Thursday, November 03, 2005

November 2 Press Gaggle (Scotty is torn to pieces)

November 2 Press Gaggle


Office of the Press Secretary

Internal Transcript November 2, 2005




James S. Brady Briefing Room

9:53 A.M. EST

MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning, everyone. The President had breakfast with some of the congressional leadership: Senator Frist, Senator McConnell, Speaker Hastert and Congressman Blunt. This was kind of a follow on meeting to the discussion they had last week. They talked about important congressional priorities that need to get done by the end of this year. They talked about the importance of moving forward on the reconciliation packages and making sure that we’re pushing the envelope to provide as much savings as possible.

And they talked about the spending bills that are going through Congress. I think some of the leaders brought up the possibility of across-the-board cuts, which the President has said he’s very much open to, as well. The President is committed to moving forward on our priorities and exercising spending restraint as we do so.

They talked about avian flu, and the President talked about the emergency package that he sent up yesterday, which includes liability protection, and the importance of getting that done as soon as possible. The President talked about Judge Alito and reiterated the importance of moving forward quickly on his confirmation. And they talked about the importance of getting the Patriot Act renewed, as well, to make sure that our law enforcement has the tools they need so that they continue protecting the American people from terrorist attacks here at home.

Then following that, the President had his usual briefings. He’s got a National Security Council meeting going on, then he’ll be meeting with his Secretary of Defense. He’s going to be taping his radio address this morning, since we’re leaving on the trip. And –

Q Subject?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ll tell you on Friday; I don’t want to get too far out there.

And then the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to hosting their Royal Highnesses here at the White House this afternoon, and you all have the general schedule for that. And Mrs. Bush’s office will also be providing additional details today.

Steve Hadley will be briefing at 2:45 p.m. today, on the upcoming trip and taking the questions that you have. Then State is briefing at 12:30 p.m.

And Judge Alito is meeting with seven senators today. He’s already met with 10 senators, he’s meeting with seven today. One of those senators was in the group — one of the groups that he met with earlier in the week, so it will be 16 senators that he’s met with by the end of the day.

And I think that’s what I’ve got to begin with.

Q Scott, what did the White House make of what happened in the Senate yesterday?

MR. McCLELLAN: What did we make of it? Do you have a question about it?

Q Yes, what do you make of it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Senators talked about it.

Q I’m just wondering what you all think — what you all think.

MR. McCLELLAN: They talked about it yesterday.

Q I’m just wondering what you all think of it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if Democrats want to talk about the threat that Saddam Hussein posed and the intelligence, they might want to start with looking at the previous administration and their own statements that they’ve made.

Q Was it a stunt, as some Republicans have suggested?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you heard Democrats — some Democratic leaders saying that they wanted to look at how the intelligence was used. The intelligence — how the intelligence was used was all part of the public record –

Q It’s not –

MR. McCLELLAN: — and it goes back to the previous administration and it goes back to Democratic leaders. I mean, they might want to look at how the previous administration and Democratic leaders — you know, Senator Reid may want to look at how the previous administration and Democratic leaders, such as himself, used the intelligence to come to the same conclusion that Saddam Hussein and his regime were a threat.

Q Do you see this as the — sort of the first shot in the midterm elections, that Democrats are going to continue to try to derail your agenda, are they going to be a thorn in your — more of a thorn in your side here than they have been?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that’s — what I’m saying is that, you know, if they want to talk about the threat that Saddam Hussein posed and — we’ll be glad to talk about that. Removing Saddam Hussein and his brutal regime was the right thing to do. His regime was a destabilizing force in a dangerous part of the world.

Q But take a look at the political angle of it here. You can’t ignore that.

MR. McCLELLAN: You can do the political analysis. That seems to be something you’re very interested in this morning.

Let’s go to — you know, the discussion, if they want to talk about — that Democratic leaders claim they want to talk about.

Q Well, let me just ask it another way, forgetting the word “political.” What about — what does this say about the climate in Washington?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has talked about the climate in Washington.

Q But I’m asking you now, in context of this.

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not — if you want to do the political analysis of that, that’s fine. I mean, let’s talk about the issue that was brought up yesterday.

Q I didn’t use the word “political.”

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I know, I mean, I think — I’d be interested more in focusing on the issue that was raised yesterday. If they want to raise that, they need to start by looking at their own comments and their own conclusions and their own votes and how they used the intelligence to come to those conclusions.

Q Look, the result of this was a bipartisan committee now that’s going to look into what caused us to go to war –

MR. McCLELLAN: There already is — there already was a bipartisan committee that looked at it.

Q Senator Roberts has suppressed any further action by his own committee to find out where it all began, why, who made the policy, and why we’re in a war.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we’ll look at what the — the intelligence the U.N. used, the intelligence their allies used, intelligence that Congress used –

Q You know that we have not had those answers. Do you agree with that?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. Look at the Robb-Silberman commission report.

Q It wasn’t enough. Obviously, it wasn’t –

MR. McCLELLAN: It wasn’t?

Q No.

MR. McCLELLAN: It was a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats.

Q Absolutely not. Didn’t go to policy. None of these things are –

MR. McCLELLAN: No, it looked at the intelligence.

Q Why did they finally agree to a bipartisan group, then, to look into this whole business?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s not –

Q Roberts has been sitting on the intelligence policy –

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen — Helen, they’ve already — they’ve had phase one and phase two, and Senator Roberts would greatly dispute the way you’re characterizing things.

Q He’s absolutely clamped down on going further. He had promised this report, and it’s not come out.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Senator Roberts disagrees — Senator Roberts disagrees with your characterization. He stated so publicly.

Q He doesn’t disagree. He knows darn well the business is unfinished.

MR. McCLELLAN: You should look at what he said.

Q Would you be specific about the ways in which the White House has cooperated with this part of the investigation to date?

MR. McCLELLAN: With this part of the investigation?

Q With this phase of the report, with the White House’s involvement in pre-war intelligence. There are claims that the White House has stymied –

MR. McCLELLAN: I just said that if you’re talking about phase two and how the intelligence was used, that’s all part of the public record.

Q So there is more information that the Democrats say they’ve requested or that the committee has requested that the White House has –


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