In a shameful display of unaccountability from the White House podium Monday afternoon, Press Secretary Scott McClellan repeatedly stonewalled questions from reporters about how the White House was responding to newly-disclosed information that Karl Rove was a leaker of classified information.
McClellan hid behind the assertion that the special prosecutor had requested that he not speak from the podium on the matter. A careful reading of McClellan’s talking point demonstrates that he was under no specific orders not to speak by the prosecutor. McClellan’s word games were deliberately chosen to create the impression that his hands were tied and he simply couldn’t comment on an “ongoing investigation.” But a closer inspection of his language shows that McClellan was admitting that he was opting not to answer questions that he most certainly could have answered.
“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.”
“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.”
“There came a point when the investigation got underway when those overseeing the investigation asked that it would be their — or said that it would be their preference that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.”
“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.”
“I think probably more than one individual who’s involved in overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference that we not get into commenting on the investigation while it’s ongoing.”
So McClellan could not answer any questions because the special prosecutor preferred that he not talk. But that’s never stopped the White House before. So where did the White House get the idea that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald “preferred” that they not speak? McClellan could not say who specifically made the request of the White House or when the request was made. In any case, the suffering credibility of the Bush White House demands that any considerations of a preference not to speak be overridden in favor of coming clean about this growing scandal.