WASHINGTON (04/07/2000) - White House officials may request a briefing from the U.S. Department of Justice on what penalties it will seek against Microsoft Corp., according to a published report.
The White House has not been involved in the nearly 2-year-old case being prosecuted by the administration's Justice Department, but it might ask to be briefed, White House spokesman Jake Siewert told the Washington Post yesterday.
Siewert would not say what other White House involvement might be possible. The spokesman could not be reached for comment today.
U.S. President Bill Clinton met briefly Wednesday with Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates at the White House, but spokesmen for the two men said they didn't discuss the antitrust case, which reached a milestone on Monday when U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson issued a ruling confirming that Microsoft violated antitrust law. [See "Clinton Moderates Panels on New Economy," April 5.] Gates also visited the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and met with House and Senate leaders from both parties. The visit prompted Representative Vic Snyder, a Democrat from Arkansas, to request that the House committee that examines questions of ethics look into House Republicans' conversations with Gates, one of the richest people in the world.
Snyder's letter of inquiry cites published reports regarding a meeting between Gates and Republican members, and "it would appear that Mr. Gates was improperly solicited for campaign funds," the letter said. It suggests that if Gates was asked for contributions, it might have been a violation of both House ethics rules and federal law.
A Republican spokesman was quoted by the Post as saying the request was "much ado about nothing."
Also this week, Jackson released information outlining his plans for the remedy phase of the antitrust case. The schedule calls for a rapid series of filings before a courtroom hearing on May 24. [See "MS Judge Sets Schedule for Punishment Phase," April 5].
The flurry of Microsoft-related activity in Washington outside the courtroom where the antitrust case is being argued coincides with Microsoft television commercials featuring Gates in which he pledges that his company will continue to innovate.
Microsoft, in Redmond, Washington, can be reached at +1-425-882-8080 or at http://www.microsoft.com/.