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 Clinton To Face Grand Jury Monday Afternoon (08-14-98)



White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry's White House Briefing

Aug. 14, 1998

QUESTION: Are you standing by your statement this morning on the speculative nature of the stories that have come through? Or is there any change?

MCCURRY: I -- you know, I am. And look, I looked at that article again, and here's what I gleaned from that New York Times article -- that the president will acknowledge sexual behavior with Ms. Lewinsky, according to senior advisers, but it's not clear how the president described his relationship to his lawyers. And it's possible that he will say he never had sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky.

The president publicly might make a mild and delicately worded confession, or a brief explanation of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, or he might say as little as possible and smile and announce he's on vacation -- according to The New York Times.


The president -- continuing -- the president would stick to his statement that he had no sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky whatsoever, or he could resist questions about the nature of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky citing privacy, or he could acknowledge a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky without going into graphic detail.

QUESTION: So which is it?


MCCURRY: So I have no idea.


I read that New York Times story start to finish, five times, and tried to figure out which one they came down on, and it was not entirely clear to me.

Look, a lot of people are going to speculate going into this weekend about events on Monday. And there's -- you know, you don't know what the questions are. We don't know what the questions are. You don't know what the answers are. We don't know what the answers are that the president will give.

What the president decides to say or decides not to say after the event on Monday we will, you know, let you know as soon as we can when it's over. I can tell you some about the logistics, Mr. Pelly (ph). Would that help?

QUESTION: No, I'd like to move on to Kosovo.


MCCURRY: I'm glad you mentioned Kosovo. Now, that -- Kosovo was covered in the call that President Clinton and President Yeltsin had. And of course, the two agreed on the importance of working together...


QUESTION: Before you go on to (OFF-MIKE), would that be a nationwide address that you would let us know?

MCCURRY: No. I said if the president, at the conclusion of his testimony on Monday, has anything to say or instructs any of us to say anything on his behalf, my assumption at this point is we will have to let you know after that event.

But let me tell you what I can tell you.

QUESTION: Before you get to that, can you just help clear up one thing?

MCCURRY: Probably not.

QUESTION: You just read from the newspaper, The New York Times, and I think it talked about advisers within the White House.


QUESTION: Without disclosing what he may be saying, is the president discussing with advisers here in the White House -- you, Rahm Emanuel, people like that -- this situation?

MCCURRY: I would say that from time to time he talks generally about this, but not specifically about the nature of his testimony.

His testimony, because I assume he wants to protect the privilege of his conversations with his attorneys -- correctly as reported by The New York Times -- is discussed only with Mr. Kendall and Ms. Seligman and other attorneys that are covered by the attorney-client privilege, presumably Mr. Kantor as well.

QUESTION: What do you mean by generally?

MCCURRY: Say again?

QUESTION: What do you mean by generally?

MCCURRY: Well, you know, sort of say -- Hey, Monday's a big day. What are we going to do about it? That's about as general as it gets.

QUESTION: Mike, is -- are you saying...

QUESTION: Mike, in some of these policy meetings, you said that, you know, we don't know what he's going to answer. One, does that mean that he's going to answer differently than his public statement that he said that he did not have sex with that woman?

MCCURRY: The president indicated to you two Fridays ago, two weeks ago, he would answer truthfully and fully -- so there's no change in that.


MCCURRY: No change in that.

QUESTION: Does it...

MCCURRY: Let me -- let's get out -- look, there's no change in content, and again, as I was yesterday, I'm not in a position to comment, speculate, preview. There are plenty of people who think they know on what the president might speculate, but it's very clear to me that the people who do know aren't talking. They're not talking to us. They're not talking to you. And so all of this is guesswork by all of us.

QUESTION: At the risk of provoking ire...

MCCURRY: No, I don't want to provoke ire.

QUESTION: ... do you think that -- do you think that...

MCCURRY: I provoked enough ire from you yesterday.

QUESTION: .. he will answer all the questions?

MCCURRY: I don't know why he wouldn't. He's under oath. The truth is the truth. And he's got to testify. And it's a consequential thing when you go before a grand jury.

But we don't know what is going to be asked. We obviously don't know what's going to be answered. So...

QUESTION: Can you put to rest the notion that there is some sort of definitional jockeying going on here?

MCCURRY: I have no clue as to whether there is definitional jockeying going on.

QUESTION: Is it clear -- is it clear, Mike, that he's standing by the Paula Jones deposition? Or is that unclear?

MCCURRY: It's very clear that I'm not going to entertain questions about what the president is going to testify to because I don't know.

QUESTION: What are the arrangements now?

QUESTION: Is there any...

MCCURRY: Let's move on to arrangements. Thank you, Helen.

OK. First of all, as you know, the White House Communications Agency is going to handle the communications-related aspects of the president's testimony, including videotaping and providing a one-way live feed to a courtroom at the U.S. courthouse.

Beyond that, arrangements being made for the grand jury are not our province to discussion.

So we are not appropriately commenting on any of the arrangements for the grand jury itself.


MCCURRY: It's described to me as a one-way live feed.

QUESTION: Starting when?

QUESTION: Will they be able to...

QUESTION: The deposition will be conducted in the map room in the residence. In addition to the president and officials from the office of independent counsel, the president's personal and official attorneys will also be present during the president's testimony.

That includes Mr. Kendall, Ms. Seligman and Mr. Ruff on behalf of the White House legal counsel's office.

I expect the testimony will begin about 1 o'clock.

I expect for those of you (OFF-MIKE) arrange pool coverage that the representatives from the office of independent counsel will probably use the Southeast Gate. They're being cleared in, I think, around 12:30. But that, you know -- give us some flexibility on Monday in case that changes.

I expect Mr. Kendall and Ms. Seligman -- they come at different times. They may come earlier; they may be here earlier in the day.

I can't predict with certainty when they will arrive. But when they come, they generally use that same entrance over there.

QUESTION: When do you expect the testimony to end?

MCCURRY: I have no way of predicting when it will end.

QUESTION: So will the president take a walk? Will he walk from the Oval Office and (OFF-MIKE)?

MCCURRY: Well, I'll take that request and we'll let you know Monday morning.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) Starr himself will be there?

MCCURRY: I can't tell you who the representatives are from the OIC. I've read in some of your accounts that he will be there, but I don't know that for a fact.


QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) does that mean the videotape will go into the presidential archives (OFF-MIKE)?

MCCURRY: I don't know whether -- that's a question of whether that becomes a presidential record or becomes a court document, a grand jury document, which is protected by grand jury Rule 6(e) proceedings.

MCCURRY: Now whether that then becomes a presidential document, I'm not enough of an archivist or presidential historian to know.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) to the White House?

MCCURRY: Say again?

QUESTION: Would the WACA tape be property of the (OFF-MIKE)?

MCCURRY: I assume, as evidence, it becomes custody of the court. But I'm not enough of a lawyer to know the answer to that.

QUESTION: You say you have no way of predicting when it would end. But is there an outside limit?

MCCURRY: In the past, when there have been discussions with the office of independent counsel, they've generally agreed on a rough timeframe. And generally, that timeframe has kind of slipped one way -- an hour, sometimes one way, sometimes (OFF-MIKE). So it's really very hard to predict.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) or Monday's rather?

MCCURRY: All I know is it's going on during the afternoon.


MCCURRY: Look, you all will be here. You know, if you all want to...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) get the impression that it was limited to one day. Is that wrong?

MCCURRY: I don't think that's a wrong impression.

QUESTION: Maybe four to six hours, four hours or six hours.

MCCURRY: That will be your guess.

QUESTION: Is there an arrangement for the grand jurors to perhaps ask questions through the prosecutors?

MCCURRY: Any arrangements made on behalf of the grand jury -- it's only the province of the court to discuss that. So it's really not the proper for me to address that question.

QUESTION: Well, if it's a one-way live feed...

MCCURRY: But her question, which is a good one, is will they have a way of relaying questions back to any of the attorneys representing the OIC's office. I don't know the answer to that. I'd prefer not to take that question.

And if you -- you might want to direct that in the OIC's direction or the court's direction, because I think it's more proper for them to address that.


QUESTION: What can you tell us about the preparations that the president will undertake this weekend for this trip?

MCCURRY: I know that Mr. Kendall had been somewhat concerned that he has not had the time that he had expected to have on the schedule because of events in East Africa, because of some of he things we've been talking about earlier with respect to Russia.

I think he's hoping to have more time, some considerable block of time over the weekend with the president. But he's a little bit concerned that he hasn't had quite the time to prepare that he had wanted.

QUESTION: Is there a block of time set aside for this?

MCCURRY: Presumably yes, but I don't think it's been set from -- at a certain time. I think they were going to check in with the president.

The president, by the way, is meeting with his foreign policy team, as I had mentioned to you earlier, right now with respect to matters in Africa. And he will be doing some other business...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) for a continuance because of what happened in East Africa, because the president (OFF-MIKE)?

MCCURRY: He has no plans to that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Anything else on schedule for (OFF-MIKE)?

MCCURRY: I don't think so. Not that I know of -- no.

But for travel pool purposes, we'll check in with -- check in here, and we'll try to let you know.

QUESTION: Mike, can the American people expect to hear from the president after he testifies?

MCCURRY: As I said earlier, (OFF-MIKE), we'll have to let you know the answer to that afterwards. I don't want to predict at this point.

QUESTION: Isn't there advice within the White House that he should talk to the American people?

MCCURRY: You can get -- we'll get you the directory, and you can call, and you can get everyone's favorite advice. And that's what, you know, a lot of news organizations do report. QUESTION: What do you think?

MCCURRY: I don't want to share my personal opinion. I like to give my advice to the president confidentially. Yes.

QUESTION: Mike, is Mickey Kantor and is Mrs. Clinton participating in the prep sessions over the weekend?

MCCURRY: Mr. Kantor, of course, has privilege and has discussed the president's testimony with the president. I don't know whether he is participating in preparation per se. I imagine the first lady -- I have not heard that she has had any extensive involvement.

QUESTION: Harry Thomason?

MCCURRY: Not that I've heard of. He's been here, and he was here in town, as you know, for his own performance down at the grand jury.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) at Martha's Vineyard Monday?

MCCURRY: I'm going to be ready to go and have my bags packed Monday night. No. In reality, I think your pool -- by the way, your correspondents, on recommendation of the Correspondent's Association and the network's pool, the press charter plane is going to depart Andrews at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, which I think is a pretty wise decision on your part.

When we will be going, I can't tell you.

But we will certainly make sure that whatever pool is -- if we go out Monday night -- whatever pool is there will have, you know, coverage of anything that happens, although I wouldn't expect much to happen anyhow.


QUESTION: Mike, when you talk about the lack of time that his attorney feels that he's had to prepare with his witness because of events in East Africa, is there a consideration that perhaps because of political considerations about answering questions fully, et cetera, that the president as a private citizen has his legal rights somewhat curtailed in the grand jury proceeding?

MCCURRY: That's a little more complicated version of what Sam asked earlier. I haven't heard that expressed by the president's attorneys, no.


QUESTION: Mike, (OFF-MIKE) a personal matter and not a government matter, and that's why he has his personal attorneys more or less handling this, will the legal defense fund or the taxpayer pick up the cost of these arrangements being made Monday, especially WACA's cost?

MCCURRY: Look, whatever costs are involved for WACA on Monday will be an -- a minute fraction of the $40 million that Ken Starr has already spent on this investigation. So let's not make money an issue.

They're making the arrangements that are satisfactory for the grand jury.


QUESTION: Can you say whether or not the president's assuming that his testimony before the grand jury on Monday is going to be leaked within the first couple of hours afterwards?


MCCURRY: I've seen -- some of the noted senior advisers here that have opinions all over the map suggest so. And you know, who knows? We'll see.

QUESTION: Any chance you could leak it yourself?


QUESTION: Why not just release the transcript?

MCCURRY: Well, look, I have already indicated to you if the president has anything to say or wants us to say anything on his behalf Monday after his testimony, we'll let you know after he's done.


QUESTION: Mike, what is the president's mood going into this? Is he tired, apprehensive, anxious?

MCCURRY: No, he's very buoyant. And I know that he's very engaged in all the subjects we've been discussing earlier that he's been working on today, and has been less engaged with the subject of his coming testimony.

QUESTION: How could he be buoyant about this testimony?

MCCURRY: No, I said buoyant about, you know, the stuff -- he's celebrating his birthday. He's having a good time.

QUESTION: Mike, will there be any staff with him or just lawyers?

QUESTION: Will he be able to consult with them as he gives testimony?

MCCURRY: Presumably. You know, I don't know what kind of -- whether that happens or not, I'll have to let you know. She will not be there as far as I know.

QUESTION: Mike, will the first lady (OFF-MIKE) White House?

MCCURRY: (OFF-MIKE) plans -- I'd have to check with her staff on her planned schedule. But I believe she's planning to be here during the day on Monday.

QUESTION: Mike, (OFF-MIKE) say the president's buoyant right now. But he seems to have bags under his eyes again. (OFF-MIKE) wasn't sleeping, and you could see bags under his eyes then. And the bags are coming back again.

MCCURRY: I haven't asked him about his sleeping habits.



MCCURRY: Let's come back on that. Anything else on this subject? Good. We're done.

In Other News

Friday, August 14, 1998

Clinton To Face Grand Jury Monday Afternoon
Transcript: Mike McCurry's White House Briefing
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