President Clinton On Secret Service Decision
May 22, 1998
QUESTION: Do you feel that the Secret -- by allowing Secret
Service agents to testify that it would in fact harm future
CLINTON: Well, that's the Secret Service position. And
President Bush agreed with them. And I think there's a serious
possibility that that could occur, probably in a different sort
of context. At least it will -- it'll have a chilling effect
on, perhaps on the conversations presidents have and the work
that they do and the way they do it. But it is true that there
is no legal -- there's no statute there.
But, you know, all these investigations have been carried out
over the last 25 years in a climate of intense
pro-investigation, and yet I don't think anyone ever thought
about it, because no one ever thought that anyone would ever
abuse the responsibility that the Secret Service has to the
president, the president's family.
So, there's some things that you ought not to have to make a
law about. And I think that's basically where we are, that it
never occurred to anybody that anyone would ever be so
insensitive to the responsibilities of the Secret Service that
this kind of legal question would arise.
While what the law would be on appeal or whether the Secret
Service will appeal, I don't know, because I haven't been
involved in it. I don't think it's appropriate for me to be
involved in it.
But I think it -- yes, I think it will raise some serious
questions and present a whole new array of problems for managing
the presidency and for the Secret Service managing their
And because previous people have understood that and cared
enough about it, I don't think that anybody's ever even
considered doing this before. But we're living in a time which
is without precedent where actions are being taken without
precedent, and we just have to live with the consequences.
Thank you very much.