Today We Learned That Dana Peroxide Is Subpoena Bait
Q Dana, a Newsweek article reports that a couple of months ago Karl Rove was involved in some meetings where Justice Department officials were preparing for testimony. Did the meeting happen? Was Mr. Rove there? And was it appropriate for him to be there?
MS. PERINO: I’m so confused by this, because Kyle — in the first batch of documents that went out on March 13th, Kyle Sampson’s documents included a meeting — an announcement about a meeting that happened early in March. I’m not going to tell you who the participants are of internal White House meetings, but I will tell you, it is not at all unusual, nor is it inappropriate, for people at the White House to meet with members of the administration before they are going up to testify in front of Congress. And at the urging of the White House — we were asking the Justice Department to be fully responsive to the Congress so that we could help get them the answers that they need.
Q You don’t think it creates an appearance of everybody getting their story straight?
MS. PERINO: What I think is that — what it appears is that anytime Karl Rove’s name is mentioned is that there’s some sort of nefarious action. I will tell you that, having worked on that issue intimately, and the whole time we were in Latin America, we were urging the Justice Department to be responsive to the Congress. That is not unusual, and we would have done that with any agency.
Q Yes, but there was a sense at the time that the Justice Department, I believe from the podium it was suggested often that the Justice Department needs to get its — all of its story in line, straight, and get it in, settled up to the Hill, but that it was the Justice Department’s problem to solve, which would be different than having meetings at the White House to talk about any kind of strategy about how you’re going to testify.
MS. PERINO: Urging members of the administration to make sure that they’re responsive to members of Congress is not at all inappropriate. In fact, I think we would be remiss if we hadn’t done so.
Q That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that there were meetings at the White House about coordinating a strategy for how to deal with it. That’s not exactly the kind of —
MS. PERINO: Look, I was at that meeting, and I will tell you that the way you’re describing it, in terms of coordinating some sort of message, was not the case. It was encouraging them to make sure that all the information got out quickly so that the members of Congress could have what they needed so that we could move on from that story.
Q You were there?
MS. PERINO: I was there.
Q Was Karl there?
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to comment on anybody else; I will speak for myself.
Dana Tries To Clear Up Any Confusion Over “Commander Guy” — Like It Matters
And I just have one more thing I’d like to mention. I’d like to just clear up something. And you might find it a little strange, but I feel compelled to do it because I attended the speech on Wednesday, when the President addressed the American General Contractors Association. And in the Q&A the President was asked a question in which he talked about how some people choose to listen to politicians in Washington, and others choose to listen to commanders on the ground.
It’s been reported that the President said, “I’m ‘the’ commander guy.” He did not. What I recalled was that he said “I’m ‘a’ commander guy,” meaning that he’s one of the people that listens to the commanders on the groung. But I saw in our transcript that our stenographers put out that we wrote ‘the’ commander guy, and then it’s been reported that way in many places. So I asked the stenographers to take another listen last night; they did and they said that I was right — which I love to hear. (Laughter.) He did say ‘a’ commander guy.
Dana Gets Helenized — Again
Q Does this new surge in diplomacy mean an end to unilateralism?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know who — who are you accusing of being unilateralist?
Q The President — our foreign policy has been unilateral from the beginning of this war.
MS. PERINO: No, Helen, in fact, I would point you back to — in the Baker-Hamilton report they suggested a neighbors conference. It was one of the things the President talked about when he announced a surge on January 10th. And we’re pleased that the first meeting took place in March, and now the second meeting has happened. And what has to happen now is — it’s just as important that there be good follow-through, and that’s why the Vice President is going to the region next week.
MS. PERINO: Why is he going to the region next week?
Q Of all people.
MS. PERINO: Of all people. Look, it’s important for us to continue to talk with our friends and allies in the region. There are many challenges —
Q Who is he going to talk to?
MS. PERINO: We have the list of all the countries that he’s going to; I don’t have it in front of me.
Hell, even The Gagglers Know Where Cheney Is Headed
Q In that case, let me ask about Saudi Arabia’s apparent — they’ve now clarified that the reason that they turned down a meeting with Maliki is that they worry about his policies. Is this part of the follow-up by the Vice President? Is he going to Saudi Arabia specifically to try to get them to meet with Maliki and soften their —
MS. PERINO: I think that I’ll let the Vice President and the Saudis have their conversations privately, and to the extent that he wants to read those out, I’m sure he’ll provide information to you. No smirking, please. (Laughter.)
Q It was a rueful grin, it wasn’t a smirk. (Laughter.)
MS. PERINO: You’ll be on the trip, and you’ll have an opportunity to ask him yourself.
Slept Through The Debate
Q Dana, were you able to find out if the President watched the Republican debate last evening and what he thought of it?
MS. PERINO: He did not.
Q He did not?
MS. PERINO: He did not.
Peter, you had one?
Q Yes, why didn’t he watch it? (Laughter.)
MS. PERINO: Why didn’t he watch it? I don’t know what else he was doing. I didn’t ask — I didn’t ask a follow-up.
Hatin’ On The Gay
Q Why does the President oppose broadening the hate crimes law to cover gays and lesbians?
MS. PERINO: I think the President — the statement of administration policy that we put out was very clear, in that the opposition goes more to a federalism issue. The President believes that every single person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, that violence against anyone is unacceptable and abhorrent. So I think I would encourage you to look at the statement of administration policy that says that we would oppose it solely on the grounds that it would federalize law enforcement of crimes already being addressed in the states.
Q But he found it necessary, if you will, to take specific action when people are attacked because of race, and this is another attack on a person because of a characteristic, and not something the person is doing. You have a segment of the population that you decided needed protecting, and not this one, at least not federally?
MS. PERINO: As I understand it, the state laws address these issues in terms of all acts of violence covered all people. And so I think that the President is going to leave it in the states’ hands. And that’s what he said.
Q So why should there be a special case for black people then?
MS. PERINO: I’m not a lawyer. All I know is what we said in our statement of administration policy. I take your point. I’ll see if I can get you some more on it.
His Irrelevance, Les Kinsolving
Q Four hundred years ago, Jamestown, Virginia was settled by people whose first assignment from the King of England and the Virginia Company was to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. The President did not recognize that in his proclamation regarding the anniversary. And my question: Does he plan to recognize the historic influence of Christianity when he travels to Jamestown on the 13th?
MS. PERINO: It’s a little too early to preview those remarks, but when those come through staffing I’ll call you.