To escape accountability for its misstatements and inaccuracies about the White House’s involvement in the leak of an undercover CIA agent, press secretary Scott McClellan today offered a new argument for why he couldn’t answer any questions:
There is an ongoing investigation. And for months and months and months, we’ve said that we’re not going to comment on the investigation while it’s ongoing. And that goes back to mid-October of 2003 when the investigation was getting under way. We said, while it’s an ongoing investigation we’re not going to comment on it.
A few key questions and answers about this:
1) Didn’t Bush comment on the case even after October 2003?
Yes. Even after mid-October 2003, President Bush answered questions on the leak scandal that McClellan won’t answer today.
In response to a question about whether he would stand by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked the identity of Plame, Bush said: “Yes.” In response to whether he has spoken to the Cheney about the leak investigation, Bush said, “I haven’t talked to the Vice President about this matter…” [Bush remarks at G-8 Summit, 6/10/04]
2) Why did McClellan arbitrarily choose mid-October 2003 as his cut-off date?
Probably to escape quotes like this:
Q: You said this morning, “The President knows” that Karl Rove wasn’t involved. How does he know that?
McCLELLAN: Well, I’ve made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place. I saw some comments this morning from the person who made that suggestion, backing away from that. And I said it is simply not true. So, I mean, it’s public knowledge. I’ve said that it’s not true. And I have spoken with Karl Rove. [White House briefing, 9/29/03]
3) But why mid-October specifically?
Time magazine revealed in mid-October 2003 that “the FBI has interviewed more than two dozen officials in several Washington offices, including White House press secretary Scott McClellan and Bush political adviser Karl Rove as well as other West Wing aides.”
So basically, once the White House realized they were a target, they went from deception to silence.