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White House Aides Offer Differing Statements on Helicopter Records

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The White House insisted again Sunday that last week’s golf trip using a presidential helicopter was an isolated incident, but aides gave contradictory statements about releasing the records to prove it.

Trying to quell the latest outrage over perquisites and privileges in Washington, White House senior adviser George Stephanopoulos said: “This is an exception. We’ve gone through all the records. There’s no other instances of this happening.”

Stephanopoulos appeared on ABC-TV’s “This Week With David Brinkley” to answer questions about White House administrator David Watkins, who took a helicopter Tuesday on a 55-mile trip to Camp David, Md., and Holly Hills Country Club near New Market, Md.

Republicans seized on the junket, and some sought access to flight manifests and other records to determine if there have been other abuses.

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Stephanopoulos said he did not know about the request, but he seemed to suggest that the White House was willing to release pertinent documents.

“We’ve gone back through the records. There’s no other incident of this kind and we’d be happy to show it,” he said on the ABC program.

But in an interview afterward, Stephanopoulos said he did not mean to imply that the records would be released. “I don’t know what that entails. But I stand by the statement that there were no other instances of this kind,” he said.

He had trouble explaining his comment on ABC, saying he meant only that “we can have people who’ve done the review talk about it.”

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Interviewed later on C-SPAN, Communications Director Mark D. Gearan seemed to say the White House would turn over pertinent records to lawmakers.

“We’ll certainly comply with any congressional requests,” he said. He did not say whether records would be released to the public and media.


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