, push anyone. He'll never intimidate anyone. So true. There are levels to David Susskind it. In other words, you don't like him even though he doesn't push you. You don't like him because you think he's a snob or I don't Gene Spatz like him because he won't give us a decent picture. He's at an event. He could just be nice enough to walk by with his head up instead of trying to spoil on David Susskind well, he has just spotted some lady up there. A hurry. Hurry, you should get Joan Collins autobiography and read Adam Scull one night. One night Beatty and Diane Keaton were together and think it was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This new exhibit opened up, I forget, which Dick Corkery wasn't it Abbot de Lebanon Adam Scull And they barrel through it, we started to chase them. And he they're going full steam ahead and they and they walk right into the elevator, they could have taken the staircase and they didn't. So they're in a sense, they give us the opportunity, even though he keeps his head kind of low. These elevators are very slow. So we were there for five minutes. And then we walked into the elevator with him. Although he wasn't helping, he still gives the opportunity even though he seems not to want. Ron Galella Yeah, I caught them in Beverly Hills restaurant. And that's the Shot Show when they were walking. And he did say to Diane Keaton, he says Keep your head down. Don't make it easy. He said don't make it easy for him to get pictures. And he likes me too. I mean, he's not bad. And he and they try to duck me in another restaurant for coffee or drink. But I went in and got a drink myself. And they sneak out the back way and I think that the back way after them. And I got the shot of them walking across Beverly Wilshire Boulevard when I went to the hotel, and I anticipated they have to look up to the traffic and that's how I got that shot because they had to look for the traffic. And I caught them. Adam Scull We always have to try and second guess them because they're always trying. David Susskind Who else gives you a high Who else do you dislike actively? How do you feel about Streisand? Sinatra? Brando? Adam Scull What now you're talking about the three big leaguers that are just awful. You've named them all. As far as photographs go. Gene Spatz I don't think Streisand's awful, she'll come out and well, Adam Scull and I don't know. I mean, there was a party at the local watering hole and John Peters, your boyfriend wouldn't let us in dig tried to get in the back way. And he was personally thrown up by John Peters. He didn't care what the reason was. Said no press. They finally come out the door. They still won't stop. They just climb into a limousine. So we have a matter of five to 10 seconds to make photograph of these people. Ron Galella Well they have reasons these celebrities for not wanting pictures or cooperating for interviews. And some of them they usually start out like Streisand wanting it but then they come across bad press bad things about them. They concentrate more on her physical makeup rather than her talent. So in this shatters their egos? Dick Corkery Well, I'm glad you mentioned that because that's very true with Barbra Streisand. She had named the publication, I was going to set up a picture shoot with her. And she had said, Okay, I want to in writing that I have approval of the pictures before they're published. I want it and also you cannot sell to such and such national distributed weekly, magazine newspaper type thing, because she said they'll take that picture of me thrown on their front cover and lie the whole story will be a lie, she says, definitely has been writing. And that was the condition that David Susskind Any experiencith Sinatra. Dick Corkery I had an experience with him. He was with the governor and he had his charting for a time he was really nice. He's very good find his journey going with Governor Kerry and he had a bowl he invited us all in and we spent about an hour with him taking pictures and joking and laughing and it's the best I've ever seen. I've heard I mean I'm Ron Galella Sinatra the turning point where he was anti press was when he split with Ava Gardner. The press really played it up and he hurt his feelings you see and they become anti press when I when that happens. It's just too much to take and a lot of it is lies that the press especially the writers I have to say it is more irresponsible writers that they create lies and black and white print. And we suffer we photographers and we the reason why we suffer is because where they are physically in front of the camera and vandal slugs me or what the writer is not there. It's written in the paper and sometimes a pseudo name I don't even know who wrote David Susskind Did you ever catch your Mr Sinatra in an elevator with the the body guards he travels with? Gene Spatz Oh yeah, I've seen him coming out of clubs like that. David Susskind I mean, they're kind of scary Gene Spatz they absolutely are. David Susskind They look as if if you did something your Ron Galella way. All the stars. When we photographed them, you play it by ear, you know whether there's going to be trouble. You see, they give you a dupe they do give you a warning. Except Randall didn't. But most of them do. You could read their emotion. David Susskind I mean, when when you saw Sinatra in the elevator, you know it was coming out of 21 coming out of 21 Did the bodyguard say get out of my way? Oh, Ron Galella absolutely. Oh, yeah. Yeah, there's a woman photographer. Guy keys wife. Gene Spatz That's right. That's right. Adam Scull they make no discrimination. They think you're in your way and I'll make a point of pushing it out of the way. Ron Galella many negative things said about us like Sinatra, he would say We're parasites. And he said, What do you make a living? He looks down upon us. And I think he lacks humility. Because not all of us could sing. Gene Spatz Tell you, David, I had Burt Reynolds body guard grabbed me through a car window and nearly pull my arm out of my shoulder, because I had been following them on for a movie set and trying to get pictures of him. And so I got out of the car and had to tell him that he wasn't allowed to do this. And you know that I would call a cop and he damn well flatten me. Okay, real close to just annihilating me. Dick Corkery But burt Reynolds is kind of cooperative, isn't he? Yeah, yeah. himself, he's really professional. And he'll smile through the ordeal of 1000 places and it's like an assault. He get 13 photographers on someone in flashing and, you know, he's just coming to the theater to enjoy the theater and some of the theater will tip off the press and paparazzi that hey, so and so's coming for publicity for the theater, not for him. So everyone waits for the celebrity show up 20,000 flashes go off the portfolio, don't know where he is something get angered. But Burt Reynolds handles himself. Ron Galella Most of the celebrities are professional, you know, it's just about 15 or 20 that we discussed, the elusive ones who are anti press, Dick Corkery but they seem to be the top ones they seem to at some point get fed up Ron Galella with some of them also played a game that the more rare that picture is taken or the interview, the more their stock goes up, you know, the more the create the demand for their pictures and cetera David Susskind at the end of the thought, because I was gonna throw it away. Yeah. Commercial now. While you think of another fun, we'll be right back.
[Kim WILDE]
A2 / France 2
ABC NEWS ARCHIVES - SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS: JOHN MITCHELL
SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS COMMITTEE TESTIMONY OF JOHN MITCHELL, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DIRECTOR OF THE COMMITTEE TO REELECT THE PRESIDENT. OFF AIR HISTORY OF SPECIAL REPORT AIRED 3:00 PM - 3:30 PM. Live ABC coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into the cover-up of the break-in at Democratic Party National Headquarters in the Watergate Office Building, Washington D.C. ABC rejoins the hearings just after Committee Chairman Sam Ervin gaveled the Committee to order. Minority Counsel Fred Thompson questions former Attorney General John Mitchell. Complete Transcript of afternoon session. Content may continue on additional records in series. Senator ERVIN. The committee will come to order. Mr. Thompson. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, you have testified concerning the so called 1970 plan or the Huston plan or the Huston project, and then in answering questions from Mr. Dash you went into talking about what is known as the Plumbers project in the White House. Would you say that the Plumbers in the White House as you now know them to be, was a logical extension of this 1970 plan which was evidently rescinded? Mr. MITCHELL: I would not say so, Mr. Thompson, because of the {It is at this point ABC News joins the hearings for broadcast} time frame intervening and also the consideration of the Interagency Evaluation Commission---Committee--in the meantime. I think that was somewhat of a self-starter later on caused by events and if I would have to guess, without knowing, it was probably generated about the time of the Pentagon Papers. Now, these are opinions I am giving to you. I have no knowledge on it. Mr. THOMPSON: You mentioned a field for need of coordination between the intelligence-gathering agencies, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, I do. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this just in the White House or was this also in the intelligence community? Mr. MITCHELL: Well. it was in parts of the intelligence community and it certainly was in the Justice Department. We, as I think I mentioned this morning, found that we were receiving intelligence from quarters where we might not have expected it in connection with anticipation of violent acts in connection with demonstration and at other times just pure violent acts. I mentioned the Alcoholic Tax and Firearms Bureau which had, I thought, quite a very competent intelligence capacity certainly, in connection with some of the problems that we had in the Justice Department. I know that Mr. Hoover and Mr. Helms had broken off their liaison that they had established in connection with the CIA and the FBI. There was great interest in finding a vehicle to reestablish that in a meaningful way, and so that basically the implementation of the Interagency Evaluation Commission was to take personnel from the different intelligence gathering areas, put them into one room where they could sort out and exchange ideas and, of course, evaluate what intelligence they had. One of the problems that I found in government was that there was very frequently a great deal of collection of intelligence but the evaluation and dissemination lacked a great deal. Mr. THOMPSON: Then, was this need for better coordination because of problems that the agencies themselves were having internally or was it because of external considerations, or both? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I think I can best answer that to point out that there were many events that happened in this country, including the bombing of the Capitol and other such events that, if we had had appropriate intelligence in advance, we might have been able to prohibit it. I know that in connection with many of the large demonstrations that we had in Washington, while 99 percent of those people who came, came for peaceful protest and to petition their Government, that there was always that lunatic fringe that was bound to and deter- mined to thrash the place and cause damage, and if we had had better intelligence in some of these areas, and I am not excluding them to those but in other areas, but perhaps a great deal of that could have been prevented. That was the basis upon which the Interagency Evaluation Committee was considered in concept and put into place. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me leave that for a moment and invite your attention to the November 24, 1971, meeting which I believe you had with Mr. Liddy and Mr. Dean when Mr. Dean brought Mr. Liddy to your office. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. MR. THOMPSON: And I believe introduced him to you. I believe your response to questioning this morning was to the effect that at that time you were not aware that Mr. Liddy was to be involved in intelligence activities as such but that later on you understood that he would be. Mr. MITCHELL: NO; I don't think that is quite true, Mr. Thompson. What I referred to was the Liddy prospectus about his job description at that time, which was one of the Dean exhibits, had a one-line reference to it in connection with gathering of information of intelligence or whatever it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: Just the one line. Do you recall any discussion about that? Mr. MITCHELL: I don't. As a matter of fact, it is one sentence, not one line. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have that before you? Mr. MITCHELL: This is exhibit 11* of the Dean exhibits. I don't know what committee exhibit it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: And you don't remember any discussion about that at the time? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir; the meeting didn't last long enough. Mr. THOMPSON: Did there come a time between that time and the meeting on January 27 when you became aware, or had a greater understanding as to what his role would be in the intelligence field? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I might say that sometime during early December, before Liddy was hired by the Committee To Re-Elect the President, Mr. Krogh brought Liddy over, and I may have been-along with other people to discuss the Drug Abuse Law Enforcements in which he had been working and which was my knowledge of Mr. Liddy's activities in the White House. I do not recall any meetings, and I am sure they didn't take place, in which Liddy's intelligence activities were discussed. It could very -well be that Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir; I can give you the exact date if you wish. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall right offhand whether it was before or after he went to the Committee To Re-Elect? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. It was 6 months later before I learned of the so-called Plumbers activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you even aware that he worked at the White House at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, I was aware he was at the White House be-cause it was so represented at that meeting. Mr. THOMPSON: Whose office did you understand that he was working in? Mr. MITCHELL: He was working under Mr. Krogh's aegis in connection with the drug program over there. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Did you know of any other activities that Mr. Krogh had at that time Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; he was very much involved in the 'White House relationship with the District of Columbia here. In fact, he was their prime contact. But as far as his activities in the area which has since been developed and become common knowledge, I had no such ideas. Mr. THOMPSON: I see. When you met with Liddy and Krogh in December did you inquire of Mr. Krogh then or did you have any discussion as to the nature of Liddy's work at the White House involving any of the Plumbers? Mr. MITCHELL: None whatsoever. We discussed entirely the DALE program, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Neither of them mentioned anything having to do with his previous Plumbers activities. Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir, I can assure you of that. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: I think I see what you mean and I do not want to try to draw names out that you do not want to present, but you have just presented one name. Would it be your opinion, if you care to give us your opinion, as to whether or not it might have come from more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: It is always conceivable. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have any reason to believe that it was either one source or more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I have no ability to weigh the potentials for the sources of concern in this area. Mr. THOMPSON: Knowing Mr. MITCHELL: I am sure it could not have been anybody in the White House. It must have been somebody in the White House with which he had a working relationship which he thought perhaps was in the interest of the campaign or somebody who had what you might refer to as superior authority. Mr. THOMPSON: A working relationship during the campaign or prior to the campaign? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would put this very much on the basis of a working relationship during the campaign that goes to some of the testimony here of the people who have evidenced an interest in this intelligence-gathering field. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, there were many people in the White House involved in the campaign, were there not? Mr. MITCHELL: What is your question, were there many people? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe that the record shows there were quite a few. Mr. THOMPSON: Maybe too many people, would you think? Mr. MITCHELL: At times, that was my opinion. Mr. THOMPSON: You were discussing some of Mr. Reisner's testimony this morning with Mr. Dash, with regard to the Gemstone documents. I have here, verbatim, Mr. Reisner's testimony. I would like to ask you a couple of questions after I read that. I believe Mr. Reisner was talking about Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: So as far as you are concerned, your remembrance is that the Mitchell file was not in fact your file, but his file which he was using to bring documents to you? Mr. MITCHELL: The only thing that I can identify it as is a folder in which he brought up these memorandums to the office. Mr. THOMPSON: What color was it, if you recall? Mr. MITCHELL: I do not recall, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: You never saw any Gemstone documents that you remember? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: In retrospect, would there be any materials that were a product of electronic surveillance without your knowing that they were? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would believe that electronic surveillance, after my experience in the Justice Department-I do not know in what forms they are; I have not seen them to this date. But after my experience in the Justice Department, I think I would have a pretty good idea of what the source of it might have been, unless it was totally disguised. Mr. THOMPSON: So Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it was probably that whoever was doing it, it was in the misguided concept that it was in the interests of the campaign. But as I have observed before, I couldn't conceive of what would be in the Democratic National Committee on the 30th of Mayor the 17th of June that would be in the interest of the process of the campaign of the reelection of the President at that particular time. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Mr. THOMPSON: At the time that the break-in occurred, what was your professional political judgment as to how the President stood with regard to his chances for reelection? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, we go back to the middle of June and, of course, he had improved substantially from his previous lows vis-a-vis the then front runner, Senator Muskie. That looked like he was on the ascendency. Mr. THOMPSON: Had not some polls indicated that, at one time or another, Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; but I believe, if my recollection is correct, that this was somewhat earlier than in June. Mr. THOMPSON: You didn't consider him in trouble at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: I am not sure I understand the thrust of that question. Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I would think that if you thought you had the nomination or the election locked up, that you would sit back and take no chances whatsoever, any person running a campaign, if you could avoid them. On the other hand, if you considered yourself in trouble, you might take risks that you would not otherwise take. I am not even saying necessarily illegal risks. Mr. MITCHELL: They are both hypothetical questions as of June 17with respect to the first one. I don't believe that anybody thought the election was locked up, certainly with respect to the time element of June 17, with the potentials of the people that might become the Democratic candidate at the convention that was taking place in July. There were a great deal of uncertainties as to who the candidate might be and as to what the circumstances might be vis-a-vis the incumbent who was seeking reelection. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, let me ask you about another point. Here is an excerpt from the civil deposition which you gave in the Democratic Party suit against the Committee To Re-Elect the President and I think I am quoting you verbatim in your testimony, when you were asked this question: "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present or about which you heard when you were campaign director concerning having any form of surveillance of the Democratic National Committee headquarters?" Your answer was: "No, sir, I can't imagine a less productive activity than that."Is that a correct--? Mr. MITCHELL: I think the total context, as I remember it, Mr. Thompson, had to do with the discussion of Mr. McCord and the security group. The answer was given in that context. Mr. THOMPSON: But this particular question, "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present"-and of course, I assume just from reading this question that that would involve any discussion with anyone. Are you saying that it is not your understanding of it? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection of the testimony that I gave had to do with the so-called security group in the Committee To Re-Elect the President which discussed Mr. McCord and the security group. And the answer was in response to that, to my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, as it reads, as I have read it, of course, it is not an accurate response Mr. MITCHELL: No, I say as you read it, but I think if you will look at the total context of the questioning, it referred to the security group that involved Mr. McCord which was the subject of the conversation. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you not asked any other broader questions about any knowledge you might have had of any surveillance activities? Mr. MITCHELL: I was asked broader questions with respect to did I ever receive documents that I could identify as coming from electronic surveillance and broad questions like that. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall any broader questions concerning conversations that you had? Mr. MITCHELL: NO, sir, I do not. Mr. THOMPSON: Is it just a case of not having asked you the right question? Mr. MITCHELL I think that that is the case. Mr. THOMPSON. Let me refer to June 19 or 20, I am not quite sure when it was, Mr. Mitchell: As I understand it, Mardian and La- Rue debriefed Liddy and found out what he knew about the break in, his involvement, and the involvement of others. And at that time, he related to them some of the White House horror stories; I believe you characterized them as, the plumbers' activities and so forth. I will go back to that in a minute, but as I understand your testimony this morning, the knowledge you got from that debriefing was really the reason why you, in effect, stood by while Mr. Magruder was preparing a story which, according to what you knew from Liddy, was going to be a false story, to present to the grand jury. Mr. MITCHELL: Along, Mr. Thompson, with some of the other stories that Mr. Dean brought forward to him, the Diem papers and the suspected extracurricular wiretapping, and a few of the others. Mr. THOMPSON: OK. That caused you to take that position with regard to Magruder. And also, I assume that those factors were the reasons why you, in effect, acquiesced, anyway, in the payments to the families of support money and lawyers' fees and that sort of thing, which I am sure you realize could have been pretty embarrassing, to say the least, if not illegal, at that time. Would that be correct as far as your motivations are concerned? Mr. MITCHELL: That is a correct summary of my motivation and rationale for the actions that I did take. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date on which Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue related this conversation of Liddy's to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, he certainly didn't debrief them on the 19th, I am sure of that, because they were in transit. Whether it was the 20th or 21st, I am not certain. Mr. THOMPSON: Did they talk to you the same day they talked to him? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection is they talked to me the next day, but I am not certain about that, either. But in any event, it was in the time frame of the 21st or 22d, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Can you recall in a little more detail what they said that Liddy had related to them? You have already mentioned the fact that Liddy said that Magruder had pushed him in the break-in at the Ellsberg psychiatrist's office, I believe, and the Dita Beard situation. What did Liddy supposedly say with regard to the Dita Beard situation? What did he supposedly know about White House involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: To the best of my recollection, and, of course, I have heard these horror stories in different versions from different people over the period of the years, the fact that he was either the one or assisted in spiriting her out of town, I believe was the discussion at that particular time. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he indicate, according to them, that the budget for the electronic surveillance operation which led to the break-in of the DNC had been approved by the White House? Mr. MITCHELL: You are testing my memory pretty hard. I am inclined to think that he did say that, but this is a-not that he said it, but that Mardian or LaRue reported to me that he had said it. But you are testing my memory pretty hard on a substance of which I have heard dozens and dozens of repetitions of it. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever verify any of these facts with the President? Mr. MITCHELL: I never discussed those specific factors with Mr. Haldeman until a later date. It was at that time that Mr. Dean was acting as a liaison between the White House and the committee with respect to these matters. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever talk directly with Ehrlichman about these matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, yes, possibly before the end of 1972, certainly in 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: At this time did you know of Hunt's involvement? Did Liddy tell them about Hunt's involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe he did. In fact, I am sure he did. Mr. THOMPSON: So, in effect, what you are saying is that you were basing your later activities concerning Magruder's testimony and concerning the payments and these sorts of things as embarrassment upon the hearsay information of this man that presented these outlandish and wild eyed proposals in your office. It would seem like you would want some verification from him. Mr. MITCHELL: Let us back up, Mr. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. Mr. MITCHELL: So it was not just what Mr. Liddy had told Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue on the 20th, 21st, and 22d of June. There were further affirmations of the facts that came out of the White House from Mr. Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Such as what, concerning these matters that we have been discussing? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, as I said a minute ago one of the things that I did not believe that Mr. Liddy had any reference to in the Mardian-LaRue Diem briefing was the papers and how they had been handled. Mr. THOMPSON: Did Mr. Dean verify this to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Dean so stated, he did not show me the spliced cables but he told me about the circumstances. Mr. THOMPSON: But as early as June the money started flowing, the payments started flowing and, of course-- Mr. MITCHELL: Well, now, you are assuming, Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I will ask you when you first became aware of- Mr. MITCHELL: As I said this morning, it was much later than that and I believe it was at the time that Mr. Kalmbach ceased in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date that you became aware of any money being paid to any of the defendants or families or attorneys? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I do not recall the date but it was well after the matter was in progress and in operation. Let me perhaps help you a little bit on that, Mr. THOMPSON: June 23 or 24, I believe. Mr. MITCHELL: On June 28. - Mr. THOMPSON: And 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: June 28. You see, Mr. Dean had testified that they had been playing games with the CIA up to the 28th. Then, Mr. Dean testified that there was a meeting in my office with Mardian, LaRue, and Mitchell and I do not know who all else including Mr. Dean in the afternoon of the 28th in which it was decided, naturally Mitchell was always deciding these things, according to Dean, that the White House, somebody in the White House, John Ehrlichman should call Kalmbach and ask him to fly back from California that night of the28th, which led to their meetings on the 29th. The only problem with all of that was that I was in New York and could not have been at such a meeting, and I was not aware of it. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe your logs reflect that, Mr. MITCHELL: I would hope so because I have been so stating for quite some time. Mr. THOMPSON: It reflects that, according to your logs, you were in New York on the 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes. Mr. THOMPSON: And that you arrived in the District of Columbia at 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: There is no indication of any meeting after 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: And I assume there was none. Mr. MITCHELL: The passenger that I had with me coming back from New York was not about to allow me to go to any more meetings on that particular day. [Laughter.] Mr. THOMPSON: I am not going to pursue that any further. Getting back to your knowledge of the money, perhaps my question should have been, "When was the first time that you heard of the need for the payment of money," and I ask it because of this: Dean testified that the first time he heard any discussions of the need for money to take care of those who were involved in the break-in was in a meeting which occurred on either June 23, Saturday, or June 24 attended by Dean, Mardian, LaRue, and yourself. Mr. MITCHELL: That is quite possible because as I recall the conversation of Mr. Liddy that he had with Mr. MITCHELL: That was the basis for the White House activities, that is absolutely correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Without getting into a great deal more detail, Mr. Mitchell, besides the Diem cables can you answer any further point of verification that Mr. Dean gave you concerning these matters we mentioned, the Ellsberg psychiatrist, the Dita Beard situation, any of those matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, of course, there was the purported firebombing of the Brookings Institution which had been discussed and so forth, I have already- Mr. THOMPSON: Did Dean tell you that was seriously proposed at one time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that I took it as a very serious proposal because of the fact that he flew across the country in order to get it turned off. Mr. THOMPSON: For that particular reason as you understood it? Mr. MITCHELL: Pardon? Mr. THOMPSON: He made this trip for that particular reason? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the way he so testified and I believe advised it at that particular time because, as you recall, it was tied into the Mardian trip to the west coast also. And also, it seems to me, that I have a pretty clear recollection there was general discussion of, as I say, the extracurricular wiretapping activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you consider these matters national security matters at the time you were considering them? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, since I didn't really know about them I could not make an assessment about them. Mr. THOMPSON: In your mind as you were seeking to justify your position, if you were, when these things were realized by you, did you consider them to be matters of national security no one had any right to know, that they should be covered up in effect, or were these just political decisions? Mr. MITCHELL: They were obviously elements of that in connection with some of these activities. But I think we would have to parcel it out in details before you could make that determination. Mr. THOMPSON: Would it be accurate to say your motivations were generally more out of political considerations at that time, in the midst of a campaign, than matters of national security? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would think if you would put the aggregate of the subject matters we are talking about it would have to be from that point of view rather than from national security...- Mr. THOMPSON: What correlation do you put together there? Mr. MITCHELL: The fact that Mr. Hunt worked for Mr. Colson. With the second part about it with which there was particularly at the time frame in which he is talking about, there is considerable interest at that time as to, about the money that had been through Barker's bank and the Ogarrio checks that were coming out that had come from Mexico, et cetera, et cetera. This is the subject matter and that particular week in which Mr. Stans and perhaps Mitchell and others were asking the White House about. You will also, of course, recognize that the newspapers and Liddy himself, I believe, in the debriefing that Mardian got, referred to the fact that they had had CIA documents or materials, et cetera, et cetera. So there was a very considerable interest in, was there any CIA involvement, No. 1, in connection with the break-in, No. 2 in connection with the personnel involved and, No. 3, in connection with this gentleman from Mexico City, Mr. Ogarrio I believe his name was, in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: You would not categorize those things as part of a cover up, would you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, that is what I say, Mr. Dean, I think, has put a blanket over activities that are happening at that particular time and talked about them as a cover up; this is where I started, I thought, my very lengthy answer. I am sorry to be so long. Mr. THOMPSON: That is all right. You have already stated that Dean's testimony about a meeting of June 28, and I believe I am quoting him correctly, where he said: Mitchell asked me to get the approval of Ehrlichman and Haldeman to get Herb Kalmbach to raise the necessary money. Mr. MITCHELL: That is right. Mr. THOMPSON: You stated that was false. Mr. MITCHELL: There was no such meeting; I made no such request, ever. Mr. THOMPSON: With regard to asking- Mr. MITCHELL: Ask Dean to ask Haldeman to get Kalmbach, to my recollection I have never made such a request. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever ask anyone to get Kalmbach to raise money for these purposes? Mr. MITCHELL: Not to my recollection. As I recall this scenario that Mr. Kalmbach did at the request of somebody, according to Dean, it was somebody in the White House, Kalmbach to Washington on the28th and met on the 29th with these people. He proceeded into this operation. There came a time in the fall, I believe it was September or October, where because of adverse publicity or whatever it was he wanted out and that was the end of it, and I certainly don't believe that I would have the audacity to ask him back into such an operation. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that after the President's statement on August 29 referring to the Dean report he began thinking that he might be being set up in case the whole thing crumbled at a later time. He testified he discussed this with you and others and that you assured him that he need not worry because you didn't believe anyone in the White House would do that to him. Do you recall such a conversation with Mr. Dean? Mr. MITCHELL: I recall such a conversation, Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall when? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I don't recall the date but it was much, much further. In fact, I think it was into 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the month? Was it into April, per-haps, as late as April? Mr. MITCHELL: No, it would be before that. It would be in February or March I would believe. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he state to you the basis of his fears? Mr. MITCHELL: No I don't believe he did. As a matter of fact, to the best of my recollection I only had, of course, one conversation with Mr. Dean in April, and a very limited number of them in March so it had to be sometime in early March or February. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified: That during the first week of December you called Dean and said that you would have to use some of the$350,000 at the White House to take care of the demands that were being made by Hunt and the others for money, and that you asked him to get Haldeman's approval for that. Is that a correct statement? Mr. MITCHELL: No, that is absolutely untrue as far as I am concerned. I had no official capacity, I have no control over the money and there would be no reason why I should call Dean or anybody else with respect to it and I did not so call Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that shortly before the trial when the demands for money were reaching the crescendo point again you called Dean and once again asked him to ask Haldeman to make the necessary funds available and that after Dean talked to Haldeman the decision was made to send the entire $350,000. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would respond to that the same way I did to your last question. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that on January 10 he received a call from O'Brien and you indicating that since Hunt had been given assurances of clemency and that those assurances were being passed to Hunt and others that Caulfield should give the same assurances to McCord who was becoming an increasing problem and again Dean was told that McCord's lawyer was having problems with him. Is that true? Mr. MITCHELL: I think that Mr. Dean, if he will go back and check his logs will find that I was out of town in Florida when he started the McCord dialog, and that there would be no reason in the world for me to direct Mr. Dean to do anything vis-a-vis Caulfield or McCord or anybody else. Mr. THOMPSON: The logs indicate, I believe, you were in Key Biscayne from January 1 through January 7. Mr. MITCHELL: I think it was December 20 through January 8, 1believe. Mr. THOMPSON: All right, sir. Let me ask you about one more piece of testimony, the meeting on March 22 which you had with Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean; I understand you met with them and that afternoon you met with the President. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe that Dean testified that Ehrlichman turned to you and asked if Hunt had been taken care of, or his money situation had been taken care of, and you assured him that he had been taken care of, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: It is absolutely false as far as I am concerned be-cause I have never, to my knowledge, discussed any of these payments with John Ehrlichman and any of the specifics of that nature with respect to any individual, and I wouldn't have known on the 22d of March whether Mr. Hunt had been taken care of or hadn't been taken care of. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you think Mr. Dean could be mistaken about these various points? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, you said it, not I. Mr. THOMPSON: Are you saying that perhaps Mr. Dean's memory might not have been quite that good? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it certainly cannot be with respect to the specifics of the March 22 meeting. I am sure of that. Mr. THOMPSON: Or with these other points about-well, is that a matter of memory as to whether or not you called him and asked that the $350,000 be sent over or as to whether or not you requested that Kalmbach be used to make deliveries of moneys to families? Is that a matter of memory? Mr. MITCHELL: I think it is a matter of confusion of people. I think as you look at this total picture, you get two aegises, one over in 1701 and one over in-what is the White House 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue? Mr. THOMPSON: I am sure you know better than I, Mr. Mitchell. Mr. MITCHELL: And Mr. Thompson, this fellow, you know he was just carrying messages back and forth, according to his statement. He had to have somebody over there as principals with which to get to do all of this. Unfortunately, at times, he has picked out some of these principals that just were not on the scene at the particular time, as I have indicated about the meeting of the 28th Mr. THOMPSON: Do you know of any other indications of this? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I can go back through the testimony and I am sure provide you with some, if that is your desire. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall that as you remember his statement or have you read his statement? Have you read his statement? I assume that you have- Mr. MITCHELL: I have read his statement, yes. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall whether or not there are other points, without specifically naming one, if you cannot? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, there are. I am not sure I could pinpoint them today, but I can provide you with material, if it is something- Mr. THOMPSON: If you return tomorrow, as I expect you will, if tonight you could go through his statement- Mr. MITCHELL: You mean I am going to be invited back tomorrow? Mr. THOMPSON: Most cordially. Mr. MITCHELL: Thank you. Mr. THOMPSON: And refresh your memory on those points. Some of the Senators might want to ask some questions. Mr. MITCHELL: I will attempt to do so, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you about one more meeting, the meeting you had with, not with Mr. Dean, but Mr. Ehrlichman on April 13 at the White House. Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Ehrlichman? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe the meeting was on April 14, if I am not mistaken. It was a Saturday. Mr. THOMPSON: What was discussed at that meeting? Mr. MITCHELL: Very little other than the fact that I had known that Mr. Magruder had tried to be the first one into the prosecutor's office and that he had already been there, and that Mr. Ehrlichman had learned that and had talked to Mr. Magruder and Mr. Ehrlichman advised me as to what Mr. Magruder was saying. I said, thank you very much and he said, would you not like to see the President? And I said under the circumstances of what is unfolding here; I think it would be inappropriate for me to see the President. So we left it at that. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this, in effect, telling you that from Ehrlichman's standpoint, anyway, from what was going on, that you could anticipate problems? Mr. MITCHELL: That I could? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I do not think it is so much that way as he was re-counting to me what Magruder had said, which, of course, did involve me. Now, as to Mr. Ehrlichman's motive, I am not trying to guesstimate that. Mr. THOMPSON: We have some evidence before the committee of a taped conversation between Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Kleindienst. I wonder if you have any reason to believe that this or any other conversation that you might have had with Mr. Ehrlichman was taped? Mr. MITCHELL: In reflection, I would think that this conversation probably was taped. Mr. THOMPSON: Why? Mr. MITCHELL: For the reason that most of the time that I met in John Ehrlichman's office, why, we sat on a sofa around a coffee table and so forth. Mr. THOMPSON: This is the one we heard about in the Pat Gray testimony about the documents? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that is the same coffee table and set of chairs. But at this particular time, he invited me over to sit in the chair at his desk and fidgeted around a little bit. So it occurred to me that a switch in the pattern of operation might very well have had something to do with as to where the microphone was. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you one more question, Mr. Mitchell: Obviously, the only verification, I suppose, direct verification of the fact that you were not the one who pushed Liddy, or to the contrary, the only one who could definitely testify that you did push Liddy, would be Liddy himself. And, of course, he has not favored us with his testimony so far. I notice here a call in your logs on April 17 with a Mr. Peter Maroulis. Mr. MITCHELL: Maroulis, yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe he is Mr. Liddy's attorney? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Could you tell us the nature of that conversation? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, that was a return of a call to Mr. Maroulis, who had made a call to me, and Mr. Maroulis, within a day or two, came to see me. He was looking for guidance. What had apparently occurred, according to Mr. Maroulis, and I have not checked this out with the parties to know whether it is true or not, but the President had made his statement by that time, whichever one it was, in which he asked everybody to come forward and disclose what they knew about this matter. I guess that might have been-well, whatever date it was, the President or somebody on his behalf had asked, I believe, Henry Petersen to go to Mr. Liddy's local counsel here in the District-- Mr. Kennelly, and Mr. Kennelly carried the message from Petersen to Kennelly to Mr. Maroulis about the fact that the President wanted everybody to come forward. Well, Mr. Maroulis had spent a lot of time-he is a personal friend of Mr. Liddy. It was his opinion that Mr. Liddy had a valid case on appeal because of the errors made by the court and other matters that were involved, and he wondered if I could give him any guidance as to what the President meant by that particular phrase, which apparently had been quoted verbatim from Petersen to Kennelly to Maroulis. I told him that I could not add anything to it, that I had not talked to the President about it; I knew what the President's wishes were, but he as a lawyer was going to have to make his own decision as to what his client's interests were. Mr. THOMPSON. Is that the last conversation you had with him concerning Liddy's position? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the only conversation I have ever had with the gentleman. Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Mitchell: I have no further questions.
ABC NEWS ARCHIVES - SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS: JOHN MITCHELL
SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS COMMITTEE TESTIMONY OF JOHN MITCHELL, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DIRECTOR OF THE COMMITTEE TO REELECT THE PRESIDENT. OFF AIR HISTORY OF SPECIAL REPORT AIRED 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM. Live ABC coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into the cover-up of the break-in at Democratic Party National Headquarters in the Watergate Office Building, Washington D.C. ABC rejoins the hearings just after Committee Chairman Sam Ervin gaveled the Committee to order. Minority Counsel Fred Thompson questions former Attorney General John Mitchell. Complete Transcript of afternoon session. Content may continue on additional records in series. Senator ERVIN. The committee will come to order. Mr. Thompson. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, you have testified concerning the so called 1970 plan or the Huston plan or the Huston project, and then in answering questions from Mr. Dash you went into talking about what is known as the Plumbers project in the White House. Would you say that the Plumbers in the White House as you now know them to be, was a logical extension of this 1970 plan which was evidently rescinded? Mr. MITCHELL: I would not say so, Mr. Thompson, because of the {It is at this point ABC News joins the hearings for broadcast} time frame intervening and also the consideration of the Interagency Evaluation Commission---Committee--in the meantime. I think that was somewhat of a self-starter later on caused by events and if I would have to guess, without knowing, it was probably generated about the time of the Pentagon Papers. Now, these are opinions I am giving to you. I have no knowledge on it. Mr. THOMPSON: You mentioned a field for need of coordination between the intelligence-gathering agencies, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, I do. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this just in the White House or was this also in the intelligence community? Mr. MITCHELL: Well. it was in parts of the intelligence community and it certainly was in the Justice Department. We, as I think I mentioned this morning, found that we were receiving intelligence from quarters where we might not have expected it in connection with anticipation of violent acts in connection with demonstration and at other times just pure violent acts. I mentioned the Alcoholic Tax and Firearms Bureau which had, I thought, quite a very competent intelligence capacity certainly, in connection with some of the problems that we had in the Justice Department. I know that Mr. Hoover and Mr. Helms had broken off their liaison that they had established in connection with the CIA and the FBI. There was great interest in finding a vehicle to reestablish that in a meaningful way, and so that basically the implementation of the Interagency Evaluation Commission was to take personnel from the different intelligence gathering areas, put them into one room where they could sort out and exchange ideas and, of course, evaluate what intelligence they had. One of the problems that I found in government was that there was very frequently a great deal of collection of intelligence but the evaluation and dissemination lacked a great deal. Mr. THOMPSON: Then, was this need for better coordination because of problems that the agencies themselves were having internally or was it because of external considerations, or both? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I think I can best answer that to point out that there were many events that happened in this country, including the bombing of the Capitol and other such events that, if we had had appropriate intelligence in advance, we might have been able to prohibit it. I know that in connection with many of the large demonstrations that we had in Washington, while 99 percent of those people who came, came for peaceful protest and to petition their Government, that there was always that lunatic fringe that was bound to and deter- mined to thrash the place and cause damage, and if we had had better intelligence in some of these areas, and I am not excluding them to those but in other areas, but perhaps a great deal of that could have been prevented. That was the basis upon which the Interagency Evaluation Committee was considered in concept and put into place. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me leave that for a moment and invite your attention to the November 24, 1971, meeting which I believe you had with Mr. Liddy and Mr. Dean when Mr. Dean brought Mr. Liddy to your office. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. MR. THOMPSON: And I believe introduced him to you. I believe your response to questioning this morning was to the effect that at that time you were not aware that Mr. Liddy was to be involved in intelligence activities as such but that later on you understood that he would be. Mr. MITCHELL: NO; I don't think that is quite true, Mr. Thompson. What I referred to was the Liddy prospectus about his job description at that time, which was one of the Dean exhibits, had a one-line reference to it in connection with gathering of information of intelligence or whatever it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: Just the one line. Do you recall any discussion about that? Mr. MITCHELL: I don't. As a matter of fact, it is one sentence, not one line. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have that before you? Mr. MITCHELL: This is exhibit 11* of the Dean exhibits. I don't know what committee exhibit it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: And you don't remember any discussion about that at the time? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir; the meeting didn't last long enough. Mr. THOMPSON: Did there come a time between that time and the meeting on January 27 when you became aware, or had a greater understanding as to what his role would be in the intelligence field? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I might say that sometime during early December, before Liddy was hired by the Committee To Re-Elect the President, Mr. Krogh brought Liddy over, and I may have been-along with other people to discuss the Drug Abuse Law Enforcements in which he had been working and which was my knowledge of Mr. Liddy's activities in the White House. I do not recall any meetings, and I am sure they didn't take place, in which Liddy's intelligence activities were discussed. It could very -well be that Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir; I can give you the exact date if you wish. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall right offhand whether it was before or after he went to the Committee To Re-Elect? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. It was 6 months later before I learned of the so-called Plumbers activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you even aware that he worked at the White House at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, I was aware he was at the White House be-cause it was so represented at that meeting. Mr. THOMPSON: Whose office did you understand that he was working in? Mr. MITCHELL: He was working under Mr. Krogh's aegis in connection with the drug program over there. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Did you know of any other activities that Mr. Krogh had at that time Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; he was very much involved in the 'White House relationship with the District of Columbia here. In fact, he was their prime contact. But as far as his activities in the area which has since been developed and become common knowledge, I had no such ideas. Mr. THOMPSON: I see. When you met with Liddy and Krogh in December did you inquire of Mr. Krogh then or did you have any discussion as to the nature of Liddy's work at the White House involving any of the Plumbers? Mr. MITCHELL: None whatsoever. We discussed entirely the DALE program, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Neither of them mentioned anything having to do with his previous Plumbers activities. Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir, I can assure you of that. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: I think I see what you mean and I do not want to try to draw names out that you do not want to present, but you have just presented one name. Would it be your opinion, if you care to give us your opinion, as to whether or not it might have come from more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: It is always conceivable. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have any reason to believe that it was either one source or more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I have no ability to weigh the potentials for the sources of concern in this area. Mr. THOMPSON: Knowing Mr. MITCHELL: I am sure it could not have been anybody in the White House. It must have been somebody in the White House with which he had a working relationship which he thought perhaps was in the interest of the campaign or somebody who had what you might refer to as superior authority. Mr. THOMPSON: A working relationship during the campaign or prior to the campaign? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would put this very much on the basis of a working relationship during the campaign that goes to some of the testimony here of the people who have evidenced an interest in this intelligence-gathering field. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, there were many people in the White House involved in the campaign, were there not? Mr. MITCHELL: What is your question, were there many people? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe that the record shows there were quite a few. Mr. THOMPSON: Maybe too many people, would you think? Mr. MITCHELL: At times, that was my opinion. Mr. THOMPSON: You were discussing some of Mr. Reisner's testimony this morning with Mr. Dash, with regard to the Gemstone documents. I have here, verbatim, Mr. Reisner's testimony. I would like to ask you a couple of questions after I read that. I believe Mr. Reisner was talking about Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: So as far as you are concerned, your remembrance is that the Mitchell file was not in fact your file, but his file which he was using to bring documents to you? Mr. MITCHELL: The only thing that I can identify it as is a folder in which he brought up these memorandums to the office. Mr. THOMPSON: What color was it, if you recall? Mr. MITCHELL: I do not recall, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: You never saw any Gemstone documents that you remember? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: In retrospect, would there be any materials that were a product of electronic surveillance without your knowing that they were? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would believe that electronic surveillance, after my experience in the Justice Department-I do not know in what forms they are; I have not seen them to this date. But after my experience in the Justice Department, I think I would have a pretty good idea of what the source of it might have been, unless it was totally disguised. Mr. THOMPSON: So Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it was probably that whoever was doing it, it was in the misguided concept that it was in the interests of the campaign. But as I have observed before, I couldn't conceive of what would be in the Democratic National Committee on the 30th of Mayor the 17th of June that would be in the interest of the process of the campaign of the reelection of the President at that particular time. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Mr. THOMPSON: At the time that the break-in occurred, what was your professional political judgment as to how the President stood with regard to his chances for reelection? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, we go back to the middle of June and, of course, he had improved substantially from his previous lows vis-a-vis the then front runner, Senator Muskie. That looked like he was on the ascendency. Mr. THOMPSON: Had not some polls indicated that, at one time or another, Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; but I believe, if my recollection is correct, that this was somewhat earlier than in June. Mr. THOMPSON: You didn't consider him in trouble at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: I am not sure I understand the thrust of that question. Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I would think that if you thought you had the nomination or the election locked up, that you would sit back and take no chances whatsoever, any person running a campaign, if you could avoid them. On the other hand, if you considered yourself in trouble, you might take risks that you would not otherwise take. I am not even saying necessarily illegal risks. Mr. MITCHELL: They are both hypothetical questions as of June 17with respect to the first one. I don't believe that anybody thought the election was locked up, certainly with respect to the time element of June 17, with the potentials of the people that might become the Democratic candidate at the convention that was taking place in July. There were a great deal of uncertainties as to who the candidate might be and as to what the circumstances might be vis-a-vis the incumbent who was seeking reelection. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, let me ask you about another point. Here is an excerpt from the civil deposition which you gave in the Democratic Party suit against the Committee To Re-Elect the President and I think I am quoting you verbatim in your testimony, when you were asked this question: "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present or about which you heard when you were campaign director concerning having any form of surveillance of the Democratic National Committee headquarters?" Your answer was: "No, sir, I can't imagine a less productive activity than that."Is that a correct--? Mr. MITCHELL: I think the total context, as I remember it, Mr. Thompson, had to do with the discussion of Mr. McCord and the security group. The answer was given in that context. Mr. THOMPSON: But this particular question, "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present"-and of course, I assume just from reading this question that that would involve any discussion with anyone. Are you saying that it is not your understanding of it? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection of the testimony that I gave had to do with the so-called security group in the Committee To Re-Elect the President which discussed Mr. McCord and the security group. And the answer was in response to that, to my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, as it reads, as I have read it, of course, it is not an accurate response Mr. MITCHELL: No, I say as you read it, but I think if you will look at the total context of the questioning, it referred to the security group that involved Mr. McCord which was the subject of the conversation. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you not asked any other broader questions about any knowledge you might have had of any surveillance activities? Mr. MITCHELL: I was asked broader questions with respect to did I ever receive documents that I could identify as coming from electronic surveillance and broad questions like that. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall any broader questions concerning conversations that you had? Mr. MITCHELL: NO, sir, I do not. Mr. THOMPSON: Is it just a case of not having asked you the right question? Mr. MITCHELL I think that that is the case. Mr. THOMPSON. Let me refer to June 19 or 20, I am not quite sure when it was, Mr. Mitchell: As I understand it, Mardian and La- Rue debriefed Liddy and found out what he knew about the break in, his involvement, and the involvement of others. And at that time, he related to them some of the White House horror stories; I believe you characterized them as, the plumbers' activities and so forth. I will go back to that in a minute, but as I understand your testimony this morning, the knowledge you got from that debriefing was really the reason why you, in effect, stood by while Mr. Magruder was preparing a story which, according to what you knew from Liddy, was going to be a false story, to present to the grand jury. Mr. MITCHELL: Along, Mr. Thompson, with some of the other stories that Mr. Dean brought forward to him, the Diem papers and the suspected extracurricular wiretapping, and a few of the others. Mr. THOMPSON: OK. That caused you to take that position with regard to Magruder. And also, I assume that those factors were the reasons why you, in effect, acquiesced, anyway, in the payments to the families of support money and lawyers' fees and that sort of thing, which I am sure you realize could have been pretty embarrassing, to say the least, if not illegal, at that time. Would that be correct as far as your motivations are concerned? Mr. MITCHELL: That is a correct summary of my motivation and rationale for the actions that I did take. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date on which Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue related this conversation of Liddy's to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, he certainly didn't debrief them on the 19th, I am sure of that, because they were in transit. Whether it was the 20th or 21st, I am not certain. Mr. THOMPSON: Did they talk to you the same day they talked to him? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection is they talked to me the next day, but I am not certain about that, either. But in any event, it was in the time frame of the 21st or 22d, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Can you recall in a little more detail what they said that Liddy had related to them? You have already mentioned the fact that Liddy said that Magruder had pushed him in the break-in at the Ellsberg psychiatrist's office, I believe, and the Dita Beard situation. What did Liddy supposedly say with regard to the Dita Beard situation? What did he supposedly know about White House involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: To the best of my recollection, and, of course, I have heard these horror stories in different versions from different people over the period of the years, the fact that he was either the one or assisted in spiriting her out of town, I believe was the discussion at that particular time. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he indicate, according to them, that the budget for the electronic surveillance operation which led to the break-in of the DNC had been approved by the White House? Mr. MITCHELL: You are testing my memory pretty hard. I am inclined to think that he did say that, but this is a-not that he said it, but that Mardian or LaRue reported to me that he had said it. But you are testing my memory pretty hard on a substance of which I have heard dozens and dozens of repetitions of it. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever verify any of these facts with the President? Mr. MITCHELL: I never discussed those specific factors with Mr. Haldeman until a later date. It was at that time that Mr. Dean was acting as a liaison between the White House and the committee with respect to these matters. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever talk directly with Ehrlichman about these matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, yes, possibly before the end of 1972, certainly in 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: At this time did you know of Hunt's involvement? Did Liddy tell them about Hunt's involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe he did. In fact, I am sure he did. Mr. THOMPSON: So, in effect, what you are saying is that you were basing your later activities concerning Magruder's testimony and concerning the payments and these sorts of things as embarrassment upon the hearsay information of this man that presented these outlandish and wild eyed proposals in your office. It would seem like you would want some verification from him. Mr. MITCHELL: Let us back up, Mr. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. Mr. MITCHELL: So it was not just what Mr. Liddy had told Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue on the 20th, 21st, and 22d of June. There were further affirmations of the facts that came out of the White House from Mr. Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Such as what, concerning these matters that we have been discussing? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, as I said a minute ago one of the things that I did not believe that Mr. Liddy had any reference to in the Mardian-LaRue Diem briefing was the papers and how they had been handled. Mr. THOMPSON: Did Mr. Dean verify this to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Dean so stated, he did not show me the spliced cables but he told me about the circumstances. Mr. THOMPSON: But as early as June the money started flowing, the payments started flowing and, of course-- Mr. MITCHELL: Well, now, you are assuming, Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I will ask you when you first became aware of- Mr. MITCHELL: As I said this morning, it was much later than that and I believe it was at the time that Mr. Kalmbach ceased in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date that you became aware of any money being paid to any of the defendants or families or attorneys? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I do not recall the date but it was well after the matter was in progress and in operation. Let me perhaps help you a little bit on that, Mr. THOMPSON: June 23 or 24, I believe. Mr. MITCHELL: On June 28. - Mr. THOMPSON: And 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: June 28. You see, Mr. Dean had testified that they had been playing games with the CIA up to the 28th. Then, Mr. Dean testified that there was a meeting in my office with Mardian, LaRue, and Mitchell and I do not know who all else including Mr. Dean in the afternoon of the 28th in which it was decided, naturally Mitchell was always deciding these things, according to Dean, that the White House, somebody in the White House, John Ehrlichman should call Kalmbach and ask him to fly back from California that night of the28th, which led to their meetings on the 29th. The only problem with all of that was that I was in New York and could not have been at such a meeting, and I was not aware of it. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe your logs reflect that, Mr. MITCHELL: I would hope so because I have been so stating for quite some time. Mr. THOMPSON: It reflects that, according to your logs, you were in New York on the 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes. Mr. THOMPSON: And that you arrived in the District of Columbia at 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: There is no indication of any meeting after 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: And I assume there was none. Mr. MITCHELL: The passenger that I had with me coming back from New York was not about to allow me to go to any more meetings on that particular day. [Laughter.] Mr. THOMPSON: I am not going to pursue that any further. Getting back to your knowledge of the money, perhaps my question should have been, "When was the first time that you heard of the need for the payment of money," and I ask it because of this: Dean testified that the first time he heard any discussions of the need for money to take care of those who were involved in the break-in was in a meeting which occurred on either June 23, Saturday, or June 24 attended by Dean, Mardian, LaRue, and yourself. Mr. MITCHELL: That is quite possible because as I recall the conversation of Mr. Liddy that he had with Mr. MITCHELL: That was the basis for the White House activities, that is absolutely correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Without getting into a great deal more detail, Mr. Mitchell, besides the Diem cables can you answer any further point of verification that Mr. Dean gave you concerning these matters we mentioned, the Ellsberg psychiatrist, the Dita Beard situation, any of those matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, of course, there was the purported firebombing of the Brookings Institution which had been discussed and so forth, I have already- Mr. THOMPSON: Did Dean tell you that was seriously proposed at one time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that I took it as a very serious proposal because of the fact that he flew across the country in order to get it turned off. Mr. THOMPSON: For that particular reason as you understood it? Mr. MITCHELL: Pardon? Mr. THOMPSON: He made this trip for that particular reason? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the way he so testified and I believe advised it at that particular time because, as you recall, it was tied into the Mardian trip to the west coast also. And also, it seems to me, that I have a pretty clear recollection there was general discussion of, as I say, the extracurricular wiretapping activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you consider these matters national security matters at the time you were considering them? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, since I didn't really know about them I could not make an assessment about them. Mr. THOMPSON: In your mind as you were seeking to justify your position, if you were, when these things were realized by you, did you consider them to be matters of national security no one had any right to know, that they should be covered up in effect, or were these just political decisions? Mr. MITCHELL: They were obviously elements of that in connection with some of these activities. But I think we would have to parcel it out in details before you could make that determination. Mr. THOMPSON: Would it be accurate to say your motivations were generally more out of political considerations at that time, in the midst of a campaign, than matters of national security? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would think if you would put the aggregate of the subject matters we are talking about it would have to be from that point of view rather than from national security...- Mr. THOMPSON: What correlation do you put together there? Mr. MITCHELL: The fact that Mr. Hunt worked for Mr. Colson. With the second part about it with which there was particularly at the time frame in which he is talking about, there is considerable interest at that time as to, about the money that had been through Barker's bank and the Ogarrio checks that were coming out that had come from Mexico, et cetera, et cetera. This is the subject matter and that particular week in which Mr. Stans and perhaps Mitchell and others were asking the White House about. You will also, of course, recognize that the newspapers and Liddy himself, I believe, in the debriefing that Mardian got, referred to the fact that they had had CIA documents or materials, et cetera, et cetera. So there was a very considerable interest in, was there any CIA involvement, No. 1, in connection with the break-in, No. 2 in connection with the personnel involved and, No. 3, in connection with this gentleman from Mexico City, Mr. Ogarrio I believe his name was, in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: You would not categorize those things as part of a cover up, would you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, that is what I say, Mr. Dean, I think, has put a blanket over activities that are happening at that particular time and talked about them as a cover up; this is where I started, I thought, my very lengthy answer. I am sorry to be so long. Mr. THOMPSON: That is all right. You have already stated that Dean's testimony about a meeting of June 28, and I believe I am quoting him correctly, where he said: Mitchell asked me to get the approval of Ehrlichman and Haldeman to get Herb Kalmbach to raise the necessary money. Mr. MITCHELL: That is right. Mr. THOMPSON: You stated that was false. Mr. MITCHELL: There was no such meeting; I made no such request, ever. Mr. THOMPSON: With regard to asking- Mr. MITCHELL: Ask Dean to ask Haldeman to get Kalmbach, to my recollection I have never made such a request. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever ask anyone to get Kalmbach to raise money for these purposes? Mr. MITCHELL: Not to my recollection. As I recall this scenario that Mr. Kalmbach did at the request of somebody, according to Dean, it was somebody in the White House, Kalmbach to Washington on the28th and met on the 29th with these people. He proceeded into this operation. There came a time in the fall, I believe it was September or October, where because of adverse publicity or whatever it was he wanted out and that was the end of it, and I certainly don't believe that I would have the audacity to ask him back into such an operation. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that after the President's statement on August 29 referring to the Dean report he began thinking that he might be being set up in case the whole thing crumbled at a later time. He testified he discussed this with you and others and that you assured him that he need not worry because you didn't believe anyone in the White House would do that to him. Do you recall such a conversation with Mr. Dean? Mr. MITCHELL: I recall such a conversation, Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall when? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I don't recall the date but it was much, much further. In fact, I think it was into 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the month? Was it into April, per-haps, as late as April? Mr. MITCHELL: No, it would be before that. It would be in February or March I would believe. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he state to you the basis of his fears? Mr. MITCHELL: No I don't believe he did. As a matter of fact, to the best of my recollection I only had, of course, one conversation with Mr. Dean in April, and a very limited number of them in March so it had to be sometime in early March or February. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified: That during the first week of December you called Dean and said that you would have to use some of the$350,000 at the White House to take care of the demands that were being made by Hunt and the others for money, and that you asked him to get Haldeman's approval for that. Is that a correct statement? Mr. MITCHELL: No, that is absolutely untrue as far as I am concerned. I had no official capacity, I have no control over the money and there would be no reason why I should call Dean or anybody else with respect to it and I did not so call Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that shortly before the trial when the demands for money were reaching the crescendo point again you called Dean and once again asked him to ask Haldeman to make the necessary funds available and that after Dean talked to Haldeman the decision was made to send the entire $350,000. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would respond to that the same way I did to your last question. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that on January 10 he received a call from O'Brien and you indicating that since Hunt had been given assurances of clemency and that those assurances were being passed to Hunt and others that Caulfield should give the same assurances to McCord who was becoming an increasing problem and again Dean was told that McCord's lawyer was having problems with him. Is that true? Mr. MITCHELL: I think that Mr. Dean, if he will go back and check his logs will find that I was out of town in Florida when he started the McCord dialog, and that there would be no reason in the world for me to direct Mr. Dean to do anything vis-a-vis Caulfield or McCord or anybody else. Mr. THOMPSON: The logs indicate, I believe, you were in Key Biscayne from January 1 through January 7. Mr. MITCHELL: I think it was December 20 through January 8, 1believe. Mr. THOMPSON: All right, sir. Let me ask you about one more piece of testimony, the meeting on March 22 which you had with Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean; I understand you met with them and that afternoon you met with the President. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe that Dean testified that Ehrlichman turned to you and asked if Hunt had been taken care of, or his money situation had been taken care of, and you assured him that he had been taken care of, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: It is absolutely false as far as I am concerned be-cause I have never, to my knowledge, discussed any of these payments with John Ehrlichman and any of the specifics of that nature with respect to any individual, and I wouldn't have known on the 22d of March whether Mr. Hunt had been taken care of or hadn't been taken care of. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you think Mr. Dean could be mistaken about these various points? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, you said it, not I. Mr. THOMPSON: Are you saying that perhaps Mr. Dean's memory might not have been quite that good? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it certainly cannot be with respect to the specifics of the March 22 meeting. I am sure of that. Mr. THOMPSON: Or with these other points about-well, is that a matter of memory as to whether or not you called him and asked that the $350,000 be sent over or as to whether or not you requested that Kalmbach be used to make deliveries of moneys to families? Is that a matter of memory? Mr. MITCHELL: I think it is a matter of confusion of people. I think as you look at this total picture, you get two aegises, one over in 1701 and one over in-what is the White House 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue? Mr. THOMPSON: I am sure you know better than I, Mr. Mitchell. Mr. MITCHELL: And Mr. Thompson, this fellow, you know he was just carrying messages back and forth, according to his statement. He had to have somebody over there as principals with which to get to do all of this. Unfortunately, at times, he has picked out some of these principals that just were not on the scene at the particular time, as I have indicated about the meeting of the 28th Mr. THOMPSON: Do you know of any other indications of this? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I can go back through the testimony and I am sure provide you with some, if that is your desire. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall that as you remember his statement or have you read his statement? Have you read his statement? I assume that you have- Mr. MITCHELL: I have read his statement, yes. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall whether or not there are other points, without specifically naming one, if you cannot? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, there are. I am not sure I could pinpoint them today, but I can provide you with material, if it is something- Mr. THOMPSON: If you return tomorrow, as I expect you will, if tonight you could go through his statement- Mr. MITCHELL: You mean I am going to be invited back tomorrow? Mr. THOMPSON: Most cordially. Mr. MITCHELL: Thank you. Mr. THOMPSON: And refresh your memory on those points. Some of the Senators might want to ask some questions. Mr. MITCHELL: I will attempt to do so, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you about one more meeting, the meeting you had with, not with Mr. Dean, but Mr. Ehrlichman on April 13 at the White House. Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Ehrlichman? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe the meeting was on April 14, if I am not mistaken. It was a Saturday. Mr. THOMPSON: What was discussed at that meeting? Mr. MITCHELL: Very little other than the fact that I had known that Mr. Magruder had tried to be the first one into the prosecutor's office and that he had already been there, and that Mr. Ehrlichman had learned that and had talked to Mr. Magruder and Mr. Ehrlichman advised me as to what Mr. Magruder was saying. I said, thank you very much and he said, would you not like to see the President? And I said under the circumstances of what is unfolding here; I think it would be inappropriate for me to see the President. So we left it at that. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this, in effect, telling you that from Ehrlichman's standpoint, anyway, from what was going on, that you could anticipate problems? Mr. MITCHELL: That I could? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I do not think it is so much that way as he was re-counting to me what Magruder had said, which, of course, did involve me. Now, as to Mr. Ehrlichman's motive, I am not trying to guesstimate that. Mr. THOMPSON: We have some evidence before the committee of a taped conversation between Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Kleindienst. I wonder if you have any reason to believe that this or any other conversation that you might have had with Mr. Ehrlichman was taped? Mr. MITCHELL: In reflection, I would think that this conversation probably was taped. Mr. THOMPSON: Why? Mr. MITCHELL: For the reason that most of the time that I met in John Ehrlichman's office, why, we sat on a sofa around a coffee table and so forth. Mr. THOMPSON: This is the one we heard about in the Pat Gray testimony about the documents? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that is the same coffee table and set of chairs. But at this particular time, he invited me over to sit in the chair at his desk and fidgeted around a little bit. So it occurred to me that a switch in the pattern of operation might very well have had something to do with as to where the microphone was. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you one more question, Mr. Mitchell: Obviously, the only verification, I suppose, direct verification of the fact that you were not the one who pushed Liddy, or to the contrary, the only one who could definitely testify that you did push Liddy, would be Liddy himself. And, of course, he has not favored us with his testimony so far. I notice here a call in your logs on April 17 with a Mr. Peter Maroulis. Mr. MITCHELL: Maroulis, yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe he is Mr. Liddy's attorney? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Could you tell us the nature of that conversation? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, that was a return of a call to Mr. Maroulis, who had made a call to me, and Mr. Maroulis, within a day or two, came to see me. He was looking for guidance. What had apparently occurred, according to Mr. Maroulis, and I have not checked this out with the parties to know whether it is true or not, but the President had made his statement by that time, whichever one it was, in which he asked everybody to come forward and disclose what they knew about this matter. I guess that might have been-well, whatever date it was, the President or somebody on his behalf had asked, I believe, Henry Petersen to go to Mr. Liddy's local counsel here in the District-- Mr. Kennelly, and Mr. Kennelly carried the message from Petersen to Kennelly to Mr. Maroulis about the fact that the President wanted everybody to come forward. Well, Mr. Maroulis had spent a lot of time-he is a personal friend of Mr. Liddy. It was his opinion that Mr. Liddy had a valid case on appeal because of the errors made by the court and other matters that were involved, and he wondered if I could give him any guidance as to what the President meant by that particular phrase, which apparently had been quoted verbatim from Petersen to Kennelly to Maroulis. I told him that I could not add anything to it, that I had not talked to the President about it; I knew what the President's wishes were, but he as a lawyer was going to have to make his own decision as to what his client's interests were. Mr. THOMPSON. Is that the last conversation you had with him concerning Liddy's position? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the only conversation I have ever had with the gentleman. Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Mitchell: I have no further questions.
ABC NEWS ARCHIVES - SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS: JOHN MITCHELL
SENATE WATERGATE HEARINGS COMMITTEE TESTIMONY OF JOHN MITCHELL, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL AND DIRECTOR OF THE COMMITTEE TO REELECT THE PRESIDENT. OFF AIR HISTORY OF SPECIAL REPORT AIRED 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM. Live ABC coverage of the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into the cover-up of the break-in at Democratic Party National Headquarters in the Watergate Office Building, Washington D.C. ABC rejoins the hearings just after Committee Chairman Sam Ervin gaveled the Committee to order. Minority Counsel Fred Thompson questions former Attorney General John Mitchell. Complete Transcript of afternoon session. Content may continue on additional records in series. Senator ERVIN. The committee will come to order. Mr. Thompson. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, you have testified concerning the so called 1970 plan or the Huston plan or the Huston project, and then in answering questions from Mr. Dash you went into talking about what is known as the Plumbers project in the White House. Would you say that the Plumbers in the White House as you now know them to be, was a logical extension of this 1970 plan which was evidently rescinded? Mr. MITCHELL: I would not say so, Mr. Thompson, because of the {It is at this point ABC News joins the hearings for broadcast} time frame intervening and also the consideration of the Interagency Evaluation Commission---Committee--in the meantime. I think that was somewhat of a self-starter later on caused by events and if I would have to guess, without knowing, it was probably generated about the time of the Pentagon Papers. Now, these are opinions I am giving to you. I have no knowledge on it. Mr. THOMPSON: You mentioned a field for need of coordination between the intelligence-gathering agencies, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, I do. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this just in the White House or was this also in the intelligence community? Mr. MITCHELL: Well. it was in parts of the intelligence community and it certainly was in the Justice Department. We, as I think I mentioned this morning, found that we were receiving intelligence from quarters where we might not have expected it in connection with anticipation of violent acts in connection with demonstration and at other times just pure violent acts. I mentioned the Alcoholic Tax and Firearms Bureau which had, I thought, quite a very competent intelligence capacity certainly, in connection with some of the problems that we had in the Justice Department. I know that Mr. Hoover and Mr. Helms had broken off their liaison that they had established in connection with the CIA and the FBI. There was great interest in finding a vehicle to reestablish that in a meaningful way, and so that basically the implementation of the Interagency Evaluation Commission was to take personnel from the different intelligence gathering areas, put them into one room where they could sort out and exchange ideas and, of course, evaluate what intelligence they had. One of the problems that I found in government was that there was very frequently a great deal of collection of intelligence but the evaluation and dissemination lacked a great deal. Mr. THOMPSON: Then, was this need for better coordination because of problems that the agencies themselves were having internally or was it because of external considerations, or both? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I think I can best answer that to point out that there were many events that happened in this country, including the bombing of the Capitol and other such events that, if we had had appropriate intelligence in advance, we might have been able to prohibit it. I know that in connection with many of the large demonstrations that we had in Washington, while 99 percent of those people who came, came for peaceful protest and to petition their Government, that there was always that lunatic fringe that was bound to and deter- mined to thrash the place and cause damage, and if we had had better intelligence in some of these areas, and I am not excluding them to those but in other areas, but perhaps a great deal of that could have been prevented. That was the basis upon which the Interagency Evaluation Committee was considered in concept and put into place. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me leave that for a moment and invite your attention to the November 24, 1971, meeting which I believe you had with Mr. Liddy and Mr. Dean when Mr. Dean brought Mr. Liddy to your office. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. MR. THOMPSON: And I believe introduced him to you. I believe your response to questioning this morning was to the effect that at that time you were not aware that Mr. Liddy was to be involved in intelligence activities as such but that later on you understood that he would be. Mr. MITCHELL: NO; I don't think that is quite true, Mr. Thompson. What I referred to was the Liddy prospectus about his job description at that time, which was one of the Dean exhibits, had a one-line reference to it in connection with gathering of information of intelligence or whatever it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: Just the one line. Do you recall any discussion about that? Mr. MITCHELL: I don't. As a matter of fact, it is one sentence, not one line. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have that before you? Mr. MITCHELL: This is exhibit 11* of the Dean exhibits. I don't know what committee exhibit it might be. Mr. THOMPSON: And you don't remember any discussion about that at the time? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir; the meeting didn't last long enough. Mr. THOMPSON: Did there come a time between that time and the meeting on January 27 when you became aware, or had a greater understanding as to what his role would be in the intelligence field? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I might say that sometime during early December, before Liddy was hired by the Committee To Re-Elect the President, Mr. Krogh brought Liddy over, and I may have been-along with other people to discuss the Drug Abuse Law Enforcements in which he had been working and which was my knowledge of Mr. Liddy's activities in the White House. I do not recall any meetings, and I am sure they didn't take place, in which Liddy's intelligence activities were discussed. It could very -well be that Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir; I can give you the exact date if you wish. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall right offhand whether it was before or after he went to the Committee To Re-Elect? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. It was 6 months later before I learned of the so-called Plumbers activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you even aware that he worked at the White House at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, I was aware he was at the White House be-cause it was so represented at that meeting. Mr. THOMPSON: Whose office did you understand that he was working in? Mr. MITCHELL: He was working under Mr. Krogh's aegis in connection with the drug program over there. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Did you know of any other activities that Mr. Krogh had at that time Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; he was very much involved in the 'White House relationship with the District of Columbia here. In fact, he was their prime contact. But as far as his activities in the area which has since been developed and become common knowledge, I had no such ideas. Mr. THOMPSON: I see. When you met with Liddy and Krogh in December did you inquire of Mr. Krogh then or did you have any discussion as to the nature of Liddy's work at the White House involving any of the Plumbers? Mr. MITCHELL: None whatsoever. We discussed entirely the DALE program, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Neither of them mentioned anything having to do with his previous Plumbers activities. Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir, I can assure you of that. Mr. THOMPSON: All right. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: I think I see what you mean and I do not want to try to draw names out that you do not want to present, but you have just presented one name. Would it be your opinion, if you care to give us your opinion, as to whether or not it might have come from more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: It is always conceivable. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you have any reason to believe that it was either one source or more than one source? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I have no ability to weigh the potentials for the sources of concern in this area. Mr. THOMPSON: Knowing Mr. MITCHELL: I am sure it could not have been anybody in the White House. It must have been somebody in the White House with which he had a working relationship which he thought perhaps was in the interest of the campaign or somebody who had what you might refer to as superior authority. Mr. THOMPSON: A working relationship during the campaign or prior to the campaign? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would put this very much on the basis of a working relationship during the campaign that goes to some of the testimony here of the people who have evidenced an interest in this intelligence-gathering field. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, there were many people in the White House involved in the campaign, were there not? Mr. MITCHELL: What is your question, were there many people? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe that the record shows there were quite a few. Mr. THOMPSON: Maybe too many people, would you think? Mr. MITCHELL: At times, that was my opinion. Mr. THOMPSON: You were discussing some of Mr. Reisner's testimony this morning with Mr. Dash, with regard to the Gemstone documents. I have here, verbatim, Mr. Reisner's testimony. I would like to ask you a couple of questions after I read that. I believe Mr. Reisner was talking about Mr. MITCHELL: Well, Mr. THOMPSON: So as far as you are concerned, your remembrance is that the Mitchell file was not in fact your file, but his file which he was using to bring documents to you? Mr. MITCHELL: The only thing that I can identify it as is a folder in which he brought up these memorandums to the office. Mr. THOMPSON: What color was it, if you recall? Mr. MITCHELL: I do not recall, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: You never saw any Gemstone documents that you remember? Mr. MITCHELL: No, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: In retrospect, would there be any materials that were a product of electronic surveillance without your knowing that they were? Mr. MITCHELL: No; I would believe that electronic surveillance, after my experience in the Justice Department-I do not know in what forms they are; I have not seen them to this date. But after my experience in the Justice Department, I think I would have a pretty good idea of what the source of it might have been, unless it was totally disguised. Mr. THOMPSON: So Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it was probably that whoever was doing it, it was in the misguided concept that it was in the interests of the campaign. But as I have observed before, I couldn't conceive of what would be in the Democratic National Committee on the 30th of Mayor the 17th of June that would be in the interest of the process of the campaign of the reelection of the President at that particular time. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Mr. THOMPSON: At the time that the break-in occurred, what was your professional political judgment as to how the President stood with regard to his chances for reelection? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, we go back to the middle of June and, of course, he had improved substantially from his previous lows vis-a-vis the then front runner, Senator Muskie. That looked like he was on the ascendency. Mr. THOMPSON: Had not some polls indicated that, at one time or another, Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; but I believe, if my recollection is correct, that this was somewhat earlier than in June. Mr. THOMPSON: You didn't consider him in trouble at that time? Mr. MITCHELL: I am not sure I understand the thrust of that question. Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I would think that if you thought you had the nomination or the election locked up, that you would sit back and take no chances whatsoever, any person running a campaign, if you could avoid them. On the other hand, if you considered yourself in trouble, you might take risks that you would not otherwise take. I am not even saying necessarily illegal risks. Mr. MITCHELL: They are both hypothetical questions as of June 17with respect to the first one. I don't believe that anybody thought the election was locked up, certainly with respect to the time element of June 17, with the potentials of the people that might become the Democratic candidate at the convention that was taking place in July. There were a great deal of uncertainties as to who the candidate might be and as to what the circumstances might be vis-a-vis the incumbent who was seeking reelection. Mr. THOMPSON: Mr. Mitchell, let me ask you about another point. Here is an excerpt from the civil deposition which you gave in the Democratic Party suit against the Committee To Re-Elect the President and I think I am quoting you verbatim in your testimony, when you were asked this question: "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present or about which you heard when you were campaign director concerning having any form of surveillance of the Democratic National Committee headquarters?" Your answer was: "No, sir, I can't imagine a less productive activity than that."Is that a correct--? Mr. MITCHELL: I think the total context, as I remember it, Mr. Thompson, had to do with the discussion of Mr. McCord and the security group. The answer was given in that context. Mr. THOMPSON: But this particular question, "Was there ever any discussion at which you were present"-and of course, I assume just from reading this question that that would involve any discussion with anyone. Are you saying that it is not your understanding of it? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection of the testimony that I gave had to do with the so-called security group in the Committee To Re-Elect the President which discussed Mr. McCord and the security group. And the answer was in response to that, to my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, as it reads, as I have read it, of course, it is not an accurate response Mr. MITCHELL: No, I say as you read it, but I think if you will look at the total context of the questioning, it referred to the security group that involved Mr. McCord which was the subject of the conversation. Mr. THOMPSON: Were you not asked any other broader questions about any knowledge you might have had of any surveillance activities? Mr. MITCHELL: I was asked broader questions with respect to did I ever receive documents that I could identify as coming from electronic surveillance and broad questions like that. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall any broader questions concerning conversations that you had? Mr. MITCHELL: NO, sir, I do not. Mr. THOMPSON: Is it just a case of not having asked you the right question? Mr. MITCHELL I think that that is the case. Mr. THOMPSON. Let me refer to June 19 or 20, I am not quite sure when it was, Mr. Mitchell: As I understand it, Mardian and La- Rue debriefed Liddy and found out what he knew about the break in, his involvement, and the involvement of others. And at that time, he related to them some of the White House horror stories; I believe you characterized them as, the plumbers' activities and so forth. I will go back to that in a minute, but as I understand your testimony this morning, the knowledge you got from that debriefing was really the reason why you, in effect, stood by while Mr. Magruder was preparing a story which, according to what you knew from Liddy, was going to be a false story, to present to the grand jury. Mr. MITCHELL: Along, Mr. Thompson, with some of the other stories that Mr. Dean brought forward to him, the Diem papers and the suspected extracurricular wiretapping, and a few of the others. Mr. THOMPSON: OK. That caused you to take that position with regard to Magruder. And also, I assume that those factors were the reasons why you, in effect, acquiesced, anyway, in the payments to the families of support money and lawyers' fees and that sort of thing, which I am sure you realize could have been pretty embarrassing, to say the least, if not illegal, at that time. Would that be correct as far as your motivations are concerned? Mr. MITCHELL: That is a correct summary of my motivation and rationale for the actions that I did take. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date on which Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue related this conversation of Liddy's to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, he certainly didn't debrief them on the 19th, I am sure of that, because they were in transit. Whether it was the 20th or 21st, I am not certain. Mr. THOMPSON: Did they talk to you the same day they talked to him? Mr. MITCHELL: My recollection is they talked to me the next day, but I am not certain about that, either. But in any event, it was in the time frame of the 21st or 22d, to the best of my recollection. Mr. THOMPSON: Can you recall in a little more detail what they said that Liddy had related to them? You have already mentioned the fact that Liddy said that Magruder had pushed him in the break-in at the Ellsberg psychiatrist's office, I believe, and the Dita Beard situation. What did Liddy supposedly say with regard to the Dita Beard situation? What did he supposedly know about White House involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: To the best of my recollection, and, of course, I have heard these horror stories in different versions from different people over the period of the years, the fact that he was either the one or assisted in spiriting her out of town, I believe was the discussion at that particular time. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he indicate, according to them, that the budget for the electronic surveillance operation which led to the break-in of the DNC had been approved by the White House? Mr. MITCHELL: You are testing my memory pretty hard. I am inclined to think that he did say that, but this is a-not that he said it, but that Mardian or LaRue reported to me that he had said it. But you are testing my memory pretty hard on a substance of which I have heard dozens and dozens of repetitions of it. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever verify any of these facts with the President? Mr. MITCHELL: I never discussed those specific factors with Mr. Haldeman until a later date. It was at that time that Mr. Dean was acting as a liaison between the White House and the committee with respect to these matters. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever talk directly with Ehrlichman about these matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, yes, possibly before the end of 1972, certainly in 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: At this time did you know of Hunt's involvement? Did Liddy tell them about Hunt's involvement? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe he did. In fact, I am sure he did. Mr. THOMPSON: So, in effect, what you are saying is that you were basing your later activities concerning Magruder's testimony and concerning the payments and these sorts of things as embarrassment upon the hearsay information of this man that presented these outlandish and wild eyed proposals in your office. It would seem like you would want some verification from him. Mr. MITCHELL: Let us back up, Mr. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. Mr. MITCHELL: So it was not just what Mr. Liddy had told Mr. Mardian and Mr. LaRue on the 20th, 21st, and 22d of June. There were further affirmations of the facts that came out of the White House from Mr. Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Such as what, concerning these matters that we have been discussing? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, as I said a minute ago one of the things that I did not believe that Mr. Liddy had any reference to in the Mardian-LaRue Diem briefing was the papers and how they had been handled. Mr. THOMPSON: Did Mr. Dean verify this to you? Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Dean so stated, he did not show me the spliced cables but he told me about the circumstances. Mr. THOMPSON: But as early as June the money started flowing, the payments started flowing and, of course-- Mr. MITCHELL: Well, now, you are assuming, Mr. THOMPSON: Well, I will ask you when you first became aware of- Mr. MITCHELL: As I said this morning, it was much later than that and I believe it was at the time that Mr. Kalmbach ceased in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the date that you became aware of any money being paid to any of the defendants or families or attorneys? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I do not recall the date but it was well after the matter was in progress and in operation. Let me perhaps help you a little bit on that, Mr. THOMPSON: June 23 or 24, I believe. Mr. MITCHELL: On June 28. - Mr. THOMPSON: And 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: June 28. You see, Mr. Dean had testified that they had been playing games with the CIA up to the 28th. Then, Mr. Dean testified that there was a meeting in my office with Mardian, LaRue, and Mitchell and I do not know who all else including Mr. Dean in the afternoon of the 28th in which it was decided, naturally Mitchell was always deciding these things, according to Dean, that the White House, somebody in the White House, John Ehrlichman should call Kalmbach and ask him to fly back from California that night of the28th, which led to their meetings on the 29th. The only problem with all of that was that I was in New York and could not have been at such a meeting, and I was not aware of it. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe your logs reflect that, Mr. MITCHELL: I would hope so because I have been so stating for quite some time. Mr. THOMPSON: It reflects that, according to your logs, you were in New York on the 28th. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes. Mr. THOMPSON: And that you arrived in the District of Columbia at 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: There is no indication of any meeting after 5:30. Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: And I assume there was none. Mr. MITCHELL: The passenger that I had with me coming back from New York was not about to allow me to go to any more meetings on that particular day. [Laughter.] Mr. THOMPSON: I am not going to pursue that any further. Getting back to your knowledge of the money, perhaps my question should have been, "When was the first time that you heard of the need for the payment of money," and I ask it because of this: Dean testified that the first time he heard any discussions of the need for money to take care of those who were involved in the break-in was in a meeting which occurred on either June 23, Saturday, or June 24 attended by Dean, Mardian, LaRue, and yourself. Mr. MITCHELL: That is quite possible because as I recall the conversation of Mr. Liddy that he had with Mr. MITCHELL: That was the basis for the White House activities, that is absolutely correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Without getting into a great deal more detail, Mr. Mitchell, besides the Diem cables can you answer any further point of verification that Mr. Dean gave you concerning these matters we mentioned, the Ellsberg psychiatrist, the Dita Beard situation, any of those matters? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, of course, there was the purported firebombing of the Brookings Institution which had been discussed and so forth, I have already- Mr. THOMPSON: Did Dean tell you that was seriously proposed at one time? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that I took it as a very serious proposal because of the fact that he flew across the country in order to get it turned off. Mr. THOMPSON: For that particular reason as you understood it? Mr. MITCHELL: Pardon? Mr. THOMPSON: He made this trip for that particular reason? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the way he so testified and I believe advised it at that particular time because, as you recall, it was tied into the Mardian trip to the west coast also. And also, it seems to me, that I have a pretty clear recollection there was general discussion of, as I say, the extracurricular wiretapping activities. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you consider these matters national security matters at the time you were considering them? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, since I didn't really know about them I could not make an assessment about them. Mr. THOMPSON: In your mind as you were seeking to justify your position, if you were, when these things were realized by you, did you consider them to be matters of national security no one had any right to know, that they should be covered up in effect, or were these just political decisions? Mr. MITCHELL: They were obviously elements of that in connection with some of these activities. But I think we would have to parcel it out in details before you could make that determination. Mr. THOMPSON: Would it be accurate to say your motivations were generally more out of political considerations at that time, in the midst of a campaign, than matters of national security? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would think if you would put the aggregate of the subject matters we are talking about it would have to be from that point of view rather than from national security...- Mr. THOMPSON: What correlation do you put together there? Mr. MITCHELL: The fact that Mr. Hunt worked for Mr. Colson. With the second part about it with which there was particularly at the time frame in which he is talking about, there is considerable interest at that time as to, about the money that had been through Barker's bank and the Ogarrio checks that were coming out that had come from Mexico, et cetera, et cetera. This is the subject matter and that particular week in which Mr. Stans and perhaps Mitchell and others were asking the White House about. You will also, of course, recognize that the newspapers and Liddy himself, I believe, in the debriefing that Mardian got, referred to the fact that they had had CIA documents or materials, et cetera, et cetera. So there was a very considerable interest in, was there any CIA involvement, No. 1, in connection with the break-in, No. 2 in connection with the personnel involved and, No. 3, in connection with this gentleman from Mexico City, Mr. Ogarrio I believe his name was, in connection with his activities. Mr. THOMPSON: You would not categorize those things as part of a cover up, would you? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, that is what I say, Mr. Dean, I think, has put a blanket over activities that are happening at that particular time and talked about them as a cover up; this is where I started, I thought, my very lengthy answer. I am sorry to be so long. Mr. THOMPSON: That is all right. You have already stated that Dean's testimony about a meeting of June 28, and I believe I am quoting him correctly, where he said: Mitchell asked me to get the approval of Ehrlichman and Haldeman to get Herb Kalmbach to raise the necessary money. Mr. MITCHELL: That is right. Mr. THOMPSON: You stated that was false. Mr. MITCHELL: There was no such meeting; I made no such request, ever. Mr. THOMPSON: With regard to asking- Mr. MITCHELL: Ask Dean to ask Haldeman to get Kalmbach, to my recollection I have never made such a request. Mr. THOMPSON: Did you ever ask anyone to get Kalmbach to raise money for these purposes? Mr. MITCHELL: Not to my recollection. As I recall this scenario that Mr. Kalmbach did at the request of somebody, according to Dean, it was somebody in the White House, Kalmbach to Washington on the28th and met on the 29th with these people. He proceeded into this operation. There came a time in the fall, I believe it was September or October, where because of adverse publicity or whatever it was he wanted out and that was the end of it, and I certainly don't believe that I would have the audacity to ask him back into such an operation. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that after the President's statement on August 29 referring to the Dean report he began thinking that he might be being set up in case the whole thing crumbled at a later time. He testified he discussed this with you and others and that you assured him that he need not worry because you didn't believe anyone in the White House would do that to him. Do you recall such a conversation with Mr. Dean? Mr. MITCHELL: I recall such a conversation, Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall when? Mr. MITCHELL: No, I don't recall the date but it was much, much further. In fact, I think it was into 1973. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall the month? Was it into April, per-haps, as late as April? Mr. MITCHELL: No, it would be before that. It would be in February or March I would believe. Mr. THOMPSON: Did he state to you the basis of his fears? Mr. MITCHELL: No I don't believe he did. As a matter of fact, to the best of my recollection I only had, of course, one conversation with Mr. Dean in April, and a very limited number of them in March so it had to be sometime in early March or February. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified: That during the first week of December you called Dean and said that you would have to use some of the$350,000 at the White House to take care of the demands that were being made by Hunt and the others for money, and that you asked him to get Haldeman's approval for that. Is that a correct statement? Mr. MITCHELL: No, that is absolutely untrue as far as I am concerned. I had no official capacity, I have no control over the money and there would be no reason why I should call Dean or anybody else with respect to it and I did not so call Dean. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that shortly before the trial when the demands for money were reaching the crescendo point again you called Dean and once again asked him to ask Haldeman to make the necessary funds available and that after Dean talked to Haldeman the decision was made to send the entire $350,000. Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I would respond to that the same way I did to your last question. Mr. THOMPSON: Dean testified that on January 10 he received a call from O'Brien and you indicating that since Hunt had been given assurances of clemency and that those assurances were being passed to Hunt and others that Caulfield should give the same assurances to McCord who was becoming an increasing problem and again Dean was told that McCord's lawyer was having problems with him. Is that true? Mr. MITCHELL: I think that Mr. Dean, if he will go back and check his logs will find that I was out of town in Florida when he started the McCord dialog, and that there would be no reason in the world for me to direct Mr. Dean to do anything vis-a-vis Caulfield or McCord or anybody else. Mr. THOMPSON: The logs indicate, I believe, you were in Key Biscayne from January 1 through January 7. Mr. MITCHELL: I think it was December 20 through January 8, 1believe. Mr. THOMPSON: All right, sir. Let me ask you about one more piece of testimony, the meeting on March 22 which you had with Haldeman, Ehrlichman, and Dean; I understand you met with them and that afternoon you met with the President. Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe that Dean testified that Ehrlichman turned to you and asked if Hunt had been taken care of, or his money situation had been taken care of, and you assured him that he had been taken care of, is that correct? Mr. MITCHELL: It is absolutely false as far as I am concerned be-cause I have never, to my knowledge, discussed any of these payments with John Ehrlichman and any of the specifics of that nature with respect to any individual, and I wouldn't have known on the 22d of March whether Mr. Hunt had been taken care of or hadn't been taken care of. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you think Mr. Dean could be mistaken about these various points? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, you said it, not I. Mr. THOMPSON: Are you saying that perhaps Mr. Dean's memory might not have been quite that good? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, it certainly cannot be with respect to the specifics of the March 22 meeting. I am sure of that. Mr. THOMPSON: Or with these other points about-well, is that a matter of memory as to whether or not you called him and asked that the $350,000 be sent over or as to whether or not you requested that Kalmbach be used to make deliveries of moneys to families? Is that a matter of memory? Mr. MITCHELL: I think it is a matter of confusion of people. I think as you look at this total picture, you get two aegises, one over in 1701 and one over in-what is the White House 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue? Mr. THOMPSON: I am sure you know better than I, Mr. Mitchell. Mr. MITCHELL: And Mr. Thompson, this fellow, you know he was just carrying messages back and forth, according to his statement. He had to have somebody over there as principals with which to get to do all of this. Unfortunately, at times, he has picked out some of these principals that just were not on the scene at the particular time, as I have indicated about the meeting of the 28th Mr. THOMPSON: Do you know of any other indications of this? Mr. MITCHELL: Well, I can go back through the testimony and I am sure provide you with some, if that is your desire. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall that as you remember his statement or have you read his statement? Have you read his statement? I assume that you have- Mr. MITCHELL: I have read his statement, yes. Mr. THOMPSON: Do you recall whether or not there are other points, without specifically naming one, if you cannot? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, there are. I am not sure I could pinpoint them today, but I can provide you with material, if it is something- Mr. THOMPSON: If you return tomorrow, as I expect you will, if tonight you could go through his statement- Mr. MITCHELL: You mean I am going to be invited back tomorrow? Mr. THOMPSON: Most cordially. Mr. MITCHELL: Thank you. Mr. THOMPSON: And refresh your memory on those points. Some of the Senators might want to ask some questions. Mr. MITCHELL: I will attempt to do so, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you about one more meeting, the meeting you had with, not with Mr. Dean, but Mr. Ehrlichman on April 13 at the White House. Mr. MITCHELL: Mr. Ehrlichman? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I believe the meeting was on April 14, if I am not mistaken. It was a Saturday. Mr. THOMPSON: What was discussed at that meeting? Mr. MITCHELL: Very little other than the fact that I had known that Mr. Magruder had tried to be the first one into the prosecutor's office and that he had already been there, and that Mr. Ehrlichman had learned that and had talked to Mr. Magruder and Mr. Ehrlichman advised me as to what Mr. Magruder was saying. I said, thank you very much and he said, would you not like to see the President? And I said under the circumstances of what is unfolding here; I think it would be inappropriate for me to see the President. So we left it at that. Mr. THOMPSON: Was this, in effect, telling you that from Ehrlichman's standpoint, anyway, from what was going on, that you could anticipate problems? Mr. MITCHELL: That I could? Mr. THOMPSON: Yes. Mr. MITCHELL: I do not think it is so much that way as he was re-counting to me what Magruder had said, which, of course, did involve me. Now, as to Mr. Ehrlichman's motive, I am not trying to guesstimate that. Mr. THOMPSON: We have some evidence before the committee of a taped conversation between Mr. Ehrlichman and Mr. Kleindienst. I wonder if you have any reason to believe that this or any other conversation that you might have had with Mr. Ehrlichman was taped? Mr. MITCHELL: In reflection, I would think that this conversation probably was taped. Mr. THOMPSON: Why? Mr. MITCHELL: For the reason that most of the time that I met in John Ehrlichman's office, why, we sat on a sofa around a coffee table and so forth. Mr. THOMPSON: This is the one we heard about in the Pat Gray testimony about the documents? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes; I believe that is the same coffee table and set of chairs. But at this particular time, he invited me over to sit in the chair at his desk and fidgeted around a little bit. So it occurred to me that a switch in the pattern of operation might very well have had something to do with as to where the microphone was. Mr. THOMPSON: Let me ask you one more question, Mr. Mitchell: Obviously, the only verification, I suppose, direct verification of the fact that you were not the one who pushed Liddy, or to the contrary, the only one who could definitely testify that you did push Liddy, would be Liddy himself. And, of course, he has not favored us with his testimony so far. I notice here a call in your logs on April 17 with a Mr. Peter Maroulis. Mr. MITCHELL: Maroulis, yes, sir. Mr. THOMPSON: I believe he is Mr. Liddy's attorney? Mr. MITCHELL: That is correct. Mr. THOMPSON: Could you tell us the nature of that conversation? Mr. MITCHELL: Yes, sir, that was a return of a call to Mr. Maroulis, who had made a call to me, and Mr. Maroulis, within a day or two, came to see me. He was looking for guidance. What had apparently occurred, according to Mr. Maroulis, and I have not checked this out with the parties to know whether it is true or not, but the President had made his statement by that time, whichever one it was, in which he asked everybody to come forward and disclose what they knew about this matter. I guess that might have been-well, whatever date it was, the President or somebody on his behalf had asked, I believe, Henry Petersen to go to Mr. Liddy's local counsel here in the District-- Mr. Kennelly, and Mr. Kennelly carried the message from Petersen to Kennelly to Mr. Maroulis about the fact that the President wanted everybody to come forward. Well, Mr. Maroulis had spent a lot of time-he is a personal friend of Mr. Liddy. It was his opinion that Mr. Liddy had a valid case on appeal because of the errors made by the court and other matters that were involved, and he wondered if I could give him any guidance as to what the President meant by that particular phrase, which apparently had been quoted verbatim from Petersen to Kennelly to Maroulis. I told him that I could not add anything to it, that I had not talked to the President about it; I knew what the President's wishes were, but he as a lawyer was going to have to make his own decision as to what his client's interests were. Mr. THOMPSON. Is that the last conversation you had with him concerning Liddy's position? Mr. MITCHELL: That is the only conversation I have ever had with the gentleman. Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you, Mr. Mitchell: I have no further questions.
DONALD TRUMP HONORS NATIVE AMERICAN CODE TALKERS - pocahontas
1430 WH CODE TALKERS EVENT FS23 73 PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP DELIVERS REMARKS AT EVENT HONORING THE NATIVE AMERICAN CODE TALKERS: 1300 SURVIVORS FROM WORLD WAR II *"Pocahontas" COMMENT AT 15:09:54* DC Interplay Slug: NYRS: WASH-5 **the tax Q+A was fed at the beginning of the event-time codes reflect this** 14:58:12 MR. MACDONALD: Thank you, Honorable President of this great United States of America, President Trump. Thank you for inviting us, Navajo Code Talkers, to the Capitol and to the White House of this great nation we call the United States. Today, we have with us three of the thirteen surviving Navajo Code Talkers of World War II. First, we have Fleming Begaye. Fleming Begaye is 97 years old, the oldest veteran of World War II. He survived the Battle of Tarawa. His landing craft was blown up and he literally had to swim to the beach to survive. 14:59:16 Also, on Saipan, he also landed on Tinian where he got shot up real badly, survived one year in naval hospital. We have Thomas Begay, also one of the Code Talkers who were on Iwo Jima, a tough battle, where Three Marine Division landed on Iwo; 5th Marine Division -- he was part of the Code Talkers within the 5th Marine Division. Also, as if Marine Corps was not enough, he enlisted to be United States Army, and served in the Korean War. Survived that awful battle at Chosin. 15:00:09 My name is Peter MacDonald. I'm the president of the 13 surviving Navajo Code Talkers. I went in -- I'm 90 years old -- I went in when I was 15 years old in 1944. I was with the 1st Marine Brigade on Guam, and then went on to North China with 6th Marine Division to get those Japanese in Northern China to surrender. They didn't want to surrender, but it took 1st Marine Division, 6th Marine Division to get them to surrender eventually. We had a separate treaty ceremony in Tsingtao, China, October 25th, 1945. 15:01:04 Navajo Code Talkers, in the early part of World War II, the enemy was breaking every military code that was being used in the Pacific. This created a huge problem for strategizing against the enemy. Eventually, a suggestion was made in early 1942 -- February '42, essentially -- to use Navajo language as a code. The Marine Corps recruited 29 young Navajos, not telling them what they are being recruited for, because this was a top-secret operation. They were just asked, "Do you want to join the Marines? You want to fight the enemy? Come join the Marines." So they volunteered. Twenty-nine young Navajos joined the Marines in 1942. 15:02:15 After going through boot camp, passed boot camp with flying colors; combat training -- the same thing. Then entered the Marine Corps Communication School -- passed that. Then they were separated from all the rest of the Marines, took them to a top-secret location just east of San Diego -- Camp Elliott. That's where they created a military code to be used in the Pacific. After creating 260 code words, the 29 young Marines -- half of them were sent overseas to join the 1st Marine Division. The 1st Marine Division was getting ready to go on to the first offensive movement in the Pacific, Guadalcanal. 15:03:12 On August 7, 1942 -- 75 years ago -- 1st Marine Division hit the beaches of Guadalcanal with 15 Navajo Code Talkers. This was the first battle where the Navajo code was to be tested in actual battle to test to see how our memory would be under heavy enemy fire. Well, three weeks after the landing, General Van De Griff, Commander of the 1st Marine Division, sent word back to United States saying, this Navajo code is terrific. The enemy never understood it; he said, we don't understand it either, but it works. Send us some more Navajos. 15:04:08 So that opened up the gate for United States Marine Corps, San Diego to start recruiting more and more Navajos, using the same tactics: "You want to fight? You want to join the Marines? You want to wear this beautiful blue uniform? Come join the Marines." So we all volunteered. That's how he went in, that's how he went in, that's how I went in. Boot camp, combat training, communication schools. Then we all get separated, go to that special top-secret Navajo code school to learn to code. Initially, 260 code words, all subject to memory only. Eventually, by the time the war ended, 1945, there were 400 of us that went to war. And also, our code words grew to 600 code words, subject to memory only. In every battle two communication networks were established: Navajo communication network for all top-secret, confidential messages; the second network, English network, for all other messages. 15:05:24 In every battle -- from the front line, beach command post, command ship, all other ships -- Code Talkers were used. On the island of Iwo, Major Connor said, the first 48 hours of battle, over 800 messages were sent by the 5th Marine Division, only. The first 48 hours, over 800 messages. Major Connor also said: Without Navajo, Marines would never have taken the island of Iwo Jima. (Applause.) 15:06:15 So thank you very much. The 13 of us, we still have one mission -- that mission is to build national Navajo Code Talker Museum. We want to preserve this unique World War II history for our children, grandchildren, your children, your grandchildren to go through that museum. Why? Because what we did truly represents who we are as Americans. America, we know, is composed of diverse community. We have different languages, different skills, different talents, and different religion. But when our way of life is threatened, like the freedom and liberty that we all cherish, we come together as one. And when we come together as one, we are invincible. We cannot be defeated. That's why we need this national Navajo Code Talker Museum so that our children, the future generation, can go through that museum and learn why America is so strong. 15:07:37 Thank you very much for listening. (Applause.) TRUMP: That's fantastic, thank you. That's fantastic. Thank you very much. Beautiful. 15:07:54 That was so incredible, and now I don't have to make my speech. I had the most beautiful speech written out. I was so proud of it. Look. And I thought you would leave out Iwo Jima, but you got that in the end, too. (Laughter.) And I want to tell you -- you said you're 90 years old? That's great, because you have good genes. That means the press has got me to kick around for a long time. (Laughter.) That was beautiful. I loved that and I loved your delivery. And the Code Talkers are amazing. And seriously, it is what I said. So what I'm going to do is give you my speech, and I want you to hold that. And I know you like me, so you'll save it. But that was so well delivered, from the heart. That was from the heart. So I want to give you this speech because I don't want to bore them with saying the same thing you just said. And you said it better, believe me, because you said it from here. And I mean it from there too. 15:08:50 And you have a lot of great friends. Tom Cole is here, and you know Tom. And you know Jeff. So I want to thank you both, Jeff Denham. I want to thank you both for being here, and you too for being here. Also, General Dunford, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Kelly. And I have to say, I said to General Kelly --- I said, General, how good -- here he is right there, the Chief; he's the General and the Chief. I said, how good were these Code Talkers? What was it? He said, sir, you have no idea. You have no idea how great they were -- what they've done for this country, and the strength and the bravery and the love that they had for the country and that you have for the country. So that was the ultimate statement from General Kelly, the importance. And I just want to thank you because you're very, very special people. You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her "Pocahontas." 15:09:52 But you know what, I like you because you are special. You are special people. You are really incredible people. And from the heart, from the absolute heart, we appreciate what you've done, how you've done it, the bravery that you displayed, and the love that you have for your country. Tom, I would say that's as good as it gets, wouldn't you say? That's as good as you get. General Kelly, just come up for one second. I want to just have you say what you told me, a little bit about the Code Talkers. Because it really has been -- learning about you and learning about what you've done has been something that I'd like General Kelly to say to the press. Go ahead, General. 15:10:42 GENERAL KELLY: Well, sir, as you know, being associated with United States Marines, it's as much a cult as it is a service. And we never forget. Our motto, of course, is Semper Fidelis -- always faithful. Whether you're a young recruit at Parris Island or San Diego, or a middle-aged guy from out west, what these men did, the advantage they gave our Marines when they invaded Iwo Jima was really -- and I think it was pointed out -- was one of the very few factors that allowed us to be successful on that island. 15:11:16 Their ability to outwit the Japanese who were, you know, listening to this wonderful language and had no idea that a language like this existed on the Earth. What they did, very small number of men, sir, made the difference. We lost 6,000 Marines and 25,000 wounded on that island in 28 days of battle. It would have been a lot worse had we not had the Navajo Code Talkers. And I thank you. Semper Fidelis. (Applause.) 15:11:48 TRUMP: So they're working on building a Navajo Code Talkers Museum. And we will help you. Okay? And we have some pretty good strength. We will help you, and you deserve it. And I want to thank you all for being here. I assume you're the young one in the group? Are you the young one in the group? Thank you so much for being here. You're very special people. And without you, maybe the results would have been a lot different. I've heard that, actually, the results could have very well been different. So, on behalf of the United States, thank you all. Very much appreciate it. (Applause.) MR. MACDONALD: Mr. President, we know you'll succeed. America is in good hands. You have all top Marine Corps generals as your assistants -- (laughter) -- so we know that we're in good hands. (Applause). 14:52:48 TRUMP: What a group. This is a great group. Thank you all very much. Thank you. QUESTION: What about the tax bill? 14:52:54 TRUMP: I think the tax bill is going very well. We had a meeting on it today. It's going to be a tremendous tax cut -- the biggest in the history of our country. You'll have to pay a lot less tax. That's okay. But we're going to have a tremendous -- I think we're going to have great receptivity. We've had great spirit. And I will tell you the Republican senators were up. If we win, we'll get some Democratic senators joining us. If we don't win, they won't be joining us -- you understand that. But, if we win, I think we'll probably have a bipartisan bill, meaning a number of people are going to come over. But I'm not so interested in that. We're really interested just in getting it passed. 14:53:32 Again, it will be the biggest tax reduction in the history of our country. It will bring jobs, it will bring a lot of income coming into the country, buying product, et cetera. And, I think it's doing very well. QUESTION: Is there a worry, though, that it benefits hedge fund owners during (inaudible) -- TRUMP: No, I think we're going to have really -- I think -- actually, I think it's going to benefit everybody. It's going to mostly benefit people looking for jobs more than anything else, because we're giving great incentives. And we're going to be bringing back into this country probably an excess of $4 trillion -- $4 trillion -- that's outside of the country that right now, because of our tax laws, can't come back in. And we will be bringing back at least -- I think the number will be substantially higher -- but at least $4 trillion, which will immediately be put to work in this country. So I think the tax bill is doing very well and I think the Republicans are going to be very proud of it. Thank you. Thank you.
JOE BIDEN SUMMIT WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN - POOL 3 BIDEN NEWS CONFERENCE - STIX - 1140
FS23 WH PRESSER HEAD ON POOL 3 1140 PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN HOLDS A SUMMIT WITH RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN POOL JOE BIDEN NEWS CONFEENCE STIX WASH 3 PRESIDENT BIDEN GENEVA SWITZERLAND PUTIN SUMMIT POOL PATH 1 06162021 110000 132025 BIDEN>>> Been a long day for you all. [chuckles] I know it was easy getting into the -- the pre-meeting. There was no problem getting through those doors, was it -- was there? Anyway, hello, everyone. Well -- 132043 I've just finished the -- the last meeting of this week's long trip, the US-Russian summit. And I know there were a lot of hype around this meeting, but it's pretty straightforward to me, the meeting. One, there's no substitute, as those of you who have covered me for a while know, for face-to-face dialogue between leaders, none. And President Putin and I had a -- share a unique responsibility to manage the relationship between two powerful and proud countries, a relationship that has to be stable and predictable. 132123 And it should be able to -- we should be able to cooperate where it's in our mutual interest. And where we have differences, I wanted President Putin to understand why I say what I say and why I do what I do, and how we'll respond to specific kinds of actions that harm America's interest. Now, I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else, it's for the American people. 132155 Fighting Covid-19, rebuilding our economy, re-establishing relationships around the world with our allies and friends, and protecting the American people. That's my responsibility as President. I also told him that no President of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have, in our view. That's just part of the DNA of our country. 132228 So, human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him. It's not about just going after Russia when they violate human rights. It's about who we are. How could I be the President of the United States of America and not speak out against the violation of human rights. I told him that unlike other countries, including Russia, we're uniquely a product of an idea. 132253 You've heard me say this before again and again. But I'm going to keep saying it. What's that idea? We don't derive our rights from the government. We possess them because we're born -- period. And we yield them to a government. And so, the forum, I pointed out to him that that's why we're going to raise our concerns about cases like Alexei Navalny. I made it clear to President Putin that we'll continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights. Because that's what we are. That's who we are. 132329 The idea is: we hold these truths self-evident that all men and women -- we haven't lived up to it completely, but we've always widened the arc of commitment and included more and more people. And I raised the case of two wrongfully imprisoned American citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed. 132350 I also raised the ability of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty to operate, and the importance of a free press and freedom of speech. I made it clear that we will not tolerate attempts to violate our democratic sovereignty or destabilize our democratic elections, and we would respond. The bottom line is: I told President Putin that we need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by. 132414 I also said, there are areas where there's a mutual interest for us to cooperate for our people, Russian and American people, but also for the benefit of the world and the security of the world. One of those areas is strategic stability. You asked me many times: what was I going to discuss with Putin, before I came. I told you: I only negotiate with the individual. And now, I can tell you what I was intending to do all along. 132441 And that is to discuss and raise the issue of strategic stability, and try to set up a mechanism whereby we dealt with it. We discussed in detail the next steps our countries would take on arms control measures, the steps that we need to take to reduce the risk of unintended conflict. And I'm pleased he agreed today to launch a bilateral, strategic stability dialogue. 132505 Diplomatic speak for saying, "get our military experts and our diplomats together" to work in a mechanism that can lead to control the new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now, that reduce the times of response, that raise the prospects of accidental war. And we went into some detail of what those weapons systems were. 132530 Another area we spent a great deal of time on was cyber and cyber security. I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off-limits to attack. Period. By cyber or by any other means. I gave them a list. If I'm not mistaken, I don't have it in front of me, 16 specific entities. 132551 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy second to our water systems. Of course, the principle is one thing. It has to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory. 132612 So, we agreed to task experts in both our -- both our countries to work on specific understandings about what's off-limits and to follow-up on specific cases that originate in other countries -- either of our countries. 132631 There's a long list of other things we spent time on. From the urgent need to preserve and reopen the humanitarian corridors in Syria so that we can get food, just simple food, and basic necessities to people who are starving to death. How to build it -- and how it is in the interest of both Russia and the United States to ensure that Iran, Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. We agreed to work together there, because as much as -- Russia's interest as ours. 132701 And to how we can ensure the arctic remains in that region of cooperation rather than a conflict. I caught part of President -- Putin's press conference. And he talked about the need for us to be able to have some kind of modus operandi where we dealt with making sure the arctic was in fact a free zone. And to how we can each contribute to the shared effort of preventing the resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. It's very much in the interest of Russia not to have a resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. 132737 There are also areas that are more challenging. I communicated the United States's unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We agreed to pursue diplomacy relating to the Minsk Agreement. And I shared our concern about Belaru. He didn't disagree with what happened. He just has a different perspective of what to do about it. But I know you have a lot of questions. So, let me close with this. It was important to meet in person so there could be no mistake about or misrepresentations about what I wanted to communicate. 132817 I did what I came to do. Number one: identify areas of practical work our two countries can do to advance our mutual interests and also benefit the world. Two: communicate directly, directly, that the United States will respond to actions that impair our vital interests or those of our allies. And three: to clearly lay out our country's priorities and our values so he heard it straight from me. 132846 And I must tell you, the tone of the entire meetings, I guess it was a total of four hours, was -- was good. Positive. There wasn't any -- any strident action taken. Where we disagreed, I disagreed, stated where it was. Where he disagreed, he stated. But it was not done in a hyperbolic atmosphere. That is too much of what's been going on. 132913 Over this last week, I believe, I hope, the United States has shown the world that we are back, standing with our allies. We rallied our fellow democracies to make concerted -- concerted commitments to take on the biggest challenges our world faces. And now, we've established a clear basis on how we intend to deal with Russia and the U.S./Russian relationship. 132940 There's much more work ahead. I'm not suggesting that any of this is done. But we've gotten a lot of business done on this trip. And before I take your questions, I want to say one last thing. Folks, look, this is about -- this is about how we move from here. This is-- I listened to, again, a significant portion of what President Putin's press conference was. 133005 And as he pointed out, this is about practical, straightforward, no nonsense decisions that we have to make or not make. We'll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters. We'll find out whether we work to deal with everything from the release of people in Russian prisons or not. We'll find out whether we have a cyber security arrangement that begins to bring some order. 133036 Because, look: the countries that most are likely to be damaged with failure to do that, are the major countries. For example, when I talked about the pipeline that cyberhit for 5 million -- that ransomware hit in the United States, I looked at him and I said, "well, how would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?" He said, "it would matter." 133105 This is not about just our self-interests. It's about a mutual self-interest. I'll take your questions. And as usual, folks, they gave me a list of the people I'm going to call on. So, Jonathan, Associated Press. Q&A 133121 Q>> Thank you, sir. US Intelligence has said that Russia tried to interfere in the last two presidential elections, and that Russia groups are behind hacks like SolarWinds and some of the ransomware attacks you just mentioned. Putin in his news conference just now accepted no responsibility for any misbehavior. Your predecessor opted not to demand that Mr. Putin stop these disruptions. So what is something that -- concrete, sir -- that you achieved today to prevent that from happening again and what were the consequences you threatened him? 133148 BIDEN>> Whether I stopped it from happening again, he knows I will take action like we did when -- this last time out. 133157 What happened was we, in fact, made it clear that we were not going to continue to allow this to go on. The end result was we ended up withdrawing -- withdrawing ambassadors. We closed down some of their facilities in the United States, et cetera. He knows there are consequences. Now, look, one of the consequences that I know -- I don't know. I shouldn't say this, it's unfair of me -- I suspect you may all think doesn't matter. 133224 But I'm confidence matters to him -- I'm confident it matters to him and to other world leaders of big nations. His credibility worldwide shrinks. Let's get this straight. How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the election directly of other countries, and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he's engaged in? 133251 It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to make sure it maintains its standing as a major world power. And so, it's not just what I do. It's what the actions that other countries take -- in this case, Russia -- that are contrary to international norms. It's the price they pay. They are not -- they are not able to dictate what happens in the world. There are other nations of significant consequence, i.e. the United States of America being one of them. 133324 Q>> Mr. President, just a quick follow-up on the same theme of consequences. You said just now that you spoke to him a lot about human rights. What do you say would happen if opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies? 133333 BIDEN>> I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia. I'll go back to the same point. What do you think happens when he's saying it's not about hurting Navalny -- All the stuff he says to rationalize the treatment of Navalny -- and then he dies in prison? 133357 I pointed out to him that it matters a great deal when a country, in fact -- and he asked me why I thought it was important to continue to have problems with the president of Syria. I said because he's in violation of international norm. It's called the Chemical Weapons Treaty. He can't be trusted. It's about trust, it's about their ability to influence other nations in a positive way. 133427 Look, would you like to trade our economy for Russia's economy? Would you like to trade? And by the way, we talked about trade. I don't have any problem with doing business with Russia, as long as they do it based on international norms. It's in our interest to see the Russian people do well economically. I don't have a problem with that. But, if they do not act according to international norms, then guess what? That will not -- that not only won't happen with us, it will not happen with other nations. 133456 And he kind of talked about that, didn't he, today? About how -- the need to reach out to other countries to invest in Russia, they won't as long as they're convinced that, in fact, the violations -- for example, the American businessman who was on house arrest and I had pointed out, you want to get American business to invest, let him go. Change the dynamic. 133522 Because American businessmen, they're not ready to show up. They don't want to hang around in Moscow. I mean, I -- Look, guys, I know we make foreign policy out to be this great, great skill that somehow is sort of like a secret code. Prac-- All foreign policy is is a logical extension of personal relationships. It's the way human nature functions. And understand, when you run a country that does not abide by international norms and yet, you need those international norms to be somehow managed so that you can participate in the benefits that flow from them, it hurts you. 133603 That's not a satisfying answer. "Biden said he'd invade Russia," you know. It's not -- By the way, that was a joke. That's not true. But my generic point is: it is -- it is more complicated than that. David Sanger. I thought I saw David. There he is. 133625 Q>> Thank you, Mr. President. In the runup to this discussion, there's been a lot of talk about the two countries spilling down into a Cold War. And I'm wondering if there was anything that you emerged from, in the discussion, that made you think that he -- BIDEN>> With your permission, I'm going to take my coat off. The sun is hot. 133645 Q>> Anything that would make you think that Mr. Putin has decided to move away from his fundamental role as a disrupter, particularly a disrupter of NATO and the United States? And if I could also just follow up on your description of how you gave him a list of critical infrastructure in the United States: did you lay out very clearly what it was that the penalty would be for interfering in that critical infrastructure? Did you leave that vague? Did he respond in any way to it? BIDEN>> Let me answer your first -- Well, I'll answer your second question first. 133719 I pointed out to him that we have significant cyber capability, and he knows it. He doesn't know exactly what it is, but it's significant. And if in fact, they violate these basic norms, we will respond, cyber event (?). He knows, in the cyber way. Number two, I -- I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War. 133748 Without quoting him, which I don't think is appropriate, let me ask a rhetorical question: you got a multi-thousand border with China, China is moving ahead, hell-bent on election, as they say, seeking to be the most powerful economy in the world, the largest, and the most power military in the world. 133807 You're in a situation where your economy is struggling. You need to move it in a more aggressive way, in terms of growing it. And you -- I don't think he's looking for a Cold War with the United States. 133826 I don't think it's about a-- as I said to him, I said, your generation and mine were about ten years apart. This is not a kumbaya moment, as we used to say back in the '60s in the United States, like, let's hug and love each other. But it's clearly not in anybody's interest, your country's or mine, for us to be in a situation where we're in a new cold war. 133848 And I truly believe he thinks that, he understands that. But that doesn't mean he's ready to, quote, figuratively speaking, lay down his arms and say, come on. He still, I believe,is concerned about being, quote, "encircled." He still is concerned that we, in fact, are looking to take him down, et cetera. He still has those concerns. But I don't think they are the driving force of the kind of relationship he's looking for with the United States. Jennifer, Jennifer Jacobs. 133924 Q>> Thank you, Mr. President. Is there a particular reason why the summit lasted only about three hours? We know you had maybe allotted four to five hours. Was there any reason it ran shorter? Also, did -- President Putin said that there were no threats or scare tactics issued. Do you agree with that assessment that there were no threats or scare tactics? BIDEN>> Yes. Q>> And also did you touch on Afghanistan and the safe withdrawal of troops? 133948 BIDEN>> Yes. Yes, yes, and yes. Let me go back to the first part. The reason it didn't go longer is when the last time two heads of state have spent over two hours in direct conversation across the table going into excruciating detail? You may know of a time, I don't. I can't think of one. So we didn't need, as we got through, when we brought in our larger group, our defense, our intelligence, and our foreign -- well, my foreign minister -- foreign minister -- my secretary of state was with me the whole time -- our ambassador, et cetera, we brought everybody isn't, we had covered so much. 134027 And so there was a summary done by him and me of what we covered. Lavrov and Blinken talked about what we covered. We raised things that required more amplification or made sure we didn't have any misunderstandings. And so it was at -- kind of after two hours there, we looked at each other like, okay, what next? What is going to happen next is we're going to be able to look back, look ahead in three to six months and say, "did the things we agreed to sit down and try to work out, did it work? Do we -- Are we closer to a major strategic stability talks and -- and progress? Are we further along in terms of -- and go down the line. 134115 That's going to be the test. I'm not sitting here saying because the president and I agreed that we would do these things that all of a sudden it's going to work. I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is, I think there's a genuine prospect to significantly improve the relations between our two countries without us giving up a single solitary thing based on principle and our values. 134135 Q>> There were no threats? 134137 BIDEN>> No, no, no. No, there -- there were no threats. There were -- As a matter of fact, I heard he quoted my mom and quoted other people today. There was -- It was very -- as we say, which will shock you coming from me, somewhat colloquial. And we talked about basic, basic fundamental things. It was, it was -- and you know how I am. I explain thing based on personal basis. 134202 "What happens if," for example. And so, there were no threats, just simple assertions made. And no, "well, if you do that then we'll do this" with anything I said. It was just letting him know where I stood, what I thought we could accomplish together, and what, in fact, if there were violations of American sovereignty, what would we do. 134225 Q>> [inaud] Did you ask [ inaudible ] -- 134230 BIDEN>> No, he asked us about Afghanistan. He said that he hopes that we're able to maintain some peace and security. And I said, "that has a lot to do with you." He indicated that he was prepared to, quote, "help on Afghanistan." I won't go into detail now -- and help on Iran, and help on -- in return, we told him what we wanted to do relative to bring some stability and economic security or physical security to the people of Syria and Libya. So, we had those discussions. Yamiche. 134312 Q>> Thanks so much, Mr. President. You say that you didn't issue any threats. Were there any ultimatums made when it comes to ransomware? And how will you measure success, especially when it comes to these working groups on Russian meddling and on cyber security? 134325 BIDEN>> Well, it's gonna be real easy. They either -- for example, on cyber security, are we going to work out where they take action against ransomware criminals on Russian territory? They didn't do it. I don't think they planned it in this case. And are they going to act? We'll find out. Will we commit -- What can we commit to act in terms of anything affecting -- violating international norms that negatively affects Russia? What are we going agree to do? And so, I think we have real opportunities to move. 134400 And I think that one of the things that I noticed when we had the larger meeting is that people who are very, very well informed started thinking, you know, this could be a real problem. What happens if that ransomware outfit were sitting in Florida or Maine and took action, as I said, on their single lifeline to their economy, oil? It would be devastating. 134427 And they're like, you could see them kind of go -- not that we would do that, but like -- whoa. So, it's in everybody's interests that these things be acted on. We'll see, though, what happens from these groups we put together. Q>> May I have a quick follow up? BIDEN>> A third one, yes, go ahead. 134442 Q>> Mr. President, when President Putin was questioned today about human rights, he said the reason why he's cracking down on opposition leaders is because he doesn't want something like January 6th to happen in Russia. And he also said he doesn't want to see groups like Black Lives Matter. What's your response to that, please? 134459 BIDEN>> My response is kind of what I communicated, that I think that's a -- that's a ridiculous comparison. It's one thing for literally criminals to break through cordon, go into the Capitol, kill a police officer, and be held accountable than it is for people objecting and marching on the Capitol and saying you are not allowing me to speak freely, you are not allowing me to do A, B, C, or D. And so, they're very different criteria. Steve, Steve Holland. Reuters. 134538 Q>> President -- Sorry -- President Putin said he was satisfied with the answer about your comment about him being a killer. Could you give us your side on this? What did you tell him? BIDEN>> He's satisfied. Why would I bring it up again? 134554 Q>> Now that you talked to him, do you believe you can trust him? 134557 BIDEN>> Look, this is not about trust. This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest. That's what it's about. So, I -- virtually almost, almost anyone that I would work out an agreement with that affected the American people's interest, I don't say, "Well, I trust you, no problem. Let's see what happens." You know, as that old expression goes, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." We're going to know shortly. Igor, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. 134632 Q>> Hello, Mr. President. Hello, Mr. President. BIDEN>> Do you want to go in the shade? You can't -- Can you see? Q>> Thank you. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, I think you know attacks on civil society and the free press continue inside Russia. BIDEN>> Yes. Q>> For example, Radio Free Europe -- BIDEN>> Yes. Q>> Radio Liberty, Voice of America, [inaud] TV Channel where I work -- branded foreign agents and several other independent media. So we are essentially being forced out in Russia, 30 years after President Yeltsin invited us in. My question is, after your talks with President Putin, how interested do you think he is in improving the media climate in Russia? 134721 BIDEN>> I wouldn't put it that way, in terms of improving the climate. I would, in fact, put it in terms of how much interest does he have in burnishing Russia's reputation that is not as viewed as not being contrary to democratic principles and free speech. That's a judgment I cannot make. I don't know. But it's not because I think he -- he's interested in changing the nature of a closed society, or closed governments, actions relative to what he thinks is the right of government to do what it does. 134803 It's a very different approach. And, you know, there's a couple of really good biographies -- I told him I read a couple -- I read most everything he's written and the speeches he's made. And I've read a couple very good biographies, which many of you have as well. And I think I pointed out to him that Russia had an opportunity, the brief shining moment after Gorbachev and after things began to change drastically to actually generated democratic government. But what happened was, it failed. 134842 And there was a great, great race among Russian intellectuals to determine what form of government would they choose and how would they choose it. And based on what I believe Mr. Putin decided was, that Russia has always been a major international power when it's been totally united as a Russian state. Not based on ideology. Whether it was going back to czar and commissars, straight through the revolution, the Russian revolution, and to where they are today. 134922 And I think that it's clear to me, and I've said it, that I think he decided that the way for Russia to be able to sustain itself as this great -- quote, "great power," is to in fact unite the Russian people on just the strength of the government. The government controls. Not necessarily ideologically, but the government. And I think that's the -- that's the choice that was made. I think it -- I'm not going to second guess whether it could have been fundamentally different, but I do think it does not lend itself to Russia maintaining itself as one of the great powers of the world. >> Sir, can I ask you one more question? Please, sir. 135006 CECILIA VEGA Q>> Thank you, sir. Did military response ever come up in this conversation today? Did you -- in terms of the red lines that you laid down, is military response an option for a ransomware attack? And President Putin had called you, in his press conference, "an experienced person." You famously told him he didn't have a soul, do you now have a deeper understanding of him after this meeting? 135034 BIDEN>> Thank you -- thank you very much. [PUTS ON AVIATORS] CECILIA VEGA Q>> But on the military -- military response, sir? BIDEN>> No, we didn't talk about military response. 135045 PETER DOOCY Q>> In the spirit of, Mr. President, of you saying that there is no substitute for face-to-face dialogue, and also with what you said at NATO, that the biggest problems right now are Russia and China, you've spoken many times about how you have spent, perhaps, more time with President Xi than any other world leaders. So, is there going to become a time when you might call him, old friend to old friend, and ask him to open up China to the World Health Organization investigators who are trying to get to the bottom of Covid-19? 135117 BIDEN>> Let me get something straight. We know each other well, we're not old friends. It's just pure business. PETER DOOCY Q>> So, I guess my question would be, you've said that you were going to press China, you signed on to the G7 communique that said the G7 were calling on China to open up to let the investigators in, but China basically says they don't want to be interfered with anymore. So what happens now? 135140 BIDEN>> The impact, the world's attitude toward China as it develops. China is trying very hard to project itself as a responsible and very, very forthcoming nation, that they find very hard to talk about how they're taking and helping the world in terms of COVID-19 and vaccines, and they're trying very hard. Look, certain things you don't have to explain to the people of the world. They see the results. 135211 Is China really actually trying to get to the bottom of this? One thing we did discuss, as I told you in the EU and at the G7 and with NATO, what we should be doing and what I'm going to make an effort to do is rally the world to work on what is going to be the physical mechanism available to detect early on the next pandemic and have a mechanism by which we can respond to it and respond to it early. It's going to happen. It's going to happen. And we need to do that. Thank you. >> [ shouting questions ] 135255 BIDEN>> I said the families of the detained Americans came up, and we discussed it. We're going to follow through with that discussion. I am -- I am not going to walk away on that issue. 135306 KAITLAN COLLINS Q>> Why are you so confident he'll change his behavior, Mr. President? BIDEN>> I didn't -- I'm not confident he'll change his behavior. What the hell -- what dod you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? I said -- KAITLAN COLLINS Q>> You said in the next six months you would be able to determine that. BIDEN>> What I said was, let's get it straight. I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it (?) diminishes their standing in the world. I'm not confident of anything. I'm just stating a fact. 135330 KAITLAN COLLINS Q>> But given his past behavior has not changed and, in that press conference, after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyber attacks, he downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say Alexei Navalny's name. So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President -- President Putin [inaud]? 135348 BIDEN>> If you don't understand that, you're in the wrong business. Q>> Did you find common ground -- ? Q>> Is the Senate -- ? 135355 [BIDEN EXITS] #####
JOE BIDEN SUMMIT WITH VLADIMIR PUTIN - POOL 6 BIDEN PRESS CONFERENCE CUTS
FS26 WH PRESSER CUTS POOL 6 1200 PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN HOLDS A SUMMIT WITH RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN POOL JOE BIDEN NEWS CONFEENCE CUTS IDEN PRESS CONFERENCE WASH 3 PRESIDENT BIDEN GENEVA SWITZERLAND PUTIN SUMMIT POOL PATH 1 06162021 110000 132025 BIDEN>>> Been a long day for you all. [chuckles] I know it was easy getting into the -- the pre-meeting. There was no problem getting through those doors, was it -- was there? Anyway, hello, everyone. Well -- 132043 I've just finished the -- the last meeting of this week's long trip, the US-Russian summit. And I know there were a lot of hype around this meeting, but it's pretty straightforward to me, the meeting. One, there's no substitute, as those of you who have covered me for a while know, for face-to-face dialogue between leaders, none. And President Putin and I had a -- share a unique responsibility to manage the relationship between two powerful and proud countries, a relationship that has to be stable and predictable. 132123 And it should be able to -- we should be able to cooperate where it's in our mutual interest. And where we have differences, I wanted President Putin to understand why I say what I say and why I do what I do, and how we'll respond to specific kinds of actions that harm America's interest. Now, I told President Putin my agenda is not against Russia or anyone else, it's for the American people. 132155 Fighting Covid-19, rebuilding our economy, re-establishing relationships around the world with our allies and friends, and protecting the American people. That's my responsibility as President. I also told him that no President of the United States could keep faith with the American people if they did not speak out to defend our democratic values, to stand up for the universal and fundamental freedoms that all men and women have, in our view. That's just part of the DNA of our country. 132228 So, human rights is going to always be on the table, I told him. It's not about just going after Russia when they violate human rights. It's about who we are. How could I be the President of the United States of America and not speak out against the violation of human rights. I told him that unlike other countries, including Russia, we're uniquely a product of an idea. 132253 You've heard me say this before again and again. But I'm going to keep saying it. What's that idea? We don't derive our rights from the government. We possess them because we're born -- period. And we yield them to a government. And so, the forum, I pointed out to him that that's why we're going to raise our concerns about cases like Alexei Navalny. I made it clear to President Putin that we'll continue to raise issues of fundamental human rights. Because that's what we are. That's who we are. 132329 The idea is: we hold these truths self-evident that all men and women -- we haven't lived up to it completely, but we've always widened the arc of commitment and included more and more people. And I raised the case of two wrongfully imprisoned American citizens, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed. 132350 I also raised the ability of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty to operate, and the importance of a free press and freedom of speech. I made it clear that we will not tolerate attempts to violate our democratic sovereignty or destabilize our democratic elections, and we would respond. The bottom line is: I told President Putin that we need to have some basic rules of the road that we can all abide by. 132414 I also said, there are areas where there's a mutual interest for us to cooperate for our people, Russian and American people, but also for the benefit of the world and the security of the world. One of those areas is strategic stability. You asked me many times: what was I going to discuss with Putin, before I came. I told you: I only negotiate with the individual. And now, I can tell you what I was intending to do all along. 132441 And that is to discuss and raise the issue of strategic stability, and try to set up a mechanism whereby we dealt with it. We discussed in detail the next steps our countries would take on arms control measures, the steps that we need to take to reduce the risk of unintended conflict. And I'm pleased he agreed today to launch a bilateral, strategic stability dialogue. 132505 Diplomatic speak for saying, "get our military experts and our diplomats together" to work in a mechanism that can lead to control the new and dangerous and sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now, that reduce the times of response, that raise the prospects of accidental war. And we went into some detail of what those weapons systems were. 132530 Another area we spent a great deal of time on was cyber and cyber security. I talked about the proposition that certain critical infrastructure should be off-limits to attack. Period. By cyber or by any other means. I gave them a list. If I'm not mistaken, I don't have it in front of me, 16 specific entities. 132551 16 defined as critical infrastructure under U.S. policy, from the energy second to our water systems. Of course, the principle is one thing. It has to be backed up by practice. Responsible countries need to take action against criminals who conduct ransomware activities on their territory. 132612 So, we agreed to task experts in both our -- both our countries to work on specific understandings about what's off-limits and to follow-up on specific cases that originate in other countries -- either of our countries. 132631 There's a long list of other things we spent time on. From the urgent need to preserve and reopen the humanitarian corridors in Syria so that we can get food, just simple food, and basic necessities to people who are starving to death. How to build it -- and how it is in the interest of both Russia and the United States to ensure that Iran, Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons. We agreed to work together there, because as much as -- Russia's interest as ours. 132701 And to how we can ensure the arctic remains in that region of cooperation rather than a conflict. I caught part of President -- Putin's press conference. And he talked about the need for us to be able to have some kind of modus operandi where we dealt with making sure the arctic was in fact a free zone. And to how we can each contribute to the shared effort of preventing the resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. It's very much in the interest of Russia not to have a resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan. 132737 There are also areas that are more challenging. I communicated the United States's unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We agreed to pursue diplomacy relating to the Minsk Agreement. And I shared our concern about Belaru. He didn't disagree with what happened. He just has a different perspective of what to do about it. But I know you have a lot of questions. So, let me close with this. It was important to meet in person so there could be no mistake about or misrepresentations about what I wanted to communicate. 132817 I did what I came to do. Number one: identify areas of practical work our two countries can do to advance our mutual interests and also benefit the world. Two: communicate directly, directly, that the United States will respond to actions that impair our vital interests or those of our allies. And three: to clearly lay out our country's priorities and our values so he heard it straight from me. 132846 And I must tell you, the tone of the entire meetings, I guess it was a total of four hours, was -- was good. Positive. There wasn't any -- any strident action taken. Where we disagreed, I disagreed, stated where it was. Where he disagreed, he stated. But it was not done in a hyperbolic atmosphere. That is too much of what's been going on. 132913 Over this last week, I believe, I hope, the United States has shown the world that we are back, standing with our allies. We rallied our fellow democracies to make concerted -- concerted commitments to take on the biggest challenges our world faces. And now, we've established a clear basis on how we intend to deal with Russia and the U.S./Russian relationship. 132940 There's much more work ahead. I'm not suggesting that any of this is done. But we've gotten a lot of business done on this trip. And before I take your questions, I want to say one last thing. Folks, look, this is about -- this is about how we move from here. This is-- I listened to, again, a significant portion of what President Putin's press conference was. 133005 And as he pointed out, this is about practical, straightforward, no nonsense decisions that we have to make or not make. We'll find out within the next six months to a year whether or not we actually have a strategic dialogue that matters. We'll find out whether we work to deal with everything from the release of people in Russian prisons or not. We'll find out whether we have a cyber security arrangement that begins to bring some order. 133036 Because, look: the countries that most are likely to be damaged with failure to do that, are the major countries. For example, when I talked about the pipeline that cyberhit for 5 million -- that ransomware hit in the United States, I looked at him and I said, "well, how would you feel if ransomware took on the pipelines from your oil fields?" He said, "it would matter." 133105 This is not about just our self-interests. It's about a mutual self-interest. I'll take your questions. And as usual, folks, they gave me a list of the people I'm going to call on. So, Jonathan, Associated Press. Q&A 133121 Q>> Thank you, sir. US Intelligence has said that Russia tried to interfere in the last two presidential elections, and that Russia groups are behind hacks like SolarWinds and some of the ransomware attacks you just mentioned. Putin in his news conference just now accepted no responsibility for any misbehavior. Your predecessor opted not to demand that Mr. Putin stop these disruptions. So what is something that -- concrete, sir -- that you achieved today to prevent that from happening again and what were the consequences you threatened him? 133148 BIDEN>> Whether I stopped it from happening again, he knows I will take action like we did when -- this last time out. 133157 What happened was we, in fact, made it clear that we were not going to continue to allow this to go on. The end result was we ended up withdrawing -- withdrawing ambassadors. We closed down some of their facilities in the United States, et cetera. He knows there are consequences. Now, look, one of the consequences that I know -- I don't know. I shouldn't say this, it's unfair of me -- I suspect you may all think doesn't matter. 133224 But I'm confidence matters to him -- I'm confident it matters to him and to other world leaders of big nations. His credibility worldwide shrinks. Let's get this straight. How would it be if the United States were viewed by the rest of the world as interfering with the election directly of other countries, and everybody knew it? What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he's engaged in? 133251 It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to make sure it maintains its standing as a major world power. And so, it's not just what I do. It's what the actions that other countries take -- in this case, Russia -- that are contrary to international norms. It's the price they pay. They are not -- they are not able to dictate what happens in the world. There are other nations of significant consequence, i.e. the United States of America being one of them. 133324 Q>> Mr. President, just a quick follow-up on the same theme of consequences. You said just now that you spoke to him a lot about human rights. What do you say would happen if opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies? 133333 BIDEN>> I made it clear to him that I believe the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia. I'll go back to the same point. What do you think happens when he's saying it's not about hurting Navalny -- All the stuff he says to rationalize the treatment of Navalny -- and then he dies in prison? 133357 I pointed out to him that it matters a great deal when a country, in fact -- and he asked me why I thought it was important to continue to have problems with the president of Syria. I said because he's in violation of international norm. It's called the Chemical Weapons Treaty. He can't be trusted. It's about trust, it's about their ability to influence other nations in a positive way. 133427 Look, would you like to trade our economy for Russia's economy? Would you like to trade? And by the way, we talked about trade. I don't have any problem with doing business with Russia, as long as they do it based on international norms. It's in our interest to see the Russian people do well economically. I don't have a problem with that. But, if they do not act according to international norms, then guess what? That will not -- that not only won't happen with us, it will not happen with other nations. 133456 And he kind of talked about that, didn't he, today? About how -- the need to reach out to other countries to invest in Russia, they won't as long as they're convinced that, in fact, the violations -- for example, the American businessman who was on house arrest and I had pointed out, you want to get American business to invest, let him go. Change the dynamic. 133522 Because American businessmen, they're not ready to show up. They don't want to hang around in Moscow. I mean, I -- Look, guys, I know we make foreign policy out to be this great, great skill that somehow is sort of like a secret code. Prac-- All foreign policy is is a logical extension of personal relationships. It's the way human nature functions. And understand, when you run a country that does not abide by international norms and yet, you need those international norms to be somehow managed so that you can participate in the benefits that flow from them, it hurts you. 133603 That's not a satisfying answer. "Biden said he'd invade Russia," you know. It's not -- By the way, that was a joke. That's not true. But my generic point is: it is -- it is more complicated than that. David Sanger. I thought I saw David. There he is. 133625 Q>> Thank you, Mr. President. In the runup to this discussion, there's been a lot of talk about the two countries spilling down into a Cold War. And I'm wondering if there was anything that you emerged from, in the discussion, that made you think that he -- BIDEN>> With your permission, I'm going to take my coat off. The sun is hot. 133645 Q>> Anything that would make you think that Mr. Putin has decided to move away from his fundamental role as a disrupter, particularly a disrupter of NATO and the United States? And if I could also just follow up on your description of how you gave him a list of critical infrastructure in the United States: did you lay out very clearly what it was that the penalty would be for interfering in that critical infrastructure? Did you leave that vague? Did he respond in any way to it? BIDEN>> Let me answer your first -- Well, I'll answer your second question first. 133719 I pointed out to him that we have significant cyber capability, and he knows it. He doesn't know exactly what it is, but it's significant. And if in fact, they violate these basic norms, we will respond, cyber event (?). He knows, in the cyber way. Number two, I -- I think that the last thing he wants now is a Cold War. 133748 Without quoting him, which I don't think is appropriate, let me ask a rhetorical question: you got a multi-thousand border with China, China is moving ahead, hell-bent on election, as they say, seeking to be the most powerful economy in the world, the largest, and the most power military in the world. 133807 You're in a situation where your economy is struggling. You need to move it in a more aggressive way, in terms of growing it. And you -- I don't think he's looking for a Cold War with the United States. 133826 I don't think it's about a-- as I said to him, I said, your generation and mine were about ten years apart. This is not a kumbaya moment, as we used to say back in the '60s in the United States, like, let's hug and love each other. But it's clearly not in anybody's interest, your country's or mine, for us to be in a situation where we're in a new cold war. 133848 And I truly believe he thinks that, he understands that. But that doesn't mean he's ready to, quote, figuratively speaking, lay down his arms and say, come on. He still, I believe,is concerned about being, quote, "encircled." He still is concerned that we, in fact, are looking to take him down, et cetera. He still has those concerns. But I don't think they are the driving force of the kind of relationship he's looking for with the United States. Jennifer, Jennifer Jacobs. 133924 Q>> Thank you, Mr. President. Is there a particular reason why the summit lasted only about three hours? We know you had maybe allotted four to five hours. Was there any reason it ran shorter? Also, did -- President Putin said that there were no threats or scare tactics issued. Do you agree with that assessment that there were no threats or scare tactics? BIDEN>> Yes. Q>> And also did you touch on Afghanistan and the safe withdrawal of troops? 133948 BIDEN>> Yes. Yes, yes, and yes. Let me go back to the first part. The reason it didn't go longer is when the last time two heads of state have spent over two hours in direct conversation across the table going into excruciating detail? You may know of a time, I don't. I can't think of one. So we didn't need, as we got through, when we brought in our larger group, our defense, our intelligence, and our foreign -- well, my foreign minister -- foreign minister -- my secretary of state was with me the whole time -- our ambassador, et cetera, we brought everybody isn't, we had covered so much. 134027 And so there was a summary done by him and me of what we covered. Lavrov and Blinken talked about what we covered. We raised things that required more amplification or made sure we didn't have any misunderstandings. And so it was at -- kind of after two hours there, we looked at each other like, okay, what next? What is going to happen next is we're going to be able to look back, look ahead in three to six months and say, "did the things we agreed to sit down and try to work out, did it work? Do we -- Are we closer to a major strategic stability talks and -- and progress? Are we further along in terms of -- and go down the line. 134115 That's going to be the test. I'm not sitting here saying because the president and I agreed that we would do these things that all of a sudden it's going to work. I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is, I think there's a genuine prospect to significantly improve the relations between our two countries without us giving up a single solitary thing based on principle and our values. 134135 Q>> There were no threats? 134137 BIDEN>> No, no, no. No, there -- there were no threats. There were -- As a matter of fact, I heard he quoted my mom and quoted other people today. There was -- It was very -- as we say, which will shock you coming from me, somewhat colloquial. And we talked about basic, basic fundamental things. It was, it was -- and you know how I am. I explain thing based on personal basis. 134202 "What happens if," for example. And so, there were no threats, just simple assertions made. And no, "well, if you do that then we'll do this" with anything I said. It was just letting him know where I stood, what I thought we could accomplish together, and what, in fact, if there were violations of American sovereignty, what would we do. 134225 Q>> [inaud] Did you ask [ inaudible ] -- 134230 BIDEN>> No, he asked us about Afghanistan. He said that he hopes that we're able to maintain some peace and security. And I said, "that has a lot to do with you." He indicated that he was prepared to, quote, "help on Afghanistan." I won't go into detail now -- and help on Iran, and help on -- in return, we told him what we wanted to do relative to bring some stability and economic security or physical security to the people of Syria and Libya. So, we had those discussions. Yamiche. 134312 Q>> Thanks so much, Mr. President. You say that you didn't issue any threats. Were there any ultimatums made when it comes to ransomware? And how will you measure success, especially when it comes to these working groups on Russian meddling and on cyber security? 134325 BIDEN>> Well, it's gonna be real easy. They either -- for example, on cyber security, are we going to work out where they take action against ransomware criminals on Russian territory? They didn't do it. I don't think they planned it in this case. And are they going to act? We'll find out. Will we commit -- What can we commit to act in terms of anything affecting -- violating international norms that negatively affects Russia? What are we going agree to do? And so, I think we have real opportunities to move. 134400 And I think that one of the things that I noticed when we had the larger meeting is that people who are very, very well informed started thinking, you know, this could be a real problem. What happens if that ransomware outfit were sitting in Florida or Maine and took action, as I said, on their single lifeline to their economy, oil? It would be devastating. 134427 And they're like, you could see them kind of go -- not that we would do that, but like -- whoa. So, it's in everybody's interests that these things be acted on. We'll see, though, what happens from these groups we put together. Q>> May I have a quick follow up? BIDEN>> A third one, yes, go ahead. 134442 Q>> Mr. President, when President Putin was questioned today about human rights, he said the reason why he's cracking down on opposition leaders is because he doesn't want something like January 6th to happen in Russia. And he also said he doesn't want to see groups like Black Lives Matter. What's your response to that, please? 134459 BIDEN>> My response is kind of what I communicated, that I think that's a -- that's a ridiculous comparison. It's one thing for literally criminals to break through cordon, go into the Capitol, kill a police officer, and be held accountable than it is for people objecting and marching on the Capitol and saying you are not allowing me to speak freely, you are not allowing me to do A, B, C, or D. And so, they're very different criteria. Steve, Steve Holland. Reuters. 134538 Q>> President -- Sorry -- President Putin said he was satisfied with the answer about your comment about him being a killer. Could you give us your side on this? What did you tell him? BIDEN>> He's satisfied. Why would I bring it up again? 134554 Q>> Now that you talked to him, do you believe you can trust him? 134557 BIDEN>> Look, this is not about trust. This is about self-interest and verification of self-interest. That's what it's about. So, I -- virtually almost, almost anyone that I would work out an agreement with that affected the American people's interest, I don't say, "Well, I trust you, no problem. Let's see what happens." You know, as that old expression goes, "the proof of the pudding is in the eating." We're going to know shortly. Igor, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. 134632 Q>> Hello, Mr. President. Hello, Mr. President. BIDEN>> Do you want to go in the shade? You can't -- Can you see? Q>> Thank you. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, I think you know attacks on civil society and the free press continue inside Russia. BIDEN>> Yes. Q>> For example, Radio Free Europe -- BIDEN>> Yes. Q>> Radio Liberty, Voice of America, [inaud] TV Channel where I work -- branded foreign agents and several other independent media. So we are essentially being forced out in Russia, 30 years after President Yeltsin invited us in. My question is, after your talks with President Putin, how interested do you think he is in improving the media climate in Russia? 134721 BIDEN>> I wouldn't put it that way, in terms of improving the climate. I would, in fact, put it in terms of how much interest does he have in burnishing Russia's reputation that is not as viewed as not being contrary to democratic principles and free speech. That's a judgment I cannot make. I don't know. But it's not because I think he -- he's interested in changing the nature of a closed society, or closed governments, actions relative to what he thinks is the right of government to do what it does. 134803 It's a very different approach. And, you know, there's a couple of really good biographies -- I told him I read a couple -- I read most everything he's written and the speeches he's made. And I've read a couple very good biographies, which many of you have as well. And I think I pointed out to him that Russia had an opportunity, the brief shining moment after Gorbachev and after things began to change drastically to actually generated democratic government. But what happened was, it failed. 134842 And there was a great, great race among Russian intellectuals to determine what form of government would they choose and how would they choose it. And based on what I believe Mr. Putin decided was, that Russia has always been a major international power when it's been totally united as a Russian state. Not based on ideology. Whether it was going back to czar and commissars, straight through the revolution, the Russian revolution, and to where they are today. 134922 And I think that it's clear to me, and I've said it, that I think he decided that the way for Russia to be able to sustain itself as this great -- quote, "great power," is to in fact unite the Russian people on just the strength of the government. The government controls. Not necessarily ideologically, but the government. And I think that's the -- that's the choice that was made. I think it -- I'm not going to second guess whether it could have been fundamentally different, but I do think it does not lend itself to Russia maintaining itself as one of the great powers of the world. >> Sir, can I ask you one more question? Please, sir. 135006 CECILIA VEGA Q>> Thank you, sir. Did military response ever come up in this conversation today? Did you -- in terms of the red lines that you laid down, is military response an option for a ransomware attack? And President Putin had called you, in his press conference, "an experienced person." You famously told him he didn't have a soul, do you now have a deeper understanding of him after this meeting? 135034 BIDEN>> Thank you -- thank you very much. [PUTS ON AVIATORS] CECILIA VEGA Q>> But on the military -- military response, sir? BIDEN>> No, we didn't talk about military response. 135045 PETER DOOCY Q>> In the spirit of, Mr. President, of you saying that there is no substitute for face-to-face dialogue, and also with what you said at NATO, that the biggest problems right now are Russia and China, you've spoken many times about how you have spent, perhaps, more time with President Xi than any other world leaders. So, is there going to become a time when you might call him, old friend to old friend, and ask him to open up China to the World Health Organization investigators who are trying to get to the bottom of Covid-19? 135117 BIDEN>> Let me get something straight. We know each other well, we're not old friends. It's just pure business. PETER DOOCY Q>> So, I guess my question would be, you've said that you were going to press China, you signed on to the G7 communique that said the G7 were calling on China to open up to let the investigators in, but China basically says they don't want to be interfered with anymore. So what happens now? 135140 BIDEN>> The impact, the world's attitude toward China as it develops. China is trying very hard to project itself as a responsible and very, very forthcoming nation, that they find very hard to talk about how they're taking and helping the world in terms of COVID-19 and vaccines, and they're trying very hard. Look, certain things you don't have to explain to the people of the world. They see the results. 135211 Is China really actually trying to get to the bottom of this? One thing we did discuss, as I told you in the EU and at the G7 and with NATO, what we should be doing and what I'm going to make an effort to do is rally the world to work on what is going to be the physical mechanism available to detect early on the next pandemic and have a mechanism by which we can respond to it and respond to it early. It's going to happen. It's going to happen. And we need to do that. Thank you. >> [ shouting questions ] 135255 BIDEN>> I said the families of the detained Americans came up, and we discussed it. We're going to follow through with that discussion. I am -- I am not going to walk away on that issue. 135306 KAITLAN COLLINS Q>> Why are you so confident he'll change his behavior, Mr. President? BIDEN>> I didn't -- I'm not confident he'll change his behavior. What the hell -- what dod you do all the time? When did I say I was confident? I said -- KAITLAN COLLINS Q>> You said in the next six months you would be able to determine that. BIDEN>> What I said was, let's get it straight. I said what will change their behavior is if the rest of the world reacts to them and it (?) diminishes their standing in the world. I'm not confident of anything. I'm just stating a fact. 135330 KAITLAN COLLINS Q>> But given his past behavior has not changed and, in that press conference, after sitting down with you for several hours, he denied any involvement in cyber attacks, he downplayed human rights abuses, he even refused to say Alexei Navalny's name. So how does that account to a constructive meeting, as President -- President Putin [inaud]? 135348 BIDEN>> If you don't understand that, you're in the wrong business. Q>> Did you find common ground -- ? Q>> Is the Senate -- ? 135355 [BIDEN EXITS] #####
WHITE HOUSE PRESS BRIEFING - STIX
WHITE HOUSE REGULAR DAILY PRESS BRIEFING - STIX White House Briefing with Josh Earnest DC Slug: 1230 WH BRIEF STIX RS37 73.02 & 1230 WH BRIEF CUTS RS38 74.02 AR: 16x9 Disc #987 & 892 NYRS: WASH3 (4523) / WASH4 (4524) 12:56:35 EARNEST: Good afternoon, everybody. I hope everybody had a nice weekend. The -- as you know, we're planning a bill signing in the East Room today, so if there's a need for you to leave the briefing a little bit early in order to make the final call, which I think will be about 1:45, I will not be offended if you have to get up in the middle. But hopefully, we can wrap this up before that event actually gets underway. So, all right? With that, Julie, do you want to get us started? QUESTION: Thanks, Josh. I want to start with the situation in Greece. Does the president support the prime minister's decision there to hold this referendum and to close the banks in the meantime? 12:57:12 EARNEST: Well, Julie, let me start by saying that as we many of you saw, the president over the weekend telephoned Chancellor Merkel to discuss this issue. It was the second time in the last couple of weeks the president's discussed this issue with her. He had an opportunity to discuss it at the G-7 summit over in Germany earlier this month. This morning, the president had the opportunity to telephone President Hollande of France to discuss this issue. This is also the second time that he has discussed it with President Hollande this month. He had an opportunity to sit down for a bilateral meeting with President Hollande in Germany where this is among the issues that came up. 12:57:51 In the context of that telephone call, the president reiterated to President Hollande something that we've indicated in the past, which is that it's important for the parties sitting around the negotiating table to develop a package of reforms and financing that would allow Greece to return to growth and debt sustainability within the eurozone. That is the target that we have been aiming for. And the good news is that achieving that goal is consistent with the interests of all the parties at the negotiating table. 12:58:27 These are obviously difficult issues, but the United States has been strongly encouraging all parties to pursue this goal. And that's something that we continue to do even today. QUESTION: The prime minister in Greece, though, is taking some steps this week. Does the president support what he's doing? 12:58:44 EARNEST: Well, obviously, they have a democratic process in Greece that they'll have to pursue. And we believe that it's important for all the sides, even in advance of the referendum, to continue to engage in constructive conversations. And again, ultimately, it is in everyone's interest to reach a solution that allows Greece to return to growth and debt sustainability within the eurozone, and they can do that if it's coupled with a package of reforms and financing. 12:59:13 And that's -- that ultimately is, again, in the interests of all of the parties. We have seen strong statements both from the leaders of Greece, but also from the leaders of the eurozone countries reiterating their view that Greece should remain part of the European currency union. And we hope that -- that all sides will continue to act in that spirit. QUESTION: What kind of exposure does the president believe the U.S. economy has to the situation in Greece? EARNEST: Well, Julie, the fact is that U.S. exposure to Greece is small in terms of our direct exposure, and for that reason -- this was even true sort of at the previous height of the Greek crisis back in 2010 and 2011 -- that Greece does not pose a major direct risk to our banking system. However, what we have said for some time is that robust growth and economic stability in Europe is clearly within the U.S. economic interest but also in our national security interest as well. And so we do continue to urge all sides to contribute to pragmatic discussions in pursuit of the goal that I described earlier, both because it's in our -- in the economic interest of our country but also in our broader national security interest. QUESTION: On a similar topic closer to home, Puerto Rico says they are having problems paying their debt. Does the president feel like the U.S. federal government has any responsibility to -- to step in in this instance? EARNEST: Well, Julie, there's no one in the administration or in D.C. that's contemplating a federal bailout of Puerto Rico. But we do remain committed to working with Puerto Rico and their leaders as they address the serious challenges, serious financial challenges, that are currently plaguing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. 13:01:02 The Treasury Department and other administration officials have been engaged with Puerto Rico to try to help them get access to all available and existing federal resources, and the Treasury Department, over the -- the last year or two, has shared its expertise with local officials in Puerto Rico who are trying to address the significant challenges that they face. 13:01:27 You know, you'll recall, Julie, that there was this interagency task force that the administration formed. This is similar to the kind of task force that was formed to support the City of Detroit as they dealt with some of their significant financial challenges, and the goal of this task force was to mobilize an expertise within the federal government to work with local officials, in this case, in Puerto Rico, to help them understand exactly what kinds of federal programs they would qualify for based on existing resources. And, you know, there're a variety of things that have -- that have come up, things related to the department -- so let me give you one illustrative example. The Department of Energy has worked with Puerto Rico to help them lower their electricity costs and to reform the island's power authority to get a better hold on the cost associated with that. That's one example of how the expertise of the federal government can be brought to bear in a way that's beneficial to local officials who are dealing with this problem firsthand. OK. Roberta? QUESTION: I want to ask about the Supreme Court on mercury emissions. What -- what does this mean for the president's goals when it comes to Clean Power Plan? Is this a setback, and if not, why not? And -- or does the White House feel there's more solid legal footing for the rest of the Clean Power Plan? 13:02:51 EARNEST: Well, Roberta, let me just say as a general matter that we're still reviewing the decision that was announced by the Supreme Court earlier today. You know, obviously, we're disappointed with the outcome. And for specific questions about how -- what impact the outcome of this decision will have on that rulemaking process, I'd refer you to the EPA. I will say, however, that based on what we have read so far, there is no reason that this court ruling should have any impact on the ability of the administration to develop and implement the Clean Power Plan. 13:03:30 These are two separate rulemaking processes that we have pursued here, and there is nothing that's contained in this ruling that should in any way impact our ability to -- to successfully complete the implementation of the Clean Power Plan. QUESTION: So Leader McConnell said this morning that the ruling should warn governors off of plans for their own states to implement the Clean Power Plan. Is he wrong then? Is... 13:03:56 EARNEST: Well, Leader McConnell has taken matters into his own hands, we've he discussed here. In a rather extraordinary display of his opposition to the administration's rulemaking efforts, Leader McConnell took it upon himself to send leaders to governors across the country warning them against cooperating with the administration on a policy that will clearly benefit the public health of the citizens of states all across the country. So it's not particularly surprising to me that this is Leader McConnell's interpretation of the ruling, but it doesn't make his interpretation either accurate or in the best interests of the American public. In both cases, he's wrong. QUESTION: And if I can ask about Ex-Im briefly, it seems clear that the authorization is going to lapse tomorrow. What kind of contingency plans are in place, especially for businesses whose line of credit might lapse between tomorrow and whenever the reauthorization might happen? 13:04:48 EARNEST: Well, Roberta, what we have long said is that the Ex-Im Bank contributes -- makes an important contribution to the U.S. economy, particularly in terms of facilitating U.S. exports. And that has led to good-paying American jobs and that's why we have urged Congress to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. That's what previous presidents of both parties have routinely urged Congress to do. And you've heard me note before the praise that President Reagan had for the important work that's done at the Ex-Im Bank because of the positive economic impact it has on the country. For any contingency plans that may be put in place, I'd refer you to Ex-Im who can walk you through that. QUESTION: OK. EARNEST: Michelle? QUESTION: The fact that the negotiators will be staying past the deadline on the Iran nuclear deal, even though you said a deadline was firm last week. Is this an indication, then, that they're getting closer to a deal? That the odds are good that this will amount to something other than just cutting it off? 13:05:58 EARNEST: Well, Michelle, what the -- what our negotiators are currently engaged in is an effort to try to complete negotiations consistent with the political framework that was agreed to in the first week in April. And yes, it is the day before the deadline, and at this point, I would anticipate that the negotiations will extend past the deadline. This is not surprising or uncommon. Those of you who covered -- Michelle, I know you cover this closely -- the previous round of discussions that were -- that led to the political agreement in early April, the deadline for completing those talks was actually March 31st, an announcement wasn't made until April 2nd about the agreement. So I wouldn't be surprised -- and in this case, it's likely that the negotiations will extend beyond the deadline, and our negotiators will remain in Vienna past the deadline in pursuit of a final agreement. QUESTION: But because you said the deadline was firm before and you were still looking at that as a firm deadline as late as last week, would you see the extension of the deadline then a promising sign? 13:07:03 EARNEST: I would read it that way. I think I would accede the likelihood, or the higher likelihood, that the talks will extend past the deadline as an indication that there are still some important unresolved issues in the negotiations. And these are not issues that can be resolved in the next 36 hours. It will require additional time, and that's additional time that our negotiators will take in Vienna in pursuit of reaching an agreement that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensure that they cooperate with the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country's nuclear program. QUESTION: And at different times you had placed odds on a deal actually being reached. It started off being less than 50 percent, then it went to 50 percent. So what are the odds today? 13:07:47 EARNEST: I'm not feeling like I'm ready to make a deal today. But I would say that our negotiators continue to pursue this very serious work, and it looks like they're going to be working overtime to try to get it done. QUESTION: (inaudible) at least 50-50, as it was before, since those were the last odds of a deal actually being reached? 13:08:05 EARNEST: Well, again, I would hesitate to put numbers on it at this point. So we're -- we're close to the deadline and obviously our negotiators understand the stakes of these negotiations. And that, frankly, I think is why the United States and our P-5-plus-1 partners are willing to sit at that table a few extra days to try to reach an agreement that is consistent with the political framework that was agreed to back in early April. I mean, the thing that the president's been very clear about is if the Iranians refuse to agree to a framework that's consistent, or a final agreement that's consistent with the framework that was reached in April, then there won't be an agreement. And the -- we understand at this point that that's -- that's something that the Iranians are hoping to avoid. They would very much like to get some sanctions relief. But they are going to be some serious commitments that they're going to have to make in terms of that -- shutting down every pathway they have to a nuclear weapon, and complying with a verification regime to ensure that they're living up to the commitments that they have made. And all of that is, you know, will be part of any final agreement, consistent with the political agreement that was reached back in April. OK? 13:09:17 JIM AVILA QUESTION: On the Supreme Court, is the Texas attorney general correct when he says that the people's right to marry is not in fact the law of the land and that individual clerks in his state can refuse to issue marriage licenses? And what -- what is the United States federal government prepared to do to ensure that in fact those clerks do issue marriage licenses? 13:09:42 EARNEST: Well, that's certainly not our reading of the law, but for the specific legal interpretation, I'd refer you to the Department of Justice. 13:09:50 JIM AVILA QUESTION: And is there anything that the United States, the administration will be doing to ensure that people are able to get marriage licenses that the Supreme Court said they should? 13:09:56 EARNEST: Well, obviously, the Department -- as a general matter, the Department of Justice has an important responsibility to ensure that justice is being carried out all across the country. And again, I think the ruling from the Supreme Court was pretty clear to the millions of Americans that were obviously interested in their decision. But for what role the federal government would have in this case, I'd refer you to the Department of Justice. 13:10:19 JIM AVILA QUESTION: On the other -- so today, the, as has already been mentioned, the administration lost one in the Supreme Court on the EPA. Do you now agree with Senator Cruz that there should be elections for the Supreme Court? 13:10:33 EARNEST: I do not. April? QUESTION: Josh, last week was a very big week. And I want to particularly focus in on aspects of race and symbols -- symbolism. And one of the components of last week was the confederate flag. Elijah Cummings, a friend of the president, and the minority leader on the Oversight and Government Committee, said, "Now we must begin to address racial disparities and inequities themselves." He said, asking that the country move beyond the flag. How does that happen? How do you move beyond the symbolism of taking the flag down -- and it's coming down -- but going into areas of helping Jamal get the job when Johnny gets the job? How do we make that happen in this country? 13:11:20 EARNEST: Well, April, I think the president spoke to this at some length in a pretty moving fashion on Friday. And, you know, I think the president's description of ensuring that we don't fall back into a comfortable silence as it relates to these issues is -- I think is -- is what the president's hope is for the way that the country will confront these challenges. And, you know, the president has obviously been very clear when he comes -- when he considers the kinds of policies that he believes we can put in place to make our country more fair and more just and to make sure that we're expanding opportunity for all Americans. That has obviously been his priority, you know, dating all the way back to his first presidential campaign. 13:12:10 And so, you know, we're hopeful that we can continue to have a robust debate in this country about what policies we can put in place that would make our country more fair and more just and ensure equal opportunity for all. As the president also alluded to in his remarks, it's certainly possible for people who are acting in good faith to have a difference of opinion about what policies will be most effective in achieving that goal. But if we can at least keep in mind that that's a priority and that that is a goal that we should be striving for, then that would certainly position our country to continue making the kind of progress that we've seen so far in -- in becoming more fair. QUESTION: Two more questions on this. Now, when (OFF-MIKE), the president basically, essentially said to a question that I asked, he's still here to close gaps. What gaps, when it comes to racial inequities, disparities, are the main (inaudible) as president, executive branch to close? What can he -- gaps can he close? 13:13:08 EARNEST: Well, there are -- let me give you a couple of examples. I can't give you a comprehensive list, I don't think. But, you know, one of the things the president has indicated he would certainly like to see is to ensure that every young child in America has access to a high-quality early childhood education program. And, you know, there's plenty of data out there to indication the disproportionate benefits of children having access to programs like this, that participation in a high-quality early childhood education program is highly correlated with things that are directly relevant to success in this country. That is, you know, participation in a high-quality early childhood education program that strongly correlated with kids who get good standardized test scores, with kids who have fewer brushes with the criminal justice system. You know, there's even a correlation participation in a early childhood education program and a lower teen pregnancy rate. So, you know, that's one example of the investment that the president believes that we can make in everybody, in all of America's children, that would make our country more fair. QUESTION: And lastly, when I started out with (inaudible) symbols, the Confederate Flag, for many, is a symbol of hate, and everyone is now -- you know, Republicans and Democrats and this president saying that it needs to come down. But there was also a debate, you know, a couple months ago with the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the name of a bridge. Edmund Pettus was a Grand Dragon of the KKK. Do we go back into that kind of debate about the name of a bridge or some other things that are in this country that stand for hate and racism? Do we bring those down? Do we change the names? How does this administration view that? 13:15:03 EARNEST: Well, I think the administration would view this as, you know, part of the kind of debate that I hope and the president certainly hopes -- that we'll continue to be attuned to, that as we pointed out, as -- as the president pointed out in his remarks on Friday, that when traumatic and even tragic events occur, sometimes we are -- you know, our -- our -- our conscience is often aroused and we're much more attuned to the kinds of symbols and the kind of language and the kinds of policies and the kinds of labels that can be perceived -- understandably so -- as hateful. And the president is hopeful that we won't allow ourselves to fall back into a comfortable silence, but yet that we'll -- but that the country will continue to be attuned to this debate, that the country would be better off for it. OK, Sharyl? QUESTION: Thanks Josh. To go back to the EPA Supreme Court rulings. I heard what you said about the Clean Power Plan, but is the administration also committed to regulating, continuing to regulate mercury and air toxins going forward? 13:16:17 EARNEST: At this point, we're still reviewing the decision from the Supreme Court, but I would refer you to the EPA. This continues to be a priority for the president because of the important public health benefits associated with this law, that there are -- the goal of this -- of this specific rule was to try to reduce incidents of asthma attacks, and in some cases even, incidents of premature death. But for -- the path forward when it comes to that specific policy, I'd refer you to the EPA. QUESTION: So is the administration directing EPA to review power plants and -- power plants and -- (inaudible) to reissue those mercury standards? 13:16:56 EARNEST: Well, again, this is something that EPA is still trying to figure out. So -- but they can give you some guidance in terms of what their path forward is. OK, John? QUESTION: Thank you Josh. Just a couple of things on Greece, then one on the other Supreme Court decision. Reading the communications, the readout -- and that a lot should be planned around it, is the administration aware that this could lead to an exit of Greece from the EU very promptly and from euro very promptly? And are they are in favor of the referendum? 13:17:49 EARNEST: Well, John, what we've indicated is that there's a democratic process that is underway in Greece, and that's a process that will be determined by the Greek people. As it relates to Greece and their continued membership in the European currency union, I would merely note for you that the public opinion that's expressed by everyone who's sitting around the negotiating table right now, the Greeks, leaders of the EU, the IMF and ECB, have all indicated that it is their view that Greece continue to remain part of the currency union there. And it is in the interest of the United States for Europe to continue to be closely integrated and strong and effective. And that's -- that is the view that we have expressed in the past and that is what gives us some confidence that the kinds of challenges that are currently being confronted by the negotiators can be addressed through a package of reforms and financing that will allow Greece to return to a path of economic growth and debt sustainability. QUESTION: Shortly before you came up to the podium, Prime Minister Tsipras announced officially that Greece will not be paying its installment of 1.8 billion euros that was due the IMF today. Any reaction on that? 13:19:23 EARNEST: Well, John, we've long made clear that we expect the Greeks to keep their commitments. And I'd refer you to the IMF for more information about how exactly the Greeks can do that. QUESTION: Final question. You've addressed the Supreme Court decision on EPA, what is the administration's reaction to the Supreme Court decision upholding special commissions and other bodies to perform redistricting in the states along with state legislators? EARNEST: John, I'm aware of that Supreme Court ruling today, but let me get back to you with a specific reaction. QUESTION: OK. Thank you. EARNEST: OK? All right, Mark. QUESTION: I'd like to get back to the Iran talks for a second Josh. Over the weekend, we had another one of these cases where another Iranian leader said no, we will absolutely not countenance inspections at military bases; this is a senior Iranian general. Obviously, we talked a lot about what Ayatollah Khamenei has had to say. Is the administration really confident that in Mohammad Javad Zarif, it's got a man it can negotiate with and get an agreement that will stick? EARNEST: Mark, that's an entirely legitimate question. And this is... (LAUGHTER) ... I hope you'll accept the compliment in the spirit in which it's offered. 13:20:42 The -- what I would just say is this, is that the efforts to try to reach a diplomatic solution to ensuring that Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon is not predicated on trusting anybody. In fact, the only way that we'll be able to reach an agreement and the only way that the president and our P5+1 partners will sign an agreement is if Iran does commit to cooperate with the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country's nuclear program. And in fact, what will be written into the agreement, if it can be reached, an agreement, a final agreement that's consistent with the parameters of the political agreement that was announced in April, and we'll move forward from there. And if it turns out that Iran is not able to live up to the agreement that they hopefully will make, then we'll have ample opportunity to deal with that most prominently by acting quickly to snap sanctions back into place. QUESTION: The reason I ask is because, you know, we had this framework agreement, which was like pulling teeth and was reached at -- after much effort and last-minute negotiation, et cetera. And at the time, the administration said this is clear, it's on paper. Obviously, we have to fill in the details, but this is something that both sides can live with, et cetera. And within hours, we had senior Iranian officials repudiating parts of it. Is there a danger that's going to happen again? 13:22:29 EARNEST: Well let me say a couple of things about that. I think the first is I think that this would be at least one indication to you and other careful observers of this process that the agreement that was reached back in April is one that requires significant commitments from the Iranians. And I think that's -- I think that is a -- some of the concerns that we have seen raised by the Iranians I think should be one indication that we're requiring, the international community is requiring Iran to make some pretty serious commitments here. But again, I think I'd just go back to this, that there is no aspect of this agreement that is predicated on trusting anybody in the Iranian government. What is built into this agreement are a set of verification measures that will ensure that international experts have access to Iranian sites and Iranian facilities and even Iranian personnel to ensure that they're living up to the commitments they make in the context of this agreement. EARNEST: And if they don't, we will have mechanisms written into the agreement outlining exactly what steps will be taken by the international community to snap sanctions back into place. 13:23:49 So there will -- I guess the point is we already know that the Iranians are very interested in getting relief from the very tough sanctions that the international community has imposed on them. And there will be a very clear incentive, if a deal is reached, for Iran to live up to the commitments that they make in the context of the deal. QUESTION: Is there any kind of -- sorry, one last little things. Is there any specific -- at this point, any new target that's been set in terms of -- since this -- the tomorrow midnight deadline is clearly going to slip? Or is it just open-ended at this point? EARNEST: I -- go ahead. QUESTION: I was just going -- and part of that -- as part of that, assuming it does go on for some number of days, does the interim deal that both sides have been observing continue on for that same length of time? 13:24:33 i EARNEST: It does. The joint plan of action will remain in effect, and that is important. And that will be -- it will remain in effect beyond June 30th. But again, at this point, you know, we anticipate that the -- that the negotiations will continue for at least a couple of days after the -- after the deadline and we'll take it day-by-day from there. OK, Justin? QUESTION: I wanted to ask first about Puerto Rico and in response (inaudible) outline some steps that the government is taking, but obviously the situation there is pretty dire. And so I'm wondering if there's been any consideration by the administration of a kind of financial control board in the -- in the way that D.C. had back in the 1990s when they were going through a similar financial crisis? 13:25:23 EARNEST: Well I'll say two things about that. The first is I will refer back to what I had mentioned to Julia, which is that there has been an effort by the administration to put together essentially an interagency task force where experts from the federal government can offer their expertise to the leaders of the Puerto Rico government as they deal with the significant financial challenges. And that has led to, you know, a variety of things. You know, one other example is that the Department of Transportation identified more than $750 million for Puerto Rico in available toll credits for use in funding new infrastructure projects. So, you know, obviously, the new infrastructure projects would be an important job creator inside Puerto Rico but would also lay a foundation for their longer term economic strength. And so that's a -- sort of another way that this interagency task force has been able to offer some assistance to the Puerto Rico government. 13:26:22 The other thing that I can say is that Puerto Rico currently has no access to a tested restructuring regime for any of its public debt. This include its municipal and public corporation debt which, in the 50 states, would ordinarily be subject to Chapter 9 bankruptcy process. So there are strong merits to having an orderly mechanism for Puerto Rico to manage the financial challenges of its public corporations if needed. And so we've urged Congress to take a close look at this particular issue. Essentially, this means that essentially a Chapter 9 scenario that would be available to all of the 50 states is not one that's currently available to Puerto Rico, and that's something that only Congress can change. QUESTION: Just to clarify, you would advocate Congress pass some sort of similar authority for the territories. 13:27:17 EARNEST: What we've encouraged Congress to do is to -- is to take a look at this, mindful of the challenges that Puerto Rico is facing right now. QUESTION: And then on Greece, I'm wondering if the U.S. is at all concerned at the paralysis of the Greek government or that the financial crisis could at all create an opening for infiltration of extremists into Greece, and Greece is a gateway into Europe. This has obviously been kind of an issue with the Islamic states for months now, and whether this creates a new security concern on top of financial ones. 13:27:52 EARNEST: Well, I'll just -- let me reiterate something I said before, Justin, which is that the national security of the United States and our interests around the globe benefit significantly from a strong and effective and closely integrated Europe. And that has been true on a whole range of security questions, but it also happens to be true when it comes to a range of economic questions as well. And so that is why the United States, principally through the Treasury Department, has been closely engaged in trying to facilitate all of the parties in these talks to come to an agreement that is clearly within their mutual interests. QUESTION: And then just to put a really fine point on it, you've said both that the U.S. is interested in a strong and integrated Europe and that the negotiating partners at the table want Greece to remain in -- as part of the euro. But does the U.S. still want Greece to be part of the euro going forward? 13:28:51 EARNEST: Well, ultimately, that is something that they'll have to decide. And again, the members of the EU will have to decide whether Greece remains part of the union, but we're heartened by the fact that Greek's leaders say they want to remain part of the currency union, all of the members of the European Currency Union have indicated their desire for Greece to remain a part of the union. And that certainly would be our preference as well. OK? J.C.? QUESTION: There's another issue, Josh, if I may. Unlike the United States, which is -- has sort of come out of their recession, the EU nations are still struggling to crawl out of that. There's the contagion issue -- in other words, as goes Greece will go, will possibly go Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, et cetera. Is that a concern to this administration? 13:29:45 EARNEST: Well, J.C., I actually asked this exact question of our -- of our experts here too. Here's what they told me. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) EARNEST: Well, so am I. So -- but here's the -- this is -- so this is a little technical, but let me try to explain to you what I was -- what I was told. What has always been true is that there is minimal U.S. -- direct U.S. exposure to Greece, and that's why, you know, we can say pretty definitively that Greece does not pose a major direct risk to the United States banking system. But what's also true is that direct exposures to Greece from banks or other market participants are much lower across the globe that they were in 2010 and 2011, sort of at the other height of this Greek crisis. The other thing that has changed since then is that European policymakers have made it clear that they're committed to doing whatever is necessary to maintain the stability of the euro area and create conditions for Greece to grow and reform within the eurozone. 13:30:54 So what that essentially means is it means that Europe's capacity to manage this situation is also much stronger today because policymakers have put in place a powerful set of financial tools. Now these tools include things like the European stability mechanism which is something that is available to the European Central Bank to deal with some of these financial challenges. The ECB also has the single supervisory mechanism which can be used to help support banks. EARNEST: So what we've seen from Europe is that they have, over the last four or five years, clearly developed the capacity and expressed the will to do what it takes to preserve their monetary union. 13:31:38 The last aspect of this answer that I think is also worth recognizing is that the European economy, while yes, what I would acknowledge is not quite as strong as we would like it to be, economic growth is not quite as robust as we would like to see, it is much stronger than it was four or five years ago, and that's a testament to the progress, the slow progress, that Europe has made out of the depths of the Great Recession and the greater strength and stability of the European economy as it exists right now, is -- helps the -- provide a backdrop for solving this problem. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) it's very noble answer and I appreciate it Josh very much. Unlike the United States, the eurozone is not the United States, the euro is not the United States of Europe, although that was kind of the goal. There's a -- we are a federal system, we get to control our spending and we get to control who's taxed and how we're taxed. They don't have those kind of controls. That's not a -- really a federal operation there. So that -- is that what's causing the problems, they don't really have their hands on exactly how Greece is spending their money and how they're getting their revenue? 13:32:52 EARNEST: Well this is -- you've highlighted, you know, one aspect, one challenge of the method for integrating the different economies and countries of Europe. And this is obviously something that all the policymakers are working through, and again, we continue to be heartened by the public expressions from not just the leaders of Greece but also from -- leaders of other large European economies that they would like to see Greece remain part of the European Currency Union. OK, Peter? QUESTION: Josh, following three separate either ISIS or ISIS- inspired attacks in three separate continents last week, the FBI and DHS put out a new bulletin warning about the potential for attacks coming up on the Fourth of July holiday. So is this concern routine as it would be before every Fourth of July or every major U.S. like the U.S.' birthday? Or is there some sincere deep concern here that makes this unique? And what do you say to Americans that are concerned right now? 13:33:51 EARNEST: Well Peter, I would point out as a factual matter, as you alluded to, that it is not uncommon for these kinds of joint information bulletins to be issued in advance of the Fourth of July. I can also say there is no specific credible intelligence to indicate any threats against celebrations over the Fourth of July weekend. However, we have repeatedly seen calls for violence over the past year by the leadership and supporters of ISIL against members of the military and military installations, law enforcement, the U.S. government and the American public. And we're mindful of the more recent call by leaders of ISIL and other extremists to carry out attacks over Ramadan, which we're obviously in the middle of now. So I think it is fair for you to conclude that these -- that issuing this kind of joint information bulletin is part of our standard operating procedure, but we're certainly mindful of the unique environment in advance of this Fourth of July holiday. QUESTION: Peter King, the representative from New York, said that there is great concern this weekend. He said the highest threat level that he is aware of -- of course, a New York representative, so this is personal for him in the wake of 9/11 even this many years removed. He said the highest threat that he's aware of since 9/11, no other time compares. Is that a fair assessment of the situation that we now face? 13:35:13 EARNEST: Well for an assessment like that, I'd refer you to the intelligence community. But we -- again, the thing I would reiterate is that there is no specific credible intelligence to indicate any threat against celebrations over the Fourth of July weekend. But again, we -- I say that mindful of the public calls that we have seen by some extremists for their supporters and their sympathizers to carry out attacks over Ramadam, which obviously is taking place right now. QUESTION: Are we -- the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, said today that violent extremist is going viral but our response to it is moving at a bureaucratic, sluggish speed. There are statistics from intelligence community members that there are tens of thousands of these social media messages being sent out and ultimately propelling their messages to far ends of the planet where ISIS themselves, their members, may not reach. How concerned are you about the impact of social media and of these lone wolf-type attacks where it doesn't take knowing who ISIS is, it just takes finding one individual anywhere in this country that could take action like we witnessed in Tunisia. 13:36:22 EARNEST: Well Peter, the -- we -- the -- our intelligence community and our national security professionals have long identified so-called -- a so-called lone wolf attack as one of the most dangerous threats that they face. And the reason for that is precisely for the reasons that you just highlighted, it's difficult to prevent those kinds of attacks from happening before they occur. When you're only talking about one individual who's become radicalized, in many cases, through the use of social media by extremists anywhere around the world, that's a particularly difficult challenge. I think what we've also seen is we've seen our national security and our intelligence and our law enforcement professionals engaged very aggressively in trying to mitigate that that, and it's not uncommon for the Department of Justice to make announcements about investigations that have yielded arrests, mindful of the -- of the alleged plans to carry out a lone-wolf attack. So we continue to be very mindful of that. 13:37:20 I mean, the thing that I would just remind you of -- and I know this is something that you covered at the time -- is back in the winter, right here at the White House, we convened a summit to counter violent extremism. And so what we sought to do is to bring relevant officials from across the federal government as well as local law enforcement officials and community leaders to discuss this issue, and not just from a law enforcement perspective, but also to make sure that we were drawing on the wisdom and influence of leaders in communities all across the country to try to prevent vulnerable people -- most cases vulnerable young people -- from being radicalized over the Internet and carrying out acts of violence. QUESTION: Very simply, to conclude this, Chairman McCaul also called for a full-time office combating violent extremism here at home. Does the president, does this White House support a full-time office committed to that sole task? 13:38:10 EARNEST: Well, I haven't seen that specific proposal be floated, but obviously, this is something that the administration take very seriously and something we've been working on for quite some time. It obviously didn't require an office to pull an interagency summit to discuss this important national security priority, but, you know, certainly we're open to suggestions like that. OK, Kevin? QUESTION: Josh thanks. Can you describe the president's awareness of the fact that within a week of the shootings in Charleston, six predominantly African-American faith communities have been attacked, burn in fact. Six of them, and three, we are told by reporting... (AUDIO GAP) EARNEST: ... unfortunately, we have seen some extremists carry out acts of violence against the black church or against black churches across the country, recognizing the power of such violent displays. So obviously, you know, local law enforcement officials have the responsibility to conduct these investigations and, you know, if federal resources are needed to support those ongoing investigations, they will be provided. QUESTION: I want to follow up on Puerto Rico for just a second. You said no bailout, but I want to ask what does the White House have to say to the many -- in many cases hundreds of thousands, millions of Puerto Ricans who live here in the States, from New York to Florida and all over, they're concerned, what are you helping -- what are you going to do, what can you do to help our countrymen? What's the general message that you would have for their population? 13:40:05 EARNEST: Well I think -- what we'd say to everybody is that the administration remains committed to continuing to work with Puerto Rico and its leaders as they address the commonwealth's serious financial challenges. And that -- in some cases, that means the Treasury Department lending their expertise to officials in Puerto Rico as they navigate some of the complicated financial aspects of dealing with these broader economic challenges, and in other cases, it means convening an interagency task for to offer some advice to the government of Puerto Rico about available and existing federal resources that they could use to benefit both the people of Puerto Rico but also to benefit their financial situation. So this is something that the federal government has, you know, long been in touch with Puerto Rican officials about, but ultimately, it's -- you know, this is going to be the responsibility of the Puerto Rican government to resolve. QUESTION: Just two quickies. You talked about ISIS and the sort of global reach given the internet and how it could be a lone wolf, as Peter just pointed out, can you sort of, in broad brush, talk about the growth of that reach and how it now extends here and beyond. 13:41:19 EARNEST: Well Kevin, I think what we have found is that it is going to require a coordinated effort to mitigate the strategy that ISIL has deployed, another extremists have deployed, to try to use social media to radicalize vulnerable people all across the world. And the -- there are several strategies that we can use. The first is that there are leading Muslim governments that can expend significant resources to try to counter this online massaging effort, but I think what we found would be most effective, and has been effective, is to engage leaders in the community in this effort. And that's why it's so important as we confront this challenge of countering violent extremism that we not just focus solely on the law enforcement aspect of this strategy, but to make sure that we're engaging community leaders, that in many cases, the best way for us to counter a radical violent message online is to have a respected member of the community step up and speak out and say that it's wrong. And that that, in some ways, can be the most effective way of deterring the online radicalization efforts of extremists that may be operating outside the United States borders. QUESTION: Lastly, on the talks with the P5+1, when is a deadline a deadline? 13:42:45 EARNEST: Well, the deadline that we have established (inaudible) negotiations. You know, we have got the -- we've got the final agreement within our sites, but ultimately, it's going to require some serious commitments from the Iranians to shut down every pathway they have to a nuclear weapon and to cooperate with the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country's nuclear program. And it is going to be up to them to determine whether or not they're willing to make those serious commitments. QUESTION: So when you blow by a deadline, it's sort of a soft deadline, but what you're saying is this is not going to be a month, it's not going to be, you know, two months -- 13:43:35 EARNEST: Well, that's certainly -- that's certainly not what we're talking about right now. What we're talking about right now is, as Mark mentioned, the joint plan of action would remain in place for a couple of days past the deadline, and ultimately, the Iranians sitting around the negotiating table will have to determine if they're willing to sign to an agreement, a final agreement, that is consistent with the parameters that were established back in April in the context of the political agreement that they've already signed onto. OK, Bill? QUESTION: So even though there are no particular threats, the heightened level of awareness that's being called for, does that bring about any special level of protection for either government figures or government property? 13:44:18 EARNEST: Well Bill, the thing I can -- you're right, that there are no specific credible intelligence to indicate threats against celebrations over the Fourth of July weekend. But over the last few months, the Department of Homeland Security has made a number of security adjustments, including things like enhanced screening at select overseas airports and increased random searches of passengers and carry-on luggage on flights inbound to the United States. There are a number of other security measures that have been taken at federal facilities dating back to February in response to some intelligence. So there are a number of steps that have been taken, some of which are readily visible and some of which are not immediately obvious to casual observers, that are -- that have been taken to try to protect the American public. QUESTION: Any immediately in this period coming up, this holiday weekend? EARNEST: Nothing that I'm aware of. But if DHS -- DHS would be the agency that would announce a security measure like that. QUESTION: On the Iran negotiations, there are a lot of observers who see the belief that sanctions could be snapped back quickly right up there with a belief in the tooth fairy. I mean, when you -- when you have granted Iranians access to some -- at least some of the money that's been frozen, when you have allowed nations which are anxious to trade with Iran to go back to trading with Iran, how could you possibly expect a sanctions regime to be snapped back quickly? The very name suggests that it's instant, but does not seem possible. 13:45:55 EARNEST: Well Bill, there's a lot of skepticism about the ability of the international community to impose these sanctions in the first place. That skepticism was healthy, that there is no way that we could get other large economies around the world to voluntarily agree to stop buying Iranian oil. But yet, those sanctions have been in place for three-and-a-half years now. QUESTION: All the more reason to believe that the people who are putting them in place are anxious to stop the sanctions. 13:46:19 EARNEST: Sure, but they were anxious the first day that these sanctions were put in place. And the fact that we've been able to get them to hang on for three-and-a-half years, I think, is an indication that the international community is united in this regard. But there's -- I -- look, I'm not denying that there won't be some pressure on the sanctions regime, but there's been pressure on the sanctions regime all along because there are some countries that have made an economic sacrifice to apply this pressure on Iran. The fact is there's also a countervailing pressure, though, on the Iranian government and on the Iranian people that if given some sanctions relief, the prospect of those sanctions snapping back into place and the Iranian people once again suffering from a significantly weakened economy, does serve as a significant financial disincentive for the Iranian government to violate some of the commitments that they've already made if they make them. QUESTION: Well, I guess one point here is that this wouldn't be instant in any sense. Snap back suggests instant. And if there's some relief for the Iranian economy in the event of an agreement, then if there were a default of some kind and sanctions were imposed again, it would take time, it would buy Iran a great deal of time to do whatever it wants to do. 13:47:34 EARNEST: Well again, I think the goal of setting up and writing in these snap-back provisions would ensure that it is actually not a great deal of time before sanctions could be re-imposed. And again, I -- there's a lot of confidence that if -- that once the Iranian peeople, who have been the principle motivators here, right? It's the -- we know -- there's all kinds of analysis that's been done to determine that it's the Iranian people who are eager to see these sanctions lifted. And if they see these -- the sanctions relief even for just a couple of days or a couple of weeks, they'll start to see the economic benefits associated with that. And that is -- that would be significant pressure on the Iranian regime to make sure that they live up to the committments that are made in the context of the final agreement. There will be enormous domestic pressure that they will face to not allow those sanctions that exacted such a terrible economic toll in the first place from being reimposed. And that's essentially the goal of this -- of this provision. 13:48:35 Now, the other thing I will acknowledge is that the details of how this snap-back sanctions regime would work is something that continues to be negotiated in Vienna, and that is at least part of what's contributing to the -- to the talks going over the deadline here because these are -- these are tough issues. But I think that is an indication that the -- again, I think that's an indication that the Iranians are very focused on how those provisions are written because they understand the power that snap-back sanctions could have in applying additional and significant pressure to the government of Iran to live up to the committments that they make in the deal. OK? Gardner (ph)? QUESTION: Josh, the administration seems remarkably passive about the Puerto Rican problems. You've been discussing things with the Puerto Ricans for years, they still went over the cliff. At this point, your only plan is to talk to Congress about giving them authority to do something that they cannot do. What -- you have obviously in the past been very aggressive about helping in cases of serious financial distress. Why the passivity around Puerto Rico? 13:49:47 EARNEST: Well Gardner (ph) I don't think I would -- I'd quibble a little bit with the premise of your question. I tjhink that the response that this administration has mountd in the form of the Puerto Rico task force, it's consistent with the kind of response you saw from the federal government to Detroit's financial challenges. And so, again, Detroit did not receive anythig that could be described as a federal bailout, but they did receive significant advice from an interagency task force that was -- (AUDIO GAP) EARNEST: -- and I -- even local officials in Detroit would tell you that some of that progress is direcrtly related to the kind of support that they received from the Obama administration. 13:50:46 So this is a template that we hope to follow in Puerto Rico. And again, this is consistent with the responsibility of the administrtationj to not provide a bailout but to provide important advice and expertise that can be used by the leaders of Puerto Rico to try to address these significant financial challenges that they face. OK, Bill Press? QUESTION: Josh, one other Supreme Court decision we haven't talked about yet is the one on the death penalty. QUESTION: While upholding the lethal injection cocktail, the Court did, Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg issued a pretty blistering dissent, saying the Court had not gone far enough, that now it's clear, as it may not have been 30 years ago, that the death penalty violates the Constitution of the United States and should be abolished. Does the president agree? If not, what's his position on the death penalty? EARNEST: Well Bill, the -- this is obviously something that the president has spoken about a couple of times. And I can get you some other examples of where the president's talked about this publicly. 13:51:48 But the president's principle concern over the years has been with the way that the -- that the death penalty has been implemented and that there are documented cases where there are some biases and some flaws, frankly, in the criminal justice system as the death penalty was applied. And the president does have significant concerns about that and those are concerns that he's expressed previously. QUESTION: Well that's the -- that was Justice Breyer's chief argument, one of them, that there's such a disparity that people -- in terms of race, in terms of income, in terms of geography in who gets the death penalty and who doesn't that it's really time to reconsider its constitutionality. Would the president go that far? It's time to take another look at it? 13:52:32 EARNEST: I don't think the president has gone quite that far at this point, but the president more generally has talked about his genuine interest in trying to pursue some reforms of our criminal justice system, and he's heartened by the fact that there is some interest on the other side of the aisle in those issues as well. And so I would anticipate that criminal justice reform is something that we'll have the opportunity to talk about over the course of the next several months, at least. And I wouldn't be surprised if this particular issue comes up in the context of those discussions. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) as a continuum thinking of the things he talked about in Charleston. He mentioned we've got to go beyond the flag. You have to talk about schools, we've got to talk about jobs, we've got to talk about the disparity of young African-Americans and their arrest record by police, the number in prison. It seems that that would lead to also that a poor person of color is much more likely to get the death penalty. 13:53:28 EARNEST: Well again, Bill, I think you're certainly raising a relevant point here in the context of criminal justice reform and some concerns that have been raised about the disproportionate impact of some punishments and the disproportionate impact of some decisions that are made in the criminal justice system in the United States on a -- on a daily basis. QUESTION: Thanks Josh. EARNEST: So all right. Mark, you'll be the last one here. QUESTION: As we discuss the debts in Greece and Puerto Rico, can you tell me whether the White House has studied the warnings about the national debt issued a couple of weeks ago by the Congressional Budget Office, talking about its unsustainability, the dangers that it poses in the out-years, that even with reduced deficits continue to grow the public debt. 13:54:20 EARNEST: Mark, what we've been very mindful of is the need to ensure that we keep our deficits on a -- and our debt on a declining path here as a share of the broader economy. And that is something that the president's been very focused on. You'll recall that since the president's been in office, we've actually been able to reduce the federal deficit by two-thirds. And that represents substantial and important progress to preserving our nation's fiscal health not just in the short term but over the median term. But there's no denying that there are some longer-term challenges over the horizon, and it will require the United States government at some point to act in bipartisan fashion to make some difficult decisions. You know, unfortunately, we haven't seen a lot of that spirit of bipartisanship as it relates to difficult decisions in Congress in great abundance -- (AUDIO GAP) EARNEST: -- all of you will prepare to cover a bill signing ceremony, however, that does reflect a broader bipartisan agreement that might resolve the long-term fiscal challenges of the country might be a bridge too far. 13:55:43 OK? Thanks everybody. Have a good afternoon. QUESTION: Thank you.
SENATE UNEMPLOYMENT PRESSER / HD
INT BROLL SENATE DEMOCRATS PRESSER ON UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS W/ CHUCK SCHUMER AND JACK REED Tuesday, January 14, 2014 Senate press conference on votes to extend unemployment insurance DC Slug: 1615 SEN UNEMPLOYMENT PRESSER RS15 76 AR: 16x9 Disc #058 SENATOR JACK REED (D-RI): Well, this afternoon we tried first to move forward procedurally on a provision that would have given unemployment insurance benefits for about 11 1/2 months. It was fully paid for. It did not involve tax revenues. Indeed, it represented significant concessions to many of my Republican colleagues in terms of their request that anything we do be paid for and also that we don't use tax provisions to pay for it. Obviously, on our side, there were people who were suggesting that we treat it as we typically do in emergency. We've been told that 17 of the last 20 extensions of UI have been unpaid for. Indeed the last extension, beginning in 2012, and being really last year, 2013, was unpaid for and was voted for by, I'm sure, and I know, a majority of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And then again we had a second vote that would have allowed at least a 90-day period for benefits. And those benefits will not be paid for, but it would at least give us the chance to begin and continue to talk about this -- these issues seriously, but at the same time respond to the real problem here. One-point-five million Americans, approximately, have already lost their benefits. Seventy thousand a week are losing benefits. They are in a very difficult situation. I am disappointed. Many of these people are on the verge of desperation. They don't have the modest $300-or-so a week that will allow them to help pay the rent, put gas in the car to go to a job interview, have a cell phone to be able to get the information they need. In fact, you can't even communicate -- you can't get a job today unless you have some type of electronic communication. That's what we should focused on. And regrettably, I think my colleagues took their eye off the -- you know, those Americans who earned these benefits and deserve these benefits. We're not going to stop. We're going to keep working. Again, we've made a significant conscious decision to try to reach out. We had support. And I want to particularly thank Senator Heller who joined me not only introducing the legislation but I think was with us on that final vote for the three-month extension. Also, several others of my colleagues -- Senator Collins, Senator Portman, others that were making valuable suggestions and working. But we have to get this done. There are other opportunities. We're not giving up. There are provisions that are coming up in the next several weeks, and we have tax extenders that have to be dealt with. We have the proverbial doctor fix that have to be dealt with. We have other legislation that's coming before us, and so we're not going to stop. And with that, let me recognize my colleague, who did such a tremendous job, thoughtful, consciously involved, and doing it constantly, Senator Chuck Schumer. SENATOR CHARLES SCHUMER (D-NY): Thank you, Jack. And thank you for your leadership. Jack fuels this issue with a passion, and one of the things I think we'll eventually win is members on both sides of the aisle respect that he is just totally doing this on the merits, because he cares about it so, and does such a good job explaining it. I'd just make two points: Bottom line is, our Republican colleagues don't seem to get it. The world is changing. And helping average people, of whom most of these beneficiaries are, is what the public is demanding. It's more important to the average citizen than deficit reduction, as important as that is, than "Obamacare", as important as that is, and they're just missing the call. In 2006 -- (200)7, with unemployment at 5.6 percent, George Bush proposed this particular structure of unemployment insurance that we have now, and it passed overwhelmingly. So they're missing that. And the second thing is, they're using procedural excuses to avoid voting on this bill. We've tried to meet them. And the idea that on Thursday, their entire claim was they're not being allowed to offer amendments, so we offered them 10 amendments -- that's a lot of amendments on a relatively simple bill -- and they wouldn't accept that. They insisted that they should then have the right to filibuster final passage, not have an up-or-down vote on final passage, after offering their amendments. That's never how this place has worked. And so I'm hopeful that maybe today's debate in a procedural sense will get the two sides together. Last week I think they had an argument. What about amendments? This week they don't have much of a leg to stand on when we say, OK, we'll let you do amendments -- and they'll be tough amendments to vote for -- but then let us have an up-or-down vote on final passage, however those amendments come out. And so I'm hopeful that both on the substantive basis and the procedural basis our colleagues on the other side will smell the coffee and maybe we can come together and get this done over the next month. SEN. REED: Questions? Yes, sir. Q: What is the downside of letting the Republicans have a 60- vote threshold for the final vote? Why not just push it that far and see if you get (cloture ?)? SEN. SCHUMER: (Inaudible.) SEN. REED: Well, I mean, I've -- I'll defer to the -- Senator Schumer, but my comment is, you know, we want to have a vigorous debate, but essentially, as someone described it, they want (sic) their cake and eat it too. They want very -- any amendment they could -- you know, there's a wide range of amendments they could have called up, and then at the end say, well, we don't like the outcome of the amendment process, so we're still not going to let you get to the -- to the final passage. We wanted the certainty, and I think people who are unemployed want certainty that at the end of the day, that we were going to have a vote. And that's why I think it -- their amendments were there. They could have made their points. They could have -- frankly, they could have argued and gotten the 60-point threshold in some amendments, perhaps; I don't know. And then at that point you have a bill that presumably would -- you know, could garner 50 votes, and it might even garner Republican votes. So I think that the issue -- and I'm going to defer to Chuck but, you know, this was an -- not an attempt. We tried to say, here, you want amendments? You've got 10 amendments. SEN. SCHUMER: Yeah. OK, I'd make three points. First, two or three of the people who were offered amendments said they would not vote -- they would not vote for cloture. They would continue to filibuster the bill unless their amendments won. That situation is heads I win, tails you lose: Democrats, let us offer amendments. Let us make you walk on hot coals -- some of those amendments were politically inspired, some were not -- and then we'll never give you a vote on passage. That's never how this place has worked. Never. And so bottom line, the thing that has driven us to some of these measures that they don't like is they're just obstructing. So today we called their bluff. We said, hey, we'll give you amendments. Are you still going to obstruct? And at least up to this point they've answered, yes, we're still going to obstruct. Q: Senator Schumer, Senator Collins has a very different characterization. She said that you guys objected to what she has been working on with Dean Heller, and that if you guys had accepted that singular proposal -- that it was reached and they were very happy -- there would have been more than enough support -- SEN. SCHUMER: Yeah, her proposal, it undoes the budget agreement. How could we accept it? It basically said, to pay for it do sequestration in the next 10 years but exempt defense. I mean, that's unreasonable. Q: OK, so you object to her -- (Cross talk.) SEN. SCHUMER: Of course. Yes. SEN. REED: I think it's important to note -- SEN. SCHUMER: Look, and I think Susan is in good faith here. But to undo the budget agreement when we've had a careful balance between defense and non-defense spending? That was never going to have a chance on our side. SEN. REED: Well, I think it's important to note that that was one of those amendments that could have been offered. SEN. SCHUMER: Yeah, they still could have offered it. SEN. REED: That was one of those amendments that still could have been offered. And we could have had a debate about that. She could have said, this is a -- and I think she would have eloquently and with articulation, as she always does, that this is the way to proceed, and that's the way -- she had every right to do that, but I -- essentially what she wanted to say is, will you take your bill down, put my bill up, and we'll then -- we'll go from there and do amendments. But she would have the right to amend. SEN. SCHUMER: The basic compromise is, we propose and they can amend. Now she's saying, we want to propose and we want to amend, because they wanted their proposal to be the base bill. That's not -- Q: (Off mic) -- really have ever been legitimately close. SEN. REED: You know, I think -- (laughs) -- I think we have been close in that -- and I think first of all, you know, we were close by saying, in the most recent proposal I made, is that we'll offset this. You know? It wasn't this -- this is always -- this is 17 out of 20 times an emergency and we're going to insist it be emergency. Then we said -- you want to talk about close -- we won't try to use tax revenues to offset this very significant expenditure. Which are the two major arguments that we hear constantly from our colleague on the Republican side. Has to be paid for and you can't touch taxes. So we've come that far. And then we find that's not far enough. (Inaudible) -- you know, we've tried to move close. And I think that's what got us into a discussion about ways to do this. And we're still on that discussion. And we're going to continue that discussion. And you can -- we can have a debate about what's the best way to do it and as Chuck pointed out, you know, this would basically add additional cuts to some mandatory programs that are -- that are domestic mandatory programs, adding an additional burden, as someone described, is robbing Peter to pay Peter in many cases. So we have legitimate concerns, but at least we're talking about, how do we pay for this program which is so important? And, you know, and we've restricted ourselves -- we've restricted ourselves to -- at this point -- nonrevenue means of paying for it, even -- (inaudible) -- of it. So I think we've come a long way. And that's what we did. That was not in response to them coming, demanding from us, saying, OK, we won't even talk to you, et cetera, if -- (inaudible) -- SEN. SCHUMER: I'd like to see how they've moved at all in our direction. And I think Susan and Dean are in good faith. How have they moved in our direction, to say undo the budget agreement and just do sequestration on the domestic side to pay for it. You know, Paul. You know darn well that's not even a starter on our side. To say ours should be the base bill. I mean it -- I'd like -- I'd like a serious -- a serious -- (inaudible) -- how they're meeting us part of the way. And I have a feeling that if Susan and Dean were left to their own devices, they and Jack Reed could work something out in a minute. Q: So what do you see as the next step -- SEN. SCHUMER: The next -- Q: -- (inaudible) -- go forward. And when also do you think is the next earliest you'll come back to this legislation? SEN. SCHUMER: OK. To me, the next step is twofold. I think the -- I think that our Republican colleagues realize they're on the wrong side on this issue. And they would have been very happy to let the thing go away last Thursday where they could have made the issue, we can't offer amendments, but that's been taken away from them. So I think that they'll feel that pressure. And I also think there's pressure on both sides of the aisle to come to an agreement procedurally on how we work things in a better way. So I think those two pressures will convene and I think there's a real possibility in the next session -- you know, in the next month that we might be able to come to an agreement because we have, as Jack said, met their -- the two criteria they said at the outset -- which is pay for it without taxes. Q: Senator, what would you say the downside of offering -- or letting them offer amendments -- (inaudible) -- you end with a guarantee an up or down vote at the end of this, since your party has majority control -- SEN. SCHUMER: Well, then you need 51 -- then you should need 51 votes to get on the bill. They're not going with that. Q: You already -- SEN. SCHUMER: No, no. We had 60 votes to get on the bill. Q: (Off mic.) SEN. SCHUMER: If you want to have 51 votes for everything, you have it for everything. Q: Would you be OK with that? SEN. SCHUMER: You know, it's something you'd have to think about. But you certainly can't say 60 to get on the bill and then 51 -- you know, 51 on each amendment, and then 60 to pass the bill, which is their position. Q: Senator, so you're looking at a recess week next week. This unemployment issue is out there. There's -- Senator Reed mentioned the job fix and the extenders as well as -- I know both of you coastal states need flood insurance situations, correct? Practically, is this a good time to be having this recess or is there something that should -- would it be better to be here? SEN. SCHUMER: Well, look, the bottom line is I think we -- when we're -- whether we're at home in our districts working, which I think is really important for unemployment insurance. I'd like everybody to be back talking to their constituencies. But we're talking to each other all the time. I probably talk to 10 or 12 senators a day when I'm on recess, from both sides of the aisle. SEN. REED: The best thing would have been to have 60-plus votes this afternoon and wrap this up tomorrow and provide payments to the 1.5 million Americans who have lost their unemployment insurance. That's the best thing we could have done. SEN. SCHUMER: Thank you, everybody. SEN. REED: Thanks. Negotiations to extend emergency unemployment benefits to out-of-work Americans have fallen victim to a larger Senate debate over the rights of the minority party, making it more and more likely that the Senate will leave town this week without restoring benefits to the 1.3 million people that lost them when they expired on Dec. 28.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE PRESS BRIEFING WITH PETER COOK
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook - Briefing Subject: Defense Location: The Pentagon, Briefing Room 2E973 Time: 1:30 pm EDT, Date: Friday, July 29th, 2016 COOK: Good Friday, everybody. Got a quick statement and then I'll get to your questions. I wanted to begin by drawing your attention to the statement CENTCOM released just a short time ago from General Votel concerning Turkey and any suggestion General Votel supported the recent coup attempt in that country. You have his statement refuting that, but I wanted to reiterate a few things from this podium, if I could. The United States has repeatedly condemned the failed coup in Turkey and we continue to convey our absolutely support for Turkey's democratically-elected civilian government and democratic institutions. Turkey is a close NATO ally and a vital member of the counter-ISIL coalition. The U.S. military has worked very closely with our Turkish allies for decades to counter a wide range of threats to our common security. At all levels of our military hierarchy, we are in regular communication with our Turkish counterparts. As General Votel said at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday, Turkey's been an extraordinary and vital partner and any reports that suggest General Votel expressed support in any fashion for the actions of Turkish military officers who undertook illegal military action against the Turkish government are factually inaccurate. Likewise, as Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford have made clear previously, any suggestion anyone in the department supported the coup in any way would be absurd. We look forward to continuing our close cooperation with Turkey going forward. Separately, I also wanted to mention that CENTCOM announced yesterday that it has initiated an assessment to determine whether a U.S. airstrike conducted Thursday near Manbij, Syria may have resulted in the unintentional deaths of civilians. That assessment is still in its early phase and we do not have all the facts at this time and we do not have any conclusions.COOK: Again, this assessment was triggered by CENTCOM's own internal reporting, and that only highlights the seriousness with which our forces take the issue of civilian casualties and the obligation to protect innocent lives on the battlefield. The United States and our coalition partners have taken exceptional measures to minimize the risk to civilians in this conflict, and I think it's important to contrast the seriousness with which we treat these issues, the care we take to protect innocent lives and our accountability and transparency with the enemy that we are fighting. ISIL has launched a series of attacks in Iraq and Syria in which civilian deaths were not an unintended consequence; civilian deaths were the intent. ISIL has proudly claimed responsibility for attacks just this month that have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including the July 4th attack in Baghdad that killed more than 140 people, and a bombing just this week in Al-Qamishli, Syria, that killed more than 40. And of course, it has also claimed responsibility for terror attacks -- horrific terror attacks outside Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work hard every day to execute our mission, while doing our best to minimize the risk to innocent civilians, and to be transparent and accountable about those efforts. We do not expect ISIL to do the same. With that, I'm happy to take your questions. Lita. QUESTION: Just to further clarify on the Turkey thing, General Votel also made some specific comments about his concerns about the impact of the coup, and said that he is concerned that the U.S. has had relationships with a lot of Turkish military leaders, and that he's concerned that the coup might have an impact on that. Does the secretary, or does the Pentagon agree with that assessment, that there are concerns about the impact of the coup on U.S. relations with the military there? COOK: Well, as I pointed out, we've had excellent military relations with Turkey for decades, and we continue to have excellent military relations with Turkey. What I think General Votel was referring to specifically, is that we are engaged in active operations right now with Turkey -- certainly, the counter-ISIL campaign is a -- is the -- the best example of that at this moment. And as I heard his comments yesterday at Aspen, he was referring to the fact that in come cases, our counterparts may not be in those same positions at this time and to ensure that we continue to operate effectively with -- with the Turkish military. He was addressing the concern that that continue, and he talked about the excellent cooperation we've got in the Turks, and just making sure that that cooperation continues and that nothing affects our operations. So far, as he indicated again, our operations at Incirlik are -- continue. And I think, understandably, the CENTCOM commander who is responsible for those operations with regard to ISIL was expressing that concern to make sure that there is nothing -- that we don't miss a beat here. And I think that was what he was trying to convey. QUESTION: But I mean, he specifically said, "I am concerned about what impact it -- what the impact is on those relationships as we continue to move -- move forward." So, are you saying the secretary does or does not agree that there is a concern about the impact on the military relationship? COOK: I think what we -- the concern that General Votel expressed that I think it is fair to say that -- that we all share is making sure that our operations against ISIL are not impacted. The secretary has received assurances from his counterpart that that's not going to happen. As the operational commander responsible for CENTCOM, and obviously with regard to the -- the overall mission, General Votel was expressing his concern that that not happen. The secretary would share that -- that concern, but he has had assurances from his own counterpart that that's not going to happen. And -- and that's certainly -- we would -- we want this operation to continue seamlessly, and I think that's what General Votel was expressing as well.QUESTION: Just one other -- quick thing on that. One, he -- and then he also said that some of the people -- some of the military officers that the U.S. has been dealing with are indeed in jail. Is that your understanding also? COOK: I'm going to leave it to the Turkish (inaudible). I do not know the disposition of everyone involved. QUESTION: And then he -- he made one other comment that seemed to suggest that while power's back on et cetera at Incirlik, that there are some outstanding issues that continue to be at least somewhat problematic there. Can you talk about what may -- what some of those may be? COOK: I'll -- I'll refer you back to -- to CENTCOM and General Votel. But obviously, you know we had the concerns about the power situation at Incirlik. We are up and running again and at this point in time, we want to make sure that nothing in our fight against ISIL is interrupted, that if anything, we can accelerate that effort, whether it be from Turkey or from -- with our partnership with other coalition partners. And I think that is the concern that General Votel was expressing. And we have an opportunity here to -- to truly accelerate this campaign and we want to follow through on that. We believe all the members of the coalition, including Turkey, would like to do the same thing. We all share a common enemy in ISIL. Idris (ph)? QUESTION: (inaudible) move to Syria for -- for just a minute. Two questions. Firstly, the Russian and Syrian governments announced yesterday this sort of humanitarian operation in rebel-held parts of Aleppo saying they wanted civilians to sort of be allowed safe passage. Firstly, was the Pentagon in coordination with the Russian -- were we coordinated with before the announced was made? And secondly, do you think this is a sincere effort or is this sort of a rouse, as some officials have called it, to get civilians out and then be able to strike those areas? COOK: Again, we're not in negotiations with the -- the Russians. Secretary Kerry has been negotiating. As you know, the State Department's been in the lead with regard to our conversations with -- with Russians, so I'll leave it to the State Department to characterize those. I understand even Secretary Kerry was asked about this today. So we did not have any coordination or understanding about this corridor that's being discussed by the Russians, so. QUESTION: Second thing on the Manbij sort of assessment that you've started, this obviously isn't the first time in this month that there's been an assessment -- I mean (inaudible) U.S.-led coalition air planes in that area, so it's very unlikely that it's anyone but a (ph) U.S.-led coalition partner. The opposition has called for strikes to stop. So I mean, at what point do you say OK, let's stop, let's look at what the problem is and then move forward? Because I mean, obviously -- I mean, the number is pretty enormous (ph) for these strikes to be taking place and for them to continue while the investigations continue. COOK: This is, Idris (ph), a critical part of the effort right now against ISIL. We've described how important Manbij is. We've described how complicated this situation is with regard to the forces taking on ISIL, the urban environment that -- that this is in, the fact that ISIL has been dug in, ISIL has been willing to place itself in and around civilians. This is a complicated situation and we will continue to apply the rigor that we always do in terms of minimizing the risk to civilians, but we are supporting those forces because this is, as I said before, a critical moment in this campaign. This is a critical piece of territory. It is a place where we feel strongly that ISIL has planned external attacks outside of Syria.COOK: And that makes it all the more important why those local forces that we're supporting can capture this territory and -- and remove ISIL from this area, and that requires air support by the coalition that we'll continue to provide. But obviously, this is a situation -- this most recent one, there have been -- there's at least one other strike in which, again, a credibility assessment has already been conducted and determined to be credible, that we're going to apply the rigor and the diligence needed to find out exactly what happened here. And take whatever lessons we learned from that and apply that to our -- how we conduct our missions. But this is a difficult environment, and I would be clear about that, the urban environment here and the complicating factor about the enemy we're targeting, what they're doing with regard to the civilians around them. They are not taking steps to protect civilians -- innocent civilian life. QUESTION: (Inaudible) doesn't seem to be working, because why not get the assessments complete, and learn from them, and then make those changes and continue? Because I mean, obviously, if people are dying on the ground, they're not going to be in support of the U.S.-led coalition strikes. I mean, it's not winning hearts and minds of, you know, you have sort have used strategies in the past. I mean, it just doesn't seem like a smart idea to continue striking even those civilians (inaudible) killed. COOK: Well, those -- those local forces we're supporting might have a different view if we weren't conducting those airstrikes in their -- in their support. I -- I imagine you would be asking me some of the same questions if those forces came under attack from ISIL, because we weren't providing some of the air support to them. So, we are using -- again, the coalition is using very careful scrutiny in how we continue these operations. WE will continue to review these particular instances in which there is -- at least a -- claims of civilian casualties being present. Is that were the case, how did that happen? What, in our operational system, needs to be reviewed and looked at? But we will continue to -- to take this fight to ISIL and to apply the rigor to these airstrikes that we have from the start of this campaign. Remember, we've had thousands of airstrikes at this point. We have taken every possible step we can to try and reduce the risk of civilian casualties. And we believe that track record is -- is an excellent track record, and that we have taken many instances in which we have not carried out strikes because of that risk. And we'll continue to do so. Yes, Christina (ph). QUESTION: Thanks, Peter. Jabhat al-Nusra has now detached from Al Qaida, and they've rebranded themselves Jabhat Fath al Sham, or some -- something like that. Will the DOD continue -- strike this new group? And does that change whether -- you know, the DOD's calculation of whether it will continue? Or does there need to be a State Department designation? COOK: The -- just because they changed their name doesn't mean they've changed their -- their actions. And this will continue to be a group that -- that we'll continue to focus our -- our efforts on for the understandable reason that this is a terrorist group that has, in the past and continues to threaten the U.S., the United States, American citizens and -- and our interests. And so, a name change alone (ph), it's -- it's actions, not names and words, that we'll be watching going forward. QUESTION: So, the DOD will continue to strike this group, whatever they are called? COOK: It remains -- again, a -- a terrorist target, as it has been for some time. Yes. QUESTION: A couple of clarifiers. The assessment that you opened with, that's for the July 23rd strike? There hasn't been a third civilian casualty incident? COOK: I'm referring to an incident that CENTCOM issued a statement last night regarding an airstrike in and around Manbij that occurred yesterday. QUESTION: So, there is a third incident (ph), then? COOK: Yes, this is a third incident with regard to the -- the previous ones that they've discussed. This is a third incident that took place yesterday.QUESTION: OK. And then shifting to Turkey, there was a protest outside Incirlik. Could you give us an update on -- for the U.S. personnel that are inside the base, do they have any ability to move within or out of Incirlik? And what sort of force posture measures are being taken to protect the personnel at the base? COOK: Well, you know I'm not going to get into all the force posture -- all the security precautions that we have in place for our forces. But we've been at an elevated force protection level at Incirlik for some time. We'll continue to take every step we need to to make sure our personnel and other coalition personnel are as safe as possible at that -- at Incirlik. It remains a foremost concern, foremost priority for us and will continue to be so. But our operations continue. QUESTION: So can they move in and out of the base right now or are they all stuck on base? COOK: I'm -- I'm not going to get into all the security precautions in place right now with our personnel. QUESTION: Then last -- this morning, the Marines put out a statement about an F/A-18 crash in California. There are reports that it occurred during a combat simulation known as Air Assault Course (ph). Can you confirm those reports? COOK: I'm going to refer you back to the Marines (inaudible) right now. We're working together to defeat ISIL, the common enemy of ISIL, and -- and again, we'll continue to work closely with the government of Iraq and seek their help in making sure any issues about force protection for our personnel are addressed. Yes, Paul? QUESTION: Could I just ask when we should expect to see results of the civilian casualty assessments in both the 19th case and the 23rd? COOK: I would imagine that the credibility assessments -- they generally take a matter of days. I'll leave it to CENTCOM to give you the specifics, but I think in a short amount of time, we'll have a sense of the credibility assessments in these cases as to... QUESTION: (inaudible) credibility assessment for the one... COOK: First one's been... QUESTION: ... on the 19th (ph) has already been done. COOK: Yes. So I'll leave it to CENTCOM to -- to walk you through the -- the timetable, but the actual formal investigation I know will be conducted as quickly as possible, but they will want to get as many facts as they can from as many sources as they can, our own internal operational resources. So -- but I'll leave it to CENTCOM to give you a better sense of the actual timeline. QUESTION: I just also wanted to ask you about the numbers. So I think the number of affirmed (ph) civilian casualties all totaled from the coalition in the campaign is something around 55, and each of these incidents around Manbij are -- one of the incidents would, if we believe the numbers that are coming out of Syria, would be higher than all -- all the deaths that have been reported by the coalition from the last two years. And as you said yourself, there are more than 1,000 airstrikes that have been conducted. So what's -- are you confident that the reporting structure that is in place in CENTCOM is capturing all of the civilian casualties potentially being caused by these airstrikes?COOK: I'm confident that the structure that we have in place is rigorous and thorough means by which determining those instances in which allegations of civilian casualties can be deemed credible or not. We -- the rigor that our forces apply to this, again, both in the original targeting and in the assessment afterwards, when there are allegations is extremely strict and rigorous, and will continue to be so. And the number you provided, the 55 number is the same number that I understand that we have at this point. Obviously, we regret any loss of innocent life in this conflict. And we'll continue to do everything we can to -- to minimize it, and these instances in which there are reports of civilian casualties in and around Manbij will be properly scrutinized. And that is -- I think you heard from the secretary and General Votel at the counter-ISIL meeting the other day, that's a reflection of how we conduct ourselves in these -- in this conflict. It is a reflection of our values and the respect we have for civilians in these conflict zones, and the steps that we're trying to take to minimize that. And in those instances in which there are civilian casualties, we will be as transparent as we can be about how this happened, and try and learn whatever lessons we can at the same time. QUESTION: And just lastly, in the interest of transparency, why are the dismissed allegations of civilian casualties not being released by CENTCOM? COOK: In terms of credibility assessments that... QUESTION: CENTCOM is releasing instances where the U.S. has confirmed that there have been civilian -- civilian casualties. But all of the other reports of allegation of civilian casualties, which CENTCOM is going through its process and then dismissing are not being released. Why? COOK: Because someone at -- the process involved has looked at this to determine whether there is credible evidence to suggest that there were civilian casualties, and that that process has concluded that there -- was not a credible allegation. And... QUESTION: How can we (inaudible) that process if we don't know what the allegation was, and don't know what reasons (ph) it was dismissed? COOK: I'll -- I'll refer you to CENTCOM if there's particular instances in which you have questions. But we have tried to address the ones that were brought to our attention. And CENTCOM has a strict process for this -- the U.S. military has a very strict process for this. And we are trying to respond to the instances in which there are credible allegations. And we go through a process -- a very strict process in trying to determine what that is. That includes, as I mentioned before, not just our own operational evidence, but things that might be collected outside -- social media, videos, personnel accounts. This is a conflict zone right now. And our ability to collect information in each and every one of these instances, given the limits in terms of American personnel on the ground are -- are not insignificant in some circumstances. So, that is also a factor we have weight in, in determining these credibility assessments. QUESTION: But I'd like to follow up on that, if I may, and a couple of other things as well. It's not just the ones that you deemed not credible, but the ones where you are able to come to no conclusion, perhaps because of all the factors you raised. And this is a policy matter. This is -- I'm assuming that Central Command obeys whatever DOD policy is. The secretary comes up and talks about this all the time on civilian casualties. So, can we circle back with you right now, and ask you to take the question -- how many, in addition to the 55, how many other cases, how many other people, human beings -- comparing apples and apples here on 55 -- how many others have you looked at, and you deem not credible? How many others have you looked at and you simply can come to no conclusion?QUESTION: Could you try and get us an answer to that? Because that's a department-wide question, so anything you can do to throw your weight behind us and get us an answer... COOK: We will continue, Barbara, to be as transparent as we can be about these -- yes, we will continue to try and do that, and to try and respond as clearly as we can. We provided specific numbers in these instances, CENTCOM continues to do that. If you have particular instances, it would be helpful for us to be able to respond to specific cases. QUESTION: I -- personally as a reporter, I would like to see the overall numbers. I cannot give you time, date and place because I don't know what else they've looked into. So on the basis of public transparency, can you get a total number for us, how many people -- civilians? You deem the allegations of a civilian casualty not credible. How many people, civilians have you not been able to come to a conclusion about one way or the other, because perhaps of lack of information and data? We have no way of knowing what they are. We would like to know? We are asking you guys, what are those two sets of numbers? COOK: I'll take your question, Barbara. And again, I will stand by the process that CENTCOM and this institution have had in place for some times in terms of the rigor and the numbers that we are providing. If there is more transparency that we can provide, we certainly will try and provide it. QUESTION: I think what we are looking for is the other two- thirds of the equation here beyond the 55 that they're -- that they are able to acknowledge. So anything you could do to get that additional transparency... COOK: Understood. QUESTION: My other two questions, very quickly, are, General Votel yesterday, what he said was that he had some concerns. So, in fact, are U.S. military operations against ISIS out of Turkish bases 100 percent back to pre-coup operations, activities? Is there any area in Turkey where you are not back to where you were before the coup? COOK: I think, as General Votel indicated yesterday, Incirlik is back up and running. Our cooperation with the Turks remains excellent, and we continue our operations. As we've heard from the Turkish minister of defense and the secretary himself, their cooperation going forward in this campaign remains intact. We are -- the only concern I think that General Votel was expressing was a concern that there would some sort of interruption going forward. We certainly don't anticipate or expect any, but we are in a very complicated environment right now, where we want to apply as much pressure on ISIL as possible, and whether it's in Turkey or elsewhere, we don't want any interruption going forward. I think that is the concern that he was expressing. QUESTION: What is the interruption going forward that worries you? COOK: We had an interruption in Incirlik for a few days, as you know. We don't have any indication of problems at this moment in time, and we would just like to maintain that. That was I think what General Votel was expressing yesterday at Aspen. As he said publicly at Aspen, we've had excellent cooperation from the Turks. We want to make sure that continues. We have every reason to believe that it will based on the conversations that we are having with the Turks.QUESTION: To Barbara's point, he was asked very specifically, "Are you talking about potential future concerns or already existing concerns?" He very specifically said his current existing concerns are about the impact on the relationship; that currently right now, he is concerned that the coup is impacting U.S. military -- he said relations and then further clarified military -- with U.S.-Turkish military relations, that he was afraid of that impact. COOK: I think -- as -- I think if you heard what he had to say, he expressed his concerns about the fact that in some cases, U.S. military counterparts are not necessarily there to have the same correspondence that they did before the coup. QUESTION: He said they were in jail (ph). COOK: He -- I'll leave -- he did refer at one point to that. But I think the larger point here is that we have excellent military- to-military cooperation, have had for some time with the Turkish military. If -- if you are no longer able to talk to a counterpart that you've dealt with for some time, there's a concern that there might be some breakdown in communication. We are trying to work through that with the Turks and have every confidence we'll be able to do that. I think that's what General Votel was speaking to. QUESTION: So, Peter, confidence to be able to do that. You're suggesting with those word choices there is a situation right now and confidence to be able to do that is in the future. So the bottom line is there are Turkish military personnel in jail in Turkey as a result of the coup that you were dealing with that you can no longer deal with and you're rebuilding that relationship. Is that accurate? COOK: I'm not going to characterize what -- the disposition of all those people, but I think it is, as the Turkish government has made clear, there are changes within the Turkish military and we are, in some cases -- and it's not just the United States but other countries that may have had military-to-military relations with the Turks -- now may be dealing with new individuals. And we'll work through that and that's what we're doing, and I think that's -- our military communications with the Turks will continue as they work through these issues themselves. These are domestic issues for the Turkish government, for the sovereign Turkish government and we will continue to work through that. We happen to be involved in a campaign right now against ISIL with Turkey and other coalition countries in which we do not want to see that campaign miss a beat. And we are going to work as diligently as we can to make sure that doesn't happen. Let me move over. Goyal? QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Two questions. One, common enemy ISIL, they are killing thousands of innocent people and also spreading into Europe and also in Asia, including in the South Asia region. And now, at the State Department, more than 20 nations are meeting religious and ethnic minorities under ISIL, including India and U.S. counterterrorism. So what role do you think Pentagon is playing at this meeting at the State Department against ISIL? COOK: Well, we obviously had a significant meeting at the State Department last week in which we had both the defense ministers and the foreign ministers of all the coalition countries engaged in the fight against ISIL. As the secretary has said for some time, there's a military component to this campaign, but there is certainly -- that is not sufficient in and of itself to deal with the threat posed by ISIL. There are efforts that we need to -- in terms of both political and stabilization economic efforts that need to be -- need to be conducted in order to make sure that ISIL is defeated and stays defeated. And there are other efforts to reach out around the world to try and address questions about this hateful ideology and what can be done in terms of making clear that ISIL is -- is a threat just in terms of its -- the message it's sending around the world. So these are all things that -- that I'm sure my colleagues at the State Department are engaged with there. We're focused here on the military campaign and -- and very focused on it. QUESTION: Who's training them and arming them, supplying arms? It takes training and arms to kill innocent people. Are you (inaudible) them who is behind these two...COOK: As part of our overall campaign, we're going after not only their weapons caches, those weapons that in many cases they've been able to recover within Syria and Iraq from territory that they've -- that they've taken. We're going after their finances, we're going after their oil assets. We're going after their ability to -- to tax people. We're approaching it from each and every front, including the weapons that they're maintaining. QUESTION: And (inaudible) on -- on South China Sea. How dangerous is the situation now? China and Russia is now -- have moved on their exercising. And also, China is threatening those nations in the region after this Hague outcome. So, some -- this maybe leading to a third world war, because if China continues its behavior the way it's going on, something (inaudible) are saying in Washington. COOK: Well, we -- certainly, that's not something we're -- there's plenty of reasons to believe that tensions over the South China Sea, in light of this ruling, that there's an opportunity for all of the countries in that part of the world to resolve their differences there peacefully. That has been, certainly, our goal. A diplomatic resolution is the most appropriate way to resolve these issues. We don't take any particular stand on the claims here, as you know. But we do encourage peaceful resolution. This particular ruling presents an opportunity for countries to pursue those kinds of avenues of resolution, and if anything, this should be an opportunity to reduce the -- the very tensions you talked about. Yes. Kassem (ph). QUESTION: Peter, the president's -- I will go back to Turkey, by the way. President Obama and President Erdogan -- yeah. And also, defense chiefs and also top commanders spoke to each other, and assured each other that the cooperation between the two countries are going to excellently continue. But why is that a concern within the military? The United States -- the U.S. military that change of some people on the ground would affect their relationship between the two militaries? COOK: I think what General Votel has expressed, what you've heard from Chairman Dunford and Secretary Carter is that we -- we don't expect that it's going to have an impact on the relationship, and we certainly don't want it to. I think -- what we heard from General Votel is that the relationship is so extensive, our military-to-military relationship, built up over years as a NATO ally, and that there's significant interaction that has been taking place over the years at lower levels than the highest levels of the military. And the only concern being expressed is that, in some instances a counterpart may not be there who you worked with directly. Now, you need to find out who that new person might be. I think it's just the operational flow of -- of that engagement that we want to make sure doesn't miss a beat. And I think that was the only that -- that was expressed. QUESTION: Yeah, but you -- those who have been removed are also replaced at the same time. COOK: Yes. QUESTION: So -- so (inaudible) not even one day that you will have another individual on the ground. And the procedures are clear; so why is it -- this concern (inaudible)? COOK: I think you just explained what we hope happens in this instance. I think that's what General Votel was expressing. Professional military relations between our two countries have been excellent. We want to make -- make sure that they continue that way. And you've heard that, as you said, from the highest levels of -- of the Turkish military and from the highest levels of the U.S. military, that's our goal. That's -- this is an important NATO ally, important, vital partner in the fight against ISIL. And we don't want to see anything that -- that might interrupt that. And we have no expectation that there -- that there will, especially in light of the comments of support from both folks in positions of power in Turkey, and of course, the senior leadership here.QUESTION: And then, just one last question. You know, they're having a lot of claims against General Votel now, against General Campbell before. And also CIA Director Clapper also had some comments which (inaudible) a lot of discussions in Turkey. Could you assure the Turkish public opinion that none of those plotters had good relations with the United States? COOK: I can assure you that, as I said at the beginning here, any suggestion that any member of the Department of Defense supported or played a role in the attempted coup in Turkey, that that would be absurd to suggest that. You have heard that from Chairman Dunford, you have heard that from Secretary Carter. It is almost laughable. And so, it would be a concern if that suggestion is being portrayed out there. It does not reflect the professional military relationship between our two countries. QUESTION: So the plotters have no relations with the U.S. military at all? Good relations? COOK: We have excellent relations with the Turkish military. And what I'm saying is that the suggestion that anyone in the Department of Defense, any of the uniformed officials you just referred to, had any role or had any support for what took place in Turkey would be wrong. And we have condemned the coup. We have supported the democratically elected government of Turkey and will continue to do so. We will continue to maintain the excellent military to military -- the defense relationship with Turkey. Yes, Jenny? QUESTION: Thank you Peter, the Secretary of the Army Fanning will be in South Korea early next month. Do you know what is the purpose of his visit to South Korea for next month? COOK: I know that Secretary Fanning is making a trip through Asia and has several stops. I will refer you to his office and the Army for his itinerary. QUESTION: So when he visits South Korea, then he will visit other sites... COOK: I'll leave it to Secretary Fanning and the Army to tell you his exact schedule. I honestly don't have it in front of me. QUESTION: When does the United States have additional plan for South Korea? COOK: You mean a second site? QUESTION: Yes. COOK: As we've discussed, the THAAD deployment, the alliance decisions to move forward with THAAD -- at this point, we are working through the issues with regard to this deployment. We are focused on that at this point. Andrew? My fault, I saw Andrew here. QUESTION: Is the U.S. flying strike missions out of Incirlik currently? COOK: Yes. QUESTION: It's currently ongoing? COOK: Yes. QUESTION: OK, based off of what's been said lately -- General Votel is the second commander to be brought into this, does the U.S. have contingency plans if Incirlik is cut off? COOK: As we have said, even when we were not able to fly missions, we are able to mitigate and deal with instances in which we are unable to fly from certain locations, we have the ability to adjust and accommodate that.COOK: But Incirlik is a critical location, and we would -- the coalition would prefer to fly from Incirlik for a variety of reasons. We think it's an important capability and we greatly appreciate Turkey allowing those missions to fly from -- from Incirlik. But we do have the ability to adjust. As you know, previously we did not have access to Incirlik and we conducted missions, but we anticipate being able to fly from Incirlik and we're doing so right now successfully. QUESTION: Can I follow on that? COOK: Yes. QUESTION: So yesterday, there were some protests just outside of Incirlik, Turks who were saying that they didn't want the U.S. presence there anymore and they're didn't want the U.S. to be able to conduct strikes missions. They -- they held up really graphic photos of people who have been killed by airstrikes in Syria I think it was, but maybe Iraq and Syria. I don't know. Is there any concern on the -- from the Department of Defense that the U.S. access to Incirlik will be cut off in the near future, not just because of what's happened in (ph) the political instability but because of a lack of public Turkish support for the U.S. role there? COOK: As the secretary has detailed, he had a good conversation with his Turkish counterpart in which they both agreed on the need to maintain the fight against ISIL and on our continued cooperation on that. Incirlik is a key part of that and we have no indication of anything other than Turkish cooperation with continuing those missions from Incirlik. And we're doing so, as I just said to Bill, even today. QUESTION: So the have not approached the U.S. about any change in the U.S. access or role or abilities, any kind of parameters of what the U.S. military can and cannot do out of Incirlik in recent days? COOK: We are -- we are flying missions, as we were before, and again, we're appreciative to the Turkish government's help in restoring the power and getting those flights back up and running. And they are flying as we speak. QUESTION: And I have another random (ph) one, unless someone else had another Turkey one. QUESTION: Well, that just -- that wasn't her question. Her question was had they communicated with the U.S. government or the Defense Department about modifying that? COOK: The communication, again, that the secretary of defense received from his counterpart is our cooperation, our efforts focused on ISIL will continue, and that includes Incirlik. QUESTION: I have a Manbij question. This... (CROSSTALK) COOK: Let me -- hold on. QUESTION: Has there been another call since the July 19 call between Secretary Carter and his counterpart? COOK: I'm not aware of a direct call between the secretary and -- and his counterpart. I know that there have been other communications with the Turkish military at other levels. QUESTION: I have another random one, then. COOK: OK. Go ahead. QUESTION: Chelsea Manning is saying that he -- he called his attorneys and said that he's now being considered -- I'm sorry. I apologize. She is now being considered for the potential for indefinite solitary confinement because of her suicide attempt earlier this month. What's the department -- I guess, can you -- can you run us through -- if someone, if a prisoner in a U.S. military facility -- I know it's an Army facility -- but in a U.S. military facility, if a prisoner attempts suicide with some sort of an illicit item, with an illegal item that they're not supposed to have, is the common practice to then to -- for the punishment to be solitary confinement? Are you aware of that? And are you aware of the specific case, these allegations that she's made through her attorneys? COOK: I'm not aware and I don't quite honestly from here know the exact protocol in those instances, so I'd refer you back to the Army first of all. But I'm happy to take the question. But I think the Army's probably your best bet for this specific case. QUESTION: So -- I mean, just given the high-profile nature of this case, though, is that something that -- is that something that the department -- that the larger DOD might get involved in if that -- an allegation like that that -- specifically that she is alleging through her attorneys that she's being targeted because of her sexuality and because of the nature of her crimes and being treated differently and that with this suicide attempt -- you know (inaudible) acknowledged that it was a suicide attempt several weeks ago -- that because of that, she's being treated differently? Is that something that DOD might -- would get involved in, that specific allegation even though it's an Army facility?COOK: I'm not aware of any DOD involvement in this case. Like I said, I'm not tracking the specific suggestion or the claim from -- from the individual. So, I'm going to refer you to the Army, because I -- I don't have a solid answer for you on that, because I don't know the specifics here. But I am sure that what you're going to hear from the Army will be the details about how they handle these cases in terms of people who are incarcerated. And -- and -- but I'll leave it to them to refer you to the actual protocols they follow. So. Yes, Carla. QUESTION: Thank you. On Manbij, considering how important it is for the United States to not kill or wound innocent civilians, and considering Manbij is to the anti-ISIL coalition, is there a concern here at the Pentagon with the Syrian-Arab coalition's calling in of strikes? Have there been any measures to retrain or kind of double down on the efforts on how they would conduct a strike, and how they -- they look into civilians in the area? COOK: I -- Carla, as I think I've pointed out before, every time we conduct a strike, we're looking at the individual circumstances of each strike, first of all, of the targeting to begin with, and each one of those strikes afterwards is assessed. Certainly, in instances in which there are credible claims of civilian casualties, we'll go through and carefully examine exactly what took place there to see if there are lessons learned on -- that can be applied to -- to future missions. But at this point, again, we're still getting the facts on these individual cases, these allegations. And -- and we'll work through those, and we will, as we have in the past, apply that knowledge to what we're doing going forward. But we expect this air campaign will continue to be a critical part of our effort against ISIL, not just in Manbij but elsewhere. And we will take those lessons learned as appropriate. QUESTION: So, are there any immediate lessons learned, while -- while the evaluation process is underway? COOK: While we continue with each and every one of these strikes, we're looking at the circumstances on the ground at that particular moment in time, applying our normal set of tests. And if there are additional tests that need to be applied in light of what's happening, these credibility assessments will inform us of that. But those are ongoing, so. Yes, Richard. QUESTION: Peter, any -- any change to the status of the dependents in Turkey? Any plans to move them out? Is voluntary evacuation still available to them? COOK: Well, you know, we had an ordered departure in Turkey. So, those dependents have already left in -- at Incirlik. QUESTION: We were told there's still about 100 left. COOK: Yeah. I'll check and see if there has been any change in their status. I'm not aware of any at this point. But the vast majority of dependents have already left Turkey as a result of those -- those steps taken some time ago. But I'll take the question and find out. QUESTION: You don't think that there's 100 dependents still there? COOK: No, I -- that was my understanding as of last week. So, I'm not sure if there's anything that has happened in the interim period. QUESTION: (Inaudible), Peter, just -- I'm not clear on the connection of the secretary with Minister Isik of Turkey. The only contact they've had was on July 19th? COOK: They had a phone call. I don't even know the date off the top of my head. They met shortly before that in person. QUESTION: Is the secretary considering what has happened since? Is the secretary trying to get a hold of him right now? COOK: The secretary -- as I said, has an excellent relationship with the minister of defense in Turkey. They had an excellent conversation on the phone, an extensive conversation to discuss some of these issues. Some of the issues they've discussed have been resolved, including the situation at Incirlik. And we continue to have excellent military -- an excellent defense relationship with Turkey at various levels. And we'll continue to do so. And -- in part, because we are engaged in this campaign with them against ISIL.COOK: We are talking with them on a -- not just a daily basis. Every single day, at various levels to make sure that we are conducting this -- this campaign as effectively as possible. We are also a NATO ally; have those contacts on a daily basis as well. QUESTION: But there has been no contact between the secretary and Minister Isik since July 19th, since that phone conversation? COOK: I don't have any conversations to read out to you at this time. So. QUESTION: Just to follow up. COOK: I think the harder (ph) question, though, is with the accusations that are being levied against some of the top U.S. commanders, we're trying to figure out at what level communications are occurring between the government and military of Turkey, and U.S. government and U.S. military, given the importance of... COOK: There have been substantial conversations. QUESTION: Right, but (inaudible). COOK: I've described you the secretary's remarks. I know that the chairman has had regular contact with his counterpart. I'll leave it to the chairman's office to describe those. But these conversations continue at the highest levels. I think General Votel referred to -- to his conversations, in addition. So, this is an important relationship. We're going to continue to have these conversations, and -- and work through these issues. QUESTION: Well, do you know, Peter, if anyone has had discussions, like today, to help clarify or clear up some of the apparent misconceptions with what General Votel and/or everyone said... COOK: General Votel has issued -- issued his own statement to make clear some of the suggestions that came from -- from his comments that were, I think, to General Votel's take, misreported, or certainly misunderstood. And I think he wanted to make that clear. And this... QUESTION: Right, but is there something other than a press release? Has there been like a -- do you know of any conversations, like today? COOK: I can't read out each and every one, but I can assure you that even today, there have been contacts at the highest levels of the U.S. military with Turkish counterparts. And there -- and there were yesterday, and there will be going forward, whether it's as part of NATO, as part of the counter-ISIL coalition, we'll continue to have those conversations with the -- with the Turkish -- our Turkish counterparts as appropriate. QUESTION: I know you don't speak for the State Department, but are you aware of any... COOK: Absolutely. QUESTION: Are you aware of any U.S. government -- department reaching out or -- or representative reaching out to address these misconceptions that General Votel is siding with the coup (ph) (inaudible)? COOK: I mean, we're trying to make as clear as possible from here -- you've heard earlier this week on Monday, the chairman and the secretary talk about these issues when reference to these absurd allegations or suggestions that General Campbell played some role. I think we're being as clear as we can be about the Department of Defense, and the top leadership here and our views on some of the suggestions that had been laid out there that somehow the Department of Defense, or people within the Department of Defense knew something or supported in anyway this coup. That is factually inaccurate. And with regard to -- to others, we have -- I'll leave it to the State Department to characterize their conversations. But -- so. I'll leave it to the State Department to speak for itself. But I think our leadership here has been clear on this point, and I think General Votel has only emphasized that again today. QUESTION: But I think the reason that this continues to have legs is that, while the DOD is speaking -- is putting out these statements and whatnot, the Turks don't seem to be disavowing these claims. So, is there any effort to work with these close partners that you've said over and over you have such a close relationship with, and encourage them to come out and disavow the claims that very senior four-star U.S. military leaders, and the head of all -- in national intelligence in the U.S. were not behind the plot? And why -- and what -- and why is it? Why are the Turks not coming out and saying that the U.S. didn't have a role behind this?COOK: I will leave it to the Turks to -- to speak for themselves. We will continue to, as best we can, make clear to -- to the Turkish people and to anyone who cares to listen that, again, our relationship with Turkey remains a solid defense relationship. We look forward to continued cooperation with this vital key NATO ally going forward and -- and we will make it clear, based on the facts of the appropriate relationship that we have with the Turkish military, now (ph) that will continue. Again, I'll leave it to the Turks to characterize what's going on for -- for themselves. But I think individuals here, including General Votel, who have had others suggest words that they did not say, will continue to say clearly how important this relationship is and how we'll continue to have those conversations to try and clear up any misperceptions that may be out there. QUESTION: Peter, can you take the question and maybe get back to us on any specific calls or conversations that anyone either within the Pentagon or in the U.S. military had with the Turks today other than -- I mean, I -- I don't think we could (ph) assume that the Turkish people are reading General Votel's press statement. So I mean, any sort of specific... COOK: We're counting on you all to spread that word. (LAUGHTER) I'm looking at Kassem (ph) right here. I'm hoping that he's... QUESTION: I mean, other than... COOK: ... reports a few things from this news conference. QUESTION: I'm assuming you all don't rely on speaking through the media to another country, so... COOK: No. We absolutely don't. And I... QUESTION: So could you... COOK: I will... QUESTION: ... maybe just get back to us and say... COOK: Sure. QUESTION: ... what specific conversations anyone at a high level has had in the wake of these recent allegations. COOK: Let me -- I want to make absolutely clear though, Lita, that these conversations separate and apart from today happened yesterday, that -- whether it's our folks at EUCOM who talk every day in some cases with their Turkish counterparts, this is a relationship that is so long-standing, so normal in its exchange of information -- and General Votel talked about the exchange of information, the integration that we have in terms of our operations with the Turks. We can't fly out Incirlik with -- of course, without the active participation of -- of the Turkish military. We're doing that everyday and at the highest levels, we have continued conversations with them. I will see if there's -- if there's something we can get for you that -- that highlights that. But what I -- my point is is that that's not unusual; that happens all the time and will continue to happen. QUESTION: How -- how helpful is it (inaudible) long-standing military relationship when the president of that country in saying to a U.S. general, "Know your place, you are taking the side of coup plotters," if the translation with BBC is -- is accurate. How helpful is that? COOK: We -- General Votel has -- has spoken to this himself today to make clear that -- that any suggestion that he supported in any way what took place there would be factually inaccurate. And I think we're trying to do -- make that as abundantly clear as we can and to be as constructive as we can in terms of making sure that our defense relationship there, that -- that there are no questions about the solid -- the importance of that relationship and the need for continued cooperation in which we expect and hope to see for decades more to come. And this is critically important right now because of the counter-ISIL campaign, and of course, both being long- standing NATO allies. I know you have -- you have one more question, then I got to go. QUESTION: I just want to follow-up on Courtney's question. COOK: Sure. QUESTION: Would you like to see Turkish officials disavow this idea that the U.S. was involved in the coup? Because the reason this has legs is because, as Courtney said, is because every time the suggestion comes up, it is not being denied on -- on the part of Turkish officials...COOK: We will let -- we will let the facts speak for themselves and I will let the Turkish government and (ph) Turkish officials speak for themselves. We -- the secretary just had, as I said, an excellent conversation with his Turkish counterpart. He has a great relationship with him. We're confident that the relationship between the United States and Turkey, the defense relationship will continue and will -- will not be in any way impacted by this. We will let the facts speak for themselves. We will let General Votel and others make clear if there are any misperceptions about -- about our views on this. We're trying to be as crystal clear as we can. We want to continue our -- the military business that we've conducted for decades with the Turks and we have every expectation we'll continue to do so. QUESTION: Can I have (ph) just one clarification? When you're talking about all these calls that have been going back and forth, the many, many, many, many, many calls you guys have back and forth with the Turks, you're not saying that one or any of those calls dealt specifically with General Votel and his -- and this alleged -- him being involved in the coup, right? That was not your insinuation by that, right? COOK: We have conversations every day with the Turks, but... (CROSSTALK) COOK: But since -- I think it is fair to say that since the coup attempt, of course there have been conversations at the highest levels of the U.S. military with the Turkish military, and in addition, not just us. Of course, President Obama spoke with President Erdogan... QUESTION: But again, specifically about General Votel and any allegations that he might have been specifically involved. That's -- that -- because I just want to be clear when -- because Lita -- since Lita asked you to take the question and come back, if -- if you come back to us and say there were calls, blah, blah, blah, all these calls, I guess the... COOK: I -- I'm saying that we... QUESTION: My... COOK: We've... QUESTION: I just want to be clear that it -- so we understand... COOK: I'm not referring to any particular -- to General Votel -- that there have been since the coup regular communications with -- at the highest levels of the Department of Defense with our Turkish counterparts. QUESTION: (inaudible) since yesterday, Peter. COOK: And -- and you... QUESTION: Since -- since the president... COOK: There have been -- I know there have been some in the -- in the last 24 hours. There have been some in the last 48 hours and that is not unusual because we're talking to them all the time. We have to be. QUESTION: (inaudible) General Votel to Turks directly. Has anybody in this department refuted the claim that General Votel might had been involved? COOK: General Votel has refuted that claim publicly. QUESTION: (inaudible) he has done that in a press release. So has the secretary, has the chairman or has General Votel directly refuted this to the Turks? COOK: I -- I can't answer that -- I can't answer that question because I don't know everyone's phone calls today with the Turks. I will... QUESTION: (inaudible) directly refuted it with them? COOK: I will -- I will take that question, but I can assure you that that message from General Votel, from -- hopefully for myself from this podium and others within the building, any suggestion that General Votel... QUESTION: (inaudible) such a great military relationship with them... COOK: I just -- I'm not -- I don't know the substance of every single phone call we've had today. QUESTION: Can (ph) you take the question? COOK: I'll take the question. QUESTION: Well, that's a high-level call. I mean, that is... COOK: Exactly. QUESTION: This is the head (ph) of all U.S. Central Command. This is -- he's a four-star general with 30-plus years. I mean, that's a high level call that I would think that -- that the Department of Defense would know was going to happen. If some -- if -- whether it was General Votel or someone on his behalf was calling... COOK: We had lots of things to talk to the Turks about... QUESTION: (inaudible) in Turkey right now. You know, I mean, you understand. We're not asking for every little phone call back and forth (inaudible) you know, order food (ph) or -- I don't know. We're asking about a very specific high level call. So if it's possible to take that. COOK: I will -- I will try and get that question answered for you. QUESTION: If you could get the ones about ordering food, that would be great. (LAUGHTER) (CROSSTALK) COOK: OK. Just -- just to round it out. QUESTION: General Dunford is going to go to Turkey (inaudible). COOK: I will -- I will leave it to the chairman and his staff to -- to tell you about his schedule and itinerary. QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) COOK: OK. Thanks, everybody. END
WHITE HOUSE: TONY SNOW BRIEFING / CUTS
White House Press Briefing by Tony Snow in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. CUTS / CUTAWAYS. 12:29 P.M. EDT MR. SNOW: A lot of people traveling with the President -- well, good to have you all here. One little scheduling note: Tonight the Vice President will be hosting a dinner for Prime Minister Maliki. They'll be at the Naval Observatory. There will be the Prime Minister's traveling party. On the U.S. side, Liz Cheney; John Hannah of the NSC; Zal Khalilzad, our Ambassador to Iraq; Secretary Gutierrez, Secretary Bodman, and General Hayden. Speaking of Prime Minister Maliki, he has now spoken to Congress. It's probably worth noting a couple of things. He gave, I think, an important talk on the nature of war on terror, saying that the fates of the United States and Iraq are interlinked, and furthermore, as he said, "Should democracy be allowed to fail in Iraq and terror permitted to triumph, then the war on terror will never be won elsewhere." That's why the President has said we will win the war on terror in Iraq, and we will win in Iraq. And Prime Minister Maliki demonstrating the kind of determination that I think was impressive to members of Congress. It's also worth noting that the Prime Minister illustrates one of the benefits that we've talked about in terms of democracies. If you listen to the speech, what happens in a democracy is that it's no longer -- a government is no longer a dictator's play thing, it, in fact, becomes a servant of the people. Therefore, he talked about the fact that you've got a free press in Iraq. He talked about the fact that there's an active effort to secure equal rights for women. He talked about the fact that the economy is growing and that they are working to eliminate the vestiges of state ownership. He talked about the fact that those who try to kill innocents will meet with justice. He said that Iraq will not become a launch pad for al Qaeda -- all, I think, are important notes. Also, Secretary of State Condi Rice has now departed Rome and she's making her way to Malaysia. But let me run through very quickly, because I know there has been a lot of talk about what was accomplished in Rome today, and what you had is a statement that very much mirrors the statement delivered by the G8 ministers not so long ago. And it is this: The status quo cannot persist in southern Lebanon. It is time to make sure that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 -- which talks about the integrity of the Lebanese government within Lebanese borders; it talks about the inadmissability of internal militias or foreign states -- needs to be fulfilled. And that is going to require Hezbollah standing down. And we were happy that Secretary of State Kofi Annan -- Secretary General Kofi Annan did mention Iran and Syria. And it's important to realize also that we do regard a cease-fire as urgent. We also regard the humanitarian situation as urgent, and are acting as rapidly as we can on both fronts. The United States will remain in consultation with allies about appropriate measures and we'll try to find ways to make conditions proper for a cease-fire. In addition, it's -- I'll repeat something I said at the gaggle, which is that Elliott Abrams and David Welch from the National Security Council and Department of State, respectively, are returning to the region to continue consulting with partners and allies on how to move forward. And with that as preface, Jennifer. Q Thanks. This Israeli strike on the U.N. post in Lebanon, how worried is the White House that's going to complicate efforts to get agreement on the details of how to end the violence? And how worried are you all that it's going to reduce patience overall with the Israelis? MR. SNOW: I think those are all speculative questions. It's worth noting that the Israelis are also troubled by the attack and they are mounting a full investigation. They've told Secretary Annan that they -- Secretary General Annan that they not only intend to find out, but they're going to share with him all the results. In effect, they're going to let him see the investigation as it proceeds. It's a terrible thing, there's no denying it. But on the other hand, it's also equally important to recognize that the conditions on the ground where Hezbollah has actively jeopardized the Lebanese democracy by acting independently and acting in a manner waging its own acts of violence on a sovereign state nearby, that has to be addressed. That status quo ante to have Hezbollah free to do those things simply cannot exist and persist. And that is something on which all parties agree. Q So, are you saying that there have been no -- there's no sense yet so far that the patience with the Israeli campaign is reducing? MR. SNOW: The presumption of the question is that there's lurking impatience. What we're trying to do -- again, the onus here goes on Hezbollah, not on Israel. But the Israelis also need to practice restraint, which we have said from the very beginning. And they understand all the ramifications of that. But in terms of patience/impatience, I'm not sure it's helpful to characterize it that way, and I'm not sure, even if I knew some way to calibrate it, I could describe it. Q Doesn't it show, though, that the Israelis might have a difficult time practicing restraint? MR. SNOW: I don't think so. I mean, Israelis, for one thing, have tried to do targeting -- tried to hold down civilian casualties and collateral damage. They've made that clear. The other thing is the Israelis have also made clear their concerns about the humanitarian situation, both in this specific instance by saying to the U.N., yes, we're troubled, and you're going to be able to see what's going on, but also by opening up land, sea and air humanitarian corridors. That is not the act of a nation that is calloused about what is going on. Jim. Q Tony, characterize for me, if you will, the -- after the Rome meetings, are we any closer to stopping the violence? MR. SNOW: Again, the violence starts with Hezbollah. And I don't -- we don't stop the violence, they do. Now, what I -- but I think -- well, I want to say that as preface, Jim. It's pretty clear now, with the G8 statement and the Rome statement, and also actions that have been taken within the region, that it is realized that Hezbollah is a threat to peace in the region. And there is also the recognition that Iran and Syria play a role in supporting and funding Hezbollah. And they now have -- it's been pretty clear that in the region and around the world, people want them to assert pressure on Hezbollah. Meanwhile, we've said to Israel, you need to practice restraint. We've been very clear about that, as well. But the conditions for peace begin with Hezbollah's stopping the terror, returning the soldiers, stopping firing rockets. You've heard the formulation many times. That doesn't change. Q I understand that. But let me ask the question another way. Someone is going to hear that there was a meeting this morning -- oh, Secretary of State Rice was in Rome, met with members of the international community. The question is going to be, are we any closer to getting this thing stopped. What's the answer? MR. SNOW: The answer is, again, the people -- it's like you're watching a fight over there and you're talking about different ways to affect it. You've got to get the people who are doing the fighting to stop, and that begins with Hezbollah, Hezbollah being the instigator. That is the key element here. And the answer is -- I don't want to get in the position of assuming a God-like view of being able to tell you what's going to happen tomorrow, because I don't think it's a question that I can answer, or anybody else can answer. I'll tell you what is possible to answer, which is that the international community now is speaking with a pretty united voice on this, and that's the important thing. I think you're going to see coordinated efforts, diplomatically, and at some point, militarily, as well, in addressing the situation. Q So what you think came out of there today, especially after that press availability at the end, what you think the take-away from watching all of that, is there's more of a unified voice today than there was yesterday? MR. SNOW: Yes. And also everybody now realizes, okay, we've got to start working on certain things together. And it's not like they have a meeting, break up, and don't talk anymore. Again, we're maintaining a diplomatic presence in the region and there will be continued extensive negotiations -- I'd say consultations -- as I've told you, each and every day. The Departments of State and Defense, plus the National Security Council are talking with people all throughout. So this is one where I think within the region and within Europe, you've got a lot of people who are very aggressively trying to figure out how to do their part. It's not just the United States, and each and every ally I think is pitching in. Q Tony, if I could follow. Prime Minister Siniora, after his talks, was clearly disappointed. He said they'd hoped to agree to an immediate cease-fire. He said his country is being brought to its knees. And he also said that every day that there's not an immediate cease-fire, more Lebanese are dying. How does that complicate the United States' position to move forward and not undermine support from Arab allies, who are looking at this policy and saying, look, this is going to cost civilian casualties the more we wait? MR. SNOW: I don't think it complicates the American situation; I think it strengthens our resolve to get it solved, and solved in the right way, so that we are not back here six months, a year, two years, three years from now talking about the same sort of thing. What we're talking about is building a sustainable and durable peace, which I think is important. And, more importantly, who cares what I think, it's what the administration thinks is important. And, therefore, it redoubles the commitment there. And, again, you're finding -- this is moving on several tracks. On the humanitarian track, the United States announced a commitment of $30 million yesterday. That was followed by a Saudi commitment of $1.5 billion. Iraq has pitched in $35 million. You had Jordan providing -- cargo planes were moving into Beirut today. So you see two things going on: number one, trying to address the root cause of the violence. You don't address the root cause, it doesn't go away. And Lebanon has been the victim of violence for way too long, and instability for way too long. This is a nation that deserves peace and democracy. And that is the ultimate goal, to create the conditions where that happens without having to worry about outside influence, without having to worry about groups working internally like Hezbollah, where the people can express their will and move on peacefully. Going back to the comments I made about Iraq, when you have a democratically-elected government, absent the kinds of situations you have in Lebanon, people do what they do here and in every other democracy, which is that they cater to the will of the people. And at this point, you've got a faction within Lebanon that is operating as an independent entity, and that's not only unacceptable in terms of the United Nations resolutions, but it makes the nation untenable. And it's important to make sure that the Siniora government not only survives, but is able to assert effective sovereignty throughout the country in all ways, and that is the goal. Civilian casualties we hate; we deplore, we mourn the loss of all of them. That has been clear. And it's one of the reasons why the United States has pressed hard not only for humanitarian assistance, also for those that have been displaced, because that is also an ongoing tragedy. So we are concerned about those things, but also, we are concerned about a country that has been living under occupation for quite a while, has gotten a whiff of democracy, and we want to make sure that that flower has an opportunity to grow. Q The Siniora government and other world leaders are saying, however, that the U.S. policy, the more you delay the cease-fire, that it's not immediate, that that will cause more casualties, more civilian lives. MR. SNOW: No, that's argumentative, and I think, again, the calculation here -- for instance, you take a look at the statement out of Rome today is -- it's urgent. It was not a call for an immediate cease-fire. This was an agreement that was signed by all parties. But is it urgent? Yes. As I've said many times, we would love a cease-fire yesterday. But, unfortunately, the conditions for a durable and sustainable peace are not yet present. And most importantly, the people who started the fight, Hezbollah, have given absolutely no indications -- those who are involved in military activities -- that they intend to cease and desist. Quite the contrary. We are hoping that diplomatically, others can persuade them to lay down arms and join civil society, and choose a political rather than military course. But that simply hasn't happened yet. Helen. Q Earlier, we touched on this subject, and my question is, does Syria have any place at the peace table? MR. SNOW: I don't think that there is an official role, but it is obvious that at this point that there are consultations with the government of Syria. And, again, the Syrian government certainly knows what the U.S. position is. But other nations have been speaking with the Syrians, and we're aware of some of those conversations. Q Does the U.S. have a new sense of urgency about a cease-fire? MR. SNOW: No, the U.S. has had a sense of urgency all along. Again, we dispatched diplomats to the region very shortly after this began. There is no new sense of urgency. There's been a sense of urgency all along. What has been, I think, an important commitment on the part of this government is to build the kind of diplomatic might so that we're not simply acting alone, but, in fact, you've got a lot of people with a lot of interest and a lot of equity in the region who can, all in different ways, support the mission of creating those conditions for a sustainable peace. Jessica. Q Going back to the U.N. observers that were killed, the Israelis have said they were not deliberately targeted. Does the President accept that as -- MR. SNOW: I haven't spoken to the President, but I think you've -- look, the Israelis -- I think you take the Israelis at their word, but also, the Israelis are doing an investigation into it, and they're trying to figure out precisely what happened. Clearly, something went wrong. And it's important to find out what went wrong and to try to ensure that it never happens again. And I think I'll let the Israelis speak for themselves on that. Q Tony, understanding that terrorist groups are very unpredictable and that they obviously want to cause terror, you and others in this administration have said it's hard, if not impossible, to negotiate a cease-fire with a terrorist group, paint a picture of an end game here that does not get to eliminating Hezbollah. MR. SNOW: I can't do that, and I don't think it's appropriate for me to do that. Look, I think what you've got to talk about here -- you are talking about a coordinated international effort, and I am sure people are trying to figure out what the appropriate benchmarks are. This would sort of fall under the category of my trying to negotiate from the podium, or also try to dictate terms and conditions. I think the important thing is Hezbollah has to make the decision: Does it use terror as a weapon, does it use it as a political tool, or does it cease using it? Does it want to take a military path, or does it want to take a political path? And we've seen those choices posed in a number of other places, including in Iraq. That is the choice that terrorists around the world are going to have to make. And if they choose the terror path, you have to find ways to make them cease and desist. Q If somebody sitting at home hears the sustainable cease-fire and hears it's tough to negotiate, or impossible to negotiate a cease-fire with a terrorist group, and then they hear the Israelis saying the Americans essentially have given us 10 to 14 days to finish this up, what is that person supposed to think? MR. SNOW: Two things. I'm not aware that the Israelis have said that, but I'll take your word for it. The second thing is people at home probably realize that wars, again, don't operate according to calendars, they operate according to conditions on the ground. What we were hoping to do is to get conditions that are going to be conducive. I think people also understand that if you have the presence of a destabilizing force within a nation and it is still able to weaken the government, that is a situation that cannot persist. And there are many different ways of measuring it. I'm just not sure I have, Brett, the wisdom or the ability to try to come up with a metric for that. It's something though that I think in its own way becomes apparent to those involved. Q Tony, a couple of questions. One -- MR. SNOW: Is this on Iraq? Or is this on -- Q No, it's different. MR. SNOW: Okay, let's -- I want to stay on Iraq. Victoria. Q Yes, this is on Iraq. In Iraq right now, there are -- of fatwas being issued, banning women from driving, or being seen out alone; you've got women being stoned for wearing make-up and professional women being murdered. And in his speech this morning, al-Maliki praised the high status of women in Iraq. Would you acknowledge that, in fact, the status of women in Iraq is perilous right now? MR. SNOW: I don't know that it would be perilous because that would assume that the things that you talk about are, in fact, universal. But I will go back to what the Prime Minister did say, because he acknowledges that -- he says that it's important to acknowledge the rights chartered in the constitution will also help consolidate the role of women in public life and help them play a greater role in public life. It is clear that he thinks that there still is the importance of having a greater role. But I'm not going to try to do a full human rights analysis. It is clear that Prime Minister Maliki is devoted to the cause of the rights of women. And I would redirect to Iraqi officials specific questions about fatwas. A, I don't know anything about them, and, B, I think it's their job to respond. Q The stance of many human rights groups is that what's happening with women now is, in fact, worse than what was happening under the regime of Saddam Hussein. MR. SNOW: Again, I redirect to them. I have a feeling -- the Prime Minister also made the point that Iraq has moved to a point of elections and not mass graves. We can argue this both ways, I suppose, but I think a situation where people are being dumped into mass graves by a regime that used murder as simply a way of clearing up what it saw as political difficulties is far different than one that tries to deal with its political difficulties by appealing to the needs and desires of the people. Q Even if you can't control the people? MR. SNOW: I don't think the purpose of a government is to control the people, it's to respond to their will. Q Also, the Maliki speech, there was no reference to Hezbollah in there and responsibility. Did the White House make any request that there be such a reference? MR. SNOW: No. No. But I think the Prime Minister -- I don't know why everybody here wants the Prime Minister to come and talk about a different set of problems. He's the Prime Minister of Iraq. Q He also spoke about the global war on terror, about how fighting terror -- MR. SNOW: That's right. And he also understands that Iraq is the centerpiece of that, and that a failure to address and combat and vanquish terror there would have catastrophic effects throughout the world. His job is to be the Prime Minister of Iraq, and I would expect him to go before the United States Congress and not only talk in general terms about where they've gone, but where he intends to go. This is a chance for members of the Congress and for Americans to assess somebody who is now the head of a sovereign state. We have put much -- we have committed some of our finest young men and women to service there; 2,600 have lost their lives; we've spent billions of dollars. This is important for many Americans. And the Prime Minister, I think, is making it clear that he is not somebody who takes these sacrifices lightly. The first thing he did was to thank the American people, and also to give a sense that he is determined to make sure -- and this gets to the point Victoria was making -- that you get a democracy that secures the rights of all people, and also demonstrates to the region that such a thing is possible in that part of the world. Q On this trip, he's, in effect, giving a group that the administration has identified as a terrorist group a free pass? MR. SNOW: No. As a matter of fact, I think Senator Harry Reid was saying that he has received some word that the Iraqi foreign ministry is going to come out with a statement condemning Hezbollah. Prime Minister Maliki has never delivered a statement supporting it. So, again, what you're trying to do is to pick a fight. And I understand it; it's colorful, it's interesting, but it's the Prime Minister's job to serve as the Prime Minister of Iraq. And he understands how the war on terror operates far more personally than any of us. He's living in Baghdad, he's living in the condition; he's seen people try to destabilize his government every day. He understands the human toll, he understands the economic toll. And I think he talked very directly about those things, and I think it's -- again, it's a message that I'm glad people get to hear. Q Tony, did the President speak with Secretary Rice since the morning news conference in Rome? And, if so -- MR. SNOW: I don't know. I don't have any readout of conversations. Q He has talked to her? MR. SNOW: No, I don't know. I don't know. I mean, it was pretty tight, because she made her way from Rome and is now in the air, I know, on her way to Malaysia. Certainly there have been contacts with members of the State Department -- I was doing some of these. So I don't honestly know if there was a direct conversation with the President, but I guarantee you the President will have gotten a readout, and may, in fact, be getting calls from the plane, as well. I'll try to find out. We'll attach a footnote if we've got any context on it. Let's stick with questions on the area. Richard. Q Yes, Tony, you said that the United States government is urging Israel to be -- to use restraint. MR. SNOW: Yes. Q Are they using restraint? MR. SNOW: I'm not going to characterize. I will give you our position, but I'm not going to get into the position -- we've been through this a lot of trying to grade the activities -- because among other things, it would require my knowing what all the conditions and considerations are. And I don't. And I dare say even very wise and involved people in this country don't know each and every consideration that goes into specific battle plans. That is a question that I think can only be answered in hindsight, not from here. Q I'd like to button this up on Syria. MR. SNOW: Okay. Q Every time we sort of ask, you say, well, they probably know our position, et cetera. They have an ambassador in town, et cetera. MR. SNOW: Right. Q But can you tell us directly, have United States officials formally spoken to either the Syrian ambassador here, the folks in Damascus, to say, hey, you are a sponsor of these folks, help us stop them, rein them in, whatever? MR. SNOW: I am not aware of recent conversations along those lines. I am aware that they have access to electronic communications including this. So let me be clear one more time: You need to do your part. But the ambassador -- so I don't know -- and I also don't know what would count as a contact. I honestly don't know if Ambassador Mustafa has spoken to people at State or elsewhere. Q Do you have a sense that there's a feeling that there would be a value to that? Or are we -- MR. SNOW: No, as a matter of fact, let me -- Secretary Rice sort of addressed this a little bit today, and let me see if I've got the comments with me, because she's talked about the fact -- Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Bill Burns, a number of others over the years maintained pretty active contact with the Syrians. In addition, the President, I think as recently as 2004, had dispatched a letter to President Assad. So it is clear that there have been, over the last 30 years, many, many, many attempts to deal directly with the Syrians and it has yielded no discernable fruit. And so at this particular point, the Syrians know our position. But more importantly, a number of other countries that may in the past have been silent about it are no longer silent -- both publically and privately. And this would include people in the neighborhood. So the more significant -- the Syrians know what our position is, but now that they know their neighbors share substantially the same concerns, that may make a difference. I don't know. We'll have to see. Q Tony, I have one on that area and one domestic. MR. SNOW: Okay, we'll sever it -- well, okay, let's just do it. Let's get it over with. (Laughter.) Q I appreciate it. Thank you. Since Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans, why is it that the President wants Israel to cut short its war to destroy its infrastructure, since that is what the President pledged to do to all international terrorist organizations after September the 11th? MR. SNOW: Counselor, the question is argumentative, presumptuous, and makes assumptions not in evidence. (Laughter.) Q That was a network question, but all right. Tony, The Washington Post -- MR. SNOW: Let me just apologize personally to the network for legal jargon. Continue. (Laughter.) Q Well, we'll quote you. The Washington Post this morning quoted Maryland's Lieutenant Governor and Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Michael Steele, as saying that being a Republican is "like wearing a scarlet letter," and that he does not want the President to campaign for him this fall. And my question: Since Nathaniel Hawthorne's original scarlet letter was "A" for adultery, and Mr. Steele has, in effect, told the President to stay away from his campaign, are you just going to respond to this with an icy silence or an irritable evasion? Q Beautiful smile -- he's got a gorgeous smile. MR. SNOW: We have the broad sweep of literary history here. Let's walk through a couple of things. I am told by some of the reporters who were at the scene that it was mischaracterized. But I will leave to people who were there to characterize more fully the statements that were made. Number two, the President, the First Lady, the President's father, I believe the Vice President -- the Vice President, Karl Rove, this administration has been in Maryland campaigning for Michael Steele. We want him to become the next U.S. senator. Q Yes, and how grateful has he been? He said he doesn't want the President to campaign any more. MR. SNOW: Well, again, I've received characterizations, but having not been in the room, I think it's probably not up to me to say exactly what happened. There are probably different versions, and I would refer you either to the people who are elbowing up with him, or -- because, apparently -- well, in any event, or to Mr. Steele, himself. I'm just not going to -- Q You remember Tennyson's a great statement that "in gratitude thou marble-hearted fiend"? (Laughter.) MR. SNOW: Once again, you're leaping ahead. I think I've made my point on this. Q Did the President have an emotional reaction when he heard about Steele's comments? MR. SNOW: Not that I'm aware of. I wasn't there. Q And does he still support his candidacy? MR. SNOW: Yes, he does. Q We're all going to have to start wearing A's for "American" in a minute. On Beirut, NBC and -- I hope I've got the right network -- NBC had a fascinating report about Beirut, showing the Christian section saying it hadn't been changed at all. There are other reports that said only one percent of Beirut has been bombed. Is this true, and if so, what -- MR. SNOW: I honestly don't know. I'm just not in a position. Look, whatever the case, Connie, we are certainly concerned about civilian casualties. And we realize that the process of building and rebuilding democracy in Lebanon has two parts to it. Number one is the military part, which is developing the conditions for peace in the south. And the second is reconstruction, because there is going to be the need to rebuild. There is going to be the need to repatriate people who have lost their homes. All those things need to be done, and we're trying to work on both tracks. Peter. Q Going back to the questions about the Iraqi Prime Minister's approach or no approach to Hezbollah, he was asked in a private session with the senators today the same question he was asked at the news conference yesterday, and he again refused to characterize, in a private session, his feelings. So, to paraphrase what the President said after 9/11, "you're with us or you're with the terrorists." When it comes to Hezbollah -- we know where he stands on terrorism, in general, but when it comes to this group that the administration says is fomenting so much trouble, is this guy with us, or is he against us? MR. SNOW: Look, I'm just not going to play the game. I don't think any of us -- what the Prime Minister is doing is he's playing a pivotal role in the war on terror, and by setting the example, he's going to make it clear to everybody that democracy can succeed in the region, despite sectarian strife, despite attempts to assert terror, despite being wedged between Iran and Syria. So I think those are the important points. And again, I don't know if there are going to be subsequent statements out of his government, or not. He has never said he's for Hezbollah. So what you're -- so what everybody is complaining about is something that he hasn't said. And it strikes me that that is an attempt to draw American politics -- for American politics to become a consideration, rather than realize -- why did he come here? He came here because he's fighting a war on terror on his own soil. Q But, Tony, this is his neighborhood -- MR. SNOW: Yes, and? And? And? Q And since he's an ally, wouldn't you expect him to speak out about it? MR. SNOW: You know, we understand that allies have their own concerns, and what we're not going to do is to say to the Prime Minister, this is what you should say. We're not going to tell him, we want you to issue a statement against Hezbollah. It's inappropriate. He's the head of a sovereign state. He has the ability to say what he thinks, or, if he chooses not to answer the question, he has that right, too. Q How much of this approach do you think is designed for domestic -- MR. SNOW: I don't have -- Q -- situation that he has there? MR. SNOW: Don't know. Q Tony, with respect to the legislation on the detainees at Guantanamo, the Attorney General was interviewed today and he said that the administration has been looking to international tribunals, such as those that have been held in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as a guide. He also said that, these are ideas, but they're just ideas. So, two questions. First, to what extent is the administration trying to base this new commission approach on those kinds of international tribunals? And also, how much is this open to negotiation? MR. SNOW: Well, I don't -- I think, probably, Sheryl, the way to talk about it is "consultations." As your own story indicated, there has been considerable conversation with members of the United States Senate -- Senator Graham, as a Judge Advocate General, is somebody who has got special interest in this -- to figure out ways of bringing to justice those who were taken off of battlefields in a way that harmonizes with the letter of the Supreme Court's decision, and also does it in a way that's consistent with the American Constitution and American law. It's not a simple putt, as you've probably figured out. And so I think it is accurate to say that everybody is trying to figure out the best way to achieve all these aims. There's a lot of labeling and a lot of attempts -- I don't think that there's anything that is a clear parallel to this. I think you look for guidance in various experiences to see how you can do this effectively. Q How close is this draft to being final? MR. SNOW: I think you're going to have to talk to the people involved directly. A final -- I suspect you'll see a final draft when there's a piece of legislation. That will be the final draft. Q When will that be? MR. SNOW: Don't know. Q Thank you. MR. SNOW: Okay, thank you. END 1:00 P.M. EDT
WHITE HOUSE: TONY SNOW BRIEFING / STIX
White House Press Briefing by Tony Snow in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. STIX. 12:29 P.M. EDT MR. SNOW: A lot of people traveling with the President -- well, good to have you all here. One little scheduling note: Tonight the Vice President will be hosting a dinner for Prime Minister Maliki. They'll be at the Naval Observatory. There will be the Prime Minister's traveling party. On the U.S. side, Liz Cheney; John Hannah of the NSC; Zal Khalilzad, our Ambassador to Iraq; Secretary Gutierrez, Secretary Bodman, and General Hayden. Speaking of Prime Minister Maliki, he has now spoken to Congress. It's probably worth noting a couple of things. He gave, I think, an important talk on the nature of war on terror, saying that the fates of the United States and Iraq are interlinked, and furthermore, as he said, "Should democracy be allowed to fail in Iraq and terror permitted to triumph, then the war on terror will never be won elsewhere." That's why the President has said we will win the war on terror in Iraq, and we will win in Iraq. And Prime Minister Maliki demonstrating the kind of determination that I think was impressive to members of Congress. It's also worth noting that the Prime Minister illustrates one of the benefits that we've talked about in terms of democracies. If you listen to the speech, what happens in a democracy is that it's no longer -- a government is no longer a dictator's play thing, it, in fact, becomes a servant of the people. Therefore, he talked about the fact that you've got a free press in Iraq. He talked about the fact that there's an active effort to secure equal rights for women. He talked about the fact that the economy is growing and that they are working to eliminate the vestiges of state ownership. He talked about the fact that those who try to kill innocents will meet with justice. He said that Iraq will not become a launch pad for al Qaeda -- all, I think, are important notes. Also, Secretary of State Condi Rice has now departed Rome and she's making her way to Malaysia. But let me run through very quickly, because I know there has been a lot of talk about what was accomplished in Rome today, and what you had is a statement that very much mirrors the statement delivered by the G8 ministers not so long ago. And it is this: The status quo cannot persist in southern Lebanon. It is time to make sure that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 -- which talks about the integrity of the Lebanese government within Lebanese borders; it talks about the inadmissability of internal militias or foreign states -- needs to be fulfilled. And that is going to require Hezbollah standing down. And we were happy that Secretary of State Kofi Annan -- Secretary General Kofi Annan did mention Iran and Syria. And it's important to realize also that we do regard a cease-fire as urgent. We also regard the humanitarian situation as urgent, and are acting as rapidly as we can on both fronts. The United States will remain in consultation with allies about appropriate measures and we'll try to find ways to make conditions proper for a cease-fire. In addition, it's -- I'll repeat something I said at the gaggle, which is that Elliott Abrams and David Welch from the National Security Council and Department of State, respectively, are returning to the region to continue consulting with partners and allies on how to move forward. And with that as preface, Jennifer. Q Thanks. This Israeli strike on the U.N. post in Lebanon, how worried is the White House that's going to complicate efforts to get agreement on the details of how to end the violence? And how worried are you all that it's going to reduce patience overall with the Israelis? MR. SNOW: I think those are all speculative questions. It's worth noting that the Israelis are also troubled by the attack and they are mounting a full investigation. They've told Secretary Annan that they -- Secretary General Annan that they not only intend to find out, but they're going to share with him all the results. In effect, they're going to let him see the investigation as it proceeds. It's a terrible thing, there's no denying it. But on the other hand, it's also equally important to recognize that the conditions on the ground where Hezbollah has actively jeopardized the Lebanese democracy by acting independently and acting in a manner waging its own acts of violence on a sovereign state nearby, that has to be addressed. That status quo ante to have Hezbollah free to do those things simply cannot exist and persist. And that is something on which all parties agree. Q So, are you saying that there have been no -- there's no sense yet so far that the patience with the Israeli campaign is reducing? MR. SNOW: The presumption of the question is that there's lurking impatience. What we're trying to do -- again, the onus here goes on Hezbollah, not on Israel. But the Israelis also need to practice restraint, which we have said from the very beginning. And they understand all the ramifications of that. But in terms of patience/impatience, I'm not sure it's helpful to characterize it that way, and I'm not sure, even if I knew some way to calibrate it, I could describe it. Q Doesn't it show, though, that the Israelis might have a difficult time practicing restraint? MR. SNOW: I don't think so. I mean, Israelis, for one thing, have tried to do targeting -- tried to hold down civilian casualties and collateral damage. They've made that clear. The other thing is the Israelis have also made clear their concerns about the humanitarian situation, both in this specific instance by saying to the U.N., yes, we're troubled, and you're going to be able to see what's going on, but also by opening up land, sea and air humanitarian corridors. That is not the act of a nation that is calloused about what is going on. Jim. Q Tony, characterize for me, if you will, the -- after the Rome meetings, are we any closer to stopping the violence? MR. SNOW: Again, the violence starts with Hezbollah. And I don't -- we don't stop the violence, they do. Now, what I -- but I think -- well, I want to say that as preface, Jim. It's pretty clear now, with the G8 statement and the Rome statement, and also actions that have been taken within the region, that it is realized that Hezbollah is a threat to peace in the region. And there is also the recognition that Iran and Syria play a role in supporting and funding Hezbollah. And they now have -- it's been pretty clear that in the region and around the world, people want them to assert pressure on Hezbollah. Meanwhile, we've said to Israel, you need to practice restraint. We've been very clear about that, as well. But the conditions for peace begin with Hezbollah's stopping the terror, returning the soldiers, stopping firing rockets. You've heard the formulation many times. That doesn't change. Q I understand that. But let me ask the question another way. Someone is going to hear that there was a meeting this morning -- oh, Secretary of State Rice was in Rome, met with members of the international community. The question is going to be, are we any closer to getting this thing stopped. What's the answer? MR. SNOW: The answer is, again, the people -- it's like you're watching a fight over there and you're talking about different ways to affect it. You've got to get the people who are doing the fighting to stop, and that begins with Hezbollah, Hezbollah being the instigator. That is the key element here. And the answer is -- I don't want to get in the position of assuming a God-like view of being able to tell you what's going to happen tomorrow, because I don't think it's a question that I can answer, or anybody else can answer. I'll tell you what is possible to answer, which is that the international community now is speaking with a pretty united voice on this, and that's the important thing. I think you're going to see coordinated efforts, diplomatically, and at some point, militarily, as well, in addressing the situation. Q So what you think came out of there today, especially after that press availability at the end, what you think the take-away from watching all of that, is there's more of a unified voice today than there was yesterday? MR. SNOW: Yes. And also everybody now realizes, okay, we've got to start working on certain things together. And it's not like they have a meeting, break up, and don't talk anymore. Again, we're maintaining a diplomatic presence in the region and there will be continued extensive negotiations -- I'd say consultations -- as I've told you, each and every day. The Departments of State and Defense, plus the National Security Council are talking with people all throughout. So this is one where I think within the region and within Europe, you've got a lot of people who are very aggressively trying to figure out how to do their part. It's not just the United States, and each and every ally I think is pitching in. Q Tony, if I could follow. Prime Minister Siniora, after his talks, was clearly disappointed. He said they'd hoped to agree to an immediate cease-fire. He said his country is being brought to its knees. And he also said that every day that there's not an immediate cease-fire, more Lebanese are dying. How does that complicate the United States' position to move forward and not undermine support from Arab allies, who are looking at this policy and saying, look, this is going to cost civilian casualties the more we wait? MR. SNOW: I don't think it complicates the American situation; I think it strengthens our resolve to get it solved, and solved in the right way, so that we are not back here six months, a year, two years, three years from now talking about the same sort of thing. What we're talking about is building a sustainable and durable peace, which I think is important. And, more importantly, who cares what I think, it's what the administration thinks is important. And, therefore, it redoubles the commitment there. And, again, you're finding -- this is moving on several tracks. On the humanitarian track, the United States announced a commitment of $30 million yesterday. That was followed by a Saudi commitment of $1.5 billion. Iraq has pitched in $35 million. You had Jordan providing -- cargo planes were moving into Beirut today. So you see two things going on: number one, trying to address the root cause of the violence. You don't address the root cause, it doesn't go away. And Lebanon has been the victim of violence for way too long, and instability for way too long. This is a nation that deserves peace and democracy. And that is the ultimate goal, to create the conditions where that happens without having to worry about outside influence, without having to worry about groups working internally like Hezbollah, where the people can express their will and move on peacefully. Going back to the comments I made about Iraq, when you have a democratically-elected government, absent the kinds of situations you have in Lebanon, people do what they do here and in every other democracy, which is that they cater to the will of the people. And at this point, you've got a faction within Lebanon that is operating as an independent entity, and that's not only unacceptable in terms of the United Nations resolutions, but it makes the nation untenable. And it's important to make sure that the Siniora government not only survives, but is able to assert effective sovereignty throughout the country in all ways, and that is the goal. Civilian casualties we hate; we deplore, we mourn the loss of all of them. That has been clear. And it's one of the reasons why the United States has pressed hard not only for humanitarian assistance, also for those that have been displaced, because that is also an ongoing tragedy. So we are concerned about those things, but also, we are concerned about a country that has been living under occupation for quite a while, has gotten a whiff of democracy, and we want to make sure that that flower has an opportunity to grow. Q The Siniora government and other world leaders are saying, however, that the U.S. policy, the more you delay the cease-fire, that it's not immediate, that that will cause more casualties, more civilian lives. MR. SNOW: No, that's argumentative, and I think, again, the calculation here -- for instance, you take a look at the statement out of Rome today is -- it's urgent. It was not a call for an immediate cease-fire. This was an agreement that was signed by all parties. But is it urgent? Yes. As I've said many times, we would love a cease-fire yesterday. But, unfortunately, the conditions for a durable and sustainable peace are not yet present. And most importantly, the people who started the fight, Hezbollah, have given absolutely no indications -- those who are involved in military activities -- that they intend to cease and desist. Quite the contrary. We are hoping that diplomatically, others can persuade them to lay down arms and join civil society, and choose a political rather than military course. But that simply hasn't happened yet. Helen. Q Earlier, we touched on this subject, and my question is, does Syria have any place at the peace table? MR. SNOW: I don't think that there is an official role, but it is obvious that at this point that there are consultations with the government of Syria. And, again, the Syrian government certainly knows what the U.S. position is. But other nations have been speaking with the Syrians, and we're aware of some of those conversations. Q Does the U.S. have a new sense of urgency about a cease-fire? MR. SNOW: No, the U.S. has had a sense of urgency all along. Again, we dispatched diplomats to the region very shortly after this began. There is no new sense of urgency. There's been a sense of urgency all along. What has been, I think, an important commitment on the part of this government is to build the kind of diplomatic might so that we're not simply acting alone, but, in fact, you've got a lot of people with a lot of interest and a lot of equity in the region who can, all in different ways, support the mission of creating those conditions for a sustainable peace. Jessica. Q Going back to the U.N. observers that were killed, the Israelis have said they were not deliberately targeted. Does the President accept that as -- MR. SNOW: I haven't spoken to the President, but I think you've -- look, the Israelis -- I think you take the Israelis at their word, but also, the Israelis are doing an investigation into it, and they're trying to figure out precisely what happened. Clearly, something went wrong. And it's important to find out what went wrong and to try to ensure that it never happens again. And I think I'll let the Israelis speak for themselves on that. Q Tony, understanding that terrorist groups are very unpredictable and that they obviously want to cause terror, you and others in this administration have said it's hard, if not impossible, to negotiate a cease-fire with a terrorist group, paint a picture of an end game here that does not get to eliminating Hezbollah. MR. SNOW: I can't do that, and I don't think it's appropriate for me to do that. Look, I think what you've got to talk about here -- you are talking about a coordinated international effort, and I am sure people are trying to figure out what the appropriate benchmarks are. This would sort of fall under the category of my trying to negotiate from the podium, or also try to dictate terms and conditions. I think the important thing is Hezbollah has to make the decision: Does it use terror as a weapon, does it use it as a political tool, or does it cease using it? Does it want to take a military path, or does it want to take a political path? And we've seen those choices posed in a number of other places, including in Iraq. That is the choice that terrorists around the world are going to have to make. And if they choose the terror path, you have to find ways to make them cease and desist. Q If somebody sitting at home hears the sustainable cease-fire and hears it's tough to negotiate, or impossible to negotiate a cease-fire with a terrorist group, and then they hear the Israelis saying the Americans essentially have given us 10 to 14 days to finish this up, what is that person supposed to think? MR. SNOW: Two things. I'm not aware that the Israelis have said that, but I'll take your word for it. The second thing is people at home probably realize that wars, again, don't operate according to calendars, they operate according to conditions on the ground. What we were hoping to do is to get conditions that are going to be conducive. I think people also understand that if you have the presence of a destabilizing force within a nation and it is still able to weaken the government, that is a situation that cannot persist. And there are many different ways of measuring it. I'm just not sure I have, Brett, the wisdom or the ability to try to come up with a metric for that. It's something though that I think in its own way becomes apparent to those involved. Q Tony, a couple of questions. One -- MR. SNOW: Is this on Iraq? Or is this on -- Q No, it's different. MR. SNOW: Okay, let's -- I want to stay on Iraq. Victoria. Q Yes, this is on Iraq. In Iraq right now, there are -- of fatwas being issued, banning women from driving, or being seen out alone; you've got women being stoned for wearing make-up and professional women being murdered. And in his speech this morning, al-Maliki praised the high status of women in Iraq. Would you acknowledge that, in fact, the status of women in Iraq is perilous right now? MR. SNOW: I don't know that it would be perilous because that would assume that the things that you talk about are, in fact, universal. But I will go back to what the Prime Minister did say, because he acknowledges that -- he says that it's important to acknowledge the rights chartered in the constitution will also help consolidate the role of women in public life and help them play a greater role in public life. It is clear that he thinks that there still is the importance of having a greater role. But I'm not going to try to do a full human rights analysis. It is clear that Prime Minister Maliki is devoted to the cause of the rights of women. And I would redirect to Iraqi officials specific questions about fatwas. A, I don't know anything about them, and, B, I think it's their job to respond. Q The stance of many human rights groups is that what's happening with women now is, in fact, worse than what was happening under the regime of Saddam Hussein. MR. SNOW: Again, I redirect to them. I have a feeling -- the Prime Minister also made the point that Iraq has moved to a point of elections and not mass graves. We can argue this both ways, I suppose, but I think a situation where people are being dumped into mass graves by a regime that used murder as simply a way of clearing up what it saw as political difficulties is far different than one that tries to deal with its political difficulties by appealing to the needs and desires of the people. Q Even if you can't control the people? MR. SNOW: I don't think the purpose of a government is to control the people, it's to respond to their will. Q Also, the Maliki speech, there was no reference to Hezbollah in there and responsibility. Did the White House make any request that there be such a reference? MR. SNOW: No. No. But I think the Prime Minister -- I don't know why everybody here wants the Prime Minister to come and talk about a different set of problems. He's the Prime Minister of Iraq. Q He also spoke about the global war on terror, about how fighting terror -- MR. SNOW: That's right. And he also understands that Iraq is the centerpiece of that, and that a failure to address and combat and vanquish terror there would have catastrophic effects throughout the world. His job is to be the Prime Minister of Iraq, and I would expect him to go before the United States Congress and not only talk in general terms about where they've gone, but where he intends to go. This is a chance for members of the Congress and for Americans to assess somebody who is now the head of a sovereign state. We have put much -- we have committed some of our finest young men and women to service there; 2,600 have lost their lives; we've spent billions of dollars. This is important for many Americans. And the Prime Minister, I think, is making it clear that he is not somebody who takes these sacrifices lightly. The first thing he did was to thank the American people, and also to give a sense that he is determined to make sure -- and this gets to the point Victoria was making -- that you get a democracy that secures the rights of all people, and also demonstrates to the region that such a thing is possible in that part of the world. Q On this trip, he's, in effect, giving a group that the administration has identified as a terrorist group a free pass? MR. SNOW: No. As a matter of fact, I think Senator Harry Reid was saying that he has received some word that the Iraqi foreign ministry is going to come out with a statement condemning Hezbollah. Prime Minister Maliki has never delivered a statement supporting it. So, again, what you're trying to do is to pick a fight. And I understand it; it's colorful, it's interesting, but it's the Prime Minister's job to serve as the Prime Minister of Iraq. And he understands how the war on terror operates far more personally than any of us. He's living in Baghdad, he's living in the condition; he's seen people try to destabilize his government every day. He understands the human toll, he understands the economic toll. And I think he talked very directly about those things, and I think it's -- again, it's a message that I'm glad people get to hear. Q Tony, did the President speak with Secretary Rice since the morning news conference in Rome? And, if so -- MR. SNOW: I don't know. I don't have any readout of conversations. Q He has talked to her? MR. SNOW: No, I don't know. I don't know. I mean, it was pretty tight, because she made her way from Rome and is now in the air, I know, on her way to Malaysia. Certainly there have been contacts with members of the State Department -- I was doing some of these. So I don't honestly know if there was a direct conversation with the President, but I guarantee you the President will have gotten a readout, and may, in fact, be getting calls from the plane, as well. I'll try to find out. We'll attach a footnote if we've got any context on it. Let's stick with questions on the area. Richard. Q Yes, Tony, you said that the United States government is urging Israel to be -- to use restraint. MR. SNOW: Yes. Q Are they using restraint? MR. SNOW: I'm not going to characterize. I will give you our position, but I'm not going to get into the position -- we've been through this a lot of trying to grade the activities -- because among other things, it would require my knowing what all the conditions and considerations are. And I don't. And I dare say even very wise and involved people in this country don't know each and every consideration that goes into specific battle plans. That is a question that I think can only be answered in hindsight, not from here. Q I'd like to button this up on Syria. MR. SNOW: Okay. Q Every time we sort of ask, you say, well, they probably know our position, et cetera. They have an ambassador in town, et cetera. MR. SNOW: Right. Q But can you tell us directly, have United States officials formally spoken to either the Syrian ambassador here, the folks in Damascus, to say, hey, you are a sponsor of these folks, help us stop them, rein them in, whatever? MR. SNOW: I am not aware of recent conversations along those lines. I am aware that they have access to electronic communications including this. So let me be clear one more time: You need to do your part. But the ambassador -- so I don't know -- and I also don't know what would count as a contact. I honestly don't know if Ambassador Mustafa has spoken to people at State or elsewhere. Q Do you have a sense that there's a feeling that there would be a value to that? Or are we -- MR. SNOW: No, as a matter of fact, let me -- Secretary Rice sort of addressed this a little bit today, and let me see if I've got the comments with me, because she's talked about the fact -- Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, Bill Burns, a number of others over the years maintained pretty active contact with the Syrians. In addition, the President, I think as recently as 2004, had dispatched a letter to President Assad. So it is clear that there have been, over the last 30 years, many, many, many attempts to deal directly with the Syrians and it has yielded no discernable fruit. And so at this particular point, the Syrians know our position. But more importantly, a number of other countries that may in the past have been silent about it are no longer silent -- both publically and privately. And this would include people in the neighborhood. So the more significant -- the Syrians know what our position is, but now that they know their neighbors share substantially the same concerns, that may make a difference. I don't know. We'll have to see. Q Tony, I have one on that area and one domestic. MR. SNOW: Okay, we'll sever it -- well, okay, let's just do it. Let's get it over with. (Laughter.) Q I appreciate it. Thank you. Since Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has killed hundreds of Americans, why is it that the President wants Israel to cut short its war to destroy its infrastructure, since that is what the President pledged to do to all international terrorist organizations after September the 11th? MR. SNOW: Counselor, the question is argumentative, presumptuous, and makes assumptions not in evidence. (Laughter.) Q That was a network question, but all right. Tony, The Washington Post -- MR. SNOW: Let me just apologize personally to the network for legal jargon. Continue. (Laughter.) Q Well, we'll quote you. The Washington Post this morning quoted Maryland's Lieutenant Governor and Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Michael Steele, as saying that being a Republican is "like wearing a scarlet letter," and that he does not want the President to campaign for him this fall. And my question: Since Nathaniel Hawthorne's original scarlet letter was "A" for adultery, and Mr. Steele has, in effect, told the President to stay away from his campaign, are you just going to respond to this with an icy silence or an irritable evasion? Q Beautiful smile -- he's got a gorgeous smile. MR. SNOW: We have the broad sweep of literary history here. Let's walk through a couple of things. I am told by some of the reporters who were at the scene that it was mischaracterized. But I will leave to people who were there to characterize more fully the statements that were made. Number two, the President, the First Lady, the President's father, I believe the Vice President -- the Vice President, Karl Rove, this administration has been in Maryland campaigning for Michael Steele. We want him to become the next U.S. senator. Q Yes, and how grateful has he been? He said he doesn't want the President to campaign any more. MR. SNOW: Well, again, I've received characterizations, but having not been in the room, I think it's probably not up to me to say exactly what happened. There are probably different versions, and I would refer you either to the people who are elbowing up with him, or -- because, apparently -- well, in any event, or to Mr. Steele, himself. I'm just not going to -- Q You remember Tennyson's a great statement that "in gratitude thou marble-hearted fiend"? (Laughter.) MR. SNOW: Once again, you're leaping ahead. I think I've made my point on this. Q Did the President have an emotional reaction when he heard about Steele's comments? MR. SNOW: Not that I'm aware of. I wasn't there. Q And does he still support his candidacy? MR. SNOW: Yes, he does. Q We're all going to have to start wearing A's for "American" in a minute. On Beirut, NBC and -- I hope I've got the right network -- NBC had a fascinating report about Beirut, showing the Christian section saying it hadn't been changed at all. There are other reports that said only one percent of Beirut has been bombed. Is this true, and if so, what -- MR. SNOW: I honestly don't know. I'm just not in a position. Look, whatever the case, Connie, we are certainly concerned about civilian casualties. And we realize that the process of building and rebuilding democracy in Lebanon has two parts to it. Number one is the military part, which is developing the conditions for peace in the south. And the second is reconstruction, because there is going to be the need to rebuild. There is going to be the need to repatriate people who have lost their homes. All those things need to be done, and we're trying to work on both tracks. Peter. Q Going back to the questions about the Iraqi Prime Minister's approach or no approach to Hezbollah, he was asked in a private session with the senators today the same question he was asked at the news conference yesterday, and he again refused to characterize, in a private session, his feelings. So, to paraphrase what the President said after 9/11, "you're with us or you're with the terrorists." When it comes to Hezbollah -- we know where he stands on terrorism, in general, but when it comes to this group that the administration says is fomenting so much trouble, is this guy with us, or is he against us? MR. SNOW: Look, I'm just not going to play the game. I don't think any of us -- what the Prime Minister is doing is he's playing a pivotal role in the war on terror, and by setting the example, he's going to make it clear to everybody that democracy can succeed in the region, despite sectarian strife, despite attempts to assert terror, despite being wedged between Iran and Syria. So I think those are the important points. And again, I don't know if there are going to be subsequent statements out of his government, or not. He has never said he's for Hezbollah. So what you're -- so what everybody is complaining about is something that he hasn't said. And it strikes me that that is an attempt to draw American politics -- for American politics to become a consideration, rather than realize -- why did he come here? He came here because he's fighting a war on terror on his own soil. Q But, Tony, this is his neighborhood -- MR. SNOW: Yes, and? And? And? Q And since he's an ally, wouldn't you expect him to speak out about it? MR. SNOW: You know, we understand that allies have their own concerns, and what we're not going to do is to say to the Prime Minister, this is what you should say. We're not going to tell him, we want you to issue a statement against Hezbollah. It's inappropriate. He's the head of a sovereign state. He has the ability to say what he thinks, or, if he chooses not to answer the question, he has that right, too. Q How much of this approach do you think is designed for domestic -- MR. SNOW: I don't have -- Q -- situation that he has there? MR. SNOW: Don't know. Q Tony, with respect to the legislation on the detainees at Guantanamo, the Attorney General was interviewed today and he said that the administration has been looking to international tribunals, such as those that have been held in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as a guide. He also said that, these are ideas, but they're just ideas. So, two questions. First, to what extent is the administration trying to base this new commission approach on those kinds of international tribunals? And also, how much is this open to negotiation? MR. SNOW: Well, I don't -- I think, probably, Sheryl, the way to talk about it is "consultations." As your own story indicated, there has been considerable conversation with members of the United States Senate -- Senator Graham, as a Judge Advocate General, is somebody who has got special interest in this -- to figure out ways of bringing to justice those who were taken off of battlefields in a way that harmonizes with the letter of the Supreme Court's decision, and also does it in a way that's consistent with the American Constitution and American law. It's not a simple putt, as you've probably figured out. And so I think it is accurate to say that everybody is trying to figure out the best way to achieve all these aims. There's a lot of labeling and a lot of attempts -- I don't think that there's anything that is a clear parallel to this. I think you look for guidance in various experiences to see how you can do this effectively. Q How close is this draft to being final? MR. SNOW: I think you're going to have to talk to the people involved directly. A final -- I suspect you'll see a final draft when there's a piece of legislation. That will be the final draft. Q When will that be? MR. SNOW: Don't know. Q Thank you. MR. SNOW: Okay, thank you. END 1:00 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP DELIVERS REMARKS ON VACCINE IN ROSE GARDEN - STIX
1200 WH VACCINE REMARX STIX FS23 73 12:40:21 TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. It's very hot today. Please, sit down. This is going to be a very hot one, and we apologize to everybody out there that's going to suffer through it. But you know what? It's better than bad weather. And it's great to be in the Rose Garden. I want to especially thank this group for joining us as we announce a historic groundbreaking initiative in our ongoing effort to rapidly develop and manufacture a coronavirus vaccine. We're joined by Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary Alex Azar, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, FDA Director Dr. Stephen Hahn, Director of the National Institute of Health Dr. Francis Collins, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx. We're joined by a very terrific group of professionals. Tomorrow will mark 30 days since we released the White House guidelines for a safe and phased opening of America. That's what we're doing. It's the opening of America. We're going to have an amazing year next year. We're going to have a great transition into the fourth quarter. 12:41:38 As of this morning, almost every state has taken steps to begin reopening, and the American people are doing an extraordinary job of continuing to take precautions while, at the same time, wanting to start. And they will be starting to resume their American way of life. We will be reigniting our economic engines. We're going to be taking care of our most vulnerable, which are our senior citizens and some others. We're going to be working very, very hard on our senior citizens and our nursing homes and various communities to support those that are struggling in this very difficult time. Others don't have the same kind of struggle. For example, today Secretary Perdue, together with Ivanka Trump, launched the Farmers and [to] Families Food Box Program, which will provide $3 billion to help small farmers. And it'll be helping farmers, ranchers, but it'll be bringing food to some of the food lines and some of the food kitchens that you've been seeing on television. And I said, "Why aren't we doing that? We have all of this tremendous food produced by our farmers and our ranchers." And so we're going to be buying $3 billion worth of that food. Great for everybody: our farmers, our ranchers, and the people that need great food. 12:43:00 A key feature of our reopening plan is the largest and most ambitious testing system in the world, by far. America is now conducting close to 350,000 tests per day -- an unthinkable number just a short while ago -- more than anybody in the world, by far, suggesting many states now have excess testing capacity to monitor for new outbreaks. Florida, many other states have so much testing, they -- the testers are waiting for people to show up. It's great. Another essential pillar of our strategy to keep America open is the development of effective treatments and vaccines as quickly as possible. Want to see if we can do that very quickly. We're looking to -- when I say "quickly," we're looking to get it by the end of the year, if we can. Maybe before. We're doing tremendously well. From the earliest days of the pandemic, we have marshalled the genius of American scientists and researchers from all across government and the private sector, from academia, from everywhere, to vanquish the virus. And tremendous strides have been made, I can tell you. I get to see it every day. Tremendous strides are being made. 12:44:11 Scientists at the NIH began developing the first vaccine candidate on January 11th -- think of that -- within hours of the virus's genetic code being posted online. So, January 11th. Most people never even heard what was going on January 11th. And we were out there trying to develop a vaccine, not even knowing what we were up against. Then, my administration cut through every piece of red tape to achieve the fastest-ever, by far, launch of a vaccine trial for this new virus, this very vicious virus. And I want to thank all of the doctors and scientists and researchers involved because they've never moved like this, or never even close. The NIH and HHS have also been working constantly with private industry to evaluate more than 100 potential treatments. 12:45:10 The Food and Drug Administration has swiftly approved more than 130 therapies for active trials; that's what we have right now, 130. And another 450 are in the planning stages. And tremendous potential awaits. I think we're going to have some very interesting things to report in the not-too-distant future. And thank you very much to Dr. Hahn. Through a historic series of funding bills, my administration is providing roughly $10 billion to support a medical research effort without parallel. I especially want to thank Senator Steve Daines of Montana for his incredible work. He has worked so hard to secure additional funding for vaccine development. He has been right at the forefront. Today I want to update you on the next stage of this momentous medical initiative. It's called Operation Warp Speed. That means big and it means fast. A massive scientific, industrial, and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project. 12:46:18 You really could say that nobody has seen anything like we're doing, whether it's ventilators or testing. Nobody has seen anything like we're doing now, within our country, since the Second World War. Incredible. Its objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again, we'd love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year. We think we're going to have some very good results coming out very quickly. In addition, it will continue accelerating the development of diagnostics and breakthrough therapies. The great national project will bring together the best of American industry and innovation, the full resources of the United States government, and the excellence and precision of the United States military. We have the military totally involved. We're also working very strongly with other countries who are also -- have some great, great scientists, doctors. And we're all working very closely together, and they're viewing us as the leader, and we are -- the relationship with other countries on solving this problem has been incredible. 12:47:31 To date, Operation Warp Speed has brought together all of the experts across the federal government from places like the NIH, CDC, FDA, and many other agencies. This historic partnership will now bring together the full resources of the Department of Health and Human Services with the Department of Defense. And we know what that means. That means the full power and strength of military -- the military. And that -- really, talking about the logistics -- if we get it, when we get it. That means the logistics, getting it out, so that everybody can take it. And today, we're proud to announce the addition of two of the most highly respected and skilled professionals in our country -- worldwide respected. Operation Warp Speed's chief scientist will be Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist who helped create 14 new vaccines -- that's a lot of our new vaccines -- in 10 years, during his time in the private sector. One of the most respected men in the world in the production and, really, on the formulation of vaccines. 12:48:44 Joining Dr. Slaoui as Chief Operating Officer will be General Gus Perna, a four-star general who currently oversees 190,000 service members, civilians, and contractors as Commander of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. That means logistics. That means getting it out. We got to get it out there. So, General, thank you very much, and, Doctor, thank you very much. It's great to have you onboard. Really highly respected people. Thank you. These two outstanding individuals will provide more details following my remarks. In preparation for this initiative, experts throughout the government have been collaborating to evaluate roughly 100 vaccine candidates from all over the world. They have identified 14 that they believe are the most promising, and they're working to narrow that list still further. So we started off with over 100, we're down to 14, and we have some really interesting choices to be made. They're doing very well. Through Operation Warp Speed, the federal government is providing unprecedented support and resources to safely expedite the trials, moving on at record, record, record speed. 12:49:59 While we accelerate the final phases of vaccine trials, Operation Warp Speed will be simultaneously accelerating its manufacturing and manufacturing process. In other words, we're getting ready so that when we get the good word -- that we have the vaccine, we have the formula, we have what we need -- we're ready to go, as opposed to taking years to gear up. We're gearing up. It's risky, it's expensive, but we'll be saving massive amounts of time. We'll be saving years if we do this properly, and that's what we're doing. So we're gearing up on the assumption that we'll have, in the near future -- relatively near future -- a vaccine. Typically, pharmaceutical companies wait to manufacture a vaccine -- a vaccine until it has received all of the regulatory approvals necessary, and this can delay vaccines' availability to the public as much as a year and even more than that. However, our task is so urgent that, under Operation Warp Speed, the federal government will invest in manufacturing all of the top vaccine candidates before they're approved. So we're knowing exactly what we're doing before they're approved. That means they better come up with a good vaccine because we're ready to deliver it. This will eliminate any unnecessary delay and enable us to begin providing Americans with a proven vaccine the day our scientists say, "We're ready. We got it." 12:51:32 And as we work to bring critical medical production back to America, these vaccines will manufacture -- that we're going to be focused on and manufacturing. They're all going to be right here in the USA. Now, we're working, as I said, with other people outside, and that's fine too. We want to get to the solution. We know exactly where the other countries are, and we'll be very happy if they are able to do it. We'll help them with delivery. We'll help them with -- in every way we can. We have no ego when it comes to this. No ego whatsoever. Operation Warp Speed is also making the necessary preparations to distribute these lifesaving treatments at scale. So we're talking about massive numbers so that millions of Americans will quickly have access to them. This includes ramping up production of supplies needed for distribution. And I have to say, we're also very, very much involved in other things other than the vaccine. If you take a look at what we're doing beyond vaccines, it's going to be very interesting and we may talk about that in a little -- in a little while. But this includes ramping up production of supplies needed for distribution such as cold chain storage, glass vials, needles, syringes, and more. We'll have everything right on hand, ready to go. 12:53:00 When a vaccine is ready, the U.S. government will deploy every plane, truck, and soldier required to help distribute it to the American people as quickly as possible. America is blessed to have the most brilliant, talented doctors and researchers anywhere in the world. We have the mightiest military by far in the world. Our military is completely rebuilt. Much of the equipment has been delivered; some of it's on the way. All made right here in the USA. We took over very, very empty cupboards, I say, medically. We also had empty cupboards in a military sense; our military was in sad shape. It was depleted. We now have the strongest military the United States has ever had by far and the best equipment. 12:53:46 And you hear that outside, that beautiful sound; those are truckers that are with us all the way. They're protesting in favor of President Trump, as opposed to against. There's hundreds of trucks out there. And that's the sign of love, not the sign of your typical protests. So I want to thank our great truckers. They like me and I like them. We're working on something together. But we have the mightiest -- and they'll be helping us with this, by the way, speaking of truckers. We have the mightiest military in the long history of humankind. We have the best and most devoted workers ever to walk the face of the Earth. And now we're combining all of these amazing strengths for the most aggressive vaccine project in history. There's never been a vaccine project anywhere in history like this. And I just want to make something clear. It's very important: Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back. And we're starting the process. And in many cases, they don't have vaccines, and a virus or a flu comes, and you fight through it. We haven't seen anything like this in 100-and-some-odd years -- 1917. 12:54:54 But you fight through it. And people sometimes, I guess -- we don't know exactly yet, but it looks like they become immune, or at least for a short while, and maybe for life. But you fight through it. But what we'd like to do, if we can, is the vaccine. I think we're going to be successful in doing it and hopefully by the end of the year. Just as generations of Americans before us faced down the most difficult trials, set their sights on the highest summit, and overcame the biggest obstacles, America will meet the moment -- and this moment, specifically, in our time. With unrivaled speed, unmatched scale, and the unyielding spirit of the American people, our nation will come back stronger and greater than ever. We're going to have a tremendous year next year. We're going to have a really good fourth quarter. We're going to have a very interesting and productive transition quarter, where -- Steve is there. And I'm sure our Secretary of the Treasury, I think you feel the same way, Steve. So -- and thank you for your good work. Really good work. And it's not finished yet, is it? I want to thank Steve Mnuchin, everybody. 12:56:00 Now I'd like to ask Dr. Slaoui and General Perna to come up and say a few words, followed by Secretary Azar and Secretary Esper. Thank you all very much. We're doing something that has never been done before. It's going to result in a tremendous end. I think we're going to come up with a solution to a problem like this country probably has never seen before. But it's an honor to be your President. We're doing a great job. These people are doing an incredible job. The people right here -- I want to thank you all. Total professionals. Great men, great women. Thank you all very much. Please. 12:56:45 SLAOUI: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon everyone. It's a great honor and a privilege for me to have the opportunity to serve our country and the world in this remarkable endeavor -- extraordinary endeavor -- helping them and supporting them to do it. The Operation Warp Speed's objectives are very clear. The President has described them. And I believe they are very credible. I also believe they are extremely challenging. However, I am really confident that our team across the many governmental agencies that are involved in these efforts -- the NIH, the CDC, the FDA, ASPR, and, of course, with the support of the Army -- and our partners in the private sector, we'll be able and we'll do the utmost to deliver these objectives. In fact, Mr. President, I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine. And this data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020. TRUMP: That's great. SLAOUI: And we will do the best we can. The best we can to do that. Thank you. (APPLAUSE) We will, of course, also focus on progressing and accelerating development of medicines for those who unfortunately already caught the virus, as well as optimize the diagnostic tests. This will be our focus 24/7 over the next many months. Thank you. Thank you. TRUMP: Thank you, Doctor, very much. 12:58:32 PERNA: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Thank you. Thank you for this great honor for allowing me to be a part of this team. I'm very excited about this team. It will be historic as we execute the mission that's been given to us. I also feel very confident that the team will be able to provide the results as directed. It is going to be a Herculean task, but the combination of the two main partners -- between Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense -- their combined strengths, partnered with the other teammates, will ensure our success. One of the great advantages that we have as a military is our ability to do logistical and sustainment operations afar. We're just going to apply those capabilities to this mission. This mission is about defeating the enemy. We will defeat the enemy. Why? Because winning matters. And I'm excited to be a part of this team. And, Mr. President, thank you. TRUMP: Thank you very much, General. We appreciate it. (APPLAUSE) 12:59:38 AZAR: Well, thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership of this historic effort. Your vision for Operation Warp Speed, setting a goal of a vaccine by January 2021, will be one of the great scientific and humanitarian accomplishments in human history. Today you're announcing the team that can get it done. Dr. Slaoui is arguably the world's most experienced and successful vaccine developer, responsible for some of the major recent breakthroughs in vaccines. General Perna oversees one of the world's largest logistics and supply-chain operations: the one that keeps the Army running. Three highly accomplished career HHS scientists will oversee each area of Operation Warp Speed: Dr. Peter Marks of FDA for vaccines, Dr. Janet Woodcock of FDA for therapeutics, and Dr. Bruce Tromberg of NIH for diagnostics. This is truly a dream team. We started work on each of these areas in January, and Congress has provided nearly $10 billion explicitly for this kind of research and development effort. Operation Warp Speed will integrate existing efforts that are coordinating vaccine, therapeutic, and countermeasure development, including NIH's ACTIV and RADx initiatives. This week, HHS and DOD already announced new contracts to manufacture hundreds of millions of needle and syringe -- needles and syringes here in America for distributing an eventual vaccine. Finally, the President's efforts will ensure not only that we get vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics faster, but that we get large donations of the eventual products so they're affordable for the American people. So, thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to all of the American scientists and inventors at HHS, at DOD, and elsewhere who are hard at work already. And I really want to express my personal appreciation to Secretary Esper and the Department of Defense because this partnership is what's going to make this truly a historic endeavor. Thank you. (APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Thank you. 13:01:48 ESPER: Well, thank you, Mr. President, for your leadership of this bold and historic initiative. The Department of Defense is very excited and committed to working closely with our partners at HHS, across the government, and in the private sector to accomplish the mission we have been given. Winning matters, and we will deliver, by the end of this year, a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad. You know, the Department of Defense has been in this fight since day one, going back to January. We've stayed ahead of the curve every step of the way. And today, on America's streets, across the nation, over 60,000 service members from all branches of the service are still out there. Whether it's doctors and nurses in hospitals, whether it's National Guard on the streets of America, or the Corps of Engineers continuing to build out capacity in America's hospitals, we are there and we will be there, Mr. President. And we look forward to this next greatest phase of this fight against the coronavirus. We were all in then, we are all in now, and we will be all in in the future, and we will deliver on time, bringing the full weight to bear -- the full weight of the Department of Defense, all of our first-class, world-class researchers and scientists, our ability to manage logistics at scale, and our great distributional capabilities. We will deliver. We will win this fight. And, Mr. President, thank you again for all that you've done. We will get the job done. (APPLAUSE) TRUMP: Thank you. I know you will. I know you will. Any questions? Please. Yeah, go ahead. QUESTION: Mr. President, you said, "No vaccine..." -- "Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back." What did you mean by that? 13:03:23 TRUMP: We think we're going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future. And if we do, we're going to really be a big step ahead. And if we don't, we're going to be like so many other cases, where you had a problem come in, it'll go away -- at some point, it'll go away. It may flare up, and it may not flare up. We'll have to see what happens. But if it does flare up, we're going to put out the fire, and we'll put it out quickly and efficiently. We've learned a lot. Steve, do you have a question? QUESTION: We've heard that the vaccine typically would take 12 to 18 months to develop. How can you do it in a speedier fashion? What makes you think this will work? TRUMP: Well, they started actually, I guess you heard, in January -- early January. And they've been working on it -- I know so many -- and private companies have been working on it. The government has been working on it. So we've got the time because we put a very -- and they've literally been working 24 hours a day. So we've got -- we've got the time, and we hope to be able to do something by the end of the year or shortly thereafter. 13:04:25 But again, you know, it's not solely vaccine-based. Other things have never had a vaccine and they go away. So I don't want people to think that this is all dependent on vaccine, but a vaccine would be a tremendous thing. And I will tell you, therapeutically, or therapeutics, what's going on there is equally as impressive. We have some things happening. You know, we have the remdesivir from Gilead. We have other things that are very good. I think that a lot is happening -- happening therapeutically. I can't say that it's, relatively speaking, equal to what's going on with vaccines, but I think it's -- it's doing very well. Very well. So therapeutics are a big factor. Yeah, please. QUESTION: Is there a global competition to develop this vaccine? Like if France develops it first, will they share it with us? TRUMP: Yeah, if -- and we have that very well worked out. Whoever gets it is going to be very proud to give it and develop it -- they've developed it. And we'll see what happens. We've got countries that are allies that are -- we have some countries, frankly, that aren't allies, where we're working very closely together. 13:05:35 So we're working together with many different countries. And again, we have no ego. We have no ego. Whoever gets it, we think it's great. We're going to work with them; they're going to work with us. Likewise, if we get it, we're going to be working with them. So it's very important. It's a very good question, actually. Yeah, please. QUESTION: Mr. President, what do you say to those business owners and other people who are really questioning the guidance that the CDC put out last night? There was a concern that it would be overly prescriptive. Now there's a concern it's not prescriptive enough. What are business owners to do? TRUMP: Well, I thought the guidance was very good. I've heard very good reviews on the guidance. And, you know, the media will never be satisfied. If we gave you more description, that would be no good. If we gave you less, that would be no good. But I thought it was very good, and I've heard a lot of good things. Go ahead. Please. Green. QUESTION: Mr. President, do you have a problem or any concerns -- do you have any concerns about the Abbott test, given some of the new numbers that have come out about (INAUDIBLE)? TRUMP: No, Abbott is a great -- it's a great test. It's a very quick test. And it can always be very rapidly double-checked. If you're testing positive or negative, it can always be double-checked. But it's a very good test. It's very portable, very quick. Okay? 13:06:39 QUESTION: And then what happens if China is the country that develops the vaccine? What happens if it's China? Will the U.S. still have access to that vaccine? TRUMP: I would say the answer to that would be yes. I would say the answer would be yes. Yes, go ahead, please. QUESTION: Can you clarify: Do you mean a fully approved -- do you mean a fully approved vaccine for everyone? TRUMP: You -- excuse me, you're going to have to remove it. You can't hear through your mask. QUESTION: Do you mean a fully approved vaccine for the entire general public, or a partially approved vaccine for emergency use? TRUMP: What did she say? AZAR: (INAUDIBLE) vaccine or not. QUESTION: Let me go to the mic. Sorry. Let me repeat that now I'm closer to the mic. Do you mean a fully approved vaccine for everyone? The full public? Or a partially approved vaccine with emergency use? TRUMP: No, we're looking for a full vaccine for everyone that wants to get it. Not everybody is going to want to get it. QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) TRUMP: But we're looking at a full vaccine. Is that a correct statement? AZAR: Yeah. We'll -- TRUMP: Please. Yes. 13:07:36 AZAR: So the answer is -- the answer is yes. We're working for a fully approved vaccine, but we'll also use the tools we have -- for instance, emergency use authorization -- as appropriate. We use all of our regulatory tools to bring vaccine available for the entire American population by January. QUESTION: Okay. And then, Mr. President, could you just clarify: Why are some of you wearing a mask and why are some of you not wearing a mask? TRUMP: We've all been tested. I've been tested. We've all been tested. And we're quite a distance away and we're outdoor. So I told them -- I gave them the option: they could wear it or not. So you can blame it on me, but I gave him the option: we could wear it or not. Yeah, please. QUESTION: Mr. President, would a U.S. vaccine will be available to the rest of the world at an affordable rate? At a low cost? TRUMP: The last thing anybody is looking for is profit, in terms of what we're doing. Every company, they want to get it out. We've had that -- we've had a great experience on remdesivir. We've had a great experience on everything we've done. People are looking to come up with the answer. They're not looking and -- you know, typically they're saying, "Oh, how much am I going to make? How much?" They really have been -- there's been a great spirit on this. They want to get to the bottom of it. And I think we'll be able to do that. QUESTION: And one more, Mr. President. The Indian American communities are appreciating your help in fighting the vaccine -- coronavirus. What is your message to those 4 million Indian Americans here? 13:08:54 TRUMP: So, India has been so great. And, as you know, your -- your Prime Minister has been a very good friend of mine. I just got back, a short while ago, from India recently. And we're working very much with India too. And we have a tremendous Indian population in the United States. And many of the people that you're talking about are working on the vaccine too. Great scientists and researchers. Yeah, we're working very closely also with India. Correct. And say hello to your Prime Minister. Yeah, please go ahead. QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. What steps, if any, is your administration taking to ensure that the communities and the states that are hardest hit will have first access to the vaccine? Have these discussions been had or are there any plans -- TRUMP: Yeah, I think we've done a good job with that. Certain areas have been hit very hard: New York, New Jersey, et cetera, et cetera. You know, working very closely with the governors. We've worked with all of the governors. We made a lot of people look very good with what we've done on ventilators, with what we've done on testing. We're working with all of the governors. We just sent a big transit package to New Jersey. I just spoke to the governor of New Jersey, who is a terrific person, by the way, I have to tell you. And I just told him, "A lot of money is coming your way for the transit." And also, I spoke with the governor of New York, Governor Cuomo. We just had a conversation yesterday. We're sending them a lot of transportation money. So it's important. But we've had a very good relationship working with all of the states -- regardless. All of the states. 13:10:25 And if we do get fortunate enough -- and I think we're skilled enough -- but fortunate enough to have a vaccine, it'll get out fairly and quickly. QUESTION: Do you foresee that states that are hardest hit will have first dibs? So will, like, New York and New Jersey have -- TRUMP: I think that makes sense, perhaps. You know, perhaps it does. But, you know, I would say probably, but I think they're all going to get well distributed. You know, if you remember where we started, we had no ventilators. We had to make them. And we became a very major manufacturer of ventilators. Now we're helping countries all over the world with ventilators. We're sending them to many countries all over the world. When we started, we didn't have ventilators. We -- I inherited nothing. I inherited practically nothing from the previous administration, unfortunately. Yeah, go ahead. QUESTION: Mr. President, it's been three months since you signed the China trade deal. Between what's happened with coronavirus and the lagging agricultural purchases, are you at any point considering re-imposing additional tariffs on China or tearing up the deal in any other way? 13:11:28 TRUMP: Well, I don't want to talk about it. I can say China is buying a lot of our product. But the trade deal -- the ink was barely dry when this came in from China. So it's not like we're thrilled. Okay, go ahead. Please. QUESTION: Mr. President, can I ask one more? TRUMP: Yeah. QUESTION: I'm wondering if you're standing by the nomination of Michael Pack to lead Voice of America after news that the D.C. Attorney General is (INAUDIBLE)? 13:11:48 TRUMP: Well, I don't know what happened. I know that Voice of America is run in a terrible manner. Terrible. They're not the voice of America, they're the opposite of the voice of America. Yeah, please. QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. If public confidence is the main thing of getting people back to work and back to schools and so on, is this even possible without a vaccine? How would it be possible without a vaccine -- public confidence? TRUMP: Well, I think a very big factor, frankly, is that very few people are -- you know, we read about all of the very sad, very tragic -- I've lost friends. Many of us have lost friends. We read about that and we see that, and that's what the news covers, but a very, very small -- it's a very small percentage. It's a very, very small percentage. I say it all the time: It's a tiny percentage. 13:12:44 The vast majority, many people don't even know they have it. They have it or they have sniffles or they have a very minor sign and they recover. Not only recover, they probably have immunity, whether it's short term, long term. But they have, probably, immunity. And I think people have to understand that. That's why I think the schools should be back in the fall. I think that lots of things should happen. I don't think that you should have 70-year-old teachers back yet. They should wait until everything is gone. I don't think you should have a professor that's 65 and has diabetes or has a bad heart back necessarily, or somebody that's older than that. But we want to see our schools back. We want to see our country start to work again. We created the greatest economy in -- in the history of the world, and we're going to do it again. And you're going to see that next year, and it's going to start -- you'll start to see it in the fourth quarter, maybe even before that. Yeah. QUESTION: Mr. President, are you at all concerned about children or teachers who are in the -- in the school bringing it home to their families, their spouses, their grandparents? 13:13:47 TRUMP: I'm concerned about everything, and I'm also concerned about our country. Our country has to get back. And, you know, what you're talking is -- when you are doing what we did with the shutdown, that causes death also. It causes massive depression. It causes drugs. It causes suicide. It causes a lot of problems also. No, our country has to get back to work again. And you see that, just looking and reading, everything that's happening. Our people want to get back. They want to get back. Yeah. QUESTION: Sir, do you have a plan to prevent the spread if you -- if your reopen the schools? TRUMP: We do. We do. We have a great plan to prevent the spread, but that doesn't mean we're going to close our country for five years. Okay? Not going to happen. QUESTION: Particularly in the schools, you have a plan? TRUMP: Go ahead. QUESTION: Do you accept that the current death toll is about 86,000? TRUMP: At current, it's about 86,000. Yes. QUESTION: Do you think that's accurate, or do you think it's higher than that? 13:14:38 TRUMP: I don't -- or lower than that. I don't know. I don't know. Those are the numbers that are being reported. I assume they're correct. Unlike other countries -- I mean, you have some countries -- obviously, you have some that are very obviously ridiculous, but our numbers are accurate numbers. We don't do anything with the numbers one way or the other. Whatever it is -- QUESTION: Do you have any indi- -- TRUMP: -- that's what we do. We take the numbers as reported. Okay? QUESTION: Do you have any indication that they could be lower than that? TRUMP: Oh, I don't know. I don't know. If they were, I'd be very happy if they were lower. I'd like to see numbers lower. I'd like to see no death at all. One death is too many. This should have never happened. This came from China. It should have been stopped in China before it got out to the world. We have 186 -- it's been updated this morning -- 186 countries are affected. And each country that's affected is the same thing. Russia now is badly affected. France is badly affected. You look at what each country -- and you can say "affected" or you can say "infected," either way you want to put it. 13:15:43 But you look at these countries. Look at Italy and you look at Spain and you look at all of these great countries, in many cases, how they've -- how they've had to fight through this. It's a terrible thing that happened. It could have been stopped at the source. It should have been stopped right at the source, but it wasn't. Thank you all very much. We appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. 13:16:03