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Press Gaggle By White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart

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President Clinton's Trip to Japan, Korea, and Guam

Office of the Press Secretary
(Tokyo, Japan)

For Immediate Release November 20, 1998


The Okura Hotel
Tokyo, Japan

8:42 A.M. (L)

Q What we really want to know, Joe, is what President Clinton --what he thought about that woman asking that question about MonicaLewinsky?

MR. LOCKHART: Oh, he didn't think anything of it.

Q Was he expecting a question like that?


Q Was he really? He didn't look like it.

MR. LOCKHART: They had indicated that they thought the subject wouldcome up in one way, shape, or form -- the hosts. I mean, they basicallysaidthat if one of the guests didn't, they thought it was just such a big issuethat they would raise it in some way. They didn't tell us how, but -- sohewas not surprised. He was expecting it.

Q We were.

MR. LOCKHART: I've talked to some people already this morning, but Iexpected to be asked about whether he watched and all that stuff, so wechecked in this morning. The President did not watch any of the livecoverageof the hearings in Washington. He said that in watching a news broadcast,that he saw one short clip from the hearings but didn't watch any of theextensivecoverage that I guess is going on back home.

Q What news program did he watch?

MR. LOCKHART: I think it was some CNN Internationalheadlines thing where they mentioned it as well as some otherthings.

Doug Sosnik, who is the traveling chief of staff, went overand gave him a briefing, a normal briefing. He gave him aseveral-minute briefing on what he had been told about what wasgoing on. The President at the time was working on his speechand indicated that he wanted to continue working on the speech.

Q What time was this?

MR. LOCKHART: I think it was around seven.

Q In the evening?

Q No, 7:00 a.m.

MR. LOCKHART: This morning, yes. I talked to Doug about7:05 a.m. and he had already done it.

Q The President indicated he didn't want to hear moreabout it.

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, and we'll probably try to give a fullerbriefing later in the day, because I know he'll see you all latein the day.

Q Is it not expected for the President to talk to any ofhis attorneys, including Mr. Kendall or Mr. --

MR. LOCKHART: I don't expect that that will happen today.I'll let you know if it does, but he did not want a full briefingback from Washington.

Q A little off the subject, but why is Doug on this tripand not Podesta?

MR. LOCKHART: Podesta was never going to be on this trip.Maria was. Maria went with the Vice President because she hadthe most APEC knowledge of what the trip was, but then the VicePresident went straight back. Doug was on this trip already; hejust moved up to fill in for her.

I watched sumo wrestling, by the way. I had my choice thismorning, and sumo wrestling was -- it ends quicker. It's goodconflict, but it just ends quicker. (Laughter.)

Q How would you compare sumo wrestling to Ken Starr'sperformance?

MR. LOCKHART: Can I look at it from a fashion sense?(Laughter.)

Q Well, Clinton has claimed he likes sumo wrestling.

Q Joe, what's the status on the questions?

MR. LOCKHART: They're working on it. They will get them upthere.

Q Isn't it missing the point to not get the 81 answers upbefore the committee started the questioning, because --

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think if the committee needed them forthat purpose, they would have articulated that need. The onesense that I got talking to our people back in Washington thismorning was that the news of the hearings today was not the casethat Ken Starr made but was the exoneration of the President inthe areas of the Travel Office, the FBI files, and key aspects ofthe Whitewater case.

It's astonishing that this news has been held by theindependent counsel for so long and only released to the publicthis morning -- well, their morning, our morning, I'm confused.I can't figure out what day it is.

Q What are you saying the motive is for that?

MR. LOCKHART: I think that that's a good question to put tothe independent counsel. But otherwise, from what I've beentold, this is just a rehash of information that was previouslysent to Congress.

Q But wasn't that the point of this?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm not sure what the point of it was.

Q What can you tell us about what the President will dolater today? He's got the business speech this morning and thena block of time in the middle of the day.

MR. LOCKHART: Business speech this morning. He will do alunch, small lunch with the Prime Minister and some of hiscolleagues. The President will bring some of his peopletraveling with him. We'll get you a list.

Q Is that a restaurant thing?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, at a restaurant.

Q Do you know what area, or is it the point to get outand see some of the city?

MR. LOCKHART: I can tell you for GUIDANCE PURPOSES, RATHERTHAN REPORTING PURPOSES, it will be in the Ginza section ofTokyo, I think. But for the reasons we just sometimes do OTRs,it's not articulated on the schedule.

He'll then do the bilat --

Q I'm sorry, can I back up one second. Is the reasonhe's having that lunch because Obuchi wanted two events with thePresident?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think the President and the PrimeMinister very much wanted to spend some time in a less formalsetting than the formal bilat.

Q So it's in exchange for the hot springs.

MR. LOCKHART: You'll remember that when we were back in thestates, back in New York, the President and Prime Minister wantedto spend some time together up at the Rockefeller Estate, butbecause of weather we couldn't get there.

Q It's not meant to be.

MR. LOCKHART: But it will be today. So they will havetheir more formal bilat later in the afternoon, then an expandedbilat. Then they will come out at some point and say a fewwords, take a question or two, and then we're off.

Q Are we to take it from everything you've told us thismorning about the President not watching the live coverage andjust getting a normal briefing and so forth, there is no sense ofgravity, no sense of seriousness here about what's unfolding inWashington?

MR. LOCKHART: Let me address that this way. The Presidentbelieves this is a very important trip. The future of theJapanese economy and the Asian economy has a real impact on thelives, the wages, the livelihoods of Americans. That's what he'schoosing to focus on. That's what he's choosing to spend histime and energy on. And if others decide to focus their time andenergy on other issues, that's their prerogative.

Q Is the President satisfied with what he's hearing fromIraq on the second day that the inspectors are back to work?

MR. LOCKHART: I have not gotten a report that indicatesanything one way or the other on that. I'll check a little bitmore into that, but I'm not sure that we're going to get adefinitive sense from UNSCOM this quickly, within a couple ofdays.

Q Joe, would it be right to think that the Japanese aretending to want to put the focus of their discussions withClinton on security issues more than the economic side?

MR. LOCKHART: No, I think there will be discussions on bothissues. There is an appropriate time and venue for discussion ofboth issues. There are important security issues that exist inthis relationship, and there are also important economic issues.I think the President did a little bit of both last night, whichindicated what's on the Japanese people's mind. I think thespeech this morning will be more focused -- will certainly befocused on the economy, but I expect that through the day, asthey go through the bilats, the security issues will also take onsome prominence.

Q He'll brief the Prime Minister on the North Koreanmission?

MR. LOCKHART: I certainly expect that to be a subject ofconversation. I believe the NSC person, Mr. Pritchard, who isresponsible for that is here and will have some time to talk tothe President.

Q Joe, is there going to be any kind of briefing latertoday?

MR. LOCKHART: I'm going to try to go over at 11:00 a.m.with very little to say, but because everybody is here --

Q To the filing center?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Around 11:00 a.m., sometime after theChamber of Commerce speech. And what I'm going to try to do --this is just a terrible day for timing -- is have a couple of theexperts on Japan and people who will be in the bilats stay behindand take the press plane to Korea so that they can either briefat the filing center or on the plane, so that when you land inKorea tonight you will have some readout -- which will leave usslightly short on Air Force One, but we will have -- Sandy willat least be there, so I will be able to get some sort of readoutfor the pool.

Q Do you know when the President is going to meet withAmbassador Kartman, who is back from North Korea?

MR. LOCKHART: I am not aware that he is going to. I don'tknow that he's here.

Q There was wire copy --

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, there was some report yesterday. Idon't think he's here.

Q Why is he not going to the DMZ on this trip? Is thatjust because he's been there before?

MR. LOCKHART: Yes, I think we're going to a trainingfacility, which we think would be an interesting way to highlightsome of the work that's being done.

Q Are we on schedule to leave at 9:45 a.m.?

MR. LOCKHART: As far as I know. I've got to go upstairs tomy meeting, and we're going to go over and see him in about 20minutes. We'll probably run a little late. Actually, he's beenup for a while, so we may actually leave on time.

Q Do you know what time he got up?

MR. LOCKHART: It was certainly before 7:00 a.m. becausewhen Doug went over he was working on his speech.

Q Which speech was it? This morning's speech?


Q Thank you.

MR. LOCKHART: You're welcome.

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Briefings - November 20, 1998

Press Breifing By Gene Sperling, Director, National Economic Council, and Ken Lieberthal, NSC Senior Director of Asian Affairs

Press Briefing By NSC Director of Asian Affairs Jack Pritchard and Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers

Press Gaggle By White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart

Briefing By White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart