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Page Four: Gore's Justice Department Interview
Q: Even though the DNC is responsible for raising funds --
A: Correct. It was extremely common to have events with people who don't feel like they have a relationship with me or with the President or with the Democratic National Committee, and you develop the relationship. You spend the time with them. You talk with them, give them a chance to express their views. And then later on you go back to them, sometimes you go back to them and you say, look, I would like you to contribute money to the, to the campaign or to the DNC.
I mean, it's the most common thing in the world. It happens all the time.
Q: Is it your testimony today that the first time you aware of the DNC's involvement in this event was reading the briefing paper on the way --
A: Oh, I don't know about that. I don't know about that. I did not testify to that.
Q: Okay. What --
A: I don't know about that. But when I first met these people in the first place it was, it was because of an outreach, a community outreach effort by the DSCC that was also finance-related, but it wasn't a fundraiser when I went to, on that trip. It was an outreach to that community, with an expectation that there would be a greater likelihood at some future time that these individuals would get involved in financially supporting the DSCC or my campaigns in the future. And I thought it was the same sort of thing here.
Q: When was the first time that you learned that the DNC had a role in putting this --
A: I don't know.
Q: -- event together?
A I don't know. John Huang was involved with the DNC at the time that he attended my meeting in the White House. But it was not my impression at all that, that he was there in that capacity.
But it could well be that in the aftermath of that event, somebody said to me, John Huang called and said that you had indicated that you wanted to go by and visit this Hsi Lai Temple. But I don't know specifically whether or not I had knowledge that the DNC was involved in organizing it before I read this memo.
I believe that the first time I knew that the DNC was involved in organizing this event was when I read this memo. That's what I -- that's my recollection.
MR. NEAL: When he is referring to "this memo," could the record reflect he is referring to -- what is the exhibit number now?
THE WITNESS: VPOTUS No. 3, the memo that was in my briefing book that I looked at just prior to the event. I thought that I was going to a visit with this community as a result of my accepting the invitation of this fellow when he was in my office in the White House, which followed upon the invitation that he had first extended to me years earlier in Taiwan.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: In the meeting in the White House on the 15th of March when he invited you to the Temple, you had indicated that you would be in L.A. in the upcoming months?
A: I said, I said that I would be in Los Angeles numerous times because it was an election year.
Q: And what would be your purpose for being in Los Angeles?
A: Because I -- well, a variety of purposes. But I knew that I would be there a number of times because I was running for reelection as Vice President. But it was typical for me to do a number of different things when I went to a city. The initial purpose for scheduling a visit to a city would, in an election year, would usually be something to do with the election.
But there were other reasons that would lead to it also. For example, the major event on that trip was a speech to the National Cable Television Association that had, I don't know the exact number, but I think it was ten or 15,000 people. I think I mentioned that earlier. And if you've ever spoken to ten to 15,000 people, you know that you kind of get prepared for something like that.
Q: Mary McGrory calls you the best-briefed man in Washington. Did you have conversations with any of your staff concerning this event prior to leaving to attend the event?
A: I don't recall any.
Q: When is the first time you recall any communication to you concerning attending an event at the Hsi Lai Temple on April 29th?
A: Could you repeat that question?
Q: Sure. Maybe I can phrase it in a better way. When do you first recall having any conversation to do with attending the Temple on April 29th, with anyone on your staff or anyone else? When is --
A: When Hsing Yun was there in my White House office.
Q: Okay. When is the next time you had a conversation with any person concerning going to the Temple?
A: I don't know. I don't know.
Q: Do you recall having any conversations with anybody about attending on that --
A: I sure as hell don't recall having -- I sure as hell did not have any conversations with anyone saying, this is a fund-raising event. As to whether or not I had any follow-up conversations that said, were we able to set up this event or not, I don't think I did. But I may have. The reason I don't think I did is because I recall the feeling I had, when I looked at the briefing book, and saw, oh, great, I'm going to be able to go see this, this Temple.
Q: From March 15th --
A: Now, you have to understand this. With so many events every day, day after day, you may think that when a schedule is put together it's like you would do yours, or that I would do mine in a non-election year where, you know, you consider each thing and weigh it and balance it out against all the other things and so forth. With the torrent of events coming one right after the other, it was very common to trigger the initial impulse and then it's massaged and looked at and talked about and fit in with all the other thousand moving pieces and it shows up on the schedule and I pick it up. I pick up my schedule for that day and when I get to it, there it is, and it's either a pleasant surprise or an unpleasant surprise.
Q: Between March 15th and April 29th, did you have a conversation with anyone concerning the fund-raising nature of your trip to the Temple?
Q: Even though in February, February 26th, there are talking points that talk about how you'll have to lose considerable time to the campaign trail to do all of this fund-raising, in your mind the trip to the Temple is not a fund-raising event?
A: I don't know what you're referring to.
Q: What I was referring to, and I forget what exhibit number it is, but it's the Klain memorandum, the talking points that you've reviewed before.
A: Did that refer to the Hsi Lai Temple?
Q: No, it didn't, but it referred to the talking point of having to lose considerable time to the campaign trail to do all the fund-raising.
A: That doesn't refer to this.
Q: In late February --
A: Let me just say that the, the memo that you're talking about was describing -- what it described most to me was my role in making telephone calls, which would mean that I would not be out on the campaign trail. It didn't refer to doing fund-raising events on the campaign trail.
Q: Actually, it ---
A: It referred to doing fund-raising events that were not on the campaign trail.
Q: I'm not trying to quibble with you, but actually the talking point included events, calls, and coffees as a way of raising $108 million that the DNC estimated it needed to accomplish its goals, late February. And then --
A: Well, it wasn't my memo. So, I don't ---
Q: Then two months later, there is a DNC-sponsored event at the Temple. And in your mind there is no connection between that and the fund-raising nature of the event. Is that correct? I mean, it never triggered in your mind the fact that there may be fund-raising issues here?
A: I'm not quite sure I follow your logic here. You're talking about the memo that Ron Klain prepared for a meeting that I didn't attend, related to the DNC goals.
Q: I'm talking about the understanding of a $108 million fund-raising goal by the DNC. You were aware in late February, were you not, that there was a goal of raising $108 million by the DNC?
Q: Then a couple of months later there is a DNC event at the Temple, and it didn't raise any fund-raising issues in your mind?
A: I did not know this was a fundraiser.
Q: Okay. Let me turn your attention --
A: And the fact that I was there was connected in my mind to the fact that I was invited to be there, and that I accepted the invitation and it didn't surprise me when the staff followed through on it and put me there.
MR. NEAL: Could we go off the record just a minute?
MR. CONRAD: Yes.
(Whereupon, the proceedings were recessed from 3:59 p.m. 4:05 p.m.)
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Mr. Vice President, what I would like to do right now is go through a series of documents and ask you a series of questions about each of them. I've previously produced them to Mr. Neal. I think you've had an opportunity to review those, and I'll try to go as quickly as possible.
Turning your attention to the exhibit labeled N, which is a letter from Hsia & Associates, dated March 23, 1996 addressed to you, the last four Bates stamp numbers 1092, do you have that in front of you?
Q: It says in there, "John Huang has asked me to help with organizing a fund-raising lunch event, with your anticipated presence, on behalf of the local Chinese community. After the lunch, we will attend a rally at Hsi Lai Temple where you will have the opportunity to meet representatives from the Asian-American community and visit again with Master Hsing Yun. The event is tentatively scheduled for April 29 and I am hoping you will be able to attend."
Are you familiar with that letter?
A: It was shown to me yesterday. It's not the kind of letter that I would have read. It refers to visiting the after Temple a fund-raising lunch event somewhere else, and I -- but I didn't see this until just yesterday.
Q: How does this work? Maria Hsia sends you a letter and it goes to someone else. Who would it have gone to?
A: My scheduler.
Q: And who is that?
A: You know, I think it was Kim Tilley at this time, but I'm not sure. I've had several schedulers over the years and their start and stop dates are not clear to me. But, I mean, just on --
Q: In the spring of '96, you think it was Kim Tilley?
A: I believe it was.
Q: And she would have gotten this letter. What would she have done with it?
A: I don't know. You'd have to ask her. She would use it in her scheduling work.
Q: Okay. Do you have any present-day recollection of a conversation with Kim Tilley about the contents of this letter?
Q: Let me turn your attention to Government Exhibit P, a document with the last four Bates numbers 0826, which appears to be a message from Lisa Berg to Kimberly Tilley. Who is Lisa Berg?
A: She is my scheduler. I believe at this time she was an assistant scheduler, but I'm not certain. Maybe she was an assistant trip director. I don't know.
Q: And she is currently serving as your ---
Q: -- scheduler?
(Discussion off the record.)
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: It appears to be, is that an e-mail message? Can you tell from --
A: It's an e-mail message, yes.
Q: -- the structure?
Q: And the subject, Cuomo Travel Information, Upcoming travel of the Vice President. On the entry April 27-29, it has "San Jose, LA, CA Some combination of possible Olympic torch event LA, DNC fundraisers in San Jose & LA." Do you see where that is mentioned in that e-mail message?
A: I see it.
Q: Do you have any reason to know why Lisa Berg would be sending that kind of message to Kimberly Tilley?
Q: Did you have any conversation with Kimberly Tilley concerning the fundraisers in San Jose and LA referenced in the April 27-29 entry?
A: No, not that I recall.
Q: Would it be fair to say that your scheduler knew as early as March 12th that a fundraiser was being planned for San Jose and LA?
MR. NEAL: Would you read the question again, because I don't read this as quite that way.
MR. CONRAD: Sure.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Have you seen this document before?
A: I saw it yesterday.
Q: For the first time?
A: I don't know if it was -- it's the first time -- did not see it at the time that it was generated. Whether I saw it in preparation for some other question session with the Justice Department, I don't, I don't recall. I may have. I don't recall that. It may have been produced in a newspaper article that I saw, but I don't recall that. I just don't know. But I didn't see it at the time, if that's what you're asking about.
Now, it was common for events to come on and off the schedule.
A: And so the use of some combination of possible events would not necessarily indicate to me that she knew that there was a fundraiser planned, some combination of possible fundraisers.
Q: Did any of these events take place that are listed in the e-mail from Berg to Tilley?
A: I know that there was a fundraiser in San Jose. I don't know, I can't remember the torch event. I don't know. I don't know if there was family/private time. I can go back and look if it's important to you, but I don't recall.
Q: Let me turn your attention to Government Exhibit Q, which has the last Bates stamp numbers 0827. There are two e-mail messages, one from Albert Gore and one to Albert Gore, dated March 15th of '96.
A: Yes, I have it.
Q: What are those e-mail messages concerning?
A: Well, it looks like it concerns an invitation from Rafael Grossman.
Q: Who is that?
A: He is a rabbi in Memphis, Tennessee.
Q: What is your relationship with Rabbi Grossman?
A: He's a friend of mine.
A: And a political supporter. He has been for many years. He has the largest Orthodox congregation in America. It's located in my home state of Tennessee.
Q: And he was asking you to be a keynote address speaker at the Rabbinical Council of America Sixtieth Anniversary dinner on Sunday, April 28th in Lawrence, New York?
A: That's what it looks like.
Q: And what was the reason why you could not do that?
A: Well, are you wanting -- the bottom of this appears to be the e-mail from Kim Tilley to me saying that we have already confirmed fundraisers for Monday, April 29th, if that's --
A: -- what you're looking for.
Q: And the e-mail back to her, would that have been an e-mail that you prepared?
Q: And it states, "If we have already booked the fundraisers then we have to decline."
Q: The fundraisers that were mentioned in the e-mail were two fundraisers, one in San Jose and one in LA.
Q: Do you know whether or not the Rabbi's invitation was declined?
A: No, I don't know. I assume it was. I get regular invitations from him and I rarely accept. He's a great friend, but I've been up there to Lawrence once or twice.
Q: Is it fair to say that on March 15th Kimberly Tilley advised you that you had booked two fundraisers, one in San Jose and one in LA?
A: It appears that, from this e-mail, that she has told me in this e-mail that we've confirmed the fundraisers for Monday, April 29th.
Q: Let me turn your attention to Government's Exhibit R, which is a memorandum from Maura McManimon to Jackie Dycke.
Q: Who is Jackie Dycke?
A: She's a former employee in the Office of the Vice President.
Q: What was her role in the OVP office?
A: I don't know. I don't know the exact title. She worked in scheduling, I guess.
Q: Who is Maura McManimon?
A: I don't recognize that name. I would probably recognize her picture if I saw it, but I don't recognize the name.
Q: That lists two functions, does it not, APLC luncheon with you at the Hsi Lai Temple, and a San Jose -- or a reception with you in Los Altos Hills, California?
Q: Have you seen this document before?
A: Not until yesterday.
Q: Okay. Let me turn your attention to Government Exhibit S, which appears to be an e-mail message from Jackie Dycke dated April 10th, 1996, which indicates that you're going to San Jose and LA for DNC fund-raising events on April 29th, does it not?
A: Yes, and "there are several ideas floating out there for the VP to do public events, extra stops, etc."
Q: Apparently there is a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:15 in Kim Tilley's office. Did you have any involvement in that meeting?
Q: Were you consulted with respect to any decision that was made at that meeting?
A: No, not to my knowledge, nor would I -- well, it's -- sometimes they will consult with me on a scheduling detail, but usually not, or often not.
Q: Let me turn your attention to Government Exhibit U, which is an exhibit that appears to be dated April 15, and it's an e-mail from Jackie Dycke to Tyler Beardsley. Who is Tyler Beardsley?
A: He's in the national security part of my office.
Q: This e-mail refers to the issue of whether "there are any problems/ramifications with the use of the Hsa (sic) Lai Temple for the VP's DNC Lunch while in LA."
Did you have any conversation with Mr. Beardsley or Ms. Dycke with respect to the use of the Hsi Lai Temple for your lunch?
Q: Were you --
A: Not to my knowledge.
Q: Were you aware at the time that the Temple was a tax-exempt organization?
A: I assume it was, but I don't have any specific knowledge that it was.
Q: Who is Bill Wise?
A: A former employee of mine, a former Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President.
Q: Did you have any conversation with Mr. Wise about the Temple event?
A: No, not to my knowledge.
Q: Do you know what problems or ramifications might arise from using the Temple for the VP's lunch?
A: I know what they're referring to here.
Q: What are they referring to?
A: They were -- now, the reason I know is from news accounts. They were referring to concerns that it might have implications in Taiwan versus Beijing diplomacy, that somehow we needed to know for sure that it wasn't going to upset some applecart diplomatically -- similar to the concern that I had when they raised a similar question about his, or similar to the concern that I had however it arose prior to his, Hsing Yun's visit to my office in the White House -- to make sure that the delicate politics of the Taiwan Straits and of Taiwan itself were not going to be discombobulated by me being associated with this fellow who was a Taiwanese figure.
Q: Are you familiar with the legal prohibition on a tax-exempt corporation from making political contributions?
MR. NEAL: Excuse me just a moment. Is that a present tense, or at some time?
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Presently you are familiar with it. Were you familiar in --
Q: -- 1996?
Q: And was there a concern in your mind at all with respect to whether or not the Temple event would be considered an in-kind contribution?
A: No. No. I don't know that I was aware until I saw the briefing memo that it was a DNC event. I'm not sure when I first became aware of that. But it is a common practice for the DNC to have events where they reimburse people for the expense of the event. So, it wouldn't -- even if I had known that it was a DNC-hosted luncheon, it would not have triggered that red flag for me. I would have assumed that they handled that the same way they do most of the events that they hold.
Q: Do you have any knowledge as to why it wasn't until October that the DNC actually reimbursed the Temple for the in-kind contribution?
A: No, I do not.
Q: There's a list of returns of contributions that the DNC prepared and submitted to the Thompson senatorial committee. They gave the various contributions that were returned. One of the explanations for a return of contributions involved a Buddhist Temple contribution of $5,000, and the explanation for that return was, "It was a Temple, you idiot!"
It seems like that would be a fairly identifiable common thing for the DNC to recognize, the need for an in-kind contribution or reimbursement. Would you agree?
A: Are you asking me a -- what is it that you're referring to? I'm not sure what the -- do you have that -- have I been -- do I have that here?
Q: Yes. It's at HH, if you want to take a look at it.
A: Are you asking me a question about that?
Q: My actual question is, do you know why it took the DNC so long to make a reimbursement to the Temple for that luncheon?
MS. BROWN: Are you referring to the letter with the check attached?
MR. CONRAD: Yes. I'm referring to a couple of things.
MS. BROWN: The other one is not in here though, am I correct?
MR. CONRAD: Yes, it's at HH. It's on the back of HH.
MS. BROWN: We didn't get that.
MR. CONRAD: Here is a copy.
THE WITNESS: Well, whoever wrote that, I guess, had the same assumption that I referenced earlier, that you would think they would know that.
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: The reimbursement did not occur until after it became public knowledge, is --
A: I have no --
Q: That's my question to you. Did you have any role in terms of discussing the reimbursement by the DNC to the Temple?
A: I don't believe so. If they had not done it, I would have had a role. I would have said -- I think the first I learned about this was when they, when the DNC informed me and others of what they had found out occurred, and in the same communication they said they were sending, of course, sending all the checks back.
Q: What communication was that?
A: I don't remember. It probably would have been a verbal briefing to me based on a conversation with the DNC that somebody on my traveling staff had, probably David Strauss.
Q: Do you know when you were first informed by the DNC of problems related to the Temple visit?
A: No, I don't, but I believe that it was the day when I first found out that, that it was a fundraiser and that it was -- that it had become public and that the DNC was embarrassed by having done this and that they were sending back the contributions.
I had a conversation with -- I was on my plane, still on the campaign trail, and I believe David Strauss told me. And I said to him, David, you told me this was a community outreach event. He said, it was. And I gave the interview to Nina Totenberg that you quoted earlier on the plane a few hours after that.
Q: So, that would have been the date that you first learned --
A: I believe so. I believe so.
MR. NEAL: Well, you said that you learned it was a fundraiser. I thought you just said --
THE WITNESS: No, he asked me if it was the first time I learned that they had reimbursed the expenses and the contributors, and I believe that's the first time I learned that.
MR. NEAL: Well, I still want to go back. You said you learned it was a fundraiser.
THE WITNESS: That was also the first time I learned it was a --
MR. NEAL: I thought you said previously you didn't, you still don't know whether it was a fundraiser.
THE WITNESS: Well, that's right. That is more accurate. Let me, let me amend that. That was the first was alleged to be, to have been a fundraiser. And, again, I still do not know that any funds, that any money changed hands there. And I asked you earlier if you knew, but that's probably not your role to say. So.
MR. NEAL: No, he's not here to answer questions.
THE WITNESS: Okay. I'll withdraw the question.
(Discussion off the record.)
BY MR. CONRAD:
Q: Government V, with the last four Bates stamp numbers 2538 is dated April 19. It appears to be e-mail traffic between Robert Suettinger and John Norris. Who are those two individuals, if you know?
A: Both of them are involved in the national security operation at the White House. John Norris works for me. I believe Bob Suettinger worked on the President's side of the house.
A: But I'm not -- do you -- anyway, they're both in national security.
Q: John's letter to Bob, or e-mail to Bob, indicates, "Hsing Yun has invited the VP to visit the Hsi Lai Temple in LA. Hsing Yun would host a fundraising lunch for about 150 people in the VP's honor."
Did you have any conversation with Mr. Norris or --
Q: -- Mr. Suettinger?
Q: Do you know where they would have gotten the information reflected in the e-mail that it was a fund-raising lunch hosted by Hsing Yun?
A: No, I don't.
Q: Let me turn your attention to Exhibit W, with the last four Bates stamp numbers 0890. It appears to be a memorandum from John Huang to Kim Tilley. The Re is Fundraising lunch for Vice President Gore 6/29/96 in Southern California. The date is April 11, '96. Have you seen this document before?
A: No, not until my counsel showed it to me yesterday, although I think that I saw reports of this in newspaper articles at the time of the --
Q: It was not contemporaneously shown to you?
Q: Let me turn your attention to Exhibit X, which has the Bates stamp number at the bottom EOP 056497. The title of the document is Current Schedule For April 29. It's a typewritten schedule with various handwritten notes. Have you seen this document before?
A: Not contemporaneously. I saw it yesterday.
Q: Do you recognize the handwriting at all?
A: No, I don't.
Q: It appears to show a Los Angeles and a San Jose schedule. Do you know what the "OTR at Atlas Bar and Grill (Per VP)" refers to?
A: In the earlier e-mail that I sent to Kim Tilley, you will recall that I said I need to go by the Atlas Bar and Grill, if I can. I made an earlier trip to Los Angeles some months prior to this and I did a fundraiser with the group that included many from the Hispanic community.
And a young entrepreneur who owns the Atlas Bar and Grill was very excited to host it at his place of business. And just before I was supposed to come there, somebody raised an objection that his employees were nonunion. And so he was so excited about having me come there, having the event there, that he actually signed a union agreement with his employees.
Then hours before I was to arrive, one of the Secret Service dogs hit on a suspicious odor behind one of the walls. And instead of having this big event, he had sledge hammers instead and the entire event was moved six blocks away to a hotel. And I felt so badly for him that I told him that the next time I came to Los Angeles, I would be sure and come by the Atlas Bar and Grill.
I don't think that I made it that trip. I think that I did it a month or so after that on my next trip to Los Angeles.
Q: The reference in the ---
A: OTR means off the record. It's a standard scheduling term that the press plays along with. It's supposedly off the record, but you tell them about it so they can report that it's off the record.
Q: I see. The notation "1000-5000 head/150-200 people," do you know what that refers to?
A: No. I just saw this memo yesterday.
Q: Do you recognize it as ---
A: I can speculate, if you want me to speculate.
Q: No. Just based upon your understanding of how your office works, do you recognize this as a work product of any particular person or --
Q: -- section --
Q: -- of your office?
A: No, I don't.
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