Dana PeroxideLays Out The Assministration’s Iraq Policy: Leaving = Losing
Q Doesn’t this go against the will of the American people who want to pull out?
MS. PERINO: I think the President has been very clear that they don’t want to pull out if it means losing. And the President has said that —
Q How does losing — losing what?
MS. PERINO: The President has made it clear that the goal is to make sure that we can stabilize Baghdad, especially, so that the politicians in Baghdad can do the work that they need to do in order to reconcile politically and get the economic engine going, so that the security situation can not only stabilize in Baghdad, but then spread throughout the country.
Q At any price?
MS. PERINO: We understand fully the sacrifice that our men and women and the innocent Iraqis —
Q And you still think it’s worth it?
MS. PERINO: We do.
Dana Thinks It’s Unfortunate That A Member of the Assministration May Have Committed A Crime
Q I’d like to ask you about Monica Goodling. Her decision to take the Fifth contradicts the Attorney General’s promise that his staff would be forthcoming. What are your thoughts about that?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think it’s unfortunate that a public servant no longer feels that her testimony would be treated fairly before the Congress. And, yes, the Attorney General, with the support of the President, urged all the members of the Justice Department to cooperate with Congress’s request for testimony. However, we must respect the constitutional right of the individuals involved, and we are not going to question decisions that she made in private conversations with her and her attorney to protect those right.
Time To Renegotiate
Q Dana, if Justice officials are taking the Fifth, does that put any pressure on you guys to possibly negotiate? Because Tony has been saying you can get everything you need from all the key players at Justice, and we’re being extremely generous, as well.
MS. PERINO: Well, first of all, step back. You’re saying if Justice Department officials, plural, are going to be taking the Fifth — and I want to make it clear that there was one individual who, through her counsel, made a statement yesterday regarding that. I don’t know of anybody else that has, but I am not in regular contact with them, and I’m not inquiring to their counsels of what they’re going to do.
And I can see — I can see your point, as to why someone might think that that we would want to change our negotiations stance. However, I think that lots of people can find lots of different reasons for us to change our negotiation stance, and I don’t see any reason to at this point.
Dana Won’t Say No Crime Was Comitted
Q Dana, is pleading the Fifth signifying that a crime has been committed?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that’s an unfortunate interpretation of the Fifth Amendment, which is available to all of us, that in our public — in our judicial system, invoking the Fifth Amendment is not an admission of guilt. But I would refer you to her lawyer for anything more.
Jonathan. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Q Once again — and I asked Tony this last week — was a crime committed in firing —
MS. PERINO: There is absolutely no indication that there was any crime committed, nor was there anything improper done.
Q You’re saying, “indication;” you’re not giving me a flat-out no.
MS. PERINO: I’m telling there’s absolutely no indication that would point to that. Absolutely no indication to point to that.
What Did He Know And When Did He Know It
Q Are you aware of how many conversations the President had about the eight U.S. attorneys in question prior to them being dismissed?
MS. PERINO: No, I have said on the record for several weeks now that there is no indication that the President knew about any of the ongoing discussions over the two years, nor did he see a list or a plan before it was carried out.
Q If that’s the case, what is the White House position, as it relates to executive privilege? My understanding of executive privilege, as it was decided by the Supreme Court, is that if the President has not had a conversation about the issue at hand, the people involved in the Office of the President would not be covered by executive privilege.
MS. PERINO: No — well, first of all, we have not asserted —
Q What is the White House position regarding —
MS. PERINO: Okay, I’ll answer you. First of all, we have not asserted any privilege at all, whatsoever, and that includes executive privilege. I have laid out for you the principles that we have. But I will tell you that conversation amongst and between the President’s closest advisors are included in that principle that a President should be able to get advice from his closest advisors. That includes the conversations that happen in between them, even if they don’t reach the President.
Oh, They Were Worried About Violating the Hatch Act
Q What’s the White House view on the congressional Democrat calls for safeguarding political emails by the party or by anyone in the White House who may have a sort of political email account?
MS. PERINO: What I know — I checked into this — is that certain White House officials and staff members who have responsibilities that straddle both worlds, that have responsibilities in communication, regular interface with political organizations, do have a separate email account for those political communications. That is entirely appropriate, especially when you think of it in this case, that the practice is in place and followed precisely to avoid any inadvertent violations of what is called the Hatch Act. And so there are some members of the administration that do straddle both worlds. And so under an abundance of caution so that they don’t violate the Hatch Act, they have these separate emails.
Q Is it the White House’s position then that it would be, or would have been inappropriate to have disposed of any emails of RNC or Bush-Cheney 2004 email accounts?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know all the policies that have been in place, but I know that anything — that we would want to make sure that we are in compliance, not only to avoid any inadvertent violations of the Hatch Act, which carries criminal penalties, but we also want to make sure that we are in compliance with the Presidential Records Act.
Watch Dana Stumble
Q One last question. Did the President have any reaction to the musings that the Attorney General made on his future in that interview last night, about, well, I’ve put some thought into whether I should stay?
MS. PERINO: I have not talked to the President about it. I talked to the President this morning about Tony Snow, but as the President — we’ve said that the President has the confidence — the Attorney General has the confidence of the President.
Les Can’t Help Himself
Q And second question: Senator Hillary Clinton said that Attorney General Gonzales should resign “because he is at the center of a widening scandal over the firing of several U.S. attorneys, a grand total of eight.” But in March of 1993, when Janet Reno fired all 93 U.S. attorneys at once, President Clinton said — a quote — “All of those people are routinely replaced,” noted The Wall Street Journal. And my question: What is the President’s reaction to the Clinton appointment of Paula Casey as U.S. attorney in Little Rock who never brought any major Whitewater indictments?
MS. PERINO: Well, first of all, let me back up and say that people might want to use — use the word “scandal” to describe the President’s absolutely proper and reasonable reasons to — or the reasonableness of being able to hire and fire U.S. attorneys at will because they serve at the pleasure of the President, and the President sets a broad prosecutorial agenda which the U.S. attorneys are there to fulfill.
And I will let other people, and your listeners, make conclusions about Hillary Clinton’s statements.