Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter made these points in his testimony yesterday.
ON NOT TELLING REAGAN OF DIVERTING PROFITS
He never told President Reagan that profits from arms sales to Iran were used to support the contras but said he believed the president "would have approved the decision at the time if I had asked him." "I made the decision. I felt that I had the authority to do it. I thought it was a good idea. I was convinced that the president would, in the end, think it was a good idea. But I did not want him to be associated with the decision." Poindexter said, under questioning by Senate counsel Arthur L. Liman, that his motive was to provide Reagan "some future deniability" that would protect him from "political damage."
ON INFORMING REAGAN OF NSC AID FOR CONTRAS
Poindexter said he kept Reagan informed in general terms of the activities of the National Security Council, which he said had become a secret operational unit for overseeing private support for the contras. His testimony contradicted Reagan's Jan. 26 assertion to the Tower review board that he "did not know the NSC staff was engaged in helping the contras." And in asserting that he thought the NSC staff was exempt from congressional restrictions on aid to the contras, Poindexter's view contradicted that of his NSC predecessor, Robert C. McFarlane, who said Tuesday that he believed that the Boland Amendment applied to the NSC staff.
ON THE MISSING FINDING
He said Reagan on Dec. 5, 1985, signed a "finding" that, after the fact, authorized a secret arms-for-hostages deal with Iran. The White House has said that Reagan cannot remember signing the document, and it has never been found because, as Poindexter testified yesterday, on Nov. 21, 1986, as the scandal was coming to light, he personally tore it up and put it in a basket of materials to be burned.
Poindexter said he destroyed the document "because I thought it was a significant political embarrassment and I wanted to protect him."
ON REAGAN'S STYLE AS A MANAGER
Reagan, who was tagged by the Tower review board as disengaged, uninformed and a lax manager, was portrayed by Poindexter as a strong, informed president who knew exactly what he wanted and was willing to take such great risks to achieve his goals that Poindexter sought to protect him from himself.
REACTION FROM THE WHITE HOUSE
At the White House, officials said Poindexter had vindicated Reagan by saying he never told the president about the diversion of funds to the contras. But they acknowledged that Poindexter's disclosure that Reagan had signed the memo authorizing the arms-for-hostages swap had damaged the president and raised "obvious problems . . . that must be resolved."