Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Hey, what does it take to get fired around here?

Let’s start with Karl Rove.

Q Scott, a question about the leak case: The President has made various statements about he would handle anyone who was involved in this, so what standard is the President using for whether he would dismiss any member of his staff for involvement in this affair?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that question has already come up, and I think, again, that I would go back to what I said yesterday. The expectations of everybody here in the White House are well known. We all understand what the expectations are of each of us as individuals. We are all part of a team to help the President advance his agenda and to focus on the American people’s business.

We also have an expectation on behalf of the President and the American people to adhere to the highest ethical standards.

Q And everyone who is currently working here has done that in this affair, is that the President’s position?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the nature of the investigation is that is it ongoing, and there is a legal proceeding that is ongoing as part of that investigation. And as part of that ongoing legal proceeding, we’re just not having any further comment on it from this podium.

Q Everyone who is working at the White House currently, in the President’s mind, has acted appropriately in this matter. Is that —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you’re asking about this matter. This matter is ongoing.

Q Wait, wait, wait a second. Right, it’s ongoing, but that’s not the point. The legal aspect of this is now outside the White House, as you’ve made abundantly clear.

MR. McCLELLAN: The legal proceeding, but there’s also an — there’s also an investigation that the special counsel indicated was continuing. So it’s two parts. There’s an investigation he said that continues, and there’s also a legal proceeding that is moving forward on one individual. And under our system of the law, people are presumed innocent unless otherwise proven.

Q But whether or not it was a crime, does the President feel that Karl Rove acted appropriately in this matter, given what he knows about his involvement?

MR. McCLELLAN: See, you’re asking that context — asking that question in the context of an ongoing investigation and an ongoing legal proceeding. And as I indicated to you all on Friday, our Counsel’s Office has directed us not to discuss any issues related to that, whether they’re factual circumstances or legal issues relating to the investigation. That’s the policy that’s been in place for some time, and that’s the policy that we’re following.


Q Scott, do you think that Karl Rove can adequately carry out his White House duties with the cloud of investigation hanging —


Q — over him?


Q But it must be somewhat of a distraction — it doesn’t seem like a distraction that’s going to go away any time soon?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, if you’re asking me to comment on an ongoing investigation, I’m just not going to do that. If you have questions that you need to direct to someone’s personal attorneys, you’re welcome to do that. But we’re not going to be talking about it unless we’re directed by the Special Counsel or in consultation with the White House Counsel’s Office.

Q During this period has he ever offered to resign?

MR. McCLELLAN: Karl Rove continues to do his duties. He is Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the President.

Go ahead.

Or Dick Cheney for example.

Q Given all the tantalizing questions that were left in the wake of the Special Prosecutor’s news conference, et cetera, about Vice President Cheney, does the White House feel that the Vice President should, or does the White House plan to have the Vice President explain his role in all of this any time soon?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we’ve already answered that question. I answered that question on Friday. Just to step back and again reiterate what I said, this is an ongoing investigation and a continuing legal proceeding. And while that matter is ongoing, we are not going to be talking further about it unless directed to do so by the special counsel or in consultation with the White House’s Counsel’s Office.


Q Don’t you end up with a credibility problem —

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. That’s what we’ve done, and that’s what we will continue to do.

Q But don’t you end up — don’t you end up with a credibility problem?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I’ve already addressed that issue.

Q Well, can you address it again? Again, the unanswered question —

MR. McCLELLAN: What’s the question?

Q Unanswered questions about Vice President Cheney. This is the man who —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we hope people aren’t trying to politicize an ongoing investigation. People need to let the investigation continue. Some might try to politicize the investigation, and that’s their business. But what we’re going to do is not comment on it further from this podium in order to help the investigation move forward and to allow for there to be a fair and impartial hearing.

Q But do you feel that it is necessarily politicizing an — politicizing an investigation to seek — seek clarification about the actions of the top levels of this White House?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ve already indicated, one, that we’ll be glad to talk more about the matter once it’s come to a conclusion.


Q Scott, what is the White House’s view of what a successful outcome of the special prosecutor’s investigation will now be?

MR. McCLELLAN: What is the view?

Q You referred to “we’re looking forward to a successful outcome.” What is a “successful outcome” in the White House’s view?

MR. McCLELLAN: That he’s able to conclude his investigation and bring it to a conclusion and, you know — he said that a substantial part of it has already been concluded. I think everybody would like to know what the facts are.

Hell, as a matter of GENERAL POLICY, what does it take to get fired from the Bush White House?

Q Scott, I have a question on the existing personnel policy at the White House as it relates to employee retention. I would like to know, first of all, if it’s based on work performance? And, secondly, if you know, when the Department of Homeland Security was established, one of the personnel changes that the administration wanted to do was to have employee actions based on work performance so in case there were an employee that conducted himself in a way that was a national security risk, personnel action could be taken immediately. So I’d like to know if within the Executive Office of the President their retention policy is performance based?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll be glad to get you our retention policies. I’ll be glad to provide that information to you.

Q And if I could — if you could clarify this for me, because I don’t quite understand —

MR. McCLELLAN: Or at last our personnel policies.

Q Okay. Is it accurate to say, then, that anyone working within the Executive Office of the President is welcome to stay aboard if, one, they’re not arrested, as was the case with the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Director; and, secondly, if they’re not indicted, as was the case of the Chief of Staff of the Vice President; or, thirdly, if they’re not convicted, even —

MR. McCLELLAN: Paula, you are asking this in the context of an ongoing investigation, and it’s very clear what you —

Q No, I’m asking —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it’s very clear what you’re asking. It’s in the context of an ongoing investigation, so I want to make that clear, first of all. That is exactly what you’re asking in the context of, and you want me to comment on this in the context of that investigation and I’m not going to do that. What I will say is that it’s the President’s prerogative, in terms of who works here at the White House.