We don't comment on ongoing investigations… unless we do
Poor Scott McClellan. How many times does he have to tell us people? We keep asking questions about the Fitzgerald investigation into the Valerie Plame leak, and he keeps telling us that the White House and the President resolutely refuse to comment on an ongoing investigation. And if George W. Bush is anything, he’s doggedly stubborn about sticking to policy.
(Washington Post) President Bush said yesterday he is confident that former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is innocent of money-laundering charges, as he offered strong support for several top Republicans who have been battered by investigations or by rumors of fading clout inside the White House.
In an interview with Fox News, Bush said he hopes DeLay will be cleared of charges that he illegally steered corporate money into campaigns for the Texas legislature and will reclaim his powerful leadership position in Congress.
“I hope that he will, ’cause I like him, and plus, when he’s over there, we get our votes through the House,” Bush told Fox News’s Brit Hume. DeLay was forced to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in the fundraising case, and he is seeking a quick trial in hopes of returning to power early next year.
Bush has refused to speak about the CIA leak investigation or the impending trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former vice presidential chief of staff who was indicted in the case. But the president said he believes that DeLay is not guilty — weeks before his trial is expected to begin.
Uh… okay. So the rule is we don’t comment on ongoing investigations if it makes Chimpy look bad, but we do if it might help one of Chimpy’s friends. Anybody got a problem with that?
(Editor & Publisher) Q Scott, the President told Brit Hume that he thought that Tom DeLay is not guilty, even though the prosecution is obviously ongoing. What does the President feel about Scooter Libby? Does he feel that Mr. Libby —
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple of things. First of all, the President was asked a question and he responded to that question in the interview yesterday, and made very clear what his views were. We don’t typically tend to get into discussing legal matters of that nature, but in this instance, the President chose to respond to it. Our policy regarding the Fitzgerald investigation and ongoing legal proceeding is well-known and it remains unchanged. And so I’m just not going to have anything further to say. But we’ve had a policy in place for a long time regarding the Fitzgerald investigation.
Q Why would that not apply to the same type of prosecution involving Congressman DeLay?
MR. McCLELLAN: I just told you we had a policy in place regarding this investigation, and you’ve heard me say before that we’re not going to talk about it further while it’s ongoing.
Q Well, if it’s prejudging the Fitzgerald investigation, isn’t it prejudging the Texas investigation with regard to Congressman DeLay?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think I’ve answered your question.
… Q So the President is inconsistent?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, David, we put a policy in place regarding this investigation —
Q But it’s hypocritical. You have a policy for some investigations and not others, when it’s a political ally who you need to get work done?
MR. McCLELLAN: Call it presidential prerogative; he responded to that question. But the White House established a policy —
Q Doesn’t it raise questions about his credibility that he’s going to weigh in on some matters and not others, and we’re just supposed to sit back and wait for him to decide what he wants to comment on and influence?
MR. McCLELLAN: Congressman DeLay’s matter is an ongoing legal proceeding —
Q As is the Fitzgerald investigation —
MR. McCLELLAN: The Fitzgerald investigation is —
Q — As you’ve told us ad nauseam from the podium.
MR. McCLELLAN: It’s an ongoing investigation, as well.
Q How can you not — how can you say there’s differences between the two, and we’re supposed to buy that? There’s no differences. The President decided to weigh in on one, and not the other.
MR. McCLELLAN: There are differences.
Q And the public is supposed to accept the fact that he’s got no comment on the conduct of senior officials of the White House, but when it’s a political ally over on the Hill who’s got to help him get work done, then he’s happy to try to influence that legal process.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, not at all. Not at all. You can get all dramatic about it, but you know what our policy is.
Yup, we sure do. The policy is that George W. Bush gets to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, policy/law/morality/the Constitution be damned!