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Office of the Press Secretary

September 22, 2000


The James S. Brady Briefing Room

2:23 P.M. EDT

MR. LOCKHART: Let me start with a couple of things here. First off, on behalf of the White House Press Office and the President, we want to send along our congratulations to one of our most favorite alumnus, Mary Ellen Glynn, who is being married today to Dwight Holton.

Secondly, let me give you a quick readout of the President's meeting with the Attorney General. I think as some of you saw, she came over here this morning. They spoke for about 45 minutes. In the meeting, the Attorney General gave the President a sense about where they are as far as looking at this. I think they both agreed that the most important thing going on right now is the debriefing process and trying to find out just what happened with the computer tapes. That is the priority, and that's what they're spending significant energy and effort on. For his part, the President agreed that that was the priority, and expressed strong support for the Attorney General.

As far as getting to some of the questions that were raised, I think the Attorney General said that it's her priority to get out as much information to the public as possible. There is some information that's currently classified that they're working hard now on to declassify so they can get it out to the public, and she also said that she's asked the Office of Professional Responsibility to do a thorough review, as is their practice, when a prosecution -- questions have been raised by a prosecution like this one by a judge or others. Again, they both agreed that the most important thing we can do is to try to get to the bottom of this, and that process continues, as far as looking at the tapes.


Q On the Reno visit, she said this morning that she thought that when the President heard all the facts that he would understand and maybe have a different view. I was wondering if there was any change in his view towards the case at all.

MR. LOCKHART: I think, as the President made clear, he had questions on a narrow part of this, as far as the pre-detention. I think that's one of the things the Office of Professional Responsibility will look to. I think the President looks forward to, there's people on the Hill who look forward to, and the American public should look forward to an accounting there and I think that will be done.

Q So he still has -- I mean, we can still say he has concerns?

MR. LOCKHART: The purpose of the meeting was to talk about how they would go about looking at some of these questions, not trying to fully answer the questions.

Q Was the review precipitated solely by the judge's comments, or was there a formal complaint issued by the Lee family or representative?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of a formal complaint. It's my understanding that the Justice Department, upon receiving the kind of comments the judge issued in his ruling, would take a look like this through the Office of Professional Responsibility. But it's also clear that there have been a number of questions raised here.


Q Joe, on Wen Ho Lee, did the Attorney General say anything in the meeting today to allay the President's concerns about the pretrial detention?

MR. LOCKHART: I think she gave an overall sense of the case. But I think that rather than trying to make a judgment at this point, we should wait until the exercise that they will commence through the Office of Professional Responsibility is complete before we make any judgments.

Q Just a follow-up. The President is as concerned now as he was --

MR. LOCKHART: I think what I said is that we will wait until the process is complete. We're not going to provide an inning-by-inning analysis of where we are. We have taken an important first step here, but when the process is over, we'll make a judgment.

Q Who was in on that meeting, Joe?

MR. LOCKHART: I know on our side John Podesta and Beth Nolan. I don't know who the Attorney General brought with her.

Q How long do you expect that process to take?

MR. LOCKHART: I would go to Justice for the details on how these things work.


Q Was the review of the Lee case something that the President asked the Attorney General to do, or was she doing it before she got here?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the Attorney General made clear that in a case like this, with a judgment like this from the judge, that there would be a review.

Q Did he ask her without her --

MR. LOCKHART: I think as the President said, he looked forward to talking to her about what they would do. When she came over here, she fully briefed him on what they would do, including this review.


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