Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today’s gaggle opens with Scottie’s new “challenge the questioner” strategy.

Q Why did the President feel it’s necessary to invite these former justices, or sitting justices, to the White House to talk about Harriet Miers? Is he trying to change the debate from the religious preoccupation, which was much discussed here last week?

MR. McCLELLAN: Much discussed where last week?

Q Here in this room.

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, in this room we’ve been discussing her qualifications and her experience —

Q Well, you have. Some of us —

MR. McCLELLAN: — and her judicial temperament. So that’s what we’ve always been discussing here at the White House, and that’s what we will continue to highlight.

I guess Chimpy must have raised the issue of Miers’ religion in another room at the White House.

Next up, looking down the road to life without karl.

Q Is Karl Rove here at the White House working today? And if indictments were to come down in the special prosecutor’s case, is there a contingency plan to replace someone such as Mr. Rove or Mr. Libby, who hold enormous positions within this administration?

MR. McCLELLAN: Karl is here at the White House doing his duties, as he always does. And in terms of your question about any contingency planning, I’m not going to get into prejudging any outcome of the investigation. The investigation is ongoing at this time, and that would be speculating about outcomes of the investigation. I’m just not going to do that. As you heard, the President responded to that question earlier today, as well.

Q In the cutaway shots from the Oval Office event, since I was not pool today, I did not see Mr. Rove. But in previous events such as that, he’s typically in that kind of a meeting.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, he does not typically attend meetings with world leaders.

Q If the status changes — if either Rove or Libby were to get a target letter, would you inform us?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, those are questions that need to be directed to the special prosecutor or others, not the White House.

Q No, I’m just saying, if either of those gentlemen receive a target —

Q Well, they work here —

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry, who is saying what? Ed, I think that you’ve heard us talk about this. There’s an ongoing investigation. And we’re not going to comment on that investigation while it’s ongoing. The special prosecutor’s office has asked us to not get into discussing the case while it’s ongoing. And that’s why the best way to help this case move forward is to refer questions like that to the special prosecutor.

Now there are individuals that have lawyers that represent them, as well, and you can reach out to those individuals, too. But it’s not — we wouldn’t necessarily know here at the White House what letters or information goes out from the special prosecutor.

Q But you wouldn’t make a commitment, though, if you found out, to disclose it here to the press?

MR. McCLELLAN: I will do my part to help the investigation proceed forward. And doing our part means not commenting on it here from this podium.

Q So that’s a “no,” is that correct?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you can talk to the special prosecutor.

And later, a newby gets all personal and shit with Scottie.

Q I’m wondering about your response to charges that you, Scott McClellan, were, in fact, spinning the media — and as a result, the American public — when you consistently said in the Valerie Plame case that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove had nothing to do with it, and continue to say that.

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ve already actually addressed this question. This is relating to an ongoing investigation.

I’m sorry, tell me your name and who you’re with?

Q Maria Hinojosa, Public Television Now.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay. Nice to — welcome to the briefing, first of all. These questions have come up; 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 underway. We said, while it’s an ongoing investigation, we’re not going to comment on it. We’re going to do our part to cooperate as the President directed us to do, and let that investigation hopefully come to a successful conclusion, because the President wants to get to the bottom of it, I want to get to the bottom of it. We want to know what the facts are. And the best way to support the special prosecutor is to let him do his work.

Now, people that work here in this room know me very well, and I’m confident in our relationship. It’s a relationship that is built on trust. And I’m confident that I have done my part to earn that trust.

And in your Daily Les, it appears that Kinsolving is the only gaggler doing his homework on Harriet Miers.

Q Scott, on Wednesday you encouraged me to look at news reports about scandals surrounding the Texas lottery when Harriet Miers was chairwoman of that commission. And it turns out there are hundreds of news reports from the late ’90s covering problems with contracts and kickbacks involving the company GTECH and Ben Barnes. I have a two-part question.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay.

Q You and the President —

MR. McCLELLAN: See what happens when I encourage you to do things? (Laughter.)

Q Thank you. You and the President are aware of these hundreds of news reports, aren’t you?

MR. McCLELLAN: We’re well aware of her time at the Texas Lottery Commission. There were problems that did occur there, and she helped clean up the Texas Lottery Commission. She was praised for her work as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission.

Q What is the President’s response to those allegations that he put Ms. Miers in charge of that lottery commission to be sure GTECH kept its lucrative contract, and its lobbyist Ben Barnes would not talk about his alleged influence concerning young George Bush and —

MR. McCLELLAN: Our responses to those questions have already been addressed and disputed. And I think we don’t need to rehash those issues.

Damn, I wish the rest of the press corps would take a clue from Les and check into Miers’ tenure at the Texas Lottery Commission, where there was no scandal before she arrived.