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Press hammers White House on leak, again; Question on 'treason'

RAW STORY

A White House press corps increasingly irritated at the White House after stonewalling with regards to an investigation into the role of senior officials in outing a CIA agent exploded again Monday, RAW STORY can reveal.

The final question was a zinger -- a member of the American press corps asking the White House whether the leak would have constituted treason: "The question is, have the legal counsel to the White House or White House staff reviewed the statute in sufficient specificity to determine whether a violation of that statute would, in effect, constitute treason?"

The following is a transcript of the White House press briefing edited for questions related to the CIA leak; RAW STORY was tipped to the treason quote by diarist Mott Street at Daily Kos.

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Q Do Karl Rove and Scooter Libby still have top secret clearance here, access to classified documents?

MR. McCLELLAN: You asked this question last week, and --

Q I did. And I'm asking again.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- the President has said what our answer is to these questions. We'll be glad to talk about all these issues once the investigation is complete.

Q Do they have a clearance?

MR. McCLELLAN: We'll be glad to talk about all the issues relating to the investigation once it's complete.

Q Why can't you talk about it now?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that question I addressed a couple weeks ago.

Go ahead. Go ahead, Jessica.

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Q On the leak investigation, does President Bush feel that it was appropriate for there to be an 11 or 12-hour time gap from the time that Chief of Staff Andy Card was notified that an investigation was underway to the time that staff here at the White House, including him --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has said that -- and the President directed the White House at the beginning of the investigation to cooperate fully with those overseeing the investigation. And that is exactly what we have done, and that's what we did in that context, as well. If you will recall, back on October 1st of 2003, these questions came up and I addressed it at that time. So you might want to go back and look at that discussion during that briefing.

Q But in the spirit of cooperation, and you had indicted on October 1, 2003, that the reason that the Justice Department was asked, is it okay to wait until the morning, and the answer was that it was okay, but in the spirit of cooperation, why did the notification not go out until 11 or 12 hours later?

MR. McCLELLAN: I talked about that in that briefing, and addressed all those questions at that time. And the President has made it clear that we should cooperate fully with the investigation. That's what we have done, that's what we continue to do.

Q Yes, Scott, can you assure us that Andrew Card did not speak to either -- or did not tell the President or Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or anybody else about the Justice Department investigation?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, again, those questions came up back in October of 2003 and I addressed them at the time.

Q May I ask one follow-up?

MR. McCLELLAN: You may. Go ahead.

Q I know that none of you are speaking about this because it's an ongoing investigation. Can you explain why Alberto Gonzales would go on TV yesterday and do that, and talk about it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what he said was already said from this podium back in October of 2003, and I don't think he got into commenting in any substantive way on the discussion. But the President has said that we will be glad to talk about this once the investigation has come to a conclusion, but not until then. And there have certainly been preferences expressed to the White House that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.

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Q Yes, thank you. There has been a lot of speculation concerning the meaning of the underlying statute and the grand jury investigation concerning Mr. Rove. The question is, have the legal counsel to the White House or White House staff reviewed the statute in sufficient specificity to determine whether a violation of that statute would, in effect, constitute treason?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that in terms of decisions regarding the investigation, those are matters for those overseeing the investigation to decide.

Q Thank you.

MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.

Originally published on Monday July 25, 2005.

 


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