Former chief counsels to the Senate and House committees that investigated Watergate and the Iran-Contra affair have tried to elicit the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates’ positions on lawlessness and accountability regarding federal officials, but only Democrat Michael S. Dukakis has responded.
Mark Goodin, Vice President George Bush’s deputy press spokesman, said the Republican nominee did not answer because subordinates in his press office did not pass the questions along.
One of eight questions, submitted three weeks ago, was whether the candidate believed it appropriate for a President to pardon before trial persons who have been indicted by an independent counsel--a query that clearly covers President Reagan’s former national security adviser, John M. Poindexter, and former White House aide Oliver L. North, awaiting trial in the Iran-Contra case.
In response, Goodin said: “I’m unaware of any position that the vice president has staked out” on pardons. He said that “only (Bush) could answer, and I don’t have a way of getting to him today.”
Dukakis said he opposes such pardons “in general.” Democratic congressional candidates agreed, 59 to 2, as did Republicans, 28 to 15.
Sam Dash, former Senate Watergate chief counsel, said he and nine other Watergate and Iran-Contra counsels and Watergate prosecutors submitted the questions “because the candidates haven’t been answering.”