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Public Papers - 1991

Exchange With Reporters on the Confirmation of Clarence Thomas as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

1991-10-16

Q. Where are the women?

Q. New meaning to Helen's [Helen Thomas, United Press International] question.

Q. Mr. President, are you going to speak to the Nation about the process of confirmation?

The President. Well, I'm going to have something to say. Whether I speak to the Nation about it, and -- if you mean an Oval Office and that, I don't know about that; there's no decision. But I think I owe the people my observations and, more importantly, some suggestions to improve the process. That comes under the heading of the Senate business clearly, but I have some views. And there is some interaction between the administration, obviously, and the Senate.

So, we're thinking, going to get working on some ideas, flushing out some, and, clearly, I'll go public with it. How I do it is yet to be determined.

Q. And how soon?

The President. Well, that hasn't been determined yet, but fairly soon, I'd say, because I think it's fresh in people's minds.

Q. Today?

The President. No, you won't have anything -- --

Q. You're not going to tie this in with the swearing-in, are you, sir?

The President. Do what?

Q. You wouldn't tie that in with the swearing-in?

The President. No. I want to go forward with the swearing-in as soon as possible. There's a vacancy on the Court, and we haven't decided on a firm time for that. But it will be very soon indeed, if that is agreeable to soon-to-be Mr. Justice Thomas.

Q. Are you going to clamp down on the use of FBI reports or sharing of those with the Hill?

The President. I don't want to prejudge what I'm going to say. But I think there's general agreement around the country and certainly in the Senate that the present process is simply not fair. And I think Senators on both sides of the aisle are going to want to see changes in several areas.

Thank you all very much.

Q. Including use of FBI reports?

Note: The exchange began at 10:04 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House during a photo session with House Republican leaders. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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