Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Resignation of Attorney General Meese and President Reagan's Visit With President Duarte of El Salvador


July 5, 1988


Attorney General Meese called President Reagan about 4 p.m., just before the President left the White House for Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital. The President stopped in Dr. John Hutton's first floor office and took the Attorney General's call, which lasted a minute or two. The Attorney General said he had determined that he would like to resign and return to private life, adding that he would like to make the announcement very soon. President Reagan said he would accept the resignation ``if that's your determination.'' The President later said the Attorney General had told him some time ago that he might want to leave before the end of the administration. The President left the timing up to him.


President Reagan has the highest regard for Attorney General Meese. They have been good friends and associates for many years. President Reagan feels he has been an outstanding Attorney General, who has led the Department with courage and vigor during his tenure. The President wishes him all the best in private life.


At Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, the President and Vice President Bush visited with President Duarte of El Salvador, his wife and son from approximately 4:20 to 4:35 p.m. President Reagan offered President Duarte a U.S. Government plane for his return home to El Salvador. President Duarte accepted. President Reagan also invited President Duarte to the White House for a visit before departing Washington. President Duarte said he would like to if it's possible. There is no word on when President Duarte may leave the hospital.


The President and Vice President Bush then visited Major General Lewis Mologne, Commanding Officer of Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, who is a patient. President Reagan and Vice President Bush were notified by Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein of the Attorney General's public resignation announcement as they were leaving the general's hospital room.