Monday, July 11, 2005
The White House Press Corp grows a spine to-day
Story: E & P: "Press Batters McLellan on Rove-Plame leak"
NEW YORK - At numerous press briefings last week, not a single reporter asked White House Press Secretary about emerging allegations that top presidential aide Karl Rove was a source, or the source, for Time magazine's Matthew Cooper in the Valerie Plame case. On Sunday, Newsweek revealed a Cooper e-mail from July 2003 that showed that Rove indeed had talked to him about Plame and her CIA employment, although he apparently did not mention that she worked under cover.This development apparently freed the journalists to hit McClellan hard at this afternoon's briefing.
A sampling (NO SOFTBALLS! HELL NO!--not today!) :
Q: (David Gregory, NBC News) Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?
MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than: We're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.
Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?
MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.
Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?
MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...
Q: (inaudible) when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?
MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish.
Q: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?
MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.
Q: Do you think people will accept that, what you're saying today?
MCCLELLAN: Again, I've responded to the question.
Q: After the investigation is completed, will you then be consistent with your word and the president's word that anybody who was involved will be let go?
MCCLELLAN: Again, after the investigation is complete, I will be glad to talk about it at that point.
Q: Can you walk us through why, given the fact that Rove's lawyer has spoken publicly about this, it is inconsistent with the investigation, that it compromises the investigation to talk about the involvement of Karl Rove, the deputy chief of staff, here?
MCCLELLAN: Well, those overseeing the investigation expressed a preference to us that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it's ongoing. And that was what they requested of the White House. And so I think in order to be helpful to that investigation, we are following their direction.
Q: Does the president continue to have confidence in Mr. Rove?
MCCLELLAN: Again, these are all questions coming up in the context of an ongoing criminal investigation. And you've heard my response on this.
Q: So you're not going to respond as to whether or not the president has confidence in his deputy chief of staff?
MCCLELLAN: You're asking this question in the context of an ongoing investigation, and I would not read anything into it other then I'm simply going to comment on an ongoing investigation.
Q: Has there been any change, or is there a plan for Mr. Rove's portfolio to be altered in any way?
MCCLELLAN: Again, you have my response to these questions....