Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
White House Press Briefing
Aired February 10, 2004 - 12:53 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: BLITZER: We're going to go to the White House briefing room momentarily. The White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, expected to answer reporters' questions. He'll be walking into the briefing room.
Several key issues on the agenda today, including the president's military records, records from when he served in the Texas Air National Guard. Only a few moments ago the White House released some more documents. Our people at the White House now, our correspondents and producers, are going through those documents to see what we've learned to back up the president's point that he served faithfully during his years in the Texas Air National Guard, including that period when he was in Alabama.
We're going to get questions presumably on that. We'll also get questions on the CIA leak. Scott McClellan, among current and former White House officials, testified before a grand jury.
Here is Scott McClellan now.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: Good afternoon. The president a short time ago concluded his meeting with some economic leaders. This was a good discussion about the steps that we have taken to strengthen our economy and the additional steps that we are calling on Congress to take to strengthen our economy even more so that we can create as robust environment as possible for job creation.
A lot of the issues that were discussed centered on addressing the rising health care costs, promoting trade, making the tax cuts permanent and passing the comprehensive energy plan. Those are all important parts of the president's six-point plan to strengthen our economy even more.
And that's the quick readout from the meeting. With that I'll be glad to go right into your questions.
QUESTION: The president's -- in the attendance records of the National Guard, it said he 56 out of a required 50 points. Is that considered a good attendance record? Do you know what the maximum number of points is you can get?
MCCLELLAN: First of all, we were pleased to be able to provide you all with these additional records that just recently came to our attention.
These documents clearly show that the president fulfilled his duties. And we had previously released some of the point summaries that you are referencing. There is more complete information relating to those point summaries that document the fact that the president of the United States fulfilled his duties when he was serving in the National Guard back in the early '70s.
QUESTION: The records that you handed out today and other records that exist indicate that the president did not perform any Guard duty during the months of December 1972, February or March of 1973. I'm wondering if you could tell us where he was during that period. And also how is it that he managed to not make the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?
MCCLELLAN: The records that you're pointing to, these records are the payroll records. They're the point summaries. These records verify that he met the requirements necessary to fulfill his duties. These records, these payroll records reflect...
QUESTION: That wasn't my question. Where was he in December of '72...
MCCLELLAN: These records...
QUESTION: ... February and March of '73? Why did he not fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status?
MCCLELLAN: These records I'm holding here clearly document the president fulfilling his duties in the National Guard. The president was proud of his service. The president...
QUESTION: I asked a simple question. How about a simple answer?
MCCLELLAN: John, if you'll let me address the question, I'm coming to your answer.
QUESTION: Well, if you would address it, maybe you could. MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry, John, this is an important issue that some chose to raise in the context of an election year. And the facts are important for people to know. If you don't want to know the facts, that's fine. But I want to share the facts with you.
QUESTION: I'll ask one more time: Where was he in December of '72, February and March of '73. Why didn't he fulfill the medical requirements to remain on active flight duty status in 1972?
MCCLELLAN: The president recalls serving both when he was in Texas and when he was in Alabama. That is what I can tell you.
And we've provided you these documents that show clearly that the president of the United States fulfilled his duties. And that is the reason that he was honorably discharged from the National Guard. The president was proud of his service.
The president spent some of that time in Texas. He was a member of the Texas Air National Guard. And he was given permission on a temporary basis to perform equivalent duty while he was in Alabama. And he performed that duty.
And the payroll records that I think are very important for the public to have, clearly reflect that he served.
QUESTION: Scott, when Senator Kerry goes around campaigning, there's frequently what they call a band of brothers, a bunch of soldiers who served with him who come forward and give testimony. I see, in looking at our files, in the campaign of 2000, you said that you were looking for people who served with him to verify his service in the National Guard.
Has the White House been able to find, like Senator Kerry, a band of brothers or others who can testify about the president's service?
MCCLELLAN: All the information that we have we shared with you in 2000, that was relevant to this issue. All the additional information that has come to our attention, we have shared with you.
The president was asked about this in his interview over the weekend. And the president made it clear: Yes, I want all records to be made available; they're relevant to this issue.
There are some out there that were making outrageous, baseless accusations. It was a shame that they brought it up four years ago. It was a shame that they brought it up again this year. And I think that the facts are very clear from these documents. These documents, the payroll records and the point summaries, verify that he was paid for serving and that he met his requirements.
QUESTION: I wasn't talking about that. I was talking about people, you know...
QUESTION: .. comrades in arms?
MCCLELLAN: No, that's why I said everything that came to our attention that was available, we made available at that time during the 2000 campaign.
QUESTION: Well, you said you were looking for people. And I take it you didn't find any people?
MCCLELLAN: Yes, I mean, obviously we would have made people available -- Mr. Lloyd who has provided a statement to put some of this into context for everybody, made some public statements during that time period to verify the records that the president had fulfilled his duties.
MCCLELLAN: And he put out an additional statement now to put this into context. He's someone with some technical expertise and someone that understands these matters because he was in the National Guard at the time.
QUESTION: Scott, can I follow on this because I do think this is important? You know, it might strike some as odd that there isn't anyone who can stand up and say, "I served with George W. Bush," in Alabama or in Houston in the Guard unit, particularly because there are people, his superiors, who have stepped forward in Alabama and in Houston who have said in the past several years that they have no recollection of him being there and serving. So isn't that odd that nobody -- you can't produce anyone to corroborate what these records...
MCCLELLAN: We're talking about some 30 years ago. You're perfectly welcome to go back and talk to individuals from that time period.
QUESTION: I would have thought...
MCCLELLAN: But, but these...
QUESTION: ... you guys would have had a real...
MCCLELLAN: These documents -- these documents make it very clear that the president of the United States fulfilled his duties...
QUESTION: Well, that's subject to interpretation.
MCCLELLAN: When you serve, you are paid for that service. And these documents outline the days on which he was paid. That means he served. And these documents also show that he met his requirements. And it's just really a shame that people are continuing to bring this issue up when...
QUESTION: I understand that...
MCCLELLAN: No, no, no. People asked for records to be released that would demonstrate he met his requirements. The records have now been fully released.
MCCLELLAN: The fact -- the facts are clear. The facts are clear. QUESTION: ... you can't read them. Have you looked at these? I mean, you can't -- how are we supposed to read these?
MCCLELLAN: Well, I think you can talk -- one, we put it out on e-mail. It's a lot easier to read, I think, on the e-mail version...
QUESTION: You did put it on...
MCCLELLAN: ... because that was the -- we're going to if we haven't already.
MCCLELLAN: But it was sent to us in e-mail form from the personnel center in Denver, Colorado.
QUESTION: One other thing on this -- to corroborate these records, will the president do two things? One, will he authorize the relevant defense agency in Colorado to release actual pay stubs for the president? And if those don't exist, will the president file a form, as he can do with the IRS, to at least look for a '72 or '73 tax return that would corroborate what you claim are payroll summaries that he actually got paid for this duty?
MCCLELLAN: Well, I think this information is his payroll records. It is my understanding this is the information that is available from his payroll records. And it shows the days on which he was paid. So that's the information, I understand, is available in terms of tax returns. And the president, like most Americans, does not have his tax returns from some 30 years ago.
QUESTION: He could file a form requesting the IRS search if they have a return for '72 or '73. Is he willing to do that?
MCCLELLAN: Obviously, if there's any additional information that came to our attention that was relevant, we would make that information available.
QUESTION: Well, it could be relevant if he would...
MCCLELLAN: I think that these documents clearly show that the president of the United States fulfilled his duties. I mean, these were the documents that people questioned and said should be made available. And we went back to double-check. We thought we had all the information that existed previously, but we went back to double- check after the comments that were made over the weekend to see if there's any additional information available.
And when we contacted the personnel center in Colorado, it was our understanding that the personnel center in St. Louis and Colorado were already working to pull this information together and that this is the information that they have that is relevant to this topic.
QUESTION: So it's your position and it's the president's position that these documents put this issue to rest, period?
MCCLELLAN: I think these documents show that he fulfilled his duties. These documents show that he met his requirements.
QUESTION: Two questions -- one on the documents, one on the issue. There seems to be a discrepancy now in the president's records that I'm wondering if you can help me with. These documents that you're holding up would show that the president showed up for duty in October and November of '72, January, April, and May of '73. But the president's officer effectiveness report filed by his commander's lieutenants colonel Killian and Harris, both now deceased, for the period 1 May '72 to 30 April '73 says he has not been observed at this unit where he was supposed to show up and earning these points and these days. How do you square...
MCCLELLAN: You're talking about which unit?
QUESTION: The Texas, at the Ellington Air Force base.
MCCLELLAN: From '72 to '73?
QUESTION: Correct. And certainly by -- the president said he returned to Texas in November of '72. So some of these dates of service which are in these records ought to have been noted by his commanding officers who nevertheless said twice: He has not been observed here.
MCCLELLAN: Yes. I'm not sure about the specific documents. I'll be glad to take a look at them. But these documents show the days in which he was paid for his service. And the president, as I've said -- and we previously said during the 200 campaign -- recalls serving both in Texas and in Alabama during the time period you were bringing up.
QUESTION: So he served, but his commanding officers didn't know it?
MCCLELLAN: Again, I don't know the specific documents you're referring to. If you want to bring those to me, I'll be glad to take a look at them and get you the answers to your questions.
QUESTION: OK. Then on the general issue, Senator Kerry has said that the National Guard was one way for people to avoid service in Vietnam. The president and the White House have taken umbrage at that, saying that's denigrating the National Guard.
In 1994, the president told The Houston Chronicle in relation to his joining the National Guard, "I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun in order to get a deferment, nor was I willing to go to Canada. So I chose to better myself by learning how to fly airplanes."
It sounds like the president himself acknowledged that he went into the National Guard because he didn't want to go Vietnam.
MCCLELLAN: The president -- again, this issue has been addressed fully now. Now we're trying to change into different issues here. The president was proud of his service in the National Guard. He fulfilled his duties. He was honorably discharged.
I think there are some that we're now seeing are not interest in the facts. What they are interested in is trying to twist the facts for partisan political advantage in an election year. And that's unfortunate.
QUESTION: It is a partisan issue. I'm not -- but I'm trying to explore it. One of the reasons that Democrats are raising it is because they've got a guy who was in Vietnam.
MCCLELLAN: Well, you know, now -- it's you know, "He didn't serve" -- now it's a different issue, when the facts clearly show that he did serve. He did fulfill his duties. He did meet his requirements. He was honorably discharged. QUESTION: But he didn't want to go Vietnam.
MCCLELLAN: I think the facts are clear. It's clear that some are not interested in the facts. It's clear that some may be more interested in using this for partisan political advantage.
QUESTION: Scott, some of these are very hard to read. Are you saying that every date listed on document five is a day that the president was actually -- showed up, he was suited up, he was flying planes. That's what that means? Because there are, you know, points for active duty, points for inactive duty. What exactly are these?
MCCLELLAN: Well, and that's why we put the statement from Mr. Lloyd, so he could put that in context. He's someone with the technical expertise that understands those matters and can explain what those points mean. And I think that his statement does that. In terms of the payments, you are paid for the days on which you serve.
QUESTION: "Days on which you serve" meaning he was actually there on these dates listed? He was actually there...
MCCLELLAN: You are paid for the days you serve.
QUESTION: Is that what document five is, the dates that...
MCCLELLAN: Well, again, there was a time period when he was in Alabama. And he recalls serving in Alabama. He was still a member of the Texas Air National Guard at that time. What he was doing was performing equivalent duty because he was working in Alabama at the time. And he also remembers serving in Texas, as well.
QUESTION: So, for example, in January '73, the president served, according to this, on January 4th, January 5th, January 6th in either Texas or Alabama, according to document five. Is that correct?
MCCLELLAN: You are paid for the days you serve. You have the documents right in front of you. These are documents straight from the personnel...
QUESTION: Is that a yes?
MCCLELLAN: ... straight from the personnel center in Colorado.
QUESTION: Is that a yes?
MCCLELLAN: I said you are paid for the days in which you serve.
QUESTION: And one last question...
MCCLELLAN: And again, we're talking about 30 years ago. The president recalls serving in Alabama. He also recalls serving in Texas. That's what he recalls. And that's why...
QUESTION: (inaudible) I know you're going to bat this down but there are people who...
MCCLELLAN: You know, there were a lot of people calling for these records to be released. We finally came across these records. They have been released. And these documents reflect the facts that the president met his requirements and fulfilled his duties.
QUESTION: The fact that some of his officers don't recall ever seeing him, are you suggesting that they just don't remember after 30 years? MCCLELLAN: Well, I think I'll let them speak for themselves. I'm not sure that they exactly said it in that way. Some different ones said different things did.
QUESTION: They have spoken for themselves. They don't remember.
QUESTION: What is your answer to them about why they don't remember seeing the president?
MCCLELLAN: It's that the president recalls serving.
QUESTION: But why are they saying that...
MCCLELLAN: I just said that. And if you look at the records, if you look at these records, these records document that the president fulfilled his duties. These records reflect that he met his requirements, both in point summaries and that he was paid for the days on which he served.
QUESTION: Scott, can you just clarify it back to the question here on document five? For example, in February and March of '73, there are no dates that appear, meaning he didn't show up then? Or what...
MCCLELLAN: Well, look, we're talking about 30 years ago, again. And these documents show the days on which he was paid, which means those are the days on which you serve.
QUESTION: Does that mean then that he...
MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry, I don't have an hour-by-hour itemization of everything he was doing 30 year ago.
QUESTION: Just one other question, are you able to make out any of the paid amounts? How much did he get for -- I can't read the letters.
MCCLELLAN: Yes. And again, I mean, this is going to be put out in the e-mail version, as well. And you're welcome to contact the personnel center. I'm sure that they will be glad to help you as well.
QUESTION: Scott, may I re-ask a question? You keep saying he served, he fulfilled his duty and he met his requirements.
MCCLELLAN: That's right.
QUESTION: You're not saying he drilled, he showed up, he attended. Is that intentional?
MCCLELLAN: No. He recalls performing his duties, both in Alabama and Texas. I said that, in response to Elizabeth's question. Well, again, I don't have a minute-by-minute breakdown of every single thing he did throughout that time period.
PHILLIPS: Well, it's election time. The search for skeletons is on. Right now, Scott McClellan on -- with reporters, going back and forth, trying to quell election year questions about President Bush completing his Vietnam era National Guard service. The White House releasing payroll records and sticking by the fact that the president has fulfilled his obligations -- did fulfill his obligations in the National Guard. We'll continue to follow the story as it continues.
(INTERRUPTED BY LIVE REPORT)
PHILLIPS: We now want to take you back to the White House. Scott McClellan, once again, White House press secretary, you see here with reporters, the discussion continues over President Bush and his National Guard Service. Let's listen in.
MCCLELLAN: Look, these are questions we addressed all during the campaign. The issue that came up recently was some were trying to make an outrageous, baseless accusation.
If I recall, some were using the comment "deserter" or "AWOL." I mean, that is outrageous. It is baseless. The president of the United States fulfilled his duties. He was honorably discharged.
And now there are some that are clearly not interested in the facts. They're clearly more interested in twisting the facts to seek a partisan political advantage in the context of an election year. I mean, that's just really unfortunate that some would stoop to such a level.
MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry? It was a campaign, a senatorial campaign.
QUESTION: We all know people who tomorrow will not -- who may not show up for work and will be paid. And their payrolls will show they were paid.
MCCLELLAN: Well, again, when you're serving in the National Guard, you're paid for the days on which you serve. It's specifically related to the service.
QUESTION: Can you walk us through when the White House -- the sequence of events in the last few days...
QUESTION: ... that led to the production of these records? And did those efforts begin after or before the interview with...
MCCLELLAN: No, it was after. The questions came up in the interview on "Meet the Press." And the president made it very clear some of what I'm saying here. He said: Yes, I want all records out there. And it was our belief and our impression that all the records that existed that were relevant were already released.
It was back in the 2000 campaign we went to the Texas Air National Guard to ask for records so that they could be released. And it is our understanding that the payroll records -- it was our impression at the time that the payroll records didn't exist.
Then after this weekend, after the interview, we contacted the National Guard here and asked them: Where would one go if these records existed to find them? We were just going back and double- checking. And we were put in touch with the personnel center in Denver, Colorado.
MCCLELLAN: So we contacted the personnel center in Denver, Colorado. It was our understanding at that time that the Denver and St. Louis offices were already working to pull this information together at the time that we contacted them, that's correct. You know, they could explain more about why they were doing that.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) on Monday, Scott?
MCCLELLAN: I'll double-check. I believe it would have been probably Monday before we were able to reach them, so yes. Yesterday, yes. Yes, yesterday. I know there were conversations yesterday...
QUESTION: Who participated in the conversations...
MCCLELLAN: Dan Bartlett from here -- communications director. Anyway, so he contacted them and found out that there was, indeed, additional payroll records. And the president authorized that those be made available, as he said he was going to do. He said he wanted all the records released that existed, that were relevant. And to our knowledge, this is all the records that exist that are relevant to this topic.
QUESTION: Scott, the letter from Colonel Lloyd says that he assessed the records. There's no indication that he had any direct oversight of President Bush, did he?
MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd, did he have any direct oversight over President Bush at the time he served?
MCCLELLAN: Yes. I think he could address those questions in terms of what his role was at the time in the National Guard. But he was certainly someone that had the technical expertise to be able to explain what the point summaries mean, in terms of the numbers, and what they reflect. And so that's what he did. And he made some comments back during the 2000 campaign. I'm sure you can go back and look at those as well.
QUESTION: Just to be clear, what he's saying today is that his assessment of the records is that the requirements (OFF-MIKE)?
MCCLELLAN: That the requirements were met.
QUESTION: But did Lloyd make...
MCCLELLAN: And his own words or in his statements, so I would refer you straight back to his words.
QUESTION: When did Lloyd make this memorandum?
MCCLELLAN: This one?
MCCLELLAN: In the last day. I think we received it yesterday from him.
QUESTION: Since there have been so many questions about what the president was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House protest a war America was still fighting? What was he doing after his honorable discharge
MCCLELLAN: Well, he commented on some of his views relating back to that period the other day and, obviously, this was a time period also when he was going to get his MBA at Harvard, so. But the president was certainly proud to serve in the National Guard.
QUESTION: And would the White House consider those actions by Senator Kerry, that Jeff mentions, fair game in the political season?
MCCLELLAN: I think, you -- that's a way to try to draw us into a Democratic primary that is ongoing.
Well, this is an important matter that some have chosen to twist the facts. And it's important that the facts are clear. And I think that these documents clearly show that the president met his requirements and fulfilled his duties.
QUESTION: But, Scott...
MCCLELLAN: But, look, we'll let the Democratic primary continue. They can work out their differences. I think if you have questions to address to the people that made certain accusations, you should direct them to those individuals. Because now, in light of these documents, this is new information that clearly shows otherwise to what they were suggesting.
QUESTION: Scott, the president said clearly...
MCCLELLAN: Let me keep going. I'll come back to you.
QUESTION: The records show between April 16th, 1972, and October 28th, there was no pay period.
QUESTION: He wasn't paid. That was when he was in Alabama. Now, you said some of the payroll records were lost, but that you know (OFF-MIKE) serve. I mean, is this the president not remembering (OFF- MIKE)
MCCLELLAN: I think it was for the fall period when he -- and, again, I'd have to go back and look at the exact dates of when he was in Alabama. But it was during the fall that he made a request to perform equivalent duty in Alabama. Again, that was still a period when he would be a member of the Texas Air National Guard. But I'd have to go back and double-check those exact dates -- those exact dates that he was in Alabama.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) paid for an equivalent duty
MCCLELLAN: You're paid for serving and equivalent duty is performing your duties for the Texas Air National Guard.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) said he did not perform service in the third quarter of...
MCCLELLAN: These are not our summary sheets. These are the summary sheets from the personnel center in Colorado.
QUESTION: ... but also you know he didn't perform service in that third quarter?
MCCLELLAN: You're paid for the days on which you serve.
QUESTION: So when he was in Alabama during that quarter, he didn't perform...
MCCLELLAN: Well, again, I'm not sure that he was in Alabama during that whole period you were talking about. I'd have to go back and look. He requested -- I know that he requested to perform equivalent duty during that fall time period when he was in Alabama. You were going back further than that. I'd have to double-check.
QUESTION: He left in May, I believe, for...
MCCLELLAN: I'd have to double-check the time period in which he was there.
QUESTION: Is this cumulative -- the sort of thing you don't have to perform every month? It's just a matter that out of the course of the year you get your 50 points.
MCCLELLAN: You know, there are people that have technical expertise in these matters. I think they're the National Guard. You can direct those questions to those individuals. I'm sure that they would be glad to try to help you out.
QUESTION: You keep saying that this is a shame and talking partisan politics. But don't you think the American public, as well, particularly the U.S. military who's been tested right now with the fact that they went to war with faulty intelligence possibly, and now finding out that their commander in chief possibly tried to avoid going to the Vietnam war -- don't you think that the American public is owed a little bit more than photocopies that we can't see things of? And don't you think the military is owed a little bit more than just: "He served."
MCCLELLAN: I'm really sorry that you phrased that question the way you did, some of it -- when you were saying that they were owed more than the documents that show that he served during that time period. Now, let me go back to this -- and the president... MCCLELLAN: And the president -- we have previously said, going back to the 2000 campaign and even before that, that he recalls performing his duties both in Alabama and in Texas during the time period that some have questioned.
So let's be very clear about that. Let's be very clear about the facts, because the American people should have the facts. And the facts are right here in these documents. The facts are right here in these documents.
QUESTION: These facts are very messed up. They're blurred.
MCCLELLAN: You know, I had mentioned earlier that we were going to be putting this out on e-mail, if we haven't already, because it was sent to us in e-mail form. You're also are welcome to contact the personnel center in Denver, Colorado. I am sure that they will be glad to walk you through this.
QUESTION: You're saying that, you know, this is political. This is all politics and everything and people are (OFF-MIKE)
But people are not able to stand up for the president. There are dates that aren't accounted for. And you can't even tell us what kind of drills, or what have you. What do you say to the U.S. military...
MCCLELLAN: No, we address all those questions back during the 2000 campaign -- fully. Let me be very clear. The issue that came up recently was an outrageous, baseless accusation, suggesting that the president did not serve and did not meet his requirements. People called on us to release records that might be available to show that he, indeed, did meet his requirements and serve and fulfill his duties.
The records have been released. These records document that the president fulfilled his duties. Now people are wanting to go further than that. And these are the records that reflect his service...
QUESTION: You can detail your job. You can detail what you do as press secretary.
MCCLELLAN: And we did. During the 2000 campaign, we talked about this issue fully. You're now going to a different issue.
QUESTION: It's still the same (OFF-MIKE)
MCCLELLAN: Let me be very clear here about this. There are some that made some very outrageous accusations about the president's time in the National Guard. There was a call for us to release payroll records. The payroll records have been released, as they just came to our attention. And we shared them with you very quickly.
The point summaries, showing that he met his requirements, have been released. Those are records that some called on us to release. We didn't know that some of these records previously existed. Obviously, if they had, we would have been glad to share them with everybody at the time. This issue was addressed fully four years ago. Like I said, it was really a shame that it came up four years ago, and it's really a shame that it is being brought up again this year. The facts are clear.
Now, there may be some out there that are not interested in the facts. And those people clearly are simply more interested in trying to seek a partisan political advantage in an election year than the facts.
MCCLELLAN: That's unfortunate.
QUESTION: I don't really have a question that goes to the politics of this. I just want to ask a question about a contradiction and a question about a specific record. After all of the things you repeated here, you cannot explain this contradiction, the fact that his payroll records indicate he was paid for a period of time for fulling service and, yet, his commanding officers at that time wrote that he was not observed. Can you or can you not explain that contradiction?
MCCLELLAN: No. If you're talking about this question that Terry brought up, I said I would be glad to go back and look at the document that he's referencing. I have not...
QUESTION: You know the document...
MCCLELLAN: No, I have not.
QUESTION: ... everybody...
MCCLELLAN: I have not seen the documents you're referencing.
QUESTION: His commanders are quoted repeatedly, for years...
MCCLELLAN: You're talking about quotes. You're talking about quotes from individuals. And we've said for years, going back four years ago, that the president recalls serving and performing his duties.
QUESTION: I understand that, but his commanders do not recall it. And, in fact, they say that he was not observed.
MCCLELLAN: Yes. I've seen some different comments...
QUESTION: Can you explain the contradiction?
MCCLELLAN: No, I've seen some different comments made over the...
QUESTION: I haven't seen any ...
MCCLELLAN: ... recent time period.
QUESTION: ... different comments from Brigadier General Turnipseed, not from his Ellington commanders who said he was not observed. Can you explain the contradiction?
MCCLELLAN: Look, I can't speak for those individuals. I speak for the president of the United States, and I can speak for the fact that the documents, as far as we know, or all the documents that are available relevant to this issue...
QUESTION: OK, so...
MCCLELLAN: ... demonstrate that the president fulfilled his duties. Are you suggesting these documents...
QUESTION: I'm not suggesting.
MCCLELLAN: ... do not reflect that?
QUESTION: I'm asking, that's all I'm doing. Here's the second point. The president said to Tim Russert very specifically on Sunday that he would be willing to provide pay stub records and tax return records to...
MCCLELLAN: And ...
QUESTION: ... wait a second.
MCCLELLAN: ... and we addressed this issue previously.
QUESTION: ... corroborate.
MCCLELLAN: I know. It's the second time you've asked this question.
QUESTION: Right. And I'll ask you until we maybe get somewhere -- which is to corroborate these payroll records that are coming from one source. Will he request that all of the records are released from Denver and from St. Louis to prove that he actually received money, not just that they say he did?
MCCLELLAN: These are the payroll records that we understand are available. This is it. It is our understanding that these are the payroll records that are available, yes.
QUESTION: Just out of curiosity, how much money does a person get paid for each day's service?
QUESTION: And is there any evidence that George W. Bush might not have accepted the money, might have turned it...
MCCLELLAN: You'd have to go back and ask at the time what the pay was. Again, it shows the dates on which he was paid. And I think this goes into some of the amounts here on these papers.
QUESTION: New subject. QUESTION: Am I right in reading document five that he didn't perform any days of service between April 16 and October 28?
MCCLELLAN: Yes, we've been through this. Again, the documents...
MCCLELLAN: Yes, well, those are the documents. You have them right in front of you. I'm not disputing these document. In fact, I'm saying that these documents demonstrate that the president fulfilled his duties. These are the payroll records.
QUESTION: Which of these dates refers to days he served in Alabama?
MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Which of the dates in document five...
MCCLELLAN: Yes, if you look at the fall time period, that was a time period that he was in Alabama. Again, Keith asked this question earlier and asked if it shows exactly where he was serving when he was paid. And I said no. I said what these documents show is that he was paid for the days on which he served. These are the payroll records that reflect the days on which he served, so.
QUESTION: What date did he come back -- did he return from Alabama?
MCCLELLAN: Yes, I think we've been through some of these issues previously. I don't know the exact date off the top of my head. We'll be glad to look back and try to get you that information. But those were all questions that were addressed previously. The relevant issue that was brought up by some recently was whether or not the president had served. The documents clearly show that the president served and met his requirements and fulfilled his duties.
QUESTION: Scott, could you just tell us: Are these all the documents you got, you received here at the White House, from Colorado? Or have you kept some in reserve?
MCCLELLAN: No, these...
QUESTION: And also, do you expect any additional documents from St. Louis or from Colorado?
MCCLELLAN: Well, as always, I said that we would -- if there's additional information that comes to our attention, we will make sure to get you that information. This is the information that we understand is available from the personnel center in Denver, Colorado.
QUESTION: That's all that they sent you? This is the...
MCCLELLAN: Yes this is -- this is what they sent us. And we just put it in our own e-mail and sent it out for you all, so. QUESTION: Dan Bartlett told the Associated Press in June of 2000 that he traveled to the Air Reserve Personnel Center and reviewed President Bush's military file.
MCCLELLAN: He said, "I've read it, and there is nothing earth- shattering." Did he see these documents when he reviewed the file? Did he see any other documents when he reviewed the file? And was there anything in the file...
Well, that's a broad question about other documents. All the relevant documents relating to his service have been released...
QUESTION: So has Dan Bartlett ever seen these documents?
MCCLELLAN: ... as we said. And as I said yesterday, everything that we had we released in 2004 -- I mean, 2000, at the time, or during the 2000 campaign. It might have been '99.
QUESTION: There may be documents that were in that file...
MCCLELLAN: No, this is the first time this information has come to our attention.
QUESTION: So Dan Bartlett didn't see these documents...
MCCLELLAN: Again, I think I've answered this question up here, and I've answered it back for you.
QUESTION: I've got one more...
MCCLELLAN: We're going to keep moving. Any more on this topic? Do you have this topic, this topic? Then Wendell is a new subject. We're off this topic.
QUESTION: Talk to me, Scott...
MCCLELLAN: I was trying to talk to John earlier, but he didn't want me to talk.
QUESTION: I was trying to get an answer, but you didn't want to talk.
QUESTION: Tell us what you told...
MCCLELLAN: The cameras are on, and it's always great to have the cameras on. QUESTION: Ooooh...
QUESTION: Tell us what you told the FBI about the...
QUESTION: They're on you, my friend, not me.
QUESTION: ... the outing, if you will, of Valerie Plame? MCCLELLAN: Wendell, the president has made it clear that he wants to get to the bottom of this investigation. The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter. The president directed everybody at the White House to cooperate fully in the investigation. I, obviously, want to do my part to cooperate. And if there's something that can help those who are leading this investigation get to the bottom of it, I am more than happy to share that information with them.
But if you have specific questions relating to an ongoing investigation, those questions are best directed to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice is the one that is overseeing this matter. I want to do everything I can, if there is anything I can do, to help that investigation move forward so that we can get to the bottom of this.
QUESTION: But there is no legal prohibition on you talking with us about what you told them. So if you would, tell us what questions they asked you, and tell us what answers you gave them.
MCCLELLAN: Wendell, that is correct. But I think that it's best for me to refer those questions to the Justice Department. Obviously, if they think it is helpful to the investigation to share that information, I am sure that they would. But I am going to do my part to cooperate fully in this investigation. And I'm glad to do it.
QUESTION: In doing that part, did you have information about how it was that Ms. Plame's job with the CIA became known...
MCCLELLAN: Let me go back. I really -- I appreciate that you're asking these questions. I appreciate that you want to know this information, as well. But there is an ongoing investigation right now. We want to be as helpful as we can to those who are leading that investigation. That includes me personally, as well. And so we need to let that investigation proceed. If there's information that they feel is helpful to share publicly, I'm sure that the people at the Department of Justice would. But I'm just not going to answers those questions from this podium. Those questions are best directed to the Department of Justice, because I want to help them move forward in this investigation.
QUESTION: Scott, I have a follow-up on that. You said last year that you spoke with the vice president's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, and that he was not the leaker, and he did not authorize the leak. Do you stand by that statement? MCCLELLAN: Russell, we've addressed all these issues previously. There's now an ongoing investigation. And I think if you've got questions related to the investigation, I would suggest you direct those questions to the Department of Justice. Like I said, if there's information that they feel is helpful to share publicly, then I'm sure that they will.
QUESTION: Second question: The vice president took Supreme Court Justice Scalia on a duck hunting trip to Louisiana while the vice president had a case pending before the Supreme Court. Does the president see this as appropriate behavior, taking a Supreme Court Justice to a duck hunting trip while he has a case pending? And does he believe that Justice Scalia should recuse himself from that energy task force case?
MCCLELLAN: I think that you need to direct those questions to the vice president's office. I don't have -- I'm not...
QUESTION: I'm asking the president's view.
MCCLELLAN: ... I'm not familiar with the specifics.
QUESTION: Can I go to the major international story appearing all over the globe? Pakistan now admits that Pakistani scientists are the source of spreading nuclear knowledge to several countries. And, also, Musharraf is blaming the United States for not providing him the proof. And yesterday, at the Woodrow Wilson Center of Energy -- speaking and she said that President Bush should stop now supporting dictatorships, dictators in Pakistan, but stop supporting -- and she said that U.S., including President Bush was misled by Musharraf all along, including today, on the spread of nuclear weapons or nuclear technology. Does president believe now that he's satisfied with Musharraf's speeches or what Musharraf told President Bush? Or do you think president will move to...
MCCLELLAN: We certainly value the assurances that President Musharraf provided. I think I've already talked about this. But proliferation is a very serious matter. It's a very high priority for this administration. In a post-September 11th world it's important that we do everything we can to stop proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. That's why the president launched the proliferation security initiative to work with other nations to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction, and to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. That's why the president is working closely with other nations to stop proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
And I think that if you look at some of the actions that have been taken in Pakistan, it demonstrates that he is committed to the assurances he provided us. The results are that a network has been broken up, a network of proliferation has been broken up. There is still ongoing investigation. We're still looking at a number of other areas to continue to make sure we're doing everything to stop further proliferation efforts. And we will continue to make this a high priority. The president looks forward to talking more about this very issue tomorrow.
PHILLIPS: Looking into weapons of mass destruction, looking into the investigation with regard to the CIA leak, but even more at hand here at the White House briefing Scott McClellan talking with reporters about twisted facts, or are the facts clear. He says the facts are in the documents. Big discussion going on today, trying to quell an election-year question, McClellan says, from Democrats, about whether the president completed his Vietnam Era National Guard Service. And McClellan coming forward, saying those accusing the president of being a deserter or going AWOL is just ludicrous, that this talk about the president not fulfilling his time, specifically as a member of the Texas International Air Guard, serving time in Alabama during the fall of 1972 and into 1973, McClellan saying, take a look at the documents, the payroll records are here, we have nothing to hide, the president was proud to serve in the international guard. We'll continue of course to follow that story.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com