The White House Briefing Room

March 3, 1999


1:25 P.M. EST


                           THE WHITE HOUSE

                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                              March 3, 1999     

                         PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                     BARRY TOIV AND DAVID LEAVY
                        The Briefing Room    

1:25 P.M. EST

	     MR. TOIV:  For those of you who are concerned, Mr. 
Lockhart will return tomorrow.  You won't have Leavy and Toiv to kick 
around anymore.  (Laughter.)  Questions.
	     Q	  Let's start with what we talked about this morning, 
which is this book claims there was a mole or maybe still is a mole 
in the White House, an Israeli mole, and that the President was 
black-mailed with a tape of a conversation or conversations he had 
with Monica Lewinsky into calling off the search.
	     MR. TOIV:  I have a short answer to that question -- the 
book is nonsense.
	     Q	  Well, is it true?  (Laughter.)
	     MR. TOIV:  Nonsense would suggest otherwise.
	     Q	  Barry, why did the President reportedly tell Monica 
Lewinsky that he was concerned about his phone conversations being 
	     MR. TOIV:  Well, as you know, other than the President's 
testimony in this case, we really haven't commented on specifics, on 
other specifics like that and we're not going to start now.
	     Q	  Was there any search at any time, apart from the 
story, for a mole here in the White House?  Do you know of in the 
Clinton administration?
	     MR. LEAVY:  I'm sorry, Sam.
	     Q	  Was there a search at any time in the Clinton 
administration for a mole, so-called, in the White House?  
	     MR. LEAVY:  Well, as you know, we have a longstanding 
practice not to comment on investigations one way or the other, and 
you shouldn't take that as a confirmation or a yes or no.  But there 
is -- appropriate authorities do look into these issues.  We do take 
any counterintelligence activities against the United States very 
seriously.  But you have to go to the Justice Department for that.  
	     Q	  Because of the Pollard case, I mean, the question 
of Israeli spying in this country is there.  And so when something 
like this comes up, you have to ask about it.  Was there any thought 
that Israel was spying here?
	     Q	  You're not denying it.  You're not denying it.
	     MR. LEAVY:  Obviously, we're not aware of a mole at the 
White House.  But it's the longstanding practice for people who 

speak at this podium to refer calls to the appropriate authorities 
who undertake these types of investigations.  
	     Q	  Was there any attempt by the President to intervene 
in any kind of investigation or search for a mole?
	     MR. LEAVY:  No.  There is no basis in that allegation 
	     Q	  Well, in fact, that's not what the author says.  I 
mean, I think the Post may have gotten it wrong, but what he says is 
that --
	     MR. LEAVY:  That's news.  (Laughter.)
	     Q	  What he does say in his book is that there was 
taping directed at the Watergate by the Massad.  And let me just ask 
you -- I'm not suggesting that's true, what I'm asking is, do you 
have any basis for believing that anyone other than Linda Tripp taped 
Monica Lewinsky's conversations?
	     MR. LEAVY:  No.  As I said earlier, there is absolutely 
no basis for that allegation.
	     Q	  Well, there is a basis for it.  There is sworn 
testimony that Lewinsky gave that attributes to the President a 
comment that a foreign embassy was taping --
	     MR. LEAVY:  And Barry just answered that question.
	     Q	  His answer was that he is not going to comment on 
it.  That's not much of an answer.  With all due respect.
	     MR. LEAVY:  Let me say two things -- noted.  
	     MR. TOIV:  I wouldn't go beyond my comments.
	     MR. LEAVY:  Yes, I'm definitely not going to add to 
Barry's comments.  But let me just say this.  We take all the 
necessary precautions to secure the President's communications.  
There is absolutely no basis for the allegation in the book.
	     Q	  But, David --
	     Q	  Are you getting that from CIA and FBI, or are you 
getting it out of just an automatic reflex?
	     MR. LEAVY:  You can take that as authoritative.
	     Q	  David, I understand that you would have his 
communications secure.  However, if he picks up the phone and calls 
some ordinary citizen at 2:30 a.m. in the morning at their apartment, 
what's to say that that person's phone couldn't be tapped?  Does your 
security system prevent that?
	     MR. LEAVY:  There is some very serious allegations in 
this book, and what I am saying is that there is absolutely no basis 
for the allegation.  So I have to leave it at that.
	     Q	  So the allegation is false?
	     MR. LEAVY:  Yes, the allegation is false.  There is no 
basis.  Full stop.  And as Barry said this morning, this book is 
better sold in the fiction section than the non-fiction section.
	     Q	  When the President heard about this was he 
concerned by it, was he shocked by it?  What was his reaction, 
Mr. Toiv?
	     MR. TOIV:  To be honest, I haven't gotten the 

President's reaction to the book.
	     Q	  Well, why did he say that to Monica Lewinsky?  Why 
did he warn her?
	     MR. TOIV:  I've already not answered that question, 
Helen.  (Laughter.)  I'm sorry.
	     Q	  I know you've not answered it, but it's very valid, 
	     MR. TOIV:  Well, again, we're not going to get into 
commenting on specifics beyond what the President has already 
testified to.
	     Q	  While we're on the subject, will the President be 
watching any part of the interview tonight?
	     MR. TOIV:  No plans to watch.  As you know, he's 
traveling, in any event, gets back tonight.  But no plans to watch.
	     Q	  Will he watch a tape of it later?
	     MR. TOIV:  I'm not aware that anybody is taping it for 
	     Q	  I don't understand why you think it's legitimate 
for you not to comment on the President of the United States 
supposedly saying that he thinks a foreign government is taping his 
conversations.  For you just to say, no comment.
	     MR. TOIV:  David, there have been questions about all 
sorts of comments that have been made or testified to, and we have 
not gone beyond the President's testimony in discussing these, and 
we're not going to do that.  
	     Q	  That's because you've said it's unseemly and it's 
about sex.  This is about the national security of the United States 
and the President supposedly saying that a foreign government is 
taping his conversations.  And you're just going to say, sorry, no 
	     MR. TOIV:  I am not going to go beyond what he has 
already testified to.
	     Q	  Barry, this White House has said that during the 
impeachment trial you essentially said, there aren't a lot of factual 
disputes with the Starr report, there are a few things, but basically 
you weren't going to contest most of the facts in the Starr report.  
This is one of those facts that he asserts.  Can you give us any 
indication whether this is something that you take issue with, or is 
this something that you wouldn't contest?

	     MR. TOIV:  No, I'm not going to -- you can ask the 
question a different way, but I'm not going to comment beyond the 
President's testimony.

	     Q	  You don't know if the President's aware of this 
book or not?

	     MR. TOIV:  No, I'm not aware of whether -- I don't know 
if he knows about the book.

	     Q	  Has this allegation came up before and you were 
aware of this allegation before this book surfaced, or is this the 
first time the White House has heard of it?

	     MR. TOIV:  I'm not aware of it.  I think others have --

	     MR. LEAVY:  The allegations have been recorded 
previously the last couple of years, and as we've always said, that 
there's no truth to it.  So it has been out there previously.

	     Q	  But when did you first check into it?

	     MR. LEAVY:  Well, just when the questions came up this 
morning we did a little research and found out there actually had 
been news clippings before, during Mr. McCurry's term, and he 
answered it a similar way.

	     Q	  Did this author ever check with the White House?

	     MR. LEAVY:  Not that I'm aware of.


	     Q	  Thank you. 

               END                      1:55 P.M. EST