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Deaver Linked to a White House Phone

November 20, 1987|ROBERT L. JACKSON | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A San Francisco investment banker testified Thursday that three months after Michael K. Deaver left his post at the White House, the banker was able to reach Deaver by calling a special White House number and asking for "Foxtrot," the Secret Service code name for First Lady Nancy Reagan.

William H. Timbers, a vice president of the Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co. investment firm, said that a White House operator connected him to Deaver on a government airplane in August, 1985, at a time when Deaver was lobbying for the firm under a $200,000 contract.

A later witness testified that Deaver and his wife, Carolyn, were on a weekend trip with Mrs. Reagan to Boston and Martha's Vineyard at that time.

Laying Groundwork at Trial

Timbers' testimony came as Deaver's perjury trial resumed after a week's recess during which Deaver underwent surgery for removal of a kidney stone. The appearance of the banker, who was a prosecution witness, seemed designed to lay the groundwork for additional testimony today that Deaver perjured himself in denying that he had contacted high government officials on behalf of the Smith Barney firm.

Timbers said that Smith Barney hired Deaver to lobby Administration officials to try to preserve a U.S. tax break for American companies that had investments in Puerto Rico. Former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane testified earlier this month that Deaver contacted him about the matter. In sworn statements to federal investigators, Deaver has said that he could not recall such a contact.

Deaver's attorneys have said they intend to present evidence that Deaver's memory was clouded by bouts with alcoholism and that President Reagan's former close aide never intentionally lied.

Had Message to Call

Timbers testified that he returned to his office one day to find a message from Deaver to phone him through a special White House number and to ask for "Foxtrot." He said that when he reached Deaver, the lobbyist suggested another project he could work on but quickly added: "This is not a secure telephone and we should talk about it another time."

He said he heard airplane noises but did not know where Deaver was.

In earlier testimony Thursday, Patrick J. Buchanan, former White House communications director, and James Medas, former State Department aide, testified that Deaver had taken a personal interest in trying to resolve the acid rain issue before President Reagan's March 17, 1985, "Shamrock Summit" meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Deaver sought to minimize his White House involvement in the acid rain matter in sworn testimony last year before a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury investigating his lobbying activities. Shortly after leaving the White House in May, 1985, he signed a $105,000 contract to lobby for the Canadian government in Washington.

Quarreled Over Acid Rain

Buchanan recalled that Deaver and former budget director David A. Stockman quarreled heatedly over acid rain when Deaver raised the issue at a senior staff meeting shortly before the summit. Deaver contended that unless the problem was resolved, "the summit could be a communications and public relations debacle," Buchanan said.

But Stockman "went ballistic," arguing that solving the problem of rain-borne industrial pollution in the northern United States could break the budget.

Medas identified cables between the State Department and White House over the issue, but he conceded under cross-examination by Deaver's lawyers that he had never spoken directly to Deaver about acid rain.

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