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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 24, 2005

President Meets with Cabinet, Discusses Hurricane Preparation
The Cabinet Room

President's Remarks

      In Focus: Hurricane Relief
      President Bush's Cabinet

10:45 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank the members of my Cabinet for being here. We've just had a discussion about a variety of subjects. These men and women are showing extraordinary leadership to the American people, and I want to thank you for your continued service.

Secretary Chertoff briefed me and briefed the Cabinet about Hurricane Wilma. I also discussed Wilma with FEMA Director Paulison, as well as the Governor of Florida, the state of Florida, Jeb Bush.

I signed a major disaster declaration today. We have pre-positioned food, medicine, communications equipment, urban search and rescue teams. We will work closely with local and state authorities to respond to this hurricane.

I urge local citizens to listen to the local authorities about returning back to your homes. Those folks are on the ground; they know what they're talking about, and it's important that you pay attention to the messages coming out of people there to help you in Florida. We all ask for God's blessings on those who are in harm's way.

Secondly, we discussed responses to Katrina and Rita. We have a duty in the federal government to work with state and local authorities to help the citizens in Mississippi and Louisiana and Alabama and Texas. There's more help to be done, and we need to do so in a fiscally sound way. We can meet our obligations if we set priorities. We can meet our obligations if we in Washington show the courage to not fund programs that aren't working. I look forward to working with Congress to make sure that the taxpayers understand that we can balance compassion with fiscal sanity and fiscal responsibility.

So I want to thank -- again, thank the members of the Cabinet. I'll be glad to answer a couple of questions.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. You said several weeks ago that Special Counsel Peter Fitzgerald was handling the CIA leak investigation in a very dignified way. Yet some of your Republican supporters have recently suggested he may be an overzealous prosecutor, or one obsessing over legal technicalities. Have you revised you thinking on this issue?

THE PRESIDENT: Nedra, I also said -- this may be the fourth time I've been asked about this, which I appreciate, you're doing your job -- I'm not going to comment about it. This is a very serious investigation, and I haven't changed my mind about whether or not I'm going to comment on it publicly.

Fine-looking shades you got there.

Q Thanks, Mr. President. Bono style. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, you don't need to be endorsing any products here in the Cabinet -- (laughter.)

Q Mr. President, as a newspaper reported on Saturday, is the White House working on a contingency plan for the withdrawal of Harriet Miers' nomination?

THE PRESIDENT: Harriet Miers is -- is an extraordinary woman. She was a legal pioneer in Texas. She was ranked one of the top 50 women lawyers in the United States on a consistent basis. She is -- look, I understand that people want to know more about her, and that's the way the process should work.

Recently, requests, however, have been made by Democrats and Republicans about paperwork and -- out of this White House that would make it impossible for me and other Presidents to be able to make sound decisions. They may ask for paperwork about the decision-making process, what her recommendations were, and that would breach very important confidentiality. And it's a red line I'm not willing to cross. People can learn about Harriet Miers through hearings, but we are not going to destroy this business about people being able to walk into the Oval Office and say, Mr. President, here's my advice to you, here's what I think is important. And that's not only important for this President, it's important for future Presidents.

Harriet Miers is a fine person, and I expect her to have a good, fair hearing on Capitol Hill.

Thank you all for coming.

Q -- on a Federal Reserve Chairman, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: Be making an announcement soon.

END 10:50 A.M. EDT

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