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Gavel To Gavel

Gavel To Gavel: Fund-Raising Hearings

Testimony Of Gore Aid David Strauss

CNN on-air coverage of the tesimony of David Staruss to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee

Aired September 5, 1997 - 10:12 a.m. ET

Stauss begins to testify

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: You're looking at a live picture from the Senate hearing room. Photographers taking pictures, it appears, of Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. This is the committee that is spending much of this year looking into campaign finance abuses during the presidential campaign of 1996.

You can see the left -- now, the center of screen, Senator Thompson talking with Michigan Senator Carl Levin. We are told there has been a vote on the Senate floor, which is delaying the start of this morning's hearing by a few minutes. But we are also told by our own Candy Crowley that Senator Thompson can get this hearing started as soon as he wishes, as soon as I suppose he thinks he has enough members of his committee there to get underway.

We are going to turn to our money trail correspondent, Brooks Jackson, who is standing outside the Capitol -- close to Capitol. Brooks, how much new information can the committee really expect to get from the vice president's former deputy chief of staff.

BROOKS JACKSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, I think probably not very much. They are going to ask him about a lot of memos, of course, in which other staff members referred to this event as a fund- raiser, or a fund-raising lunch. They are going to ask him about one memo, which refers to a call he received from John Huang, and somebody wrote on that, "could lead to money." So we'll hear a lot of cross- examination; I'm not sure any new information. Judy.

WOODRUFF: And yet, Brooks, we've seen throughout these hearings that the committee -- we're watching pictures again of the hearing room, Senator Thompson in the center. We have seen throughout these hearings that even though the information wasn't necessarily new, the fact that it was coming from a key player, from someone who was there when something was said, or when a memo was written, it seems to take on a little bit of a new urgency, perhaps a little more importance, and that is why the Senate -- this committee -- is bothering to hold these hearings at all.

We are seeing again, Senator Thompson there on the screen, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. To the left of Senator Levin, the minority counsel for committee, Alan Baron. Some of the senators have done -- in fact most of the senators -- have done their own questioning, but in a number of instances, the senators have turned the questions over to their counsels. The counsels after all are the ones -- the lawyers for the committee -- they are the ones after all who've had to be steeped in information about who each witness is, and what he or she knows. And so, the senators have actually forsaken

television time, if you will, and turned it over to these counsels. You see on the right, presumably that's a counsel for the -- I think that is Mr. Matisse. He's a counsel for the Republicans.

Candy Crowley, let me just ask you a little bit about Senate scheduling. I know you are familiar with this place because you have covered it for a long time. When there is a vote on the Senate floor, do they traditionally hold off the start of a hearing like this?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly they can. Usually, what they do if it is the start of a hearing is to hold up until -- I suspect that maybe Senator Thompson is waiting for the ranking minority member, Senator Glenn, to get here just out of courtesy. The fact is that once they have voted, they can come back and go ahead and start the hearings and get them underway. But as a courtesy, they like to have at least some Democrats there, and I suspect they are waiting for John Glenn.

WOODRUFF: Candy, can you tell if David Strauss, the former aide to the vice president, is at the table? We do see several individuals seated at witness table.

CROWLEY: I would -- I'm sorry, because I have my back to the actual room, but I think he is indeed there.

WOODRUFF: All right, we see Senator Thompson taking a seat, and Candy was just pointing out, he may be waiting for Senator John Glenn. Candy. I want to ask one other thing about yesterday. It seemed to me that the Republican members of committee went out of their way yesterday to show these enlarged pictures of the vice president with -- all right, they may be getting ready to get started -- but in large pictures of vice president with the monastics in the temple presumably was a political motivation.

Let's listen now to Senator Thompson.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON, (R) GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS CHAIRMAN: Morning Mr. Strauss.

DAVID STRAUSS, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO AL GORE: Good morning.

THOMPSON: Counsel. Our witness this morning is David M. Strauss. Would counsel please identify himself?

JOSEPH ONEK, COUNSEL TO DAVID STRAUSS: Joseph Onek, Mr. Chairman.

THOMPSON: Pleased to have you. Mr. Strauss, will you stand and raise your right hand? Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

STRAUSS: I do.

THOMPSON: All right, sir. I am hopeful that we will be able to finish with you this morning, Mr. Strauss. We're going to try to move

along as quickly as we can. I'm sure that'll be no disappointment to you, but tough for Senator Levin here. And perhaps we can have a witness this morning and a witness this afternoon. So we may not use all of the time that we have. But we do have some matters we want to go through with you.

Preliminarily, before I turn it over to other members, let me lay a little groundwork here. I believe that you were the deputy chief of staff for the vice president. Is that correct?

STRAUSS: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

THOMPSON: And over what period of time were you deputy chief?

STRAUSS: I was the deputy chief of staff for the vice president from January 1, 1994 until the middle of July of this year.

THOMPSON: All right. And as deputy chief of staff, what were your primary responsibilities?

STRAUSS: I had a major management and policy role in the office of the vice president. The way the work was divided, the chief of staff concentrated mostly on the relationship between the vice president and the president, and I focused on the day-to-day operation of the office of the vice president.

THOMPSON: Would that include scheduling?

STRAUSS: Scheduling would have been an area where I would have had overall responsibility.

THOMPSON: Advance?

STRAUSS: That would have been another area where I would have had overall responsibility, yes, Mr. Chairman.

THOMPSON: All right. Were you also the, a traveling companion with the vice president on domestic trips?

STRAUSS: I accompanied the vice president on virtually every single domestic trip during the time that I worked for him.

THOMPSON: All right. Were you the staff person with major overall supervisory responsibility as far as scheduling was concerned, the vice president's scheduling?

STRAUSS: I definitely had a major role in the scheduling process, yes, Mr. Chairman.

THOMPSON: All right. Would the vice president make the final decisions concerning the decision to schedule an event?

STRAUSS: It would depend on the nature of the event.

THOMPSON: But you and he would be the primary or the ultimate persons making a decision, either you or he for a particular event in most cases?

STRAUSS: In -- there were certainly certain types of events where the vice president would make the final decision. If it was a foreign trip, for example, if it was a major domestic trip, he would have a major decision-making role in those sorts of scheduling decisions. A lot of the routine, day-to-day scheduling activities were handled by the scheduling operation and once the parameters were established, he did not have a major role in those decisions.

THOMPSON: All right. But if he did not make the ultimate decision with regard to a particular event, would that more than likely have been your decision to make, ultimately?

STRAUSS: It would depend on the nature of the event. In most instances, it would be the director of scheduling who would make the ultimate decision, but I certainly had a major role in the scheduling process, and as the deputy chief of staff, in the scheduling recommendations I would make certainly carried a great deal of weight.

THOMPSON: I would not take it that the scheduler would schedule the vice president for many events without your knowing about it?

STRAUSS: That's correct. I'd be generally aware of all the scheduled activities.

THOMPSON: All right, sir. And what was the name of the scheduling person, or the person that you just referred to I believe as the primary scheduling person?

STRAUSS: The vice president's director of scheduling is Kimberly Tilley.

THOMPSON: All right. Were you also the principal contact with the political affairs office for the office of the vice president?

STRAUSS: That would have been my general responsibility, yes, Mr. Chairman.

THOMPSON: All right. Your primary responsibility as the principal contact with the political affairs office involve -- include the handling of scheduling issues?

STRAUSS: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

THOMPSON: Is it accurate to describe that often you'd get a request, say, from the Democratic National Committee to have the vice president somewhere and they would contact the political office, and then the political office would in turn contact your office to see whether or not that could be worked out?

STRAUSS: There was a scheduling process for DNC requests, and the way that worked, the Democratic National Committee would formulate the scheduling recommendation. It would go to the political office in the White House. They would sign off on it, and then it would come to me. I'd review it and then send it on to the vice president's director of scheduling.

THOMPSON: All right, thank you. I think that kind of lays the groundwork, and at this point I will turn the questioning over to Senator Specter.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R-PA): Thank you.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): I wonder, Senator Specter, if you'd just yield for 15 seconds...

SPECTER: Sure.

LEVIN: ... because I'm going to just have to leave for a moment, and if I'm not here when our turn comes, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Baron would be assigned our 30 minutes.

THOMPSON: All right.

LEVIN: Thank you. Thank you, Senator Specter.

THOMPSON: All right.

SPECTER: Thank you, Senator Levin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Strauss, the issue as to what the vice president knew about this fundraiser at the Buddhist temple is obviously of enormous importance. It has come into sharper focus now with preliminary steps being taken toward independent counsel with respect to certain activities of the vice president. And it is very important that the vice president be accorded every favorable presumption, but we have to look at the evidence on the table, and there is a substantial so-called paper trail where a good body of written materials, memoranda, came through the process which Senator Thompson's already questioned you about.

And what I want to do this morning, preliminarily, is to go through the papers with you, because you are involved in most of them or are in a position to explain all of them, to see what they disclose and to see what inferences may arise as to what the vice president knew or did not know with respect to this fundraiser at the Buddhist temple.

You are of course familiar with the testimony yesterday where the nuns came in and testified about the laundering where they made a $5,000 contribution and the next day that was reimbursed, and also as to the destruction of documents and that entire situation, so that whatever knowledge the vice president had is very important. So we're going to proceed through that in some detail, and it is somewhat laborious.

I turn first to exhibit 1,000 and ask that that be put on the screen. And as noted, that is a -- well would you describe what that is, Mr. Strauss?

STRAUSS: Exhibit 1,000 looks like an e-mail from Karen Hancox, who would be the deputy political director...

SPECTER: May I ask counsel to give Mr. Strauss a copy of all these exhibits so that he can see them more clearly than on the

screen? Why don't you proceed as best you can in the interim, Mr. Strauss?

STRAUSS: Exhibit 1,000 looks like an e-mail from Karen Hancox, who is the deputy political director in the White House to Kimberly Tilley, who is the vice president's director of scheduling and Lisa Berg, who I believe was the deputy director of scheduling at the time. It's cc'd to me, and the subject is California, and it's dated February 22, 1996. And it says that the DNC has asked, once we know, to be told what cities the vice president will be in in California on March 8th and 9th. They can probably use him depending on the cities. And then there is a post script which says that the POTUS, which is a reference to the President of the United States, is going to do SF, which I believe is San Francisco, when he's in California on March 8th and 9th, ergo, the DNC is dropping its San Francisco request for the vice president in April. They just need LA and San Jose in April.

SPECTER: All right. So this is an initiating document whereof the Democratic National Committee is looking for fundraising. Correct?

STRAUSS: Yes, Senator.

SPECTER: And one of the cities where they would like to use, or have the vice president help out is Los Angeles. Correct?

STRAUSS: That's correct.

SPECTER: And you received a copy of that in your capacity as deputy chief of staff?

STRAUSS: Yes, Senator.

SPECTER: Let's turn now to exhibit 1,001. Would you describe what that exhibit is?

STRAUSS: One-thousand one looks like one of my call logs from the vice president's office and it's dated the 7th of March 1996 and I've jotted down a note regarding John Huang events in California. And so someone has obviously called me where I've jotted down a note about John Huang events in California, but, there is no other context here -- I can't telling who is calling in or

SPECTER: And John Huang is known to you to be a principal fundraiser for Democratic National Committee?

STRAUSS: I believe that in March of 1996 that would have been the case, yes, Senator.

SPECTER: And, was he circumventing customary procedures in coming to you in this way from the regular process which you've already described as to how the vice president's time is allocated?

STRAUSS: Based on this telephone memorandum here, it doesn't appear that John Huang is the individual who is calling me. It appears that someone else is referencing John Huang events in California. I don't think if I'd received a call from John Huang in

this situation that I would have noted John Huang events in California. So I think that it's possibly someone else who is calling me and referencing John Huang events in California.

SPECTER: Do you recall who else it was who called you?

STRAUSS: Senator, I have no recollection of that.

SPECTER: Well, what would the purpose be in having a call made which referenced John Huang?

STRAUSS: From -- there isn't enough context here for me to really answer that, Senator.

SPECTER: Well, John...

STRAUSS: I understand the reference here -- that someone is clearly calling to my attention John Huang's events in California, but beyond that, I'm not noting any action item for myself here, and so if someone was calling and asking for some specific action on my part, I would have noted that on my call logs.

SPECTER: Okay, well this ties into Mr. Huang being a later participant, but is this the first time John Huang surfaces in connection with the events in California? It does say John Huang event in California and the essential question is that another link in the documentary chain about a fundraiser in California.

STRAUSS: Number one, I believe that all my call logs have been produced, and so this clearly is the first reference to John Huang in any of my call logs. Secondly, there is nothing that one can conclude from this note here that this references a fund raising event. It just simply says John Huang events in California. And so...

SPECTER: But with respect to John Huang, he is a fundraiser for the Democratic National committee.

STRAUSS: That's correct, but this note does not indicate that these events are necessarily fund raising events.

SPECTER: Well, would the name John Huang suggest that it is a fundraising event, because that is his function?

STRAUSS: It would not suggest that to me, no Senator.

SPECTER: Well, would he have some other function besides fundraising?

STRAUSS: It's entirely possible that he could have been recommending events other than fundraising events.

SPECTER: Well, what kind of events did Mr. Huang engage in besides fundraising events, if ever, or stated differently, have you seen him do anything but fundraising in this timeframe?

STRAUSS: What you're going to see is he also recommended that the vice president meet with a Buddhist religious leader in the White

House and that had absolutely nothing to do with fundraising.

SPECTER: That wasn't preliminary to a fundraiser?

STRAUSS: It might have been part of an effort to lay the groundwork for a fundraiser, but the event per se was not a fundraising event.

SPECTER: On your deposition, Mr. Strauss, on June 30th, at page 42, and I'll try to -- 43 -- you testified, line 9, quote, "based on these notes he," referring to Mr. Huang from the prior answer, "was apparently calling me to lobby me for these events in California." Does that refresh your recollection that, in fact, Mr. Huang did call you?

STRAUSS: But, I don't believe that that refers to this call sheet. See, there is nothing -- the 7th of March -- the event in California wasn't even scheduled.

And so, this -- there's no nexus for me between this note here and the event in California, you know, that was ultimately scheduled. And so, I mean, I see what I've written down here: John Huang events in California. But this doesn't tell me any more than what's written on the paper here, that someone, unlikely John Huang, because I don't think that I would have made this record of a conversation with John Huang. So I think that this is someone else calling me and referencing John Huang events in California. And that's all I conclude -- can conclude, based on these five words from my call sheet. This doesn't really give me a...

SPECTER: Well, let's take a look at some other words, your words, on your deposition on June 30th...

STRAUSS: Right.

SPECTER: ... where you said, based on these notes, these five words, he, referring to Mr. Huang, was apparently calling me to lobby me for these events in California. Now the narrow question at this point is, does that refresh your recollection that Mr. Huang called you?

STRAUSS: That...

SPECTER: Do you have your deposition there?

ONEK: Could we get a copy of the deposition? That might be helpful.

SPECTER: While the deposition is being provided to you, Mr. Strauss, isn't it true that there was a meeting on March 15th where Mr. Huang was involved with the religious leaders which set the stage for the activities in California, the fundraiser?

STRAUSS: There was a meeting, you know, with the religious leader and the vice president on the 15th of March...

SPECTER: Involving Mr. Huang?

STRAUSS: I believe that he attended the meeting.

SPECTER: And wasn't that preliminary to the fundraiser in the Buddhist temple?

STRAUSS: And it occurred before the fundraiser in the Buddhist temple, yes, Senator.

SPECTER: Occurred before but related to as well as occurring before?

STRAUSS: It certainly was related to an event at the Buddhist temple, because I believe that the venerable master at that meeting invited the vice president to attend an event at the Buddhist temple.

SPECTER: Well, take just a minute, Mr. Strauss, to turn to your deposition.

STRAUSS: What page, again, Senator?

SPECTER: Forty-three, line 9. And at that time you were deposed, that is, you were asked questions by staff, and this memorandum was presented to you with the five words as you describe them, John Huang event in California, in Cal. And at that time, according to this record, you testified, quote, "based on these notes -- he (referring to Mr. Huang in the preceding sentence) -- "he was apparently calling me to lobby me for these events in California." Question: Does that refresh your recollection that these notes in fact did refer to a telephone call from Mr. Huang?

STRAUSS: Do you have the page again?

SPECTER: Forty-three.

WOODRUFF: What Senator Arlen Specter is attempting to do, it appears, is connect this phone call from whomever it came to David Strauss, who was working for vice president, with plans for the fund- raiser at the Buddhist temple. This is the event that has gotten the vice president into so much hot water, and Senator Specter, who is an attorney with a lot of experience litigating, is trying to pin down the witness.

We're going to take a break. We'll be right back with more live coverage of these Senate campaign finance hearings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: David Strauss, former aide to Vice President Al Gore, explaining to committee, to Senator Arlen Specter, that the phone call that he received from John Huang was different call from the one Senator Specter's been asking him about.

Let's continue to listen.

SPECTER: Well, pursuing then out of sequence, but let's take it up since we've gotten to it, 1005,. What is your writing underneath John Huang with the telephone number?

STRAUSS: And my writing, under the -- the -- the John Huang name and phone number here is: "Lead to a lot of money. Moving support."

SPECTER: When Mr. Huang called you, you had said a moment ago that that was circumventing customary procedure. Would you amplify what you meant by that?

STRAUSS: Well, what I meant by that is if I remember my deposition correctly, I believe that there was a call closer to the time of the event from John Huang regarding the event which would have been circumventing the procedure because the procedure was as I described it earlier, that political events for the vice president should have, you know, come in a recommendation from the DNC, through the White House political office, and so if a DNC employee was calling me directly, that was circumventing the procedure.

SPECTER: So John Huang was circumventing the procedure and putting a little extra pressure to try to get this event in California.

STRAUSS: I believe that that happened at least in one instance.

SPECTER: Let's turn now to exhibit 1002. And would you describe what that is, please?

STRAUSS: OK. Exhibit 1002 is an e-mail from Karen Hancox, who's the deputy political director in the White House, to Kimberly Tilley, the vice president's director of scheduling. It's cc'd to me. And the subject is DNC trips. And it says, "per Harold," who I believe she's referring to Harold Ickes here. "He wants to proceed with the DNC request for the VP trips in April. Please let me know if you have any questions."

SPECTER: And that is another step along the line for a trip by the vice president on fundraising. Correct?

STRAUSS: This would be the normal process. Yes, Senator.

SPECTER: Turning now to exhibit 1003, will you describe that, please?

STRAUSS: And exhibit 1003 looks like some sort of outline here and it has current schedule for April 29. I don't know if there's a date on this exhibit, but it references Los Angeles and San Jose. And under Los Angeles it represents a DNC luncheon in LA or Hacienda Heights at $1,000 to $5,000 a head -- 150 to 200 people. Need something public. OTR is a reference to an off the record stop at the Atlas Bar and Grill, and this is apparently the vice president's request that we would do an off the record stop at the Atlas Bar and Grill. Then it references San Jose. A reception in San Jose. Need something public for the reception. There's a reference to 150 to 200 guests.

SPECTER: So this document is another confirmation of an event on the vice president's schedule for April 29th, which is a fundraiser -- 1,000 to 5,000 a head -- 150 to 200 people -- a fundraiser.

STRAUSS: Right. This appears to be some internal scheduling document, yes, Senator.

SPECTER: Turn now to document 1,004. Will you describe that please? Begin if you would with the last line, April 27th, 29th, abbreviate the -- not necessarily to read the other matters which are not relevant here.

STRAUSS: This is a...

SPECTER: Can we turn these on the screen as we proceed with them, please?

STRAUSS: This is an e-mail from Kim Tilley, who is the vice president's director of scheduling to Lisa Berg, who is the deputy director of scheduling. The subject is Cuomo travel information, and it's regarding upcoming travel of the vice president. And it says April 27th to 29th, San Jose, LA, California, and it says some combination of possible Olympic torch events. LA DNC Fund Raisers in San Jose and LA, family and private time.

SPECTER: So this is to Ms. Tilley, vice president's office, referencing fundraisers -- plural. One of them Los Angeles and the time frame April 27th, April 29th, correct?

STRAUSS: And this is dated March 12th. Yes, Senator.

SPECTER: OK, fine. And now picking up again on Exhibit 1005. You had referred -- this, you now testify or you're testifying, is a telephone call from Mr. Huang, which has the notation "Leads to a lot of dollar signs. Moving support." You testified about this.

STRAUSS: Yes, Senator.

SPECTER: On the face of this document it is conclusive that Mr. Huang made a call to you and was talking about a fundraiser in Los Angeles, correct?

STRAUSS: No, Senator. I believe that this call relates to the vice president's courtesy meeting with the Venerable Master, which occurred on the 15th of March, and this is John Huang calling me to put in a good word for that meeting and indicating to me that this would be a politically smart thing for the vice president to do to meet with the Venerable Master.

SPECTER: Well, it's a meeting with the individual from the Buddhist Temple which results in the fundraiser on April 29th, correct?

STRAUSS: It's a meeting with the religious leader that results in the vice president visiting his temple in Los Angeles on April 29th.

SPECTER: And it says lead to a lot of dollars, correct?

STRAUSS: Yes, Senator, it says that.

SPECTER: Now is there any other possible explanation beyond that being a fundraiser with the reference to dollars?

STRAUSS: We're involved in many sorts of fundraising activities to lay the groundwork for fundraising events that were not fund raisers per se.

SPECTER: Involved in many events leading to fundraising which were not fundraisers per se?

STRAUSS: Yes, Senator.

SPECTER: Could you tell me what that meant?

STRAUSS: What that meant is...

SPECTER: What your statement means?

STRAUSS: What my statement means is that as part of the fundraising process, there are always events and meetings with potential supporters as a way of laying the groundwork to make it possible to go back to them and get contributions.

SPECTER: So the March 15th meeting was not a fund raiser, but it layed the groundwork for the April 29th fundraiser?

STRAUSS: At the March 15th meeting with the Venerable Master, the Venerable Master invited the vice president to visit his temple in Los Angeles. The Venerable Master was a religious leader with whom the vice president had a relationship. He had visited his temple in Kaohsiung in 1989, and so there was nothing about that particular meeting that was anything other than a courtesy visit for this religious leader. Now, it might have been a smart thing to do politically, but there was certainly no ulterior motive for arranging that meeting.

THOMPSON: Mr. Strauss, could you pull your microphone a little closer to you, please?

STRAUSS: Sorry, Mr. Chairman.

SPECTER: Mr. Strauss, you draw the inference in your last answer that this is a religious leader and it's a courtesy call and there's no ulterior motive. And I'm not suggesting that there wasn't courtesy involved or that there was an ulterior motive, I merely ask you whether it is not conclusive on the face of this document that Mr. Huang is looking to raise money. Now if you don't draw that conclusion, that is fine. We'll let others draw an inference.

STRAUSS: I certainly...

SPECTER: Let me point the question. Do you dispute that on the face of this writing by you, that Mr. Huang was setting the stage to raise money for the vice president at a fundraiser?

STRAUSS: No, I don't have any problem with that inference.

SPECTER: And that, in fact, it was setting the stage for an event at the Buddhist temple on April 29, 1996?

STRAUSS: It was setting the stage for an event at the Buddhist temple on April 29th, but there is nothing that one can infer from this that that would necessarily be a fundraising event at the Buddhist temple.

SPECTER: Do you dispute that the event on April 29th at the Buddhist temple was a fundraiser?

STRAUSS: I do.

SPECTER: Fine. We'll let others draw the inference as to whether all those $5,000 checks made it a fundraiser, or not.

Let us turn now...

THOMPSON: Mr. Strauss -- I'm sorry, but would you pull your microphone a little closer. We're really having a difficult time hearing.

STRAUSS: I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman. I'll pull my chair a little closer to the microphone. Thank you.

THOMPSON: That's better. Thank you.

SPECTER: Let us turn now to exhibit 1006, and ask you to turn to the...

WOODRUFF: We interrupt our hearing coverage, because CNN has obtained some very significant videotape from the Ritz Hotel in Paris the night of Princess Diana's death. For that, let's go to Atlanta and to Bill Hemmer.

(COVERAGE INTERRUPTED BY BREAKING NEWS)

WOODRUFF: As we do continue that important story, there is another important story unfolding here in Washington, and that is the Senate campaign finance hearings, looking today into Vice President Al Gore and his fund-raising activities -- activities, which are the subject now of further investigation by the Justice Department.

You are looking at David Strauss, who formerly was the vice president's deputy chief of staff. He is being asked by -- for the last half hour, he was being asked by Republicans on the committee about what the vice president knew about this Buddhist temple fund- raiser in April of last year. The questioning has just been turned over to the lead Democratic counsel on the committee, Alan Baron, and let's tune in at this point.

STRAUSS: ...Party in Hong Kong at that time. The next day, he met with Yasser Arafat. I think in the two weeks leading up to April 29th, we were in six different states, and so the vice president had an extremely busy schedule.

ALAN BARON, MINORITY COUNSEL: If I represented to you -- if I represented to you, that between April 15th and April 30th of 1996, the vice president attended 75 meetings, 43 events, in nine different cities, would that generally square with your recollection?

STRAUSS: Yes, Mr. Baron.

BARON: Now, when did the vice president typically receive his briefing materials before a trip across country?

STRAUSS: He would typically receive the actual document the night before.

STRAUSS: In many instances, depending on the nature of the event, he would review the briefing materials right before the event.

BARON: And is it fair to say that briefing materials, with regard to an event, were constantly evolving as the circumstances or the facts relating to a particular event changed?

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: Now, am I correct that when the DNC sponsored events, they fell into generally two categories? That is to say fundraisers, true fundraisers, and what are sometimes called donor maintenance events?

STRAUSS: That is correct.

BARON: Can you explain what the difference is between the two?

STRAUSS: A donor maintenance event would be an event that would be designed to reward donors or to motivate new donors. A fundraising event would be either a ticketed event or an event where there was an expressed solicitation.

BARON: So there would be meetings when there would be no expressed solicitation, no tickets, or anything like that, but where the relationship might be cultivated in the hopes that somewhere down the line it might lead or might not lead to a fundraising event.

STRAUSS: That is correct. OK.

BARON: Now, I want to discuss, if I may, how the scheduling office for the office of the vice president, scheduled the vice president's time in general, and then I'll get to how the time for April 29 was scheduled. First, let's talk about the period prior to the 1996 election, because I understand procedure has changed.

STRAUSS: In the period right, you know, after the convention when they became official candidates, then the reelection committee handled the bulk of the scheduling. Is that what you're referring to?

BARON: Yes. In general. Kim Tilley, do you know who that is?

STRAUSS: Yes, sir. She's the vice president's director of scheduling.

BARON: All right. And in March and April of '96, she held that position?

STRAUSS: Yes.

BARON: Now, she testified in her deposition about the procedure that the scheduling office typically followed with regard to DNC events. I'd like to run through some of that with you and see if it squares with your understanding. OK?

She said that for a proposed DNC event, Karen Hancox in the White House office of political affairs was the primary point person. Is that accurate?

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: And that requests from the DNC went through her office.

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: Then the DNC would contact Ms. Hancox, Ms Hancox would then bring the DNC's request to the scheduling office if the process were working properly.

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: OK. She test -- and this is Ms. Tilley's testimony -- "Question: OK, so you wouldn't get a specific event of, you know, ABC wants to have a fundraiser here. You'd simply get fundraiser in a specific city?" That was the question.

Answer from her, "more often than now what we would have is, we need a DNC event in X place. There were not many more details than that.

"Question: And how far out would the scheduling be?

"Answer: Actually it would very much vary. It could be two weeks, it could be two months."

Does that square with your understanding about how the scheduling process would work?

STRAUSS: It does.

BARON: Now, I'd like to direct your attention to minority exhibit 772 which is a March 23, 1996 letter from Ms. Maria Hsia to the vice president. And if you would take a look at the second paragraph. Now -- do you have that?

STRAUSS: I do.

BARON: Now, if you would look at the second paragraph, does it not appear from that that two events are contemplated. That is, a fundraising lunch event, and then after the lunch a rally at the Hsi Lai temple to meet representatives of the Asian-American community.

Does that not appear to be what was contemplated?

STRAUSS: That is correct.

BARON: Now do you know Ms. Hsia? Do you know who she is?

STRAUSS: I know who she is. I don't know her well.

BARON: But you do understand that she was involved as an organizer of events, particularly with regards to events on the 29th of April '96?

STRAUSS: I don't know if at the time I did. I certainly am aware of that now.

BARON: Right. Is it your understanding of the way the scheduling process worked, that when the vice president would sign off and accept something for his schedule, that he would sign off for the trip to someplace rather than a specific event?

STRAUSS: That is correct.

BARON: Now, are you familiar with an individual named Ladan Mantegy (ph)?

STRAUSS: Ladan Mantegy (ph).

BARON: I'm sorry, maybe I don't have it pronounced. It's Ladan (ph)?

STRAUSS: Ladan Mantegy (ph).

BARON: OK. Who is she?

STRAUSS: What I know about Ladan Mantegy (ph) is that she did a lot of advance work for the vice president, and then I believe that she had a role in the reelection effort. I think she was in the scheduling operation of the reelect committee.

BARON: OK. Well, she is not here as a witness today, but her deposition was taken by the majority. And indeed, in the course of the deposition on the record, the majority commented that she was quote, "the person who can finally explain the vice president's schedule for April 29th." So I'd like to ask -- I'd like to present some of that testimony to you, and see if it squares with your understanding.

STRAUSS: OK. Sometimes we would have like, people filling in in the scheduling department. And so it's possible that she could have been one of those people filling in in the scheduling department then.

BARON: Her -- the previous scheduler was a woman named Jackie Dyke (ph).

STRAUSS: Yes, and I'm very familiar with Jackie Dyke (ph).

BARON: OK. And she turned over -- I believe the testimony has been from Ms. Dyke (ph) that she turned over the April 29th events to Ladan Mantegy (ph).

STRAUSS: OK, thank you.

BARON: Now, could we have the blowup of Mantegy's (ph) deposition at page 67? Do you see where she is -- do you have that? Do you have that testimony, Mr. Strauss?

STRAUSS: Yes, sir.

BARON: And do you see where she testifies it's -- quote -- the question is, "so there was never a time that you believed that this was going to be a fundraiser?" -- and she's referring to the Hsi Lai temple event. She answers, "No. By the time I received it, this was not going to be a fundraiser." Do you see that testimony?

STRAUSS: I do.

BARON: Is it common on your experience with regard to the vice president's schedule and how it evolves, that an event may be contemplated, but that over time and indeed on fairly short notice, its character could change, or the event itself could be canceled? Does that often happen?

STRAUSS: That is correct.

BARON: What information -- let me I ask you this. What information did the vice president rely on to understand what an event was, and the role he was expected to play at the event? What would he look to for guidance on that?

STRAUSS: On an event on a trip, he would rely on what was in his briefing book, and he would rely on me.

BARON: OK. Could you turn to exhibit 774? Do you have that?

STRAUSS: Yes, sir.

BARON: And can you describe for us what that is?

STRAUSS: Exhibit 774 is the vice president's schedule for Monday, April 29th.

BARON: Right. Now let's go through that, if we might. According to this schedule, the vice president departs his residence at 6:30 in the morning, right?

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: Arriving at Los Angeles at 9:15 a.m., local time.

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: And at 10 o'clock, he's at the Los Angeles Convention Center with a brief meeting with the African-American leadership and he gives a speech to the National Cable Television Association.

Correct?

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: Now after that, it's from that event, he travels to the Hsi Lai temple event for a luncheon.

STRAUSS: That is correct.

BARON: OK. After that, he goes to the L.A. airport for a trip to San Jose.

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: And he's at San Jose at 4:10, walks the beat with some local police officers, attends a community action committee meeting at a school, and then travels to a fundraiser at 6:15, right?

STRAUSS: That's correct.

BARON: After the fund-raiser, he leaves San Jose, flies back to Washington, back at his residence at approximately 5:00 a.m.

STRAUSS: He actually has a meeting at the airport first, and then departs.

BARON: Well, we wouldn't want him to have a day off, would we?

WOODRUFF: This is David Strauss, who formerly was a top aide to Vice President Al Gore -- David Strauss was his deputy chief of staff -- being questioned by the Democratic counsel on the Senate campaign finance -- Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. This is Alan Baron.

Mr. Baron and the other Democrats on the committee seek to repair any of the damage done to the vice president by allegations that he knowingly attended a fund-raiser, a campaign fund-raiser, at a Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles.

CNN will continue to keep an eye on these hearings. They've been underway through much of the summer. They took a break in August. They got underway again yesterday, and the target is the vice president of the United States. We're going to continue to watch them. We will bring you live updates as warranted throughout the day.

Right now, CNN is going to continue to bring you updates on this new important surveillance camera picture that we have just received from the Ritz Hotel in Paris. These are pictures the night of Princess Diana's death. Again, we'll continue to bring you updates.

I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. Thanks for being with us.

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In Other News:

Tuesday Sept. 9, 1997

Fowler: No Memory Of CIA Contact
Fowler: Ickes Ran Democratic Fund-Raising In '96
Judge Lets Paula Jones' Attorneys Off The Case
Clinton Lays Out A Fall Agenda

E-mail From Washington:
GOP Downplays Fund-Raising Letters Sent To Tamraz
Senate Democrats Prep For Trade, Tobacco Deal
Helms Faces A Deadline On Weld Meeting By Today





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