July 14, 2005
Scott McClellan Changes Story on Rove
This transcript of the White House Press briefing with Scott McClellan comes from the Huffington Post:
QUESTION: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?
(White House Spokesman Scott) MCCLELLAN: I appreciate your question. I think your question is being asked related to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point.
And as I've previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.
The president directed the White House to cooperate fully with the investigation. And as part of cooperating fully with the investigation, we made a decision that we weren't going to comment on it while it is ongoing.
QUESTION: I actually wasn't talking about any investigation.
But in June of 2004, the president said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak to the press about information. I just wanted to know: Is that still his position?
MCCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that's why I said that our policy continues to be that we're not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium.
The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium.
MCCLELLAN: And so that's why we are not going to get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation — or questions related to it.
QUESTION: Scott, if I could point out: Contradictory to that statement, on September 29th of 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it. You were the first one to have said that if anybody from the White House was involved, they would be fired.
And then, on June 10th of 2004, at Sea Island Plantation, in the midst of this investigation, when the president made his comments that, yes, he would fire anybody from the White House who was involved, so why have you commented on this during the process of the investigation in the past, but now you've suddenly drawn a curtain around it under the statement of, We're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation?
MCCLELLAN: Again, John, I appreciate the question. I know you want to get to the bottom of this. No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.
And I think the way to be most helpful is to not get into commenting on it while it is an ongoing investigation. And that's something that the people overseeing the investigation have expressed a preference that we follow.
And that's why we're continuing to follow that approach and that policy.
Now, I remember very well what was previously said. And, at some point, I will be glad to talk about it, but not until after the investigation is complete.
QUESTION: So could I just ask: When did you change your mind to say that it was OK to comment during the course of an investigation before, but now it's not?
Read the rest in the article "You're in a Bad Spot Here, Scott."
Learn more about High Crimes and Misdemeanors on Wikipedia.
Thanks to Latte reader CD for pointing out the transcript.
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