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Reagan Testy at Questioning on Tower Findings

March 22, 1990|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — Jurors at John M. Poindexter's Iran-Contra trial watched the last of President Reagan's videotaped testimony today as the former President displayed annoyance at a prosecutor's question.

The jurors watched closely, but did not react when Reagan became visibly irritated at prosecutor Dan Webb, who said Reagan was not answering a question.

Webb asked Reagan whether the presidentially appointed Tower Commission concluded Oliver L. North was assisting the Contras militarily. Webb objected when Reagan launched into a description of the commission and brought up diverting Iran arms sale money to the Contras.

"That answer . . . is completely unresponsive. Completely," Webb told the judge.

Reagan snapped at Webb: "I don't think it is unresponsive to state what I appointed the (Tower) commission to do and what I tried to get from them, and they could not supply that information until this day."

After he was shown key portions of the Tower Commission report that showed Reagan's aides on the National Security Council were involved in assisting the Contras, Reagan said: "I don't recall that because--probably because I was listening for an answer that I never got."

In his videotaped testimony Reagan said at least 124 times that he could not remember key events about the scandal. The former President's testimony did not appear to bolster Poindexter's case.

Poindexter, Reagan's former national security adviser, is charged with five felony charges of conspiracy, making false statements and obstructing Congress in connection with the Iran-Contra affair.

The seven hours and 40 minutes of testimony was recorded in Los Angeles on Feb. 16 and 17.

The playing of the videotape, which began Wednesday morning, concluded at midday today.

Poindexter's lawyers said they will call former Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III to the stand next. Meese conducted a weekend inquiry in November, 1986, that led to the uncovering of the diversion of Iran arms sale money to the Contras.

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