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 Home > News & Policies > July 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 20, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott Mcclellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cedar Rapids, Iowa

President's Schedule
Sandy Berger/Investigation Bush Daughters
Democratic Convention
9/11 Commission
Iran/Al Qaeda

12:39 P.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, let me go through the President's day . This is a rerun -- watching Lance Armstrong here in the press cabin.

The President had his usual briefings this morning. Then he had breakfast with his economic advisors, where he received an update on the strong, broad-based economic recovery that is underway. Following that, the President met with the Secretary of State, and then following that, he met with the Secretary of Defense.

When we arrive in Cedar Rapids , the Freedom Corps greeter is Dean Gesme. And for the past 10 years, Dean has been involved with SCORE of Eastern Iowa, which is a volunteer management counseling program sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

And then the first event he'll participate in is an Ask President Bush event in Iowa . And the participants will include a small business owner, a tax family, a new -- a recently hired employee and a representative from a faith-based program. And that's the same format that you all have seen him participate in, where after he makes remarks and talks to some of the participants, then he'll take questions from the audience.

And then from there, we go to Missouri . And in Missouri , the President -- the Freedom Corps greeter will be Daffney Moore, who, for the past four years, has been involved as a volunteer mentor, trainer and personal shopper with Connections to Success, which provides services and programs to help women break the cycle of poverty and rise to a level of independence and economic self-reliance.

And then following that, the President will participate in a rally in St. Charles , Missouri . And then we return to the White House later tonight.

Q What did you say?

MR. McCLELLAN: Then we return to the White House tonight.

Q Is this rally kind of straight campaign rally, stump speech?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it's pretty much the stump speech. I mean, he may add a few things here or there, but it's pretty much the stump speech you've been hearing.

Q How much stuff are you talking about adding? Can you tell us --

MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, it will be pretty similar to what you've been hearing.

Q Scott, any reaction to the Justice Department's investigation of Sandy Berger ?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that those are -- that any questions relating to an investigation like that need to be directed to the Department of Justice.

Q Is the President concerned that any of the material that was allegedly taken somehow informed the Kerry campaign in some way that may be inappropriate?

MR. McCLELLAN: What we've seen is, and what we know is what has been reported in the news media. It is apparently an investigation that is underway, and the questions are best directed at Department of Justice. I don't think we'll have anything further to say about it.

Q Do you think it's appropriate for Halliburton to set up an off shore subsidiary and then have operations in Iran ? Do you think that's an appropriate thing for a company to do?

MR. McCLELLAN: Are you asking because the Kerry campaign is making some accusations?

Q They're making some accusations --

MR. McCLELLAN: Those are just more political attacks. You can direct questions to the campaign about those political attacks.

Q What about the role of Jenna and Barbara Bush ? We saw them today. Are they going to play a role today? Will they introduce the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I expect that he will probably recognize them in his remarks. I don't know that they're scheduled to introduce him. But when we leave Missouri , they'll be dropping off, because they've got some other events that they will be participating in this week.

Q So they're going to be --

MR. McCLELLAN: So they'll be with us for these two events, but then they'll be -- they won't be returning with us, because they're going to continue doing some campaigning together.

Q Who are they going to be with?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have their schedule. I can see what we can do to get that to you, or you can check with the campaign on their -- their exact schedule. I think they've got an event later this evening in Missouri .

Q This evening in Missouri ?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I believe so, but I don't know that that's open. Again, we'll get someone from the campaign to try to touch base with you if there's any more open events they're participating in.

Q Are they campaigning only for today, the daughters?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I expect they will be -- they both recently went out on what was really their first campaign trips with the President, on separate occasions, as you all were aware. Now they're out together, and the President is pleased to have them both traveling with him today. And I think that they're looking forward to going out and doing some campaigning together this week.

Q Can you talk a little bit about what the President is trying to accomplish from a campaign perspective this week, going into the Democratic Convention ? I mean, what's, in his view, the utility of a trip like today, what he's got later on in the week, at a time when there's a lot of buildup for the Democratic Convention?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there will be some campaign officials on the ground. Maybe they can talk to you more from the campaign standpoint on some of these issues related to next week and the Democratic Convention. But the President is going to continue going around the country, talking about the clear choices that the American people face. And that's what he's doing today in Iowa and Missouri .

There are clear choices when it comes to the war on terror -- waging the war on terrorism and the steps that we're taking to strengthen our economy. And those, of course, are our highest priorities. There's also some clear differences on values. And so the President will be highlighting some of those differences and choices that the American people face. But as you're aware, he will be headed to Crawford on Friday, where he will remain until next Thursday, before returning to the White House.

Q When is the White House going to see the recommendations of the September 11th Commission ? Have they seen them?

MR. McCLELLAN: I believe the President -- the last I heard was that the President is scheduled to receive a briefing, I believe from Chairman Kean -- Chairmans Kean and Hamilton tomorrow, and then we are expected to receive a copy of the final report Thursday morning when it's released.

Q You're not going to see the recommendations ahead of time?

MR. McCLELLAN: We have gone through the report for classification purposes, the usual classification review. And as I mentioned yesterday, we completed the classification review well ahead of schedule. But the final report, yes, is not expected to be delivered to us until Thursday.

Q Will tomorrow, at the White House, Kean and Hamilton brief the President?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I believe they're briefing members -- some members of Congress even ahead of that. And then I think they will be coming to brief the President on the report tomorrow. I don't have the schedule, I think it's later in the day, but I'll have to double-check that.

Q It's just Hamilton and Kean, separately?

MR. McCLELLAN: I suspect there will be some staff, but I don't know that yet. I'll get you all the details.

Q Will Cheney be in that briefing, as well?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what his schedule is. I'll check on all these details.

Q The Democrats are saying that the administration is out trying to push the blame onto the previous administration, the Clinton administration, that they --

MR. McCLELLAN: I responded to some of those remarks, I think, and I think the campaign responded to some of that already. If you're talking about what the Kerry campaign is saying, I saw what they said, and the campaign responded to that already.

Q So will they be talking about any kind of September 11th finding or anything today, recommendations? Is he going to be rebutting anything ahead of it?

MR. McCLELLAN: You have an "Ask President Bush" event, so there will be, I imagine, a wide range of questions brought up at that. Certainly he will continue to talk about our highest priorities, the war on terrorism and the economy and issues of that nature. But he's been talking a lot about the importance of intelligence reform.

And as you heard him say yesterday, the 9/11 Commission shares the same focus we do when it comes to strengthening our intelligence capabilities to better confront the threats we face in this day and age. And he talked about that yesterday, and he talked about the importance of bolstering human intelligence and improving our -- advancing our technological capacity and improving the sharing of intelligence information. We've already made some important strides to reform our intelligence capabilities. And the President wants to continue to build upon those reforms.

Q Are we going to see a CIA director this week?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, you know I don't speculate on the timing of any pending personnel announcements, particularly one of that nature.

Q Is there an active investigation going on into whether or not Iran in some way helped al Qaeda's -- the hijackers? Is there an active investigation?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that I would describe it that way. I would describe it that -- you heard from the acting director of the CIA, Director McLaughlin, on Sunday, when he said that there is no evidence to suggest that there was any official involvement between Iran and the September 11th attacks. The President said yesterday that we will continue to look at it. We want to see what the September 11th Commission reports on this issue. It's a story where -- that has evolved over time. It's something that obviously you want to continue to take a look at. But I think Director McLaughlin made it clear there was no evidence of any official involvement between Iran and the September 11th attacks.

Q So you wouldn't say it's an active investigation. It's not like it's something that you're actively pursuing?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President -- I don't think anyone has described it that way. The President said we will continue to look at it. That's what he said.

Q Back to the Berger thing. Democrats, if they haven't already suggested it, might say that Berger's name in the investigation was leaked to distract attention from the release of the report on Thursday. How would you respond to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard anyone make such a suggestion. But -- who is making that suggestion? I haven't heard anyone make such a suggestion.

Q If someone was to make that suggestion -- it just occurred to me that somebody might think that, you know, it's the Justice Department that is investigating it, it might have been leaked by the Justice Department to --

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard anyone make such a suggestion. Certainly, the first we became aware of it was upon seeing the media reports.

Q Thanks.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thanks.

END 12:50 P.M. EDT