July 14, 1998
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary ______________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release July 14, 1998 PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY The Briefing Room 1:59 P.M. MR. MCCURRY: What do I have today? Nothing. Q Trent Lott's accusations? MR. MCCURRY: What was that about? That was politics, pure and simple. (Laughter.) Q An independent counsel -- MR. MCCURRY: The question is, Senator Lott's comments, which I found if they weren't so flabbergasting they would be somewhat amusing. Q Wait a minute. Read slowly. MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Lott said they had reached no final conclusions, but they had reached five major interim judgments, which struck me a little bit like Alice in Wonderland time -- you know, verdict first -- sentence first, verdict afterwards, facts sooner or later forgotten. We've addressed these issues and made it quite clear that the license waivers granted by the Clinton administration, pursuant to a policy developed by President Reagan and first implemented by President Bush, had been consistent with U.S. interest and had been consistent with our desire to be competitive in the global satellite and technology market. And they've now had, I think, something like 18 hearings on the Hill; they've got more scheduled. There will be administration witnesses from Commerce, from Defense, from the intelligence community, from the State Department who have testified in excruciating detail about this matter and made it quite clear what this policy is and what it is not. And Senator Lott today tried to connect a lot of dots that, frankly, don't connect. And our judgment here is that that was not a serious statement by a serious person; it was a political argument made by a politician for political benefit. ............. Q Mike, you're not saying that Senator Lott is not a serious person? MR. MCCURRY: I'm saying that that statement today he made on the Senate floor was not a serious statement. Q By a serious person? MR. MCCURRY: Well, he can be more serious and bring more reasoned argument to a serious matter like this than he did today. ................ Q Lott and others on the Hill have also said, on the satellite question, that the administration has not been forthcoming enough in terms of providing information to -- MR. MCCURRY: That is ludicrous. I just told you, they have eight committees looking into this; we've cooperated with all them, to my knowledge. We've given hundreds, if not thousands, of pages of documentation to them. We've had top-level administration witnesses explain in categorical detail the basis of the license waivers given and demonstrated I think to their satisfaction that the license waivers that have been granted by this President are consistent with the policy pursued by the previous Republican President. And I think Trent Lott is making politics and not making serious judgments about the facts. Q But does the President think the policy has given the Chinese a leg up on the -- MR. MCCURRY: I think the President is confident that the license that he's granted have not contributed to China's ability to design, develop, operate, maintain, modify or repair satellite launch vehicles. .................
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