White House Offers Convenient New Excuse For Not Talking About Plame Leak

After a jury convicted Scooter Libby in March 2007 for lying and obstructing a leak investigation, Dana Perino explained the White House would not comment it because it was an ongoing criminal proceeding:

I know that there’s going to be a lot of disappointment with this, but there is an ongoing criminal proceeding. … And so our principled stand of not commenting on ongoing legal investigations is going to continue.

In a July 2007 press briefing, then-White House press secretary Tony Snow assured that after Libby’s appeals were exhausted, “we’ll deal with it.” On Monday, after Libby’s legal team formally announced that he was avoided commenting on the case:

QUESTION: Okay. Well, now that the appeal — there is no longer any appeal, can you speak to what the President thinks about Scooter Libby disclosing the name of a CIA official?


PERINO: I did not have a chance to talk to — chance to speak to the President after this announcement was made this morning, and so I don’t have his immediate reaction. He gave a lengthy statement in July in regards to the commutation and so I’ll have to refer you to that for now.

Yesterday, reporters asked again if Perino could comment:

QUESTION: Have you had a chance yet to speak with the President about Scooter Libby since he dropped his appeal?

PERINO: Well, you might have missed the gaggle, but I’ll refer you to those comments I made in the gaggle.

What did Perino say in the gaggle? The Washington Post reports Perino found another convenient excuse to punt on answering about the White House’s involvement in the Plame leak. Perino said that she hadn’t spoken to Bush yet, but she cited the Wilson’s ongoing civil case as a reason not to comment:

I did talk to our counsel’s office because I forgot that there is a civil case that is pending on this issue. I did forget. The Wilsons have filed a case in civil court, it was dismissed, and they are on appeal.

The Washington Post’s Al Kamen writes: “Could be years.”

UPDATE: In today’s press briefing, Perino again refused to discuss Libby:

QUESTION: Scooter Libby did not receive a pardon. Is this a sign that he’s not going to receive a pardon?

PERINO: I never comment — as I said the other day, I do not comment or speculate on who will or who will not get pardons from this president. QUESTION: And can you assure us that, once the Wilson civil suit is resolved, the president will speak out about the Libby affair?

PERINO: I would assume that, once everything — once that is settled, yes, I would hope that we could be able to comment further.