Reagan Felt Hurt By Contra Report, Baker Says

Posted: November 27, 1987

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — White House chief of staff Howard H. Baker Jr. said yesterday that President Reagan felt hurt and "personally put upon" by the congressional report criticizing Reagan's role in the Iran-contra affair.

In the first White House characterization of Reagan's reaction to the report, Baker said it "was personally hurtful to him. He didn't like it a bit."

However, Baker said that Reagan was "still the strong and vigorous President he was when he was elected" and that he was looking forward to signing a nuclear missile treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev next month.

The Iran-contra report, released Nov. 18, concluded that in the clandestine sale of U.S. arms to Iran and the subsequent diversion of proceeds to the Nicaraguan contras, Reagan allowed foreign policymaking to be overtaken by a "cabal of zealots" who subverted the Constitution with "secrecy, deception and disdain for the law."

The 680-page report, produced by special Senate and House investigating committees, also castigated Reagan for not complying with his constitutional mandate to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" and said that he should have known what his aides were doing in his name.

The report did not refute Reagan's contention that he had no knowledge of the diversion, which was disclosed Nov. 25, 1986, by Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d.

Reagan, who was spending Thanksgiving with his family at his mountaintop ranch near here, has said little about the report, except to quip last week that investigators had "labored and brought forth a mouse."

Baker, questioned by Cable News Network about Reagan's reaction to the report, said, "I can tell you that he really, really did not like it and really, really feels personally put upon by many of the implications and many of the assertions in the report."

A transcript of the early morning interview was provided by CNN. Baker, who was interviewed at his hotel here, then left for his family home in Tennessee.

In his comments, Baker also acknowledged that when he joined the administration in March, Reagan's prestige was at a low ebb. But since then, Baker said, Reagan has rallied and is now "going full throttle" despite the congressional hearings that revealed serious lapses in the White House's management of its Iranian and Central American policies.

"When I came on board in March," Baker said, "the real question was, 'Is this man going to survive? Is this the end of the Reagan administration - if not impeachment, at least immobilization?'

"Now here we are near the end of the year, (and) he's got an INF treaty ( to ban medium-range nuclear missiles ) coming and a budget package coming. . . . He's very much in charge."

Asked about rumors that Reagan was considering pardons for retired Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter and Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, Baker replied: ''I have no idea, no comment, no instructions and no insight."

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