Bush: I Was “Just Saying He’s Presumed Innocent”

Wednesday on Fox News, President Bush said that he believed Tom DeLay was innocent of money laundering:

HUME: Do you believe he is innocent?

BUSH: Delay? Yes, I do.

The comment caused considerable controversy because the White House has been deflecting comments about the CIA leak for months, claiming it’s their policy not to comment on ongoing criminal investigations.

ThinkProgess has obtained an advanced transcript of Bush’s upcoming interview on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. In it, Bush claims he only meant that DeLay was presumed innocent until proven guilty:

MR. LEHRER: You don’t know. Okay. The–you mentioned Tom Delay. Why did you say he was innocent?


MR. LEHRER: This is an interview with Brit Hume.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I did and–but the point I was making was innocent till, until otherwise proven, and I was also asked did I hope he would come back to Congress. The answer was yes.

MR. LEHRER: But you–I looked very carefully at that transcript. I mean, you essentially said he was innocent. I mean, you weren’t–that wasn’t–you weren’t really saying that then? You were just saying he’s presumed innocent?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I–that’s exactly what I was saying.

Bush didn’t make a mistake by violating White House policy. We just misinterpreted what he was saying. Got it?