White House calls Iran-contra findings `subjective opinions'
The White House, contending that Congress's Iran-contra report is a partisan attempt to discredit President Reagan, yesterday refused to offer a rebuttal to the document's findings and sharp criticism. Asked if Mr. Reagan would address the findings, presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said, ``I don't think we'll ever discuss these kinds of details, no.''
The report by the House and Senate Iran-contra committees says the President contributed to a massive deception of Congress and the American people and allowed a band of zealots in his administration to seize control of US foreign policy.
``You don't want to hear it,'' Reagan told reporters who sought his response as he walked to an event in the Old Executive Office Building.
``There isn't much new here. It's mostly subjective opinions,'' Mr. Fitzwater said.
Gary Bauer, the President's assistant for policy development and a leader of conservative forces in the White House, said the report's conclusions were ``predictably partisan, one last attempt to discredit a President they were never able to defeat at the polls.''
Fitzwater, in a statement, said that ``the President did not violate any laws. Even the majority report does not so state.'' He defended Reagan as having ``cooperated every step of the way.''
``The President made it clear that he accepts responsibility and understands that mistakes were made in the conduct of these policies,'' Fitzwater said.
Attorney General Edwin Meese III called the report ``a rehash'' and said he has no intention of resigning in the face of congressional criticism that he might have participated in a cover-up to protect Reagan.
The 690-page study issued Wednesday said Mr. Meese ``departed from standard investigative techniques'' during his November 1986 probe of the affair, when he failed to keep records and seal Col. Oliver North's offices. The report also said Meese ``never asked [then-CIA Director William] Casey about the diversion'' of profits from the administration's secret Iran arms sales to the Nicaraguan contra rebels.
Fitzwater also confirmed that former national-security adviser William Clark had written Reagan in August, urging him to pardon Colonel North and former national-security adviser John Poindexter.
Fitzwater said that the subject of pardons was not suitable for discussion.