July 8, 1983

The President. I told my staff that I wanted everyone there to hear directly from me that they were to make themselves available; if they had any information whatsoever to take it and tell it to the FBI, to the Justice Department, in the investigation which I had ordered of this entire incident. And I further said that this message will be conveyed to the rest of the administration, to the Cabinet officers and others who weren't present there. And I told Mr. Fielding [Fred F. Fielding, Counsel to the President] to tell the FBI that everyone in our administration, including myself, is available for questioning, because there's only one thing: We must get to the truth -- --

Q. Mr. President -- --

The President. -- -- the answer to this.

Q. Why was it necessary to say that to them? They were given those orders last week, and it's -- every day last week. Why did you have to emphasize it in person this morning?

The President. Well, in view of all that's been going on, I thought they should hear it directly from me.

Q. Do you regret saying that this was ``much ado about nothing,'' when you first were asked about it, Mr. President?

The President. No. If, when the investigation is over and the truth is known, it is necessary to correct that statement, I'll correct it.

Q. Were you aware that ex-Army officers were organized to watch American airbases at home and abroad in case there would be an October surprise?

The President. No, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], I have no knowledge of that at all.

Q. Mr. President, will you fire people if you have to?

The President. I said we want the truth. If there is any evidence of wrongdoing, we'll take whatever action that should be taken at that time.

Q. Including firing people?

The President. Yes.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange began at 3:04 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House as the President was departing for a weekend stay at Camp David, Md.