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President on Contra Report: No Comment

November 19, 1987|Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — President Reagan, who once told reporters "you won't be able to shut me up" once the congressional Iran-Contra report was out, has no plans to comment on it "any time soon," spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said today.

For the second day, Fitzwater contended that the report is a partisan attempt to discredit the President and dismissed reporters' questions about contradictory testimony before the committees with the comment, "The President told the truth on every occasion on every subject."

At the height of the Iran-Contra hearings last summer, the President begged off answering reporters' questions about the latest testimony, telling them that once the congressional investigation was over, "You won't be able to shut me up."

Comment Not Expected

But when asked today if there would be any response on Wednesday's report from the committees, Fitzwater said, "I don't expect it any time soon."

When pressed, Fitzwater brushed aside questions about Reagan's statement that $2 million raised by billionaire businessman H. Ross Perot to ransom American hostages in Lebanon was "not ransom," and about Reagan's testimony to the Tower Board that he could not remember authorizing a shipment of Hawk missiles to Iran two months after Secretary of State George P. Shultz said he did.

"You can go back and read all of that . . . and reach your own conclusions. You're welcome to investigate. The President told the truth on every occasion on every subject."

Mismanagement Charged

The President, who made two speeches Wednesday after the long-awaited report was released, did not respond to its harsh charges of mismanagement of foreign policy and was kept too far from journalists to be asked. Today he spoke about the economy to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Thus the job of commenting was left to Fitzwater.

Brushing aside questions from reporters, Fitzwater said, "I won't go into any of the details of the report."

He said Reagan has the report and "probably will read some of it."

Meanwhile, Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III, whose initial inquiry into the Iran-Contra affair was strongly criticized in the report, today dismissed it as "Monday morning quarterbacking."

Meese, talking with reporters before addressing an American Bar Assn. panel, said of the 690-page report, "No, I don't think there is anything much new there."

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