Abrams is on the advisory board of the Media Research Center, an organization that opposes any traces of liberalism on TV or in films. Chairman L. Brent Bozell III publishes the newsletter TV, ETC., with an advisory board that includes Abrams, Mona Charen, Pete DuPont, and Rush Limbaugh.
Q Why would the President send back to the NSC a man who admitted that he misled the American people, Congress on the Iran Contra scandal, participated in a cover-up and now he's supposed to be in charge of democracy and human rights?
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, you're referring to the appointment of Elliott Abrams to the staff of the National Security Council. And the President believes that Mr. Abrams is eminently qualified for that position. He believes he's the best person to do the job and he has full faith in Mr. Abrams.
Q How could he be the best person with that record?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think you'll also find, if you talk to several people on the Hill, that he enjoys bipartisan support and that there is a recognition that he is an outstanding diplomat, he has an outstanding record; and what he has done as Assistant Secretary for International Organizations and Human Rights at the State Department. For the last five years he has been president of the Center for Ethics and Public Policy. And I think that, again, if you talk to people on the Hill -- you'll always find opposition to somebody, but I think you'll also find bipartisan support for Mr. Abrams.
Q He still participated in a cover-up against the American people.
Q Does the President have an opinion about his past and how it impacts his ability to function --
MR. FLEISCHER: The President thinks that's a matter of the past that was dealt with at the time, and that Mr. Abrams is held in high regard by Democrats and Republicans, alike, and that he'll do an outstanding job in this position.
Q Does the President think that Mr. Abrams acted in a totally ethical way in the past? Is that the way that White House officials should conduct themselves now?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President believes that he is the best person for the job and he enjoys the President's full support.
Q Did the President appoint him to a National Security Council job which does not require Senate confirmation, as opposed to a State Department job, because he felt he was unconfirmable?
MR. FLEISCHER: I can only talk to you about the job to which he has been appointed.
Q Ari, in yesterday's briefing, you called Elliott Abrams a warrior for democracy. Shouldn't a warrior for democracy show more respect for the elected representatives of the people, namely the American Congress?
MR. FLEISCHER: I said everything that the President believes on that topic, and I don't have anything additional or different to add to it today.
Q He pleaded guilty, as you know, to two misdemeanor counts for essentially lying to Congress in the '80s about Iran-Contra. Is that consummate with being a warrior for democracy in your view and the President's view?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think there is no question that, as a result of Elliott Abrams' efforts and the efforts of others as well, democracy has spread throughout Central and Latin America and he enjoys the tremendous faith and confidence of the President.
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Last modified: Tue Jun 8 11:47:19 CDT 2004