McCurry Clarifies Remarks on Clinton
Monday, December 28, 1998; Page A08
Former White House spokesman Michael McCurry confirmed yesterday he "was troubled by some of the president's behavior" but said Bill Clinton had already received the punishment "that will hurt the most."
By being impeached by the House, Clinton "has now suffered in history what no other president save [Andrew] Johnson has suffered, and that is going to be with him forever," McCurry said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"The key question is . . . what as a nation do we do that renders the right kind of punishment that allows us . . . to move on to all the other things that we're going to have to address?" McCurry said.
He said he believed he was expressing the general U.S. opinion "on the question of what is the public harm that's been done here."
McCurry, who ended four years as White House press secretary Oct. 2, did not repudiate comments he made earlier this month in a BBC television interview.
Asked whether Clinton was fit to be president, McCurry had replied: "I have enormous doubts because of the recklessness of his behavior. I mean, the nature of this particular affair [with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky] and then the way in which he did conceal it really does raise some very profound and troubling matters."
But yesterday, McCurry said he had probably "violated the press secretary's rule that you don't try to express a complicated thought in a sound-bite medium."
"All the positive things that I said were not kind of excerpted and shown," he noted.
"I was troubled by some of the president's behavior," McCurry told "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert. But he added: "I'm troubled by some of my own behavior sometimes. I think about it. I worry about it. I pray about it. I see if I can do better next time around.
"I think the American people have told us that they want some place where Bill Clinton can be held accountable, where he can atone for what he has done, where he can get the punishment that he is due," McCurry said. "And . . . the punishment that he will suffer, that will hurt the most, is [impeachment].
"For someone who loves the presidency and loves that White House and is a student of it, that will hurt him a lot forever when he's down in Little Rock at his library," he predicted.
McCurry said he hoped Senate consideration of the charges against Clinton would help the country "come to a better definition of what rises to the level [of] a high crime and misdemeanor" -- the offenses of which a president must be convicted to be removed from office.
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