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Excerpts From The Tape

From a taped conversation on Dec. 21, 1996 with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.), House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), Dan Meyer, Gingrich's chief of staff, attorney Ed Bethune, and Ed Gillespie, communications director for the Republican National Committee.

From The Associated Press

Gillespie: Once he has kicked that off, that would give us the opportunity to then go back and refute what he has said, and we have not jumped the gun on anything and we are simply responding to what that political leader --

Gingrich: Ed's very clever.

At one point, Armey suggests Gingrich handle accusations that he lied to the subcommittee by quoting a country song by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers.

Gingrich: Which one is that?

Armey (singing): I did not mean to deceive you. I never intended to push or shove. I just wish you was someone that I love.


Bethune: We want the record to be absolutely (inaudible) and clear here that Newt is not, nor does he desire for anybody in his (inaudible) to go out and try to help him. ...

Paxon: They will certainly have a war room set up on the other side, and if we have several hours or a day go by when our members are out there without response, it will be a disaster, that's right.

Meyer: Ed, tell me if this crosses the line. Is it possible to include in the statement that Bill read some language that says you know why he is taking responsibility although it is clear he never intended to mislead the committee. I'd fix it over to see if you could repeat that since, you know, it, it, members need to understand that, and it then will be fine.

Bethune: Newt cannot be party to crafting any such or orchestrating, but as I said earlier, a member of Congress having received those documents is entitled to say whatever they want to about them.

Paxon: We could say, we have every confidence that Newt did not intend to --

Bethune: ... It is very important for me to be able to say to the special counsel and if necessary to the committee members that we, and by that I mean the other attorney, Randy Evans, and I, and Newt, have done everything in our power to try to stop all things that might be construed in any way as an orchestration attempt by Newt Gingrich. ...

Gingrich: Why don't we pick up Ed's language: "Although there is no charge that Newt intentionally misled the committee, Newt was responsible for the mistakes that were made"?

Gillespie: And something like "With this now behind us, it is clear that Newt will be re-elected speaker on Jan. 7."

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