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
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
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
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
MCCURRY: Probably not.
QUESTION: You just read from the newspaper, The New York
Times, and I think it talked about advisers within the White
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, 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
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.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) same.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
QUESTION: Will he be able to consult with them as he gives
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.