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White House Press Release

PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY






                            THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary _____________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 26, 1996

PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY

The Briefing Room

1:39 P.M. EDT

MR. MCCURRY: Thank you for our previous briefer on those matters. Let me start with an announcement. After carefully reviewing the matter, the President has denied the application by Jonathan Pollard for executive clemency. As in his previous review of the matter in March of 1994, the President made his decision, taking into account the recommendation of the Attorney General and the unanimous views of the law enforcement and national security agencies.

A little background on this, you all recall that Jonathan Pollard was convicted, I believe in 1985, of espionage activities. His first request for commutation of sentence was denied by President Bush in January of 1993. President Clinton denied his second request in March of 1994 -- March 23rd. The President, as I said, concurred in the recommendation that came from the Attorney General and was unanimously supported by law enforcement and national security agencies. The President agreed with Attorney General Reno's judgment that the enormity of Mr. Pollard's offenses, his lack of remorse, the damage done to our national security, the need for general deterrence and the continuing threat to national security that he posed made the original life sentence imposed by the court warranted. The President also concurred that to shorten the sentence at this time after he has served only 10 years on that sentence at this point is unwarranted and would disserve the goal of deterrence.

The President also noted that the Attorney General observed that he has not availed himself of the prospects of parole. He became eligible for parole in November of 1995. That possible remedy has not been explored by Mr. Pollard or his attorneys. Q Did the Prime Minister of Israel raise this issue when he met with President Clinton a few weeks ago? MR. MCCURRY: This issue has been frequently raised by officials of the Israeli government. I'm not aware that it was raised directly by Prime Minister Netanyahu. It had been raised on previous occasions with President Clinton by Prime Minister Rabin, but it has been a regular source of discussion when high officials of the United States government meet with officials of the Israeli government. Q And it's fair to say that they've asked President Clinton to grant him clemency? MR. MCCURRY: They have raised this matter and had asked for him to grant clemency -- that's correct. Q If I can follow up, the President was meeting with the Jewish leaders next door. Is the release of this announcement today -- does that coincide with that meeting? MR. MCCURRY: It coincides in part. My understanding is that the President was going to notify them of this decision. This matter had been under review for some time. The President had come to this conclusion some time ago, but he did plan to notify both the Justice Department, the government of Israel today of this decision. And I believe he was going to share that with some of the leaders he met with. Q And one final question. Would the President have made the same decision if Rabin had been -- Peres had been elected? MR. MCCURRY: The President would have made this decision regardless of any internal political dynamic in Israel because it's based on the law and on all of the different concerns that I just raised. Q I don't understand why you bring up the parole issue. Are you suggesting that he ought to be trying to get out through a parole process? MR. MCCURRY: I just wanted to suggest that as another remedy available to him under our system of justice that has not been explored. Q And the President would look favorably on that kind of effort? MR. MCCURRY: I'm not making any statement of that nature. That would have to be explored through the same very careful process that was used in consideration of the clemency request. Q Would the President have anything to say about the parole or is that a -- MR. MCCURRY: Parole decisions, I believe, are handled at the Justice Department and then, in some cases, referred to the White House for presidential action. I am not -- I want to double-check that. I'm not entirely an expert on that.

Next, the First Family will return to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for their vacation this year. They're scheduled to arrive on Friday, August 9th, and they will leave Jackson Hole on Saturday, August 17th. They are looking forward to their second year in Jackson Hole. They had a wonderful time there last year, and I understand it was a close decision, but a unanimous decision within the First Family that they return there this year.

Q What was number two -- Lake Tahoe? Q Where will they stay in Jackson?

MR. MCCURRY: They're going to be staying at a private residence of a close friend of the First Family's.

Q The same residence as last year?

MR. MCCURRY: No. They're going to be staying at the home of a guy named Max Chapman, who is a good friend of theirs and also a good friend of Erskine Bowles.

Q Will the President go directly from Jackson Hole to New York for his 50th birthday party? MR. MCCURRY: The schedule on that is not entirely clear at this point. There is some possibility, as he did last year, that the President might do one or two public events during the course of the vacation, and we will keep you apprised on that. But the current plan is for him to enjoy a week of relaxation.

Q Will he visit other places? This would be in other places in the United States?

MR. MCCURRY: He would stay in the continental United States. In fact, he would most likely stay very nearby Jackson Hole.

Q It wouldn't be just down on the road?

MR. MCCURRY: Remember last year he went out and did one or two things during the course of the week. He might do something similar to that. My understanding is he will return either late that Thursday evening or early Friday morning and then depart later in the day on Friday for Jackson Hole.

Q And would the purpose of the events there be other than responding to anything that the Republicans are saying in San Diego or the nomination of their candidate?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that the President will be inclined to follow closely events in San Diego while he is on vacation. He may have some things to say on other issues that -- Q You say that he is coming back from San Diego, then going back out to -- MR. MCCURRY: That's what the current plan is, but we will finalize that itinerary and I'll let you know. Q It's something of a tradition that incumbent presidents lay low while the opposition party is having its convention and -- MR. MCCURRY: And going on vacation is a good way to lay low. Q Barring any extraordinary events like a Ross Perot dropping in or out or sideways in the race, is the President going to hold to that tradition in terms of political comment? MR. MCCURRY: He will hold to that tradition. The only thing that would compel a high public profile is if space aliens came to the Washington and destroyed the White House. (Laughter.) That would probably compel him to come out of his blissful vacation mode. Q How many holes of golf do you anticipate? MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Mark Knoller of CBS News has been appointed by the White House to keep a running tally of number of holes of golf played, if he's willing to accept that assignment. That is, I should stress, a nonofficial appointment. Q Are you going with him? MR. MCCURRY: Not if I can get out from under that responsibility. Q Can you give us week ahead? MR. MCCURRY: I'll do that in a little bit. Q Where will he be right before Jackson Hole? MR. MCCURRY: He's got a planned trip to the West Coast for some campaigning and some fundraising, and returning very late Thursday night or possibly early Friday morning, as is, unfortunately, our custom when we are on the West Coast. Q Returning late, that is. MR. MCCURRY: We always enjoy campaigning. Q Do you have any comment on Susan Molinari's acknowledged smoking of marijuana 17 years ago? Q You didn't do it with her, Mike? (Laughter.) MR. MCCURRY: No, but I'm glad you raised the subject. (Laughter.) For one reason -- earlier today the President issued a proclamation that Sunday, this coming Sunday, is Parents Day. And on Parents Day, I will be with my parents on my own vacation. And I will have to explain to them some of those things that I said from this podium last week. And I also had a call from General McCaffrey who, as you know, is the Director of our Drug Control Strategy. And he said, listen, you know, your remarks were rather incomplete. And I said, yes, and rather inadequate, too. It's been suggested by some that I communicated a cavalier attitude towards things that I confessed to here. And if I left that impression, that was wrong because I, of course, know that drug use is wrong. I know that's why this President has zero tolerance policy for drug use here at this White House. And I know that there are 50 million Americans who at one point tried drugs and who no longer use drugs. And while we should honor redemption and recovery as being important parts of a drug control strategy, at the same time, we have to make very clear to our kids and to everyone that drug use is wrong. So on Parents Day, I'll have to deal with my own Mommy and Daddy, who are not going to be very happy and were not very happy with me, and I also have to look at my kids and explain to them why something that Daddy did 20 years ago is something wrong that they should not do today. Q Did the President take you -- MR. MCCURRY: And I -- since your question was about Susan Molinari, she is a new mother herself and I'm sure she has that same attitude. Q Did the President talk to you directly about your remarks? MR. MCCURRY: No. I talked to General McCaffrey about it. And I've been thinking of that myself, and I thought he was right on it when he said that I should go the extra mile making it clear that I was not complete enough in my remarks last week.

Q So is this a public apology?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's a public acknowledgement that I didn't make it clear last week that the behavior I confessed to was wrong.

Q Does this mean we have to get --

MR. MCCURRY: And I agree -- you know, I took -- there have been a couple of noted Republican figures who have made that point. And to the degree that they said somehow I communicated a cavalier attitude, if I did, they're right. Q I'm just struck by the fact that you had this inside of you and wanted to get it out at this point. Have you been thinking about this or was this something that maybe the President thought would be a good idea?

MR. MCCURRY: I have not talked to the President about it.

Q Done anything else wrong? (Laughter.)

Q We're cheaper than psychiatry.

MR. MCCURRY: And Wolf asked a question -- I think you were hoping for your own purposes that I would take a punch at Susan Molinari. And I won't, because I have seen what she said, and I think that -- I bet you, if you ask her, what I just communicated reflects how she feels, too.

Q Do you have anything else to confess?

MR. MCCURRY: I have many sins in my past for which I could confess, but I know that I am forgiven.

Q Does this mean a whole new batch of greeting cards?

MR. MCCURRY: What?

Q Does this mean a whole new batch of greeting cards, this Parents Day thing? What's that all about?

MR. MCCURRY: The President's proclamation on Parents Day points out something he has been talking about often: It is very, very hard -- very, very hard and there a lot of people in this room that know this -- very, very hard to succeed as parents and to succeed at home when you face the demands that many people face in the workplace. And you have heard the President talk a lot recently about finding ways that we can encourage people to be both successful at work and successful at home, and acknowledging that parents have special responsibilities, God-given opportunities, and that we need to pull together to make their life within the family successful is an important part of the leadership he provides as President. Q Today, Tom Daschle said that there was still some impediments in the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill on health care. Is the President satisfied with the compromise that's been worked out up on the Hill? MR. MCCURRY: There are some things that are left to do. As you know, the President had a statement last night, and as you know, the President had a statement last night and we are very, very encouraged by the developments, by the negotiations that Senator Kennedy and Chairman Archer had. We believe that the structure of the experiment for medical savings accounts take into reflection our concerns, but this is a perfect example of how people can work together to get good things done for this country if Republicans and Democrats set aside partisan labels and move ahead. We need more of this, not less of this. We could do this now with minimum wage, we could do it with welfare reform, we could do it with balancing the budget, and it requires people of good faith to work together to try to come up with solutions and, frankly, it requires some give and take. We've still got some unresolved issues that we are going to work on. For example, we remain very much supportive of the Wellstone-Domenici amendment on mental health parity -- I was asked about that earlier, and we do understand that there are some encouraging discussions underway about a possible compromise there that will take into account some of the concerns of the private sector. The employer-provided health insurance system is an important part of the way we make health insurance coverage available in this country, but we've demonstrated now that when we work together, we can resolve these kinds of issues. And the President looks forward to signing this bill because he believes now that it will be enacted. Q Same subject. What do you realistically expect --one week from today is the last you get any action out of Congress. What, realistically, do you expect? Do you expect Kassebaum-Kennedy? Do you expect minimum wage? Do you expect welfare? MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Panetta has been on the Hill this morning, has met with congressional leaders to talk further about the calendar. We certainly believe now because of the agreement on a conference that was reached last night that a conference committee can quickly finish work on a Kassebaum-Kennedy health insurance bill and make health insurance coverage more available for those who are changing jobs. We also believe, because of that agreement, it's highly likely now that Congress can pass a minimum wage increase by the time of the August recess. And we certainly hope that a conference committee on welfare reform continues to work to maintain the approach to welfare reform that the President has endorsed -- one that has very sharp and tough requirements on work, but one that remains very supportive of children so that our obligations to children are kept. If we do that, there's a good prospect that these three very significant pieces of legislation could be enacted before Congress leaves for its summer recess. And we expect and believe the American people would applaud the Congress and applaud the spirit of bipartisan cooperation that led to those types of achievements if Congress does, in fact, complete action on those three measures. Q Mike, you said this morning -- Q Can I just stay with this a minute? Q Just a second. Is this a big -- huge -- political victory for the President this year? You were joking this morning about a Rose Garden ceremony, but I didn't -- MR. MCCURRY: This would be a victory for all of those who believe you can work together to solve problems. The Congress can work with the President. The Republicans can work with Democrats. That the House can work with the Senate. And we fully expect that all of those would share in the credit if we were able to pass these three significant measures and do they to the satisfaction of both branches of government and both political parties. There's plenty of credit to go around. Q I didn't hear Bob Dole's name in there. MR. MCCURRY: He didn't have anything to do with any of this, as far as I know. He's not here anymore. Q Rephrasing Mick, how big of a victory for President Clinton is the fact that Mexico will pre-pay $7 billion? MR. MCCURRY: We will crow a little bit about that if you don't mind. You'll recall, back in January of 1995, after some initial indications that Congress would be supportive of the President's effort to deal with the economic conditions in Mexico, to deal with the distress that the Mexican economy faced at that point, after initial indications of support the Congress then took a walk on the President. The President had to go it alone. He did so because he believed it was right. It was not very popular politically. It took a certain amount of political courage for the President to step forward and say, this is in the interests of the United States to deal with the Mexican economy to see if we can't help our neighbor and deal with the economic conditions that exist. We offered the economic assistance package that we did. And it worked. The Mexican economy is on a strong road to recovery now. They have now indicated that three quarters of the amount in the initial loan package will be repaid with interest, so the American taxpayers actually made money on this deal. And for the first time our exports to Mexico are on the way up, given the strength of the Mexican economy.

That's good news for the people of the United States of America. And it certainly vindicates the judgment of President Clinton, who was criticized in some quarters for having made that assistance available.

Q Mike, just to follow up on Mick's question. Do you think the reason that there is progress on welfare and Kennedy-Kassebaum is because Dole left? In other words, was his leaving what allowed progress to be made?

MR. MCCURRY: It's impossible for me to say. What I can say is that people of good faith in both parties, in the House and the Senate, came together because they wanted to move these necessary pieces of legislation forward. They wanted to raise the minimum wage, which is something important to do, and they wanted to make health care coverage more available. And I think people act for different reasons, but in this case everybody, I believe, first and foremost, was acting in the interests of the nation.

Q Mike, has the President responded to Prime Minister Hashimoto about the July 31 date that is coming up? Hashimoto asked him to intervene, in relationship to what they discussed in Lyon, the semiconductors --

MR. MCCURRY: The semiconductor talks -- well, he has in the sense that he has given very careful review to the instructions are negotiators in Vancouver have. And I understand that they're still in session now, so I would prefer not to comment on those deliberations, but there are discussions underway. And we certainly hope that on insurance, on semiconductors, on aviation issues, that we can reach some agreements with the Japanese government.

But the President was actively engaged in making sure that our negotiators made every effort to reach an agreement consistent with our concerns and our law, but also consistent with the spirit of bipartisan cooperation in which we engage in trade and related discussions with the government of Japan.

Q Republicans are saying that the President will sign any welfare bill. He is dying to sign it. He thinks this is what the American people want. That's one part of my question. And is the President aware of the Urban Institute's study that will show that one million children will be thrown into poverty? Could he really accept a bill that does that?

MR. MCCURRY: The President can accept a bill that has tough work requirements, that helps ease the transition from welfare dependency to work, that helps protect kids who are going to be caught up in that transition to make sure that the safety net is available to them, and in many, many respects we have moved welfare reform in that direction.

Now, there is still a ways to go. We keep acknowledging that. We keep saying that we will watch very carefully what the conference committee does. The analysis you referred to is not an analysis of our government, it was done by a private institute and the methodology of that analysis I cannot vouch for. I think our own view is that the poverty impacts of any welfare reform legislation have to take into account what is likely to be the transformation that occurs. There's going to be improvement in people's lives, there may be economic benefit from that. There are different ways of measuring what the poverty impacts are. Q You don't think a million children will be thrown into poverty? MR. MCCURRY: The calculations and the estimates of what might occur are very hard to judge. Our own assessment is that the current versions of welfare reform will result in fewer kids facing those prospects. By the way, the provisions of pending legislation that result in the greatest risk for poor children are those that deal with the provision of benefits to legal immigrants and the food stamp provisions. And on both of those we still are working to see if we can't improve the bill further. But that's the largest measure of the poverty impact, whether it's the institute study or whether it was the analysis done by the Department of Health and Human Services, points to those provisions as being principally responsible for some of the poverty effects that have been measured, and this President believes that there's more work that can be done in those areas. But step back and look at the direction the bill has traveled, and you have to say that it's moved considerably further towards the goal of the kind of welfare reform that the President has advocated, and that that would, in and of itself, be good for this country if we could achieve that type of welfare reform with strong bipartisan support. And we are closer to that goal now than we ever have been. Q But it closes off the guarantees that they've had for -- since the New Deal. MR. MCCURRY: Well, but it opens up the opportunity that they will live in households that are no longer dependent on federal benefits that in families in which there is work, respect for the ethic of work occurring, which in itself may bring a great deal of improvement in the lives of those children. That's the whole point of welfare reform. The system we have now is not working. Q The whole point of welfare reform is to save money. MR. MCCURRY: No, the whole point of welfare reform is to try to discourage dependency on federal benefits and keep welfare what it's always been intended to be, a short-term solution to those who face poverty. Q Dole was talking about the Americans with Disabilities Act anniversary. There's some people who think the act hasn't done everything it was supposed to and they're recommending some amendment. Does the President think that there ought to be any changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act? MR. MCCURRY: I won't address changes. We are now -- have got some experience with the laws from Tony Coelho's study. He's chairing an advisory commission on this issue. There has been enormous employment opportunities opened up to those with disabilities as a result of the act. And that has been very positive both for the economy and for the individuals who have benefitted. Are there ways in which we will look at the experience we've had and see if there are adjustments? That's part of any effort to make sure that we are following through on new policy changes. But the experience with the Americans with Disabilities Act has been by and large positive. Q What's on the agenda -- Q Could we just finish up with welfare? Would the President sign the Senate version of the bill if it came to his desk? MR. MCCURRY: Asked and answered over the last several days, and you know where we are on that. Q Mike, if the Congress passes a version of welfare that the President ends up vetoing, will he promptly sign the Wisconsin waiver for the State of Wisconsin? MR. MCCURRY: That analysis to the Wisconsin waiver continues, but as a general proposition I want to speak specifically to the Wisconsin waiver. As a general proposition, I want to speak specifically to the Wisconsin waiver. As a general proposition, if we cannot get true bipartisan welfare reform out of this Congress and get it quickly, the President will certainly continue with granting flexibility to states to continue their welfare reform experiences. We're now up to 41 states, 69 waivers that have been signed. We'll continue to press to reform welfare as we know it by granting experiments to states. We now have three quarters of the welfare population of this country participating in some fashion in these experiments, and that is one way to reform welfare as we know it if we can't get what would be preferable, which is a national welfare reform bill.

Q When will he sign the Iran-Libya sanctions bill?

MR. MCCURRY: Soon.

Q And what about the pesticides bill?

MR. MCCURRY: Say again.

Q Pesticides.

MR. MCCURRY: Soon, on that one. Both of those the President has indicated he supports, he signs both, and he will likely do so both with some appropriate public acknowledgement. My guess would be sometime next week in both cases possibly.

Q Mike, has the HHS been asked not to do any more studies along the lines of the one they did last year and the Urban Institute study on children? Moynihan keeps writing you guys asking for new numbers and apparently can't get them.

MR. MCCURRY: And we've responded and we've told them that the estimation that we have is that based on our previous analysis of welfare reform is that current versions would do a better job of protecting kids than past versions. We have also pointed out the inexactitude of doing that type of analysis, and that the most reliable indicators are the experiences we're having now at the state level as we engage in some of the experiments that are suggested by the federal legislation, that we should look at what those outcomes have been as we examine the experiments at the state level and see whether or not we're doing a better job of protecting kids. But to my knowledge they have not been asked not to do something. It's just as a practical matter, we're at a point in welfare reform now where we want to press ahead and get the legislation written with considerable analysis, debate, argumentation, and study already having been done on the issue.

Q Mike, new subject. Will you talk about Mubarak and what you expect to get out of that working visit?

MR. MCCURRY: Why don't I ask Mr. Johnson to do that?

MR. JOHNSON: Okay. Just to follow up on a couple of questions that were raised this morning, this is an official working visit. It will take place on Tuesday with President Mubarak arriving on Sunday. He is going to meet with the President one on one, as well as in a larger meeting, and then the President is going to host President Mubarak for lunch. And following that, in the East Room there will a press availability that you all will participate in, presumably.

They expect to review issues including the status of the peace process, where President Mubarak and Egypt have long been strong leaders, demonstrated most recently at the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting last March. This meeting will come after the recent meeting that President Mubarak has had with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as his recent meetings with the Middle East peace team from the United States, which has been traveling to the region and we expect back over the weekend.

The U.S.-Egyptian relationship is one of great depth, and that is demonstrated by the Gore-Mubarak commission, which is also going to convent on Tuesday following the press event, which will take place in the East Room. This meeting of the Gore-Mubarak commission is going to feature its President's committee which is a group of CEOs from private industry which advised them on issues related to business and investment in Egypt. We don't really expect specific announcements to emerge from the meeting but we do expect a discussion of issues including the peace process, global issues and regional issues. This is going to be the seventh meeting that the President has had with President Mubarak, the last meeting on March 13 in Sharm. And just to let you know that President Mubarak also has a fullscale calendar of events on the Hill, I believe, on Monday which will include a luncheon with the House International Relations Committee, a meeting with the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a range of other senators and congressmen including the leadership on both sides of the aisle. Q When was it arranged and who initiated the invitation? I mean, did he want to come at this time? MR. JOHNSON: We've had discussions over a period of time arranging a convenient date for both President Mubarak and for President Clinton. And it wasn't a specific request by either party, we just -- the President likes to meet with President Mubarak frequently and this was a good opportunity to do it before the end of the summer. Q When they discussed the situation with U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia and the remarks of the Egyptian Minister here in town today who suggested that at the very least the presence of those U.S. troops in Saudi are part of the reason for the instability in the Gulf region. MR. JOHNSON: I'm unfamiliar with the remarks you refer to and I'm not going to respond directly to that. I am sure that they will have a discussion of terrorism and a discussion of the role that the United States plays in the region in order to be force for stability. I have no doubt that the government of Egypt believes that the United States presence in the Gulf, a long-term presence although a shorter term one in Saudi Arabia itself is something that's been a force for stability throughout the entire post-war period. Q Mike, on the TWA crash, has the President been briefed today? Is he going to be briefed? And what is the latest as far as determining what the cause of the crash was? MR. MCCURRY: The latest information will come from the briefings at the National Transportation Safety Board will provide. The President just had a routine update today and not a great deal of additional information to report beyond what was briefed yesterday. Q Is he encouraged by the information aboard the black boxes? MR. MCCURRY: Well, there is not enough, as the President indicated yesterday, not enough to make any credible final determinations related to the accident. The President is grateful for the very hard work being done by experts in the federal government both to examine the evidence that's been collected and to recover additional evidence. Q Mike, what response is the White House hoping for from Director Freeh to this letter from Jack Quinn on congressional use of FBI files? MR. MCCURRY: Just hoping that he will go -- we've had discussions with them as a result of the study that Mr. Shapiro did on the need to improve the procedures that have existed here at the White House for 30 years to protect confidential information. We're hoping that the Director will acknowledge that there appears to be a need to improve the process for protecting material that is protected by the Privacy Act when it goes into the hands of Congress. Q -- since you have observed about the ways the files have been treated. MR. MCCURRY: That information from a private background report that is covered by the Privacy Act has been made public knowingly and willfully by Congressman Clinger, acting presumably with the cloak of the speech and debate clause as a cover, although the material was clearly leaked and most likely leaked from the Hill, judging from the news accounts we've seen, prior to his speech.

Q Do you think that Clinger violated the Privacy Act?

MR. MCCURRY: I believe that there are constitutional protections that would make it impossible to say that that's the case, but certainly the concern here is that private information that has not been verified, in fact, has been specifically refuted by individuals with firsthand knowledge of conversations, has now been put into the public domain by a Congressman who likes to climb up on his horse and claim that he is protecting privacy. That's an extraordinary circumstance.

Q But you're not disputing that these were contemporaneous notes, that they were authentic in what he scribbled over --

MR. MCCURRY: I have no idea what they are. I don't know that Congressman Clinger knows what they are. But what we know are they refer to conversations that have been specifically addressed by Mrs. Livingstone, by Mrs. Clinton, by Bernie Nussbaum, and by others. And those firsthand accounts were available and on the record, and the release of confidential private information from a background file that ought to be protected would be protected if it were in our hands by the Privacy Act is quite extraordinary.

Q Mike, did Mr. Shapiro give the White House a heads-up that this FBI agent's file was floating around?

MR. MCCURRY: I believe the Justice Department has made a statement on that. Our event is beginning over at the -- it's in the East Room?

MS. GLYNN: Yes.

MR. MCCURRY: In the East Room, for those of you who need to go. Do we need to do week ahead, or can we just put that out publicly?

MS. GLYNN: We can just put it out.

Q Mike, what was the Justice Department's explanation?

MR. MCCURRY: They put out an explanation that I -- I haven't seen the full text of it myself, but I saw it referred to in the newspapers this morning.

Q A week ago a bill passed in House and reached the Senae about Romania MFN.

MR. MCCURRY: I'm aware there was action on that bill. If you could check with Mr. Johnson from the National Security Council, he could tell you about the administration's disposition.

Q Are you planning a public signing of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights --

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, sometime next week. Is that on my week ahead.

MS. GLYNN: No. We just received it.

MR. MCCURRY: We have just received it, apparently, today, so we will analyze the legislation, but the President did plan to do some type of public event when that occurred.

Do you want to do the honors, Mary Ellen?

Q Mike, can I just ask a quick question? Has the President been notified about a hijacking of an Iberian Airline plane that was supposed to be going from Spain to Cuba and is now headed to Miami?

MR. MCCURRY: This is the first I have heard of it. There was a -- we were dealing with an Algerian --

Q Just in.

Q We just got beeped.

MR. MCCURRY: We were dealing with an Algerian case day before yesterday, but that's a new report to us.

And we'll put out the week ahead on paper. Thanks.

Q Was President Clinton's letter to Clinger or to the FBI?

MR. MCCURRY: It was to Director Freeh. THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 2:10 P.M. EDT #253-07/26

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