Following are excerpts from testimony by former White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan to the House and Senate committees investigating the Iran-contra affair. Rep. Louis Stokes (D-Ohio) asked about immunity and pardons for former national security adviser John M. Poindexter and National Security Council aide, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North.

. . . Did there come a time when there was a discussion with the president, when you were present, about congressional immunity for Col. North and Adm. Poindexter?

Yes, there was such a time.

Okay. And would that have been around . . . Dec. 15th, 16th?

I think even earlier than that. Probably around Dec. 8th, 9th or 10th and through there. I recall discussing that.

I see. And who was present at that time?

Well, I remember one discussion among the president, the vice president and myself regarding this, as to how to get the full story out. Both the admiral and the colonel were refusing to talk. We had said we didn't know the story -- couldn't find out the story . . . .

Now, at either that particular meeting or any other meetings, was the question of presidential pardon for either Adm. Poindexter or Col. North ever discussed with the president?

Yes, it was.

Can you tell us when that was?

Yes. Somebody brought it up to him. It got shot down right away. That was something the president wouldn't even listen to, the fact that he should grant a pardon. His reasoning went along this sort of line: To grant a pardon means you think somebody's committed a crime -- you only pardon for a crime. And he didn't know what the crime was. As yet, there had been no evidence brought to him . . . . The president said, "Not only is it premature, but I'll be darned if I'm going to accuse them of a crime in advance."

Rep. Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.) asked about events last Nov. 25, in particular a meeting that morning with the president and his top advisers.

. . . Did anyone suggest that since Adm. Poindexter would be joining the meeting within a relatively few minutes, some additional questions might profitably be asked about the operation, of the diversion plan?

No, because you will recall that at that point in time, two of us, both the attorney general and I, had been told by Adm. Poindexter that this was more or less a failure to supervise rather than his having any knowledge of the diversion.

Was there any discussion of bringing Col. North to the meeting so that questions might be asked of him?

No, sir.

Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) asked Regan to read and discuss his notes of a White House meeting on Nov. 10, 1986.

Could you just read that and tell us what it means?

"A side with military superiority will win. We want to have things even. This helps Iran, which was the weaker of the two sides." In other words, in the Iran-Iraq war, our policy was and, as far as I know, still is, that that war should end in a stalemate, neither side being a winner. Try to get it to a halt, but if one side has military superiority over the other side, obviously it's going to win.

Well, my problem with that is that the wrong side was the one the president used there. That was not the position of our government. Our government's position, and I went over this with Secretary {of State George P.} Shultz, was that the Iraqi side was deteriorating, and that the Iranian side had the long-range advantage, and this is {Nov. 10}. This is just four or five months ago, or at least six or seven months ago. And this is where you have the president of the United States saying that he believes the Iranian side is losing. Is that right?

That's correct.

Did anybody correct him in that meeting?

No, because Shultz immediately picked up that he wanted things kept in channels. That is, the State Department should be running the Iran endeavor, and it shouldn't be run out of the NSC.

We had Secretary {of Defense Caspar W.} Weinberger at that meeting. Is that right?

I believe so.

Secretary Shultz was at that meeting?

Yes, he was.

You had the vice president at that meeting?

He was.

{Then-CIA} Director {William J.} Casey at that meeting?


I believe you were at that meeting.


Of course. These were your notes, obviously. Adm. Poindexter was at that meeting?


And here you had the president of the United States giving what is essentially erroneous policy, a policy statement. It wasn't a small detail. It was a question of who our government believed was winning that war, and he was stating what {the} secretary of state has testified before this committee was not the policy of the United States . . . . We have classified reports from the whole community -- including intelligence, including defense, including state -- saying exactly the opposite of this, and the president makes this statement, which is obviously, fundamentally conflicting with the . . . supposed policy of our government, and nobody corrects him. Is that what happened?

As far as I know, my notes don't reflect anyone having corrected him, if indeed that was the fact. I don't know that was the fact.

Well, if I'm correct that the policy of the United States government then was that the Iraqis had the long-term problem and that their position was deteriorating, don't you find it alarming that the president could be under a total misinterpretation of what the U.S. government believed about that war?

Well, there's a lot of this that's classified information. I'm not sure I want to discuss it in this meeting, Mr. Chairman. But I would take issue with some of the things you've just said, but only from a classified point of view.

Rep. Michael DeWine (R-Ohio) asked about the involvement of then-White House counsel Peter J. Wallison in discussion of the Iran initiative.

. . . Did Peter Wallison express to you his feeling that he was being frozen out?

Yes, he did, on several occasions.

And after he expressed this to you, {the} president's own lawyer saying, "I'm being cut out of this," what did you do to try to get him back in the ballgame? What did you do to try to get him involved so that the president would have the benefit of his own legal counsel . . . at a very crucial time?

I asked Poindexter to include him in whatever meetings he was having. He refused to do it. He said that he had plenty of counsel. He had Paul {B.} Thompson on his own staff, and he had opinions from the attorney general regarding what he was doing. So he felt that from the legal point of view, that they had sufficient counsel. And he went on to say that their problem was not with the law; their problem was in getting the facts themselves and the chronology straight. It was not whether or not they were doing things legally or illegally.

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) then took up the questioning.

Now, let me ask you about your role as chief of staff and the relationship with the national security adviser. You spoke yesterday about that you weren't a supervisor, because, and you've reemphasized that point this morning, saying there were two staffs, in effect. And you said that your relationship was more of sharing or of liaison. But, my sense of it is you didn't even have that. You, in effect, were frozen out there by Adm. Poindexter.

Well, again this is a controversial time. Just how much should the chief of staff be told . . . about sensitive information regarding other governments, things of that nature, that type of intelligence? I have discussed this with other chiefs of staff. Some of them told me that when they were there, they didn't want to know what was going on in the foreign area. I found out, though, that {former Reagan administration chief of staff James A.} Baker {III} and {former White House counsel, now Attorney General Edwin} Meese {III} had attended . . . all meetings of the National Security Council when they were in office in the White House.

I felt that I should attend meetings . . . . I was considered a little bit pushy for wanting this type of information, and there were attempts made, successfully apparently, {to} keep things from me.

Well, I'm frank to say to you {that} I don't see how you can do your job without this information . . . . It's interesting because North sent Poindexter a PROF note {message in the inter-office computer system} which talked about the same problem where the thing becomes so compartmentalized that even Northrecognized it . . . . In fact, they exchanged the PROF notes in which North says, "I have no idea what Don Regan does or does not know re my private U.S. operation." And then Poindexter, in responding, says, "Don Regan knows very little of your operation, and that is just as well." And then North went on to ask him, when {former national security adviser Robert C.} McFarlane was going to go to Tehran, "whether there might ought not to be a meeting with the secretary of state and defense and the director of central intelligence, with the president?" And Poindexter responded negatively, and he said: "I don't want a meeting with Ronald Reagan, Shultz and Weinberger" -- the other two statutory members of the National Security Council.

It seems to me, what happened in all of this is, in effect, there was a junta within the government of the United States. I mean, you had Poindexter and North and their associates, in effect, invoking the authority of the president of the United States, freezing out the chief of staff, the secretary of defense and the secretary of state, and pursuing their own policy -- policies, which the president says if he'd known about them, he would have strongly opposed. And policies which you say, that when you learned about them, you reacted with shock and horror.

And the real question is, what can we do to minimize the chances that this will occur? Now, you've said, "Well, you have to get good people." But then everyone says, "Well, these were good people, but this was an aberration."

But nevertheless, we're left with this situation in which, in effect, the policy of the government was being -- had in a sense been -- taken over. A coup, in effect, had occurred in the White House. And, of course, the chief of staff was left there with this having happened under and around him, and, according to your testimony, which I'm prepared to accept, unaware that it was taking place.