White House press secretary Scott “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” McClellan held a press conference yesterday in which he was pummeled with questions about Karl Rove’s connection to the Valerie Plame scandal. Here’s a brief but illuminating excerpt from that press conference (for a more complete transcript, see Editor and Publisher’s story):
Q: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in a leak of the name of a CIA operative?
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 ongoing criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point, which is to say, it ongoes.
While that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it, nor is it going to comment on comments it had previously commented upon, while the investigation was also ongoing, which it still is.
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 to not comment on any questions from anyone related to the topic while the investigation is ongoing. But I’m afraid I can’t comment about that.
Q. But did Karl Rove reveal Valerie Plame’s identity to Time reporter Matthew Cooper, as his emails seem to indicate?
MCCLELLAN: As I’ve just stated, we have been asked to not comment about an ongoing investigation. We have also been asked to not comment on when we were asked to not comment, nor can we comment on who asked us not to comment... on our inability to comment.
I can do this all day, it’s really quite fun. No comment no comment no comment. See?
Q: So it seems the Bush Administration has no problems revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent working on issues involving weapons of mass destruction, yet it refuses to reveal the identity of White House personnel who may have committed a federal crime. Do I have that right?
MCCLELLAN: Listen, two wrongs don’t make a right. You can’t stand there and tell me that it’s OK to reveal one thing but not OK to reveal another.
No one wants to get to the bottom of this investigation more than the President of the United States. In fact, he’d like the whole thing to be over. It’s really interfering with his personal down time. Did you know Teletubbies is on three times a day now? Makes it really hard to schedule summit meetings.
Q. Can you explain why Karl Rove’s own attorney has commented on the case, as did President Bush in June 2004, but you cannot?
MCCLELLAN: You can keep asking your questions. I’m just going to stand here and hold my breath till I turn blue and pass out and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.
Q. In September 2003, you stood at that podium and stated that Karl Rove, Libby Scooter, and Elliott Abrams had never discussed Valerie Plume’s identity with any reporters. Now an email revealed by Newsweek indicates Rove had a conversation on the topic with Time reporter Matthew Cooper. Wouldn’t that technically make you a liar?
MCCLELLAN: I know you are, but what am I?
Q. In 1995 the Justice Department appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the Whitewater real estate deals, which ultimately lead to President Clinton being impeached for lying about sex with an intern. The Bush White House unmasked the identity of a CIA operative after her husband revealed the President lied about WMDs to justify a war. If the Bush Administration is covering up the identity of someone who committed a federal crime, shouldn’t that also warrant impeachment proceedings?
A. That was about blowjobs. This is about snowjobs. They’re entirely different issues. But we can’t comment on that.