A White House staff member testified yesterday that former deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver called him at home to discuss briefly a Puerto Rican tax issue for which Deaver was lobbying.
"Clearly, in my view, Mr. Deaver was weighing in on this issue," Steven I. Danzansky, a National Security Council aide, said of the contact in 1985. Danzansky was the 35th witness to testify at Deaver's perjury trial in U.S. District Court here.
Danzansky's account of Deaver's telephone call was similar to testimony by other administration officials whom Deaver is accused of lobbying.
As did the other witnesses, Danzansky said that the contact was brief and that Deaver made no effort to sway him.
"In that call, he just asked how things are going, didn't he?" said Stephen L. Braga, a defense lawyer.
"Yes," Danzansky replied.
Deaver is accused of lying to a congressional subcommittee and a federal grand jury in saying he could not recall key lobbying contacts that he made with officials of the administration after he left the White House in May 1985.
Deaver's telephone contact with Danzansky is one of several that he is accused of making on behalf of a New York investment firm lobbying to have the administration allow certain tax breaks for firms that would build plants in Puerto Rico.
Danzansky testified that Deaver had called his home on the morning of Nov. 16, 1985, in what he believed was an attempt to pressure him to attend a key meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee on the issue. Danzansky said that he was showering and that his wife accepted the call.
Later that night, Deaver returned the call, apparently from a St. Louis airport, and asked what had happened at the hearing, Danzansky said. He said he gave Deaver a quick rundown of the compromise legislation endorsed by the committee.
"Mr. Deaver commented that it's a shame that the administration had lost out on the issue" in two ways, Danzansky said. It had failed to gain about $2.3 billion in lost taxes and to gain credit for the increased business investment that the compromise would bring to the Caribbean.
The tax issue, known as "936" in a reference to the provision of the tax code involved, dominated yesterday's 13th full day of testimony in the trial.
Earlier, lobbyist Richard D. Copaken, also working on the tax issue for Puerto Rico, said Deaver had told him that a letter dated May 24, 1985, from Puerto Rican Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon was "very well received" at the White House.
By whom? prosecutor Whitney North Seymour Jr. asked. "The president and his staff," Copaken said.
To Seymour's distress, Copaken said he was unable to say how Deaver knew that the White House had looked so favorably on the letter.