Attorney General Edwin Meese III made these points in his testimony yesterday:
ON THE INITIAL INQUIRY AND ITS RESULT
Meese said that during his initial "fact-finding" inquiry last November into Iran arms sales, he failed to ask many pertinent questions of key officials, failed to secure White House documents and took no notes of his private meetings with a half-dozen key senior officials.
He testified that the discovery of a diversion of funds from arms sales to Iran to help the Nicaraguan contras changed the nature of his inquiry, raising "criminal implications." However, he said he took no new precautions after this discovery to adjust to the possibility that he might be investigating a criminal matter.
Meese defended his four-day inquiry as adequate and successful. He said it produced a story that has essentially held up.
The attorney general testified that he never asked Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter directly who had authorized diverting funds from the arms sales to Iran to benefit the contras, nor did he ask specifically whether Poindexter had told the president.
ON DOCUMENT SHREDDING
Sen. Warren B. Rudman (R-N.H.) revealed that Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North returned to his White House office on Sunday, Nov. 23, the day North was interviewed about the diversion, and stayed there for five hours shredding documents.
Meese testified that he had seen no reason to take steps to ensure that relevant White House documents would be securely preserved and said that he and his associates conducting the fact-finding inquiry had the documents they needed.
ON A CHANGE IN THE INQUIRY
Meese testified that in the two days after he learned from North of the diversion of funds, he met alone with some key figures in the affair and made no notes of those meetings, although he had an assistant record notes of his earlier conversations in the inquiry.
ON ADDITIONAL FINDINGS
Sen. Paul S. Trible Jr. (R-Va.) said there had been 33 secret intelligence findings, 17 of which were reviewed by the Justice Department, since President Reagan took office.