At the White House news briefing today, I got to watch Tony Snow dodge a series of questions about the U.S. Attorneys firing scandal. But then Helen Thomas took a shot.
The last time I went in, on January 12 of this year, I was the only person with my hand up that Tony wouldn’t call on (maybe because I made such a fool of him on my previous visit). It was just after Bush’s “surge” speech, and I was planning to ask this question:
A year and a half ago, the President said:
“Sending more Americans would undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight. And sending more Americans would suggest that we intend to stay forever.”
Is his new strategy an admission that we will be in Iraq forever?
Today, however, the professional journalists were too on the ball—they asked all my questions before I could get called on…
On the matter of why the White House won’t let Karl Rove et al. testify under oath about their roles in the U.S. Attorney firings, Tony came up with lame excuses, saying that such an arrangement would not “befit the dignity of the White House” (ha!), and that it would have “a feel of a trial” (exactly!). Then the CNN guy asked the next question on my list, which was, “Since it’s illegal to lie to Congress, wouldn’t not having a transcript make it difficult to prosecute anyone who did lie?” Tony answered, “I’m not a prosecutor, but I think you’ll find that plenty of prosecutors out there will tell you how to get a conviction without a transcript.” Sure. My theory is that their thinking was, “Hey, the one count Libby got off on, there was no transcript. So let’s avoid transcripts!”
Tony insisted that the administration’s proposal to Congress was an offer they couldn’t refuse:
“I think we’ve got a really good offer…Again, our offer is our offer…I didn’t say we were open to compromise. I said, we opened with a compromise…We’re not negotiating. This is our offer. This is our position.”
The funniest moment came when Helen Thomas asked Tony, “Is the White House dodging the oath because of the legal consequences?” Tony started out, “We’re dodging the oath because –“ before he caught himself: “Well, I’m not going to say we’re dodging the oath, because that — (laughter.) Yes, I know, kaboom, steel trap closes. No, it’s — this is not a notion of dodging. It’s simply, we don’t think it’s appropriate.”
And Karl Rove would never lie to you. Really.