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Ari & I: March 25, 2002

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)

Russell Mokhiber: Ari, two questions.

The Washington Post yesterday reported that environmental officials in Alabama are protesting an EPA move -- what they call a sweetheart deal -- to intervene in a pollution case in Anniston.

The Alabama environmental officials say that this an unwarranted and unauthorized federal takeover and contrary to EPA policy. This is a case where PCBs were dumped throughout the town. Given the President's views on states' rights, I'm wondering how he can justify the EPA going in there and interfering with an enforcement action?

Ari Fleischer: Russell, I have no information on that. You'll have to address that to EPA.

Mokhiber: Second question. Arthur Andersen is taking out these full page ads in newspapers saying -- "Injustice for All, One Indictment, 28,000 Andersen U.S. men and women." Two things on that. Does the President believe that this was an unjustified indictment given that no individuals were indicted? And second, has he met with anyone from Arthur Andersen, any employees, any executives about this indictment.

Fleischer: Russell, the President broadly believes that the best way to have justice in this country is to have the Department of Justice evaluate information that it has at its disposal as it makes decisions about what cases should be prosecuted, and which cases shouldn't be prosecuted. That is the realm and responsibility of the Department of Justice and its professional attorneys. And the President has faith in the people he has appointed at the Department of Justice that justice will be carried out based on the information that they have. Those are not issues that the White House micromanages.

Mokhiber: Any meetings with Andersen employees, executives?

Fleischer: With anybody at the White House? I have no idea.

Mokhiber: With the President, with the President?

Fleischer: With the President? I would have to check. I really don't know off the top of my head.

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