Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

As if Little Scottie has not had enough trouble explaining his own contradictory statements about Karl Rove, today he was tasked with defending Chimpy’s latest standard for public service.

Q Scott, the President seemed to raise the bar and add a qualifier today when discussing whether or not anybody would be dismissed for — in the leak of a CIA officer’s name, in which he said that he would — if someone is found to have committed a crime, they would no longer work in this administration. That’s never been part of the standard before, why is that added now?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I disagree, Terry. I think that the President was stating what is obvious when it comes to people who work in the administration: that if someone commits a crime, they’re not going to be working any longer in this administration.

[snip]

Q But you have said, though, that anyone involved in this would no longer be in this administration, you didn’t say anybody who committed a crime. You had said, in September 2003, anyone involved in this would no longer be in the administration.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we’ve been through these issues over the course of the last week. And I know —

Q But we haven’t talked about a crime.

MR. McCLELLAN: — well what was said previously. You heard from the President today. And I think that you should not read anything into it more than what the President said at this point. And I think that’s something you may be trying to do here.

Q Does the President equate the word “leaking” to a crime, as best you know, in his mind? Just the use of the word “leaking,” does he see that as a criminal standard? And is the only threshold for firing someone involved being charged with a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we all serve at the pleasure of the President in this White House. The President — you heard what he had to say on the matter. He was asked a specific question, and you heard his response.

That’s when Helen Thomas got pissed off.

Q What is his problem? Two years, and he can’t call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he’s got to do is call him in.

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the President. He said he doesn’t know all the facts. I don’t know all the facts.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to know what the facts are. Because —

Q Why doesn’t he ask him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll tell you why, because there’s an investigation that is continuing at this point, and the appropriate people to handle these issues are the ones who are overseeing that investigation. There is a special prosecutor that has been appointed. And it’s important that we let all the facts come out. And then at that point, we’ll be glad to talk about it, but we shouldn’t be getting into —

Q You talked about it to reporters.

MR. McCLELLAN: We shouldn’t be getting into prejudging the outcome.

When the dust settled the gagglers were still trying to understand just what it took to lose your job with the Bush assministration.

Q Given the new formulation “if somebody committed a crime,” would that be a crime as determined by an indictment, or a crime as determined by a conviction?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, Bob, I’m not going to add to what the President said. You heard his remarks, and I think I’ve been through these issues over the course of the last week. I don’t know that there’s really much more to add at this point.

Q But the importance is the question of would — if it is the latter, the strategy would be to run out the clock?

But try as they might Scottie remained opaque.

Q Scott, with apologies for returning to this definitional issue that we seem to be dancing around. But what I’m having a hard time with is you’re telling us that there was nothing new in what the President said today, yet you have said before that the President would terminate somebody or somebody would not work here if they were involved in the issue. The President seemed to set a higher bar today by saying that there was a — if they were convicted of a criminal act. Those are not the same thing on their face. And I’m trying to see whether or not you can tell us the standard has changed?

MR. McCLELLAN: I would say that I would not read anything into it more than that what the President said, and that’s what I would encourage you to do. I think —

Q That is the current standard?

And now, your Daily Les.

Q I have one follow up. Nineteen members of Congress from seven states have written a letter to the President saying that they are still waiting for an answer to a May 26th question: Is the President opposed to contraception. And my question is, could they now have an answer to my question? Or do you regard them, too, as not to be dignified with a response?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think we’ve talked about these issues before and these issues when it comes to the federal government and programs aimed at promoting abstinence and how those ought to be funded on at least equal footing with other programs, so I think we’ve addressed the President’s views in that context.