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White House 'cataloguing' pranks by departing Clinton staffers

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House is conducting an inventory of pranks departing Clinton staff aides apparently played on the new administration, but a spokesman for President Bush said he is focused on "changing the tone in Washington" and said no formal investigation would take place.

"I think it would be easy for us to reflect and to discuss things and be critical," Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, told reporters. "The president understands that transitions can be times of difficulty and strong emotion, and he's going to approach it in that vein."

Fleischer said the Bush administration is "cataloging what took place," but doesn't expect to do anything with what it gathers.

"We're just noting what took place," Fleischer said. "We're not looking to place blame. We're not looking back to ascribe whatever the -- again, transitions can be difficult times."

"So we're just taking a look at what was done and that's that," he added.

Earlier this week, Fleischer confirmed the letter "w" was removed from some White House computer keyboards and offered reporters a humorous description of his reaction.

"It would have been 'wow,' but the 'w' was removed. So now it's just 'o,' " he said Tuesday.

Fleischer then took a more serious note, saying that if the letters are not found and the computers don't work, "that's government property that is now going to have to replaced or fixed."

When asked if anyone from the Clinton administration called to apologize, Fleischer told reporters Thursday, "I know a phone call was made into the vice president's office, but I really don't know who made it."

He refused to say who received the call, referring to it as a "private conversation."

Fleischer said he did not have an estimate of the cost or the magnitude of any damage.

"You know, I really stopped paying attention to all the different places," said Fleischer.


Thursday, January 25, 2001



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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