White House press briefing 07-13-05
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
"Does the President think Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't
The White House press corps still wants to know. Bush spokesman
Scott McClellan isn't helping much.
Editor's note: Following are excerpts from Wednesday's White House
July 13, 2005 | Q: Scott, some White House advisors expressed
surprise that the President didn't -- did not give a warm
endorsement to Karl Rove when he was asked about him at the Cabinet
meeting. They had expected that he would speak up. Can you explain
why the President didn't express confidence?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. He wasn't asked about his support or confidence
for Karl. As I indicated yesterday, every person who works here at
the White House, including Karl Rove, has the confidence of the
President. This was not a question that came up in the Cabinet Room.
Q: Well, the President has never been restrained at staying right in
the lines of a question, as you know. [Laughter.] He kind of -- he
says whatever he wants. And if he had wanted to express confidence
in Karl Rove, he could have. Why didn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: He expressed it yesterday through me, and I just
expressed it again.
Q: Well, why doesn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: He was not asked that specific question, Terry. You
know that very well. The questions he were asked -- he was asked
about were relating to an ongoing investigation.
Q: But, Scott, he defended [Alberto] Gonzales without even being
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll come to you in a second. I'll come to you in a
second. Go ahead.
Q: Yes, he defended Al Gonzales without ever being asked.
[Laughter.] Ed brings up a good point. Didn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think he was asked about the Attorney General.
Q: Scott, you know what, to make a general observation here, in a
previous administration, if a press secretary had given the sort of
answers you've just given in referring to the fact that everybody
who works here enjoys the confidence of the President, Republicans
would have hammered them as having a kind of legalistic and sleazy
defense. I mean, the reality is that you're parsing words, and
you've been doing it for a few days now. So does the President think
Karl Rove did something wrong, or doesn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, David, I'm not at all. I told you and the
President told you earlier today that we don't want to prejudge the
outcome of an ongoing investigation. And I think we've been round
and round on this for two days now.
Q: Even if it wasn't a crime? You know, there are those who believe
that even if Karl Rove was trying to debunk bogus information, as
Ken Mehlman suggested yesterday -- perhaps speaking on behalf of the
White House -- that when you're dealing with a covert operative,
that a senior official of the government should be darn well sure
that that person is not undercover, is not covert, before speaking
about them in any way, shape, or form. Does the President agree with
that or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we've been round and round on this for a
couple of days now. I don't have anything to add to what I've said
the previous two days.
Q: That's a different question, and it's not round and round --
MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier.
Q: It has nothing to do with the investigation, Scott, and you know
MR. McCLELLAN: You heard from the President earlier today, and the
President said he's not --
Q: That's a dodge to my question. It has nothing to do with the
investigation. Is it appropriate for a senior official to speak
about a covert agent in any way, shape, or form without first
finding out whether that person is working as a covert officer.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, you're wrong. This is all
relating to questions about an ongoing investigation, and I've been
Q: If I wanted to ask you about an ongoing investigation, I would
ask you about the statute, and I'm not doing that.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've exhausted discussion on this the last
couple of days.
Q: You haven't even scratched the surface.
Q: It hasn't started.
MR. McCLELLAN: I look forward to talking about it once the
investigation is complete, as the President does, as well. And you
heard from the President earlier today.
Q: Can I ask for clarification on what the President said at Sea
Island on June 10th of last year, when he was saying that he would
fire anybody from the White House who was involved in the leak of
classified information? What were the parameters for those
consequences? Was it --
MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate your question.
Q: Was it a knowing leak with the intent of doing damage? I'm just
wondering when he talked about that, what those parameters were?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I've nothing to add on this discussion, and if
we have any other topics you want to discuss, I'll be glad to do
Go ahead, David.
Q: Scott, when the President asked that question at Sea -- was asked
that question at Sea Island, and, in fact, when you made your
statement that Karl had had nothing to do with this, was there an
ongoing investigation at that time?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, we've been through this for two days now, and
I've already responded to those questions.
Go ahead, April.
Q: I'm going to give you another --
Q: I'm sorry, I wasn't here yesterday, so could you refresh my
memory? Was there an ongoing investigation --
MR. McCLELLAN: The briefings are available online.
Q: -- at the time that you answered previous questions on this
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I responded to those questions the past couple
of days. Go ahead.
Q: The answer is, yes.
Q: I'm going to go to another question, somewhat on the same
subject, but a different vein. Let's talk about the Wilson family.
Is there any regret from this White House about the effects of this
leak on this family?
MR. McCLELLAN: We can continue to go round and round on all these --
Q: No, no, no, no. This has nothing to do with the investigation.
This is about the leak and the effects on this family. I mean,
granted there are partisan politics being played, but let's talk
about the leak that came from the White House that affected a
MR. McCLELLAN: And let me just say again that anything relating to
an ongoing investigation, I'm not going to get into discussing. I've
said that the past couple of days.
Q: This is not -- this is about -- this is a personal -- this is not
about the -- I mean about the investigation. This is about the
personal business of this family, an American family, a taxpaying
family, a family that works for the government of the United States.
And the executive branch -- someone in the executive branch let this
family down in some kind of way, shape, or form. Is there any regret
from the White House that this family was affected by the leak?
MR. McCLELLAN: It doesn't change what I just said. Go ahead, Goyal
Q: The Washington Times editorial page this morning published a
cartoon comparing White House correspondents to sharks. My question,
do you think that they were wrong to make this comparison?
Q: Go ahead, Scott, let her rip.
MR. McCLELLAN: I have a picture up in my office that everybody can
Q: We'll allow you to comment.
MR. McCLELLAN: It may not look like it, but there's a little flesh
that's been taken out of me the past few days. [Laughter.]
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said, it may not look like it. [Laughter.] I
can assure you that it has been.
Q: Scott, Secretary Rumsfeld has in the past told Congress, under
fire from certain members, that he has, in fact, offered his
resignation and the President has, in fact, rejected that idea, and
said, no, I'd like you to stay on. Is the same true of Karl Rove,
either in the context of offering a resignation or offering to take
a leave of absence? And how has the President responded?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I've made the President's views on Karl very
clear and his support for all those who work at the White House,
including Karl Rove.
Q: We know that the President has supported Karl publicly, but I
guess what I'm asking is, has Karl Rove offered, as a courtesy to
the President, that?
MR. McCLELLAN: And again, these are all some of the similar
questions that have been coming up over the last couple of days, and
I don't have anything to add while this investigation is ongoing.
But I think the President's views are very clear when it comes to
Karl Rove and others who work here at the White House.
Q: Scott --
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me go to Jessica, and then I'll come back to you.
Q: Scott, I've spoken to one person at least who says that when --
after being interviewed by the special prosecutor was asked not to
discuss subjects, the substance of their interview, but was free to
talk about this investigation more broadly. So my question is, has
the White House been asked by the special prosecutor not to talk
about specific testimony, or to discuss nothing about this at all?
MR. McCLELLAN: These questions came up the last couple of days, and
Q: But you haven't been explicit. Did the special prosecutor say to
the White House --
MR. McCLELLAN: Again --
Q: -- don't discuss this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I want to help the investigation proceed and come to
a successful conclusion. And the best way to do that, as I've said,
not only the last couple of days, but going back nearly two years,
is to not get into discussing the investigation from this podium,
and those questions --
Q: Because the prosecutor asked you not to?
MR. McCLELLAN: And those questions I've been through the last couple
of days, this morning, and there's really nothing to add. And I
appreciate it, but we've exhausted this discussion, I think. And we
need to let that investigation proceed.
Q: Scott, from Africa, Mrs. Bush says, Karl Rove is a very good
friend of mine; I've known him for years. And she's not going to
speculate on any other part of the case. Well, does the President
feel the same way about Karl Rove, the relationship with Karl Rove,
a very good friend for many years?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, he does.
Q: And at this point, is it ebbing or flowing? Is that relationship
with the President ebbing or flowing? [Laughter.]
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this is a creative way to come out to the same
kind of questions.
Q: You're right, it is, and I want an answer.
MR. McCLELLAN: David, you had a question on Iran?