US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers were at the White House yesterday to brief the President's staff on the proposed penalties the department will announce this week, as the antitrust trial against Microsoft moves into the "remedy phase".

President Clinton is not participating in the meeting, which is "a strictly informational briefing" involving representatives of the President's economic team, assistant attorney general Joel Klein and other Justice Department officials, said Gene Sperling, director of the President's National Economic Council.

"We felt at the remedy stage that it was appropriate for representatives of the economic team and the (White House) counsel's office to receive an informational briefing," Sperling said. The White House had an informational briefing during the liability stage of the trial, Sperling said, but otherwise has played no role in the prosecution of the case, which was filed nearly two years ago.

In on the deal DOJ spokeswoman Gina Talamona confirmed that the meeting was taking place today and that Klein would participate, but declined to make any further comment.

The meeting comes before a filing that the DOJ must make by Friday, detailing the remedies that it believes should be imposed against Microsoft.

To end Microsoft’s monopoly, the government will push for a break-up of the company into separate businesses, one responsible for Microsoft business productivity, the other responsible for the Windows operating system, according to reports published Monday.

Microsoft has said it tried hard to reach a settlement earlier this month during an intense round of negotiations between the DOJ, the company's lawyers and a court-appointed mediator. It also has vociferously denied that it broke the law and has announced plans to appeal Jackson's findings.

A schedule for the remedy phase imposed by Jackson requires Microsoft to file its response to the government's remedy proposal by May 10. The government will then file a response to Microsoft's brief by May 17. A final hearing is scheduled to take place May 24.