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Published on Wednesday, January 16, 2002
 
Ari the Evader by Russell Mokhiber...
 
Ari & I
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
 
 
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
 
 
by Russell Mokhiber
 
     
  Mokhiber: I have a couple of Harvey Pitt questions. Harvey Pitt is here at the White House now with Richard Grasso, head of the New York Stock Exchange and leaders of the securities industry for a one o'clock meeting. What is that about?

Ari Fleischer: That's a bill signing that passed by unanimous consent in the Senate and I think 414 votes in the House dealing with fees that are collected.

Mokhiber: Two follow-ups. One, is the President concerned that his buddies at Enron are going to jail?

Fleischer: The President thinks that he wants the Department of Justice to pursue this wherever it goes, wherever it goes, and to do whatever it takes to investigate any criminal wrongdoing. As a result of that, if anybody ends up with a prison sentence, that is the American system of justice and that is proper and that is the way it should work. And that is what the President wants to see pursued. That and the policy reviews is what this Administration is dedicated to.

Mokhiber: One more Harvey Pitt question. Harvey Pitt was a defense attorney for Arthur Andersen -- before he came to the SEC. Arthur Andersen is accused of -- they've admitted to -- destroying documents in this matter. Harvey Pitt wrote -- in a law review article in 1994 on destruction of documents -- this: "Each company should have a system of determining the retention and destruction of documents. . .Ask executives and employees to imagine all their documents in the hands of a zealous regulator or on the front page of the New York Times. . .Obviously, once a subpoena has been issued, or is about to be issued, any existing document destruction policies should be brought to an immediate halt." He seems to be saying there -- and this is what white collar defense attorneys advise their clients -- destroy incriminating documents right up until the time a subpoena arrives. Are you concerned that Harvey Pitt as a defense attorney gave the green light to clients like Arthur Andersen to do exactly what they did?

Fleischer: The President is very concerned about the allegations of destruction of documents at Arthur Andersen. And that is again why this is being investigated. And I think what you'll find too -- and I urge you to talk with the Securities and Exchange Commission -- they will be happy to explain to you what is happening there with the ethics rules and how the enforcement unit of the Securities and Exchange Commission conducts its investigations. Ron Fournier. You only get three today Russell.

###

 
 

-Thanks to Russell Mokhiber

White House reporter Russell Mokhiber is the editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter - www.corporatecrimereporter.com. He co-authors the weekly Focus on the Corporation column with Robert Weissman which Common Dreams publishes. He can be reached at: russell@nationalpress.com

 

 
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