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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush indicated Tuesday he has little enthusiasm for congressional investigations
of President Clinton's final acts in office, including pardons he granted.
"I think it's time to move on," Bush told reporters while flying back from Norfolk, Va. But he acknowledged that
"Congress is going to do what it's going to do."
Bush also attempted to defuse another controversy surrounding the ex-president.
"All the allegations that they took stuff on Air Force One are simply not true," Bush said. He referred to published
accounts suggesting that members of Clinton's party stripped the plane of glasses and other souvenirs as it took the
former president to New York from Washington on the day he left office.
Congressional committees are looking into Clinton's pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife is a
major Democratic contributor. Republicans, who control Congress, say they want to know whether Clinton's
actions were influenced by political contributions.
On Monday, Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters he would be open to congressional proposals to give
the ex-wife, Denise Rich, immunity in exchange for her testimony. She has refused to testify, citing here Fifth
Amendment protection against self-incrimination. A grant of immunity would allow her to testify without
Bush said he had not talked to Ashcroft about immunity but reiterated, "My attitude is it's time to move on."
Bush spoke with reporters on the half-hour flight from Norfolk,Va., where he had given a military speech, back to
Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland.
Bush welcomed a new report suggesting a surge in consumer spending in January - but said it's not an indication
that the economy isn't still weak, nor does it detract from his argument for a $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax cut.
Americans pushed up sales at the nation's retailers in January by a strong 0.7 percent, the biggest jump in four
months, according to a new government report.
"I think that's a good statistic amidst a sea of pretty dismal statistics," Bush said. "I'm concerned about the
He said he hopes to continue to work with Congress in getting a tax cut package through in time for taxpayers to
get a break on their 2000 taxes, which are due on April 15.
Bush has supported making his tax cut retroactive, but few in Congress expect a package of such magnitude can
be passed by April 15.
"They're in charge of the time frame," he said of Congress.
"I strongly believe a combination of fiscal and monetary policy will help ease whatever economic pain is on the
horizon," he said.
Fiscal policies include tax cuts, which are under the authority of the president and Congress. Monetary policy is
controlled by the Federal Reserve, including the setting of interest rates.
Wednesday's flight was Bush's second trip on the Boeing 747 that serves as Air Force One, and his first time in the
back compartment where a limited number of news media representatives ride. He talked to reporters twice, once
before the plane took off in Norfolk, and again in flight.