19 July 2005

Raising the Bar

Scotty went another round with the press
yesterday. See the video and read the full
transcript here.

The latest focus concerns this statement made
yesterday by President Bush (emphasis added):

PRESIDENT BUSH: We have a serious
ongoing investigation here. (Laughter.)
And it's being played out in the press.
And I think it's best that people wait
until the investigation is complete before
you jump to conclusions. And I will do so,
as well. I don't know all the facts. I want
to know all the facts. The best place for
the facts to be done is by somebody who's
spending time investigating it. I would like
this to end as quickly as possible so we
know the facts, and if someone committed
a crime, they will no longer work in my

Careful readers will remember this exchange
between the president and reporters in June

Q: Given -- given recent developments in
the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President
Cheney's discussions with the investigators,
do you still stand by what you said several
months ago, a suggestion that it might be
difficult to identify anybody who leaked the
agent's name?

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's up to --

Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge
to fire anyone found to have done so?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes. And that's up to the
U.S. Attorney to find the facts.

And back in September 2003, McClellen said this:

McCLELLAN: The president has set high
standards, the highest of standards for
people in his administration. He's made it
very clear to people in his administration
that he expects them to adhere to the
highest standards of conduct. If anyone in
this administration was involved in it, they
would no longer be in this administration.

So the bar has clearly been raised. Back in 2003,
the president vowed to fire anyone in the White
House who was “involved” in the leak. But now
they get to stay unless they have “committed a

See the difference? Of course you do. But good
luck trying to explain it Scotty:

Q: Does the President equate the word
"leaking" to a crime, as best you know, in his
mind? Just the use of the word "leaking," does
he see that as a criminal standard? And is the
only threshold for firing someone involved
being charged with a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we all serve at the
pleasure of the President in this White House.
The President -- you heard what he had to
say on the matter. He was asked a specific
question, and you heard his response.

Q: Is leaking, in your judgment of his
interpretation, a crime?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll leave it at what the
President said.

Go ahead.

Q What is his problem? Two years, and he
can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is
going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find
out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of
dollars, two years, it tied up how many
lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in.

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the
President. He said he doesn't know all the
facts. I don't know all the facts.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to know what the
facts are. Because --

Q Why doesn't he ask him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll tell you why, because
there's an investigation that is continuing at
this point, and the appropriate people to
handle these issues are the ones who are
overseeing that investigation. There is a
special prosecutor that has been appointed.
And it's important that we let all the facts
come out. And then at that point, we'll be
glad to talk about it, but we shouldn't be
getting into --

Q You talked about it to reporters.

MR. McCLELLAN: We shouldn't be getting
into prejudging the outcome.