Pony Blow returns in today’s gaggle, much to Dana Peroxide’s relief I imagine.
Yet the Stone Wall Remains
Q I want to know, after the verdict yesterday, because the Vice President’s top aide has been convicted of perjury, I think it’s a natural question is, think about motive, it raises questions about protecting the Vice President. Does the President feel that any statement/further explanation/discussion with the American people is necessary at this point, outside of the legal proceedings?
MR. SNOW: At this point, we are — our view is that you have an ongoing legal proceeding, and we’re very wary of saying anything that may prejudice the rights of Scooter Libby as he proceeds to seek a retrial or an appeal.
Q And the questions that are raised among —
MR. SNOW: Well, a lot of questions — again, you’ve asked a very — you’ve asked a general question about questions. It’s difficult for me to —
Q I’m asking about the very many people in this country who, after yesterday, are perhaps looking at this in a different way than they were before, now that there’s been a verdict rendered, and that perhaps the President — and it speaks to so many issues about the administration — that perhaps the President wants to — feels like something is necessary.
MR. SNOW: Well, again, what you’re asking — if you want to try to identify issues, I think there has been an attempt to try to use this as a great big wheelbarrow in which to dump a whole series of unrelated issues and say, “Ah-ha.” And it is what it is; it’s a case involving Scooter Libby and his recollections, and we’re just not going to comment further on it.
Q It doesn’t provide any greater insight into the way the administration was addressing critics —
MR. SNOW: If you want insight into the way the administration addresses trouble, I would have you take a look at what’s happened with Walter Reed in the last two weeks.
Yo, Pony — “Cloud” Impugns Cheney’s Character, Not Ability
Q But, again, Tony, what do you say to those who say this leaves a cloud hanging over the White House, and in particular the Vice President?
MR. SNOW: How?
Q It’s their words. I’m just —
MR. SNOW: I know, but it’s — see, the use of terms like “cloud” — because this has come up before — is, what does that mean? There’s an attempt to impugn ability, or — this White House takes very seriously its obligations to the American people. And you’ve got a President who has made it clear after the elections that he is going to be aggressive and he is going to be bold in dealing with the problems that the American people face.
I Agree With Pony Blow
Q In light of some of the comments that your predecessor, Scott McClellan, said to me last night, do you feel Scott was deliberately misled by —
MR. SNOW: You know, I wasn’t here, and I’m not going to get into it. I just — I’m an incompetent witness on that.
This President Will Not Be Held To His Word
Q Does the President believe that the trial showed that members of his administration leaked classified information?
MR. SNOW: I’m not — I don’t think the President is going to get into the business of trying to characterize it. The one thing that he has said all along is that you need to allow the system to work, and he has confidence in our system of justice.
Q And does he stand by his statement that anyone involved in leaking classified information will no longer work here?
MR. SNOW: Again, I think what we have to do is just take a look — first, what you are trying to do is to draw me into a conversation about matters that may not have been at trial, but certainly are not appropriate to comment on at this juncture.
Q But you won’t just repeat the standard that anyone who leaked is gone?
MR. SNOW: Again, I’m telling you that I’m staying away from characterizations of things that may arise in court.
Q And it does relate to the Libby verdict yesterday. The President has said that he expects everyone on his staff to uphold the highest ethical standards. Does the President believe that everyone involved in this has upheld the highest ethical standards?
MR. SNOW: Again, look, I’m not going to go back and sort of re-litigate it, but he does insist on the highest ethical standards in this White House.
Q Well, then, excuse me, the fact that he hasn’t taken any action against anyone, does that, indeed, mean that everyone has acted ethically —
MR. SNOW: Again, you’re going to ask me to re-litigate the case. There was only one person on trial yesterday.
Q Tony, a question not about the legal process, but about a previous White House statement. In 2003, this White House made it very clear that neither Scooter Libby nor Karl Rove was involved in the leak. Does that public denial need to be corrected?
MR. SNOW: Again, you’re asking me things that predate me, and I’m not going to try to get into parsing it.
Q Well, in that respect, though, then why did the President change the grounds of dismissal for “anyone involved” to “anyone convicted”? And would it be accurate —
MR. SNOW: I’m not sure that there has been a change, Paula. I just —
Q Well, there’s a difference between “anyone involved” and “anyone convicted,” isn’t there? I mean, you can act unethically, but not be proven to have acted —
MR. SNOW: Well again, you’ve bundled a whole lot of things — a lot of presumptions into a question, and I’m not sure I accept any of them.
Q But what is the policy? Is it “anyone involved,” or “anyone convicted”?
MR. SNOW: You know, I’m going to let the President’s words stand.
Q But they were different words.
Nope, Still Not Interested In Investigating Who Outed A CIA Agent
Q Tony, is there any internal machinery, so to speak, here at the White House, that is still investigating the Plame matter and the leak of her name?
MR. SNOW: Investigating? In what —
Q Still looking into — I just — (inaudible) — the White House looked into it?
MR. SNOW: No, I think that’s why you have — that’s why you have — and the solution was to find a special council.
Q So nobody in the White House is —
MR. SNOW: Do we have a Plame task force? No.
Kick Les Out!
Q Tony, a second one. As the President’s chief media advisor, can you tell us, Tony, do you honestly believe that the bulk of the American people will conclude that real justice exists in the United States if Scooter Libby goes to prison, while Sandy Berger doesn’t?
MR. SNOW: Oh, my goodness. Thank you, Les.
Q You just want to evade — that’s newsworthy.
MR. SNOW: If you wish to characterize the non-answer of a crazy question as an evasion, I will plead guilty. (Laughter.)
Q You think it’s crazy?
MR. SNOW: Because what you’re asking me to do is to come up with a global analysis of people’s assessment on the character of the system of justice based on two things that have not happened.
Q Well, he — Berger is still not — he’s still out, he’s not going to prison.
MR. SNOW: As I said — he’s not gone to prison. Again, you’re posing — you’re asking me to get people to — let me put it this way: I don’t think a lot of people are sitting around their dinner tables, saying, let’s think about these two things — wow, honey, we really think about the system of justice; pass the mashed potatoes. (Laughter.)
Q You think there’s no injustice if Berger goes loose and he goes to prison?
MR. SNOW: I think it’s a wonderful thing to ponder, and I’ll ponder it.
Q That’s all?
MR. SNOW: Yes, that is all.