WASHINGTON -- President Reagan 'absolutely' has no recollection of being told by Lt. Col. Oliver North of a proposed large private donation to the Contras by an Iranian posing as a Saudi prince, a spokesman said Friday.
Chief White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told reporters 'to the best of our knowledge this discussion never took place. There is no documentation of any such meeting.'
'The president was never advised of this matter,' Fitzwater added. 'The president's recollection is that there was never any such meeting. Absolutely the president has no recollection of being told about the Iranian posing as a Saudi prince.'
FBI Director William Webster in April provided the Senate Intelligence Committee a report on a bureau interview in which North said that in June 1985 he told Reagan and Robert McFarlane, the national security adviser, of a proposed contribution by an Iranian posing as a Saudi prince.
A source close to McFarlane also denied McFarlane was told by North of the proposed contribution.
'McFarlane has absolutely no recollection of being present at any such discussion with North,' the source told United Press International. 'I don't care what Oliver North said.
'North could have mentioned the matter in casual conversation,' the source continued. 'But who remembers what's said in the hall? Maybe someone can refresh McFarlane's recollection.'
The report, which was misplaced and not discovered at FBI headquarters until early April, was discussed on Thursday at an Intelligence Committee hearing on Webster's nomination to head the CIA.
The panel approved Webster on Friday and sent the nomination to the Senate.
The report, written by an FBI agent, who interviewed North in July 1985 at the White House, said a proposed contribution by an Iranian posing as a Saudi prince 'was discussed by North personally with President Ronald Reagan and (then) national security adviser Robert McFarlane as recently as June 1985.'
The Washington Post said the FBI notes provide the 'first documented suggestion' that North spoke directly with the president about private donations from specific individuals to the to the Contras at a time when Congress had cut off all aid to the rebels.
The supposed donor, Mousalereza Ebrahim Zadeh, who posed as a Saudi prince pleaded guilty to bank fraud last January after writing a bad $210,000 check on the William Penn Bank in Philadelphia.
He was sentenced to five years in prison.
Meanwhile, Fitzwater acknowledged there were 'several meetings' with Carl 'Spitz' Channell at the White House and the public liaison office, some of them dealing with tax reform and other issues.
'In every case the documentation shows the money was raised for the purpose of advertising' in support of the Contras.
Fitzwater told reporters former presidential aide David Fischer, who reportedly received a $20,000 a month retainer from International Business Communications, IBC, a Washington public relations firm, turned in his White House pass last Nov. 24, the day before North was fired.
IBC was a consulting firm to Carl Channell, convicted of defrauding the government as a fundraiser for the Contras, Fischer brought some of the contributors to Channell's project into the Oval Office to meet Reagan.
'The president's staff knew David was bringing them in,' Fitzwater said, adding that it was Reagan's understanding that the visitors were contributing to television ads in behalf of the Contras.
Asked for Reagan's reaction to a longtime aide 'being paid to bring people in,' Fitzwater said: 'I have no reaction.'
Fitzwater said he did not know why Fischer was able to keep his White House pass for a couple of years after he left.
He said that the White House administrator Jonathan Miller, reviewed 'the pass situation on or before Nov. 24 in response' to questions about the continued possession of a pass by former deputy chief of staff Michael Deaver, who has been indicted for perjury in connection with his private public relations business.