Republican National Committee

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE     Contact: Christine Iverson

Wednesday, September 22, 2004                              


Chairman Gillespie Statement From Today’s Conference Call
Washington DC – Chairman Gillespie made the following comments during today’s RNC conference call:
“Many questions still remain.  Was a crime committed?  I believe so.  Obviously, forgery is involved.  But the Texas Legal Code also says it is a third degree felony if one ‘makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with intent that it be taken as a genuine governmental record’ or ‘makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity.’
“Did the Kerry campaign know about the existence of the documents in question in advance of the CBS report?   A chronology of events indicates they did.
“Bill Burkett says he made multiple contacts with the Kerry campaign in August, sending an e-mail newsletter on August 21 saying he talked to Kerry campaign seniors on Friday, August 20.  The Kerry campaign told him they wanted to ‘counterattack,’ and he says he ‘gave them the information to do it with.’
“Bill Burkett says he contacted the Democratic National Committee and laid out a rationale for using what he termed ‘down and dirty tactics against President Bush.’ 
“We know that the Kerry campaign devised a strategy to attack the President’s National Guard service that began the same night the Republican National Convention ended, with Senator Kerry attacking the President’s guard service on the night of September 2.
“Two days before the 60 Minutes report aired, Howard Wolfson, ‘a strategist dispatched to the DNC by the Kerry campaign’ joined the DNC to head up ‘Operation Fortunate Son.’
“On Wednesday, September 8th, the day of the report, the DNC officially launched Operation Fortunate Son, and ‘Texans For Truth,’ funded by a Kerry supporter, announced an advertising campaign.
“On Thursday, the day after the 60 Minutes report, the DNC distributed an ad that had clearly been prepared in anticipation of the CBS News report, and cited the documents at a DNC press conference where Senator Tom Harkin called the President a ‘liar.’ 

“One might argue that these steps were taken without advance knowledge of the existence of the documents and this is all coincidence, but that strains credibility.
“CBS has apologized for airing the story based on discredited documents, but has not issued a retraction.  One of its producers contacted the Kerry campaign to encourage them to talk to one of her sources who could be helpful to the campaign.  Whether this was done as part of an agreement with the source to go public or as a ‘friendly tip,’ it is entirely inappropriate.  Yet CBS News allows to continue in a news gathering and reporting capacity a journalist who, according to yesterday’s Associated Press ‘makes no secret of her liberal beliefs’ and has unquestionably provided opposition research to one of the presidential campaigns. 
“This demonstrates a serious lack of judgment separate and apart from the lack of judgment demonstrated in running a report based on discredited documents.  Did this producer’s own political viewpoint cloud her judgment?  Is CBS News’ decision to neither suspend nor release the producer in question a result of judgment clouded by Viacom and CBS owner Sumner Redstone’s role as a Kerry fundraiser, or Viacom President Tom Freston’s public support of John Kerry for President. 
“Other questions that should be answered:
1. We know that CBS put the Kerry campaign in touch with Burkett, but who put Burkett in touch with CBS in the first place?  Was it someone at the Kerry campaign, or the DNC? 

2. Who were the ‘seniors’ other than Senator Cleland that Burkett spoke to at the Kerry campaign on August 20? Lockhart wasn't a part of the Kerry campaign on August 20, and neither were McCurry, Begala, Carville or Greenberg.
So, who spoke with Burkett on August 20, and to whom did he provide the information for a “counterattack?”

3. Did the Kerry campaign or the DNC know about the documents before the CBS story broke?  If so, from whom did they learn of them? 
“The centerpiece of the Kerry Campaign’s ‘character based critique,’ Boston-speak for character assassination, is based on a discredited news report that was based on the criminal activity of someone who mocked up and forged documents.  What’s that say for the character of the Kerry campaign?
“CBS should act now to assure its viewers that it understands the gravity of its producer’s actions, and the Kerry campaign and the DNC should answer these questions, abandon its character assassination campaign and focus on the issues relevant to the American people in this election.”