I’m back, and Dana Peroxide is as well
She’s the Queen of Non-Denial Denials!
Q Does the President not remember having a phone conversation with Senator Domenici about U.S. attorney Iglesias? Or is he clear that one did not take place?
MS. PERINO: I’ve never asked him that question. I do know that his vague recollection was that he had heard complaints. And then I’ll refer you to his statement — or his answer to a question that he got in Mexico, in which he was asked that question, and he said that he recalls being at a meeting on the Hill in which this issue was brought up — a meeting of senators on the Hill in which it was brought up. But I’ve never heard anything about a phone call.
Q So he’s never actually answered the question.
MS. PERINO: He answered the question. And I don’t know anything about a phone call; I’ve never heard that — except for questions from you all.
Q You mean the phone call —
MS. PERINO: I don’t know that the President ever received a phone call. I don’t have any record of that, or any recollection of it, and I’ve been dealing with this issue for many weeks.
Q When he was at the meeting on the Hill where it was brought up, it was Senator Domenici —
MS. PERINO: I don’t think people remember, necessarily, who it was. And, remember, complaints about voter fraud cases were coming in from various different places.
Q Right. Just to be clear about this, then, Senator Domenici and the President, has there ever been a direct conversation between the two?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know. I don’t believe so, necessarily, about this particular issue, but remember, when — the President sees members of Congress all of the time, and as I think I said last week, whenever a senator has the President’s ear, whether the issue — whether the topic of the meeting is the Iraq war supplemental, if they have a chance to talk about other issues, they will. And so I’m not going to rule it out, but I just can’t say that Senator Domenici and the President ever had a one-on-one conversation about it.
Chimpy Is Getting Tough on Putin
MS. PERINO: In Russia, we are deeply disturbed by the heavy-handed manner in which this weekend’s demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg were broken up by the authorities, and by an emerging pattern of use of excessive force by the authorities in reaction to similar events. We also find it intolerable that journalists were detained — an unacceptable practice that hinders freedom of the press. We underscore that allowing peaceful expressions of protest is an essential element of democracy and a universally recognized human right.
Without Actually, You Know, Doing Anything About It
Q Has he communicated these concerns to President Putin, about the demonstrations?
MS. PERINO: I don’t believe that they’ve spoken, no.
Q Will he do so, or might he do that?
MS. PERINO: Well, I know that the —
Q Or bring in the Russian Ambassador to talk about it, or anything like that?
MS. PERINO: I haven’t heard of any such plans.
Chimpy Don’t Read!
Q The Attorney General released a copy of the remarks he’ll be making before Congress tomorrow. Has the President read these remarks, and is he satisfied that they’re detailed enough about the pattern of decision making?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know if the President has read the remarks, but he does believe that the Justice Department and the Attorney General, at his direction, have been fully responsive to Congress and that there will be a hearing tomorrow, and then the AG can continue to answer questions from the members.
Q So were they submitted to the White House, or reviewed by the White House before they were released?
MS. PERINO: I don’t believe so. At least I did not see them, and that was one thing I said I would check on from the gaggle, and I didn’t have an opportunity.
Just to let you know, the committee asked for the remarks — or the testimony, 48 hours in advance, and I don’t know if it was the Attorney General who first released them. But they asked for the remarks, and the Attorney General also had an op-ed in yesterday’s paper, and I think that he’s working very hard to make sure people have answers to the questions that they have.
Q Did the President read the op-ed?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know.
He’s More Of A Talker
Q Does the President plan to speak to the Attorney General or offer him any guidance?
MS. PERINO: They spoke this morning.
Q And can you give us any sense of —
MS. PERINO: I don’t have a readout of it, but they — obviously they speak regularly, and this morning, when they spoke, they talked about his testimony.
Go ahead, Jim.
Q I was just wondering, because there was a while where they weren’t speaking so regularly.
MS. PERINO: That’s not the case. The Attorney General has been here for regular meetings with the President.
Q Wait a minute, we asked several times if they talked, and I know that a week had gone by or, say, eight days —
MS. PERINO: They don’t speak every day, but I can assure you that I have seen him coming in and out of the Oval Office for the regular meetings that he has, especially for FBI —
Q And have they discussed this incident?
MS. PERINO: They have many other things to discuss, as well, but again, this morning when they spoke, they did talk about tomorrow’s testimony.
It Doesn’t Matter What Gonzo Says Tomorrow, Chimpy Has His Back
Q Dana, a lot of the stories about the Gonzales appearance tomorrow framed it as “his job is on the line.” Is it?
MS. PERINO: Look, I think there’s a lot of hype about the hearing. This issue has been ongoing for I think over a couple of months now. The Justice Department has been fully responsive to the committee, and that’s going to culminate tomorrow in a hearing. But I think that one day’s hearing does not necessarily mean — I’ve heard it described as “make or break,” and I would submit to you that the Attorney General, as you’ve reported, has been as forthcoming as he possibly can be, has laid it all out on the table for them and tomorrow he looks forward to answering their questions.
Q Is this a job security issue?
MS. PERINO: No, I don’t think so. The Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and the President wanted the Justice Department to be fully responsive and they have been. The President also said he needed to go to Capitol Hill and continue to talk to those members. He’s had many conversations with members of Congress by phone, while they were on their two-week recess, and tomorrow he’ll have a chance to talk to them in person.
Chimpy to Gun Nuts: I’m Down Wit’ Ya’
As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed.
How To Avoid A Painful Answer
Q Dana, General Sheehan, one of the names that’s come up as a potential war czar, says the administration does not have an “agreed-upon strategic view” for Iraq. Do you buy that?
MS. PERINO: Well, first of all, I would take issue with the idea that he was a potential war czar. As Steve Hadley has said and as we have said, that no list of candidates has been narrowed down and no names have been sent to the President for consideration.
What we are working on right now is implementation of a long, deliberative process of a policy that was created and announced by the President on January 10, 2007, and is being implemented right now by General David Petraeus. We are quite unified. And we are starting to see some small signs of success, despite the very real challenges and the violence that the enemy continues to perpetrate.
Damn Left-Wing Group Deleted Karl’s Email!
Q Can you give us an update on the emails from the RNC side and the White House side? Last week we talked about the organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a figure of 5 million missing emails. You had mentioned in the gaggle you thought — you would check with the Office of Administration and perhaps that wasn’t correct.
MS. PERINO: Look, the left-wing group, CREW, came up with a number of 5 million. We don’t know where they came up with that number. We’ve told you what we know, which is that we are aware that there could have been some emails that were not automatically archived because of a technical issue. And we have talked with the Office of Administration about that, and we’re looking into those details. But given the complex nature of this issue, it might take us a little while to identify those. We do, however, know that most — all of those emails should be available on backup tapes. And so we’ll continue to look at it. This is separate from the RNC accounts, and as soon as we have more information, we’ll provide it.
Q Are you confident they’re on backup tapes, or you’re still in that phase of investigating?
MS. PERINO: There should be, and we just want to make sure that there are all of them.
The Continuing Irrelevancy of Your Daily Les
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions: Yesterday The New York Times quoted Houston Baker, an English professor at Duke who has now relocated to Vanderbilt, as condemning what he called “rapacious white athletes given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves —
MS. PERINO: What’s your question, Les?
Q — scummy bunch of white males living like farm animals.” The question: Does the President believe that this man and 87 other Duke faculty who also maligned these three lacrosse players found not guilty should now apologize, or not?
MS. PERINO: As much as you have tried to drag me into this story, I’m going to continue to resist it, Les. What’s your next question?