Subject: Clinton Continues Mea Culpas Over White House Tapes
En route from Venezuela to Brazil, President Bill Clinton continued his mea culpas over the White House tapes affair, telling reporters aboard Air Force One he will do anything necessary to get Attorney General Janet Reno and the Justice Department "the information they need to make the right decision."
Clinton said he understood why Reno was so angry about the delayed release of the coffee videotapes. "You think she was mad?" the president said. "You should have been there when I heard about it."
The president lashed out at Republicans who have attacked Reno and her investigation as being too soft on the White House, and have even threatened to impeach her if she fails to seek an independent counsel to investigate Clinton's fund-raising activities.
"I think the Republican attacks on her have been completely unwarranted," the president told reporters. "It's interesting; it would be hard to make a case that she was reluctant to follow this law. There are facts, there are statistics, there are all kinds of proceedures set out about how this law is supposed to operate and she ought to be let alone to implement it."
Clinton said he has gone out of his way "to have no conversation with [Reno] about this or frankly anything else" to avoid putting pressure on her as the Republicans have. "I just want to make sure that particularly with all this sort of unwarranted political attacks in the air from other quarters, I just wanted to make sure that we don't compound it in any shape or form," the president said. "I think that there are legal judgments that have to be made on the basis of the facts." (192K wav sound)
The president said he wants to make it clear that his administration has not had any sort of taping system like the Kennedy and Nixon administrations. And he said the personnel at the White House Communications Agency, which videotapes presidential activities for archival purposes, have "done their best, they've worked like crazy, you know, to try to find out if they have anything else on file. I think the Senate, the House and the Department of Justice will be satisfied that all these folks did their best."
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Monday Oct. 13, 1997
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