Informal Exchange With Reporters on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy

May 5, 1987

Q. Mr. President, Senator Inouye -- --

Q. Can you come talk to us about the hearings?

The President. What?

Q. Hearings. Are you worried about -- --

Q. -- -- hearings may reveal, sir?

The President. I'm waiting to hear as much as anyone else. I've told you over and over again everything that I know about all that took place, and I'm waiting to find out some -- --

Q. Senator Inouye says you ought to check your memory about your statement that you knew nothing about illegal fundraising within your administration, sir.

The President. There was no illegal fundraising as far as I know at this point. I knew, as everyone else, I think, knew that out there in the country there were people that were contributing and, privately and in groups, giving money to aid the contras. But I know of -- --

Q. Military aid, sir?

Q. With weapons, sir?

The President. I don't know how that money was to be used, and I have no knowledge that there was ever any solicitation by our people with these people.

Q. Did you know what Colonel North was doing? Did you know he was coordinating this?

The President. No.

Q. What about the third countries, sir? Why were they contributing money? Why would another -- --

The President. You will find that within the law -- the law specified that the Secretary of State was to encourage our fellow democracies to give aid to the freedom fighters.

Q. Including for military aid, sir?

The President. It was up to however they wanted to do it.

Q. Are you willing to testify if asked?

The President. What?

Q. Are you willing to testify before the select committee if asked?

The President. I have to wait and find out.

Q. How do you feel as the hearings are beginning, sir? What is your expectation?

The President. I'm hopeful that I'm finally going to hear some of the things that I'm still waiting to learn about.

Q. But don't you know what you did? I mean, do you have to have someone else tell you what you did? Don't you know what you did?

The President. I know what I did, and I have told all of you repeatedly what I did. And now I'm going to quit talking to you and go in the office.

Note: The exchange began at 1:29 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii was chairman of the Senate Select Committee that investigated the controversy. Oliver North was a former member of the National Security Council staff.