WHITE HOUSE urges media not to push Jenna Bush story

Thursday, May 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The White House asked the media on Thursday to think twice before pursuing more stories about President Bush's daughter's legal problems stemming from alleged underage drinking.

``I would urge all of you to very carefully think through how much you want to pursue this,'' press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters in Washington, D.C.

``I understand that there's a question of law. I've never called anybody or suggested to anybody that the coverage today is in any way inappropriate. But to go beyond that I would urge you to be very careful because any reaction of the parents is parental; it is not governmental. It is family. It's private and the American people respect that.''

Fleischer spoke two days after Austin police received a report that 19-year-old Jenna Bush tried to get served at a restaurant by using someone else's identification.

Police spokesman Kevin Buchman said officers were told Jenna Bush wasn't served. Her twin sister, Barbara, also was present but didn't show any identification, officials said.

``As no offense was witnessed by APD officers, following routine procedures, further investigation is required to determine if any charges will be filed,'' a police statement said.

Less than two weeks earlier, Jenna Bush pleaded no contest to charges of underage drinking. The judge who ordered her to take alcohol counseling and perform community service in deferring the earlier charge said Wednesday she would await the outcome of the investigation.

The earlier punishment could be revoked and authorities might seek a conviction if Jenna Bush is ticketed, prosecutor John Wall said.

Jenna Bush's attorney, William P. Allison, declined to comment.

Police responded to a 911 call Tuesday evening from the manager of Chuy's restaurant who said minors were trying to buy alcohol.

Police would not say where the daughters' Secret Service agents were at the time. The Secret Service wouldn't comment on it.

Asked about the agents, Fleischer said: ``The Secret Service mission is to protect the lives of their protectees and that is their job and they're doing it.''

Jenna Bush's earlier no contest plea stemmed from a ticket police issued while checking for minors in possession of alcohol at nightclubs April 27.

Fleischer would not comment about any discussions Bush may have had with his daughter, saying ``it's a private family matter.''

Jenna Bush is a student at the University of Texas at Austin; Barbara Bush attends Yale University.