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Ari & I: July 2, 2001

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Mokhiber: Ari, on the death penalty, two questions.

The District Attorney in Houston will decide within the month whether to seek the death penalty against Andrea Yates -- she's the mother who drowned her five kids. Has the President expressed an opinion on whether this woman should be put to death for that crime?

Ari Fleischer: No, Russell, I have not heard him do so and he doesn't engage in that type of speculation. That's not the job of the President.

Mokhiber: Second question.

Last week, Sara Lee pled guilty to crimes in connection with the 1998 outbreak of listeriosis, which caused the death of 16 people, eight miscarriages, and 40 to 80 seriously injured people.

The company pled guilty to a crime. Has the President expressed a view on the death penalty for corporate criminals -- that is, revoking the charter of a corporation that has been convicted of a crime that has resulted in death?

Ari Fleischer: As I indicated in your preface question, the President does not weigh in on those matter of justice. They should not be dictated by decisions made at the White House.

Mokhiber: Now, Ari, wait a second. Ari, Ari, wait a second. He's in favor of the death penalty for individuals generally. Is he in favor of the death penalty for corporations convicted of crimes that result in death?

Ari Fleischer: Russell, these are questions that are handled by officials of the Justice -- not by people at the White House.

Mokhiber: Why -- how can he say --

Ari Fleischer: You only get three, not four.

Mokhiber: I get three, and he can get seven...

[Note to readers: A network television reporter had just asked a series of six or seven questions in a row of Ari on the White House position on Social Security and Medicare.]

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