Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Not Answering a Question Is Scotty's Specialty

I love the attempts by Scotty McMessage McClellan to divert the press by suggesting he's there to "keep focusing on the pressing priorities of the American people." WTF?

Near as I can tell, there are three issues the press is trying to ferret out of the Whitehouse: A) the Veep is not being treated as an ordinary citizen in terms of the criminal investigation of the incident, B) the Veep is making decisions independently, or in concert with Karl Rove, to control the politics of surrounding the incident, including usurping the President, and C) what exactly does the President think of the whole situation given that the facts of the case have been less than obviated from the outset?
Q That's fair, and that's your prerogative, and I've got my job to do, which is, try to get you to answer that question. Does the President think it's appropriate for the Vice President to essentially make decisions at odds with the public disclosure process of this White House?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that I've expressed my views, and we went through this yesterday.

Q But that's a non-answer.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's what I was trying to indicate to you --

Q Does the President have a view about how the Vice President has conducted himself?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, that's what I -- I indicated to you yesterday what our views were.

Q No, I don't recall you sharing the President's view.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but can I finish responding? I'm glad to answer your questions.

Q You didn't answer that question. It was very respectful --

MR. McCLELLAN: I was very respectful and responsive to you all --

Q The Vice President basically decided on his own to not disclose this, which is at odds with how you do business and how the President does business, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't want to make this about anything other than what it is. It is what it is, David. I was very respectful and responsive to your questions yesterday. I provided you the information I knew based on the facts that were available, and we've been through this pretty thoroughly.

Q You don't have an answer to this question. All right, one final question.

MR. McCLELLAN: Wait, wait, I'm just not going to go back through it again. I'd appreciate it if you'd let me respond fully before you jump in.

Q All right, but -- well, hold on one second. I've got one final question.

MR. McCLELLAN: Other people in this room have questions, and we've got an event coming up.

Q I understand that, but I'm not getting answers here, Scott, and I'm trying to be forthright with you, but don't tell me that you're giving us complete answers when you're not actually answering the question, because everybody knows what is an answer and what is not an answer.

MR. McCLELLAN: David, now you want to make this about you, and it's not about you, it's about what happened. And that's what I'm trying to --

Q I'm sorry that you feel that way, but that's not what I'm trying to do.

MR. McCLELLAN: And I'm trying to provide answers to the questions.

Q I have one final question, since that one wasn't answered. Is it appropriate for the Vice President to have waited 14 hours after the incident before he spoke with local law enforcement officials? And do you think that an average citizen would have been accorded that same amount of time before having to answer questions about a shooting incident?

MR. McCLELLAN: That was what was arranged with the local law enforcement authorities. You ought to ask them that question. Suzanne, go ahead.

Q Is the President satisfied that he learned of the details about the shooting through Karl Rove and Andy Card, and not directly from the Vice President?

MR. McCLELLAN: He was informed about it, and there are lots of different ways to keep the President informed about events, and that was the way it happened in this instance.

Q Is he satisfied that he didn't hear directly from Cheney regarding --

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, Suzanne, if you all want to continue to focus on this, you all can spend your time on it. We're going to keep focusing on the pressing priorities of the American people, like talking about how to make health care more affordable and accessible. We've got important work to do for the American people, and that's where we're going to keep our focus. You're welcome to continue to focus on these issues. I'm moving on.

Q Two time line questions on this that I don't think was fully addressed yesterday. Could you tell us who it was in the Vice President's party who first informed the Situation Room? And could you tell us how it was that Mr. Rove learned of this and got involved enough, then, to call --

MR. McCLELLAN: I did answer that question yesterday. Karl spoke with Mrs. Armstrong.

Q But who informed -- I'm trying to understand the chain of custody of the information prior to that. In other words, who from the Vice President's party first informed the Situation Room? You told us the Situation Room --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he has an entourage that travels with him. I'm not going to get into -- he has an entourage that travels with him, from a military aide to Secret Service personnel. I'm not going to get into discussing specific people. I don't think that's -- I don't think it's necessary.

Q Can you tell us if it was a military aide or if it was a Secret Service person --

MR. McCLELLAN: David, I think I just answered your question. I'm just not going to get into naming specific people.

Q You're not going to tell us who informed the Situation Room?

MR. McCLELLAN: It was from the Vice President's traveling team.

Q We're asking, will you tell us who informed the Situation Room?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just told you.

Q Okay. And now, the second question, can you tell us who, then, informed Mr. Card? Was it Andy Card -- sorry, who informed Mr. Rove? Was it Andy Card, was it somebody else?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know where he first heard it. He may have heard it from the Situation Room. I know Andy spoke to him pretty quick after he heard about it.

Q Okay. And then the third issue related to this is, we know and established yesterday through you that the President heard about it on Saturday evening. Could you explain to us why it is this piece of information was important enough for the President to hear about relatively quickly, within three hours of the event --

MR. McCLELLAN: David, as I --

Q -- but in your view, it was not important enough --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- as I indicated, there are some pressing priorities before the American people and they want us to spend our time on that, and that's where we're going to keep our focus today.

Q It's our briefing, we get to ask the questions.

MR. McCLELLAN: You do, but I've indicated to you where I am today, and that's where I'm going to continue to focus.

Q Can you talk about, when the Vice President travels, does he bring with him any special medical group, given his heart condition, anything above and beyond what Vice Presidents typically bring?

MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with his office for specifics, because I don't travel with him, but he does have a medical team that travels with him, similar to what the President does.

Q And could you provide cost estimates when the President [sic] takes these hunting trips -- like what it costs the taxpayers --

MR. McCLELLAN: Check with his office, Jim.

Q -- to bring both his staff and medical staff?

MR. McCLELLAN: Check with his office. I travel with the President.

Go ahead, Goyal...

...Q So you'd rather go back to Saturday? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm glad to answer your questions, but I think we went through it thoroughly yesterday. It is what it is, and I think it's time to move on for the American people.

Q But, Scott, one of the reasons you said you delayed telling people about this is because you wanted to get all the information and some more information perhaps was gathered. So can you go back to your role again? You first heard about it Saturday evening, then didn't hear that the Vice President was involved until Sunday morning. Were you asking questions? What were your concerns about a hunting accident, the Vice President was there --

MR. McCLELLAN: I went through this yesterday. I'm not going to --

Q I know we went through it already, but we didn't get that answer. Why didn't you know and --

MR. McCLELLAN: Martha, I think that if you have additional questions relating to this matter, that you should direct them to the Vice President's Office. I've responded to you pretty fully in terms of my view, I've responded to those questions. I did so yesterday.

Q But, Scott, you didn't answer that particular question. You never answered why it took so long to inform you, who has a responsibility to inform the public.

MR. McCLELLAN: We went through that yesterday. I laid out the facts and what the facts were, and that's all I can do.

Q You said you didn't know until Sunday morning. Why not?

Q Did the President direct Cheney or his office to handle things differently in a case like this, if it happens again -- if something like this happens again?

MR. McCLELLAN: You can keep asking those questions; you're welcome to cover this issue. I expressed our views.

Q Has the President directed -- given any direction to the Vice President's Office about how things like this should be handled in the future?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just told you that you can always look at these issues and find a way to do a better job in the future. I'm not going to get into private conversations between the President and Vice President.

Sarah, go ahead...

Q Scott, was it Karl Rove's idea that Katharine Armstrong contacted the local press? I know that they spoke on the phone.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think Mrs. Armstrong has said how that idea came about.

Q So did they discuss it while they were on the phone?

MR. McCLELLAN: Not that I know of, no.

Q Could you find out for us?

MR. McCLELLAN: I just said I don't believe so...

...Q By your own account yesterday, information flowing from Texas to Washington on Saturday evening and Sunday morning took a while, you said, to get all of the information of what transpired in Texas. When the Vice President goes on these private trips, does he have inadequate staff and support with him to communicate quickly in case of an emergency?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are communications with the Vice President and with the President, and they stay in touch through a variety of means. This was a weekend hunting trip. There wasn't a press entourage with him, there wasn't a broader staff with him that he might normally have.

Q You said you found out, like 6:00 a.m. the next morning. Are you suggesting that he had plenty of ability to contact Washington and didn't use it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm suggesting that it's time to focus on the priorities of the American people, and that's what we're going to do. You're welcome to continue focusing on that.

1 comment:

Neil Shakespeare said...

We've gotta get Scotty one of Rummy's "It Is What It Is" t-shirts. He could just wear that and stand at the podium and point at his chest. Save on the vocal cords that way. Since he doesn't say anything anyway...