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White House briefing: Reporters go after McClellan

RAW STORY
Published: February 13, 2006

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From Monday's White House press briefing. Crooks and Liars now has the video here.

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Q Scott, do you think that the shooting accident involving the vice president on Saturday should have been disclosed to the public on Saturday?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think that the first priority was making sure that Harry Whittington, Mr. Whittington, was getting the medical care that he needed. And I think that's where everybody's attention should have been focused and was focused when the hunting accident took place.

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And you know, in terms of here in Washington, there was information that we were continuing to learn about throughout the course of that evening and into early Sunday morning.

The initial report that we received was that there had been a hunting accident. We didn't know who all was involved, but a member of his party was involved in that hunting accident, and then additional details continued to come in overnight. And it's important always to work to make sure you get information out like this as quickly as possible, but it's also important to make sure that the first priority is focused where it should be, and that is, making sure that Mr. Whittington has the care that he needs. And the vice president went to the hospital yesterday to visit him. The vice president was pleased to see that he was doing well and in good spirits, and the president is as well.

Q Well, I assume that people, that medical -- he got immediate medical attention. Aside from medical attention, which, I'm sure, was swift, isn't there a public disclosure requirement that should have kicked in immediately?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, the Vice President's Office was working to make sure information got out. We learned additional information overnight -- throughout the night. We were learning additional information here in Washington. The vice president spoke with Mrs. Katharine Armstrong, and they agreed that she should make that information public. She was an eye witness. She saw what occurred, and she called her local paper to provide those facts to the local paper. And the Vice President's Office was ready to comment on it at that point.

Now, you know, keep in mind that there's not a traveling press corps that was along with the vice president on this trip, and with that said, though, as I said, I think it's always important to get information out as quickly as possible. As you know, the way we have typically approached things, that I have typically approached things is -- I can think of similar incident when the president was in Gleneagles, Scotland, and he had a biking accident with a police officer there, and I quickly tried to give that information to the press through the pool reporter and provide that information to you all.

Q Scott, is it really appropriate for the vice --

Q So as the press secretary, are you satisfied with the way this was handled?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I know that the Vice President's Office was working to pull together information and make sure that information got out. And the vice president felt that Mrs. Armstrong should be the first one to go out there and provide that information to the public, which she did, and she reached out early Sunday morning to do so.

Q Are you satisfied -- you're satisfied with the way --

Q But --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think you can always look at -- you can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job.

Q Well, but let's not -- it's not really a hindsight issue here. I mean, the vice president made a decision about how the public should be notified. It basically is at odds with the standard practice of how the president's own press operation in this White House notifies the public, isn't that right?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, this was handled by the vice president's office. The vice president thought that Mrs. Armstrong should be the first one to give that information out since she was an eye-witness --

Q Let's just be clear here. The vice president of the United States accidentally shoots a man, and he feels that it's appropriate for a ranch owner who witnessed this to tell the local Corpus Christi newspaper and not the White House press corps at large, or notify the public in a national way?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think we all know that once it is made public, then it's going to be news and all of you are going to be seeking that information. And the Vice President's Office was ready to provide additional information to reporters. There was no traveling White House press corps with the vice president, as there is with the president in a situation like this.

Q (Inaudible.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: So there are some different circumstances. And the other circumstance here was that someone was injured and needed medical care. And the vice president's team was making sure he was getting taken care of and that he got to the hospital and received additional treatment.

(Cross talk.)

Q Excuse me. Let me just follow up. I know you had a chance to speak to -- I assume the president and the vice president -- today. Did the vice president follow all of the appropriate safety procedures that are familiar to hunters in this case?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think if you've got specifics about this, probably direct them to the Vice President's Office. I don't know all the specifics about it. But I think Mrs. Armstrong spoke publicly about how this incident occurred. And if I recall, she pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying the others that he was there.

And so, you know, unfortunately, these type of hunting accidents happen from time to time. And all of us -- we're most concerned about Mr. Whittington. And as I said, the vice president was glad to see he was doing fine yesterday and that he's in good spirits. He is someone that many of us here know and have great respect for. And we look forward to him getting out of the hospital soon.

Q Did the president call Mr. Whittington?

Q Scott?

Q Scott? Scott, there's a report coming out of a sheriff's deputy there who said that he was prevented from interviewing the vice president by the Secret Service. Do you know anything about that? And is that appropriate?

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, I don't know anything about that. You ought to direct that to the Secret Service. My understanding was the Secret Service took the appropriate steps to inform law enforcement.

Q Scott?

Q Scott, what was the input of the White House --

MR. MCCLELLAN: But again, check that with Secret Service.

Q What was your input once you learned of this? Did you just turn it over to the Vice President's Office? Did you know they were turning it over to a private citizen --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, in terms of my involvement, first of all, Saturday night I found out that there was a hunting accident. It was late Saturday night. But it was a member in his party. But I did not know who was involved in that hunting accident. It wasn't until very early Sunday morning that I found out that the vice president was involved in this accident. And of course, in a position like mine, I was urging that that information be made available as quickly as possible, and the Vice President's Office was working to get that information out.

Q So as of Saturday night, you didn't know, the White House did not know that Vice President Cheney --

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, there were details coming in throughout that night and into the morning. I mean, there was additional information coming in at 3:00 in the morning and 4:00 in the morning and even after that. So.

Q But again, Saturday night you did not know the vice president was involved; you just thought someone from his hunting party?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I personally was informed by the Situation Room that there had been a hunting accident and that it was a member of the vice president's hunting party, but I didn't have additional information than that at this point. Obviously, I asked questions about was -- is he okay and who was involved, and they didn't have those facts at that point.

Q So it was Sunday morning you first learned that it was the vice president.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Early Sunday morning, that's correct.

Q And then what was your reaction about letting the public know? Did the vice president's office tell you they would turn this over to Anne Armstrong and --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I had additional discussions and I knew that the vice president's office was working to get information out. I'm not going to get into all the discussions that are had, but it was the vice president's office that took the lead on this.

Q But were you aware they were just going to allow a private citizen to inform a local paper of this and not beyond that? Did you --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, look, I'm not going to get into all the discussions --

Q -- (inaudible) --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm not going to get the discussions -- or suggestions that I make about specific matters like that. I can only tell you the way I've done it in the past for you-all.

Q What time on Sunday morning did you learn that Vice President Dick Cheney was the shooter?

MR. MCCLELLAN: It was early. I was woken up.

Q Can you give me at least some sort of sense of how early?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Probably in the 6:00 range or so. Usually I'm up at 5:00, but it was Sunday.

Q And who woke you up and told you?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Who told you?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I just had discussions with staff; I'll leave it at that.

Q Was it Cheney's gun? Is that his gun, that shotgun?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Was it the vice president's --

MR. MCCLELLAN: You'll have to talk to the vice president's office and check that fact.

Q You don't know?

MR. MCCLELLAN: You can check with their office.

Q You said this morning that the president was informed Saturday night by Karl Rove and Andy Card.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Yeah, initially by Andy Card.

Q At that point what was he informed? Was he informed that the vice president had accidentally shot somebody?

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, I think initially, again, Andy had the same report that I had, or a very similar report to what I had, and so we didn't know who was involved. But then there was additional information that was coming in later in the night -- or later in the day and on into the morning.

Q (Off mike) -- the vice president and find out that he was the shooter. How is that possible?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, Kelly, I can only tell you what the facts are.

Q It doesn't make any sense, though. I mean, this happens at 5:30 on Saturday, and you're saying that until the morning, the president of the United States --

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that. I said there was additional information coming in later that evening and into the morning hours of Sunday.

Q You've got to clarify the timeline, Scott. That doesn't make any sense.

Q When did the president know the the vice president was the shooter? What time?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, there was additional information coming in that night. The details continued to come in throughout the morning into the Sunday morning time period.

Go ahead.

Q Scott?

Q The vice president did not call the president to tell him he was the shooter?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Suzanne, go ahead.

Q Katharine Armstrong talked to CNN Sunday evening. She said that she thought this was going to become a story, so she was going to go to the local press.

She also told CNN that she did not believe the Vice President's Office was aware that she was going to go to the local press. How do you square that with your account --

MR. MCCLELLAN: The vice president spoke with her directly, and they agreed that she would make it public.

Q So you're saying that she's lying, that her --

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, you ought to check with her.

Q We did check with her. But you're saying that that's not correct.

MR. MCCLELLAN: The vice president spoke directly with Mrs. Armstrong, and they agreed that she would make the information public.

Q Scott, it's been very confusing to try to figure out who knew what when and why. You know, once Mr. Whittington's immediate medical needs were being addressed, it sounds like everything just shut down. Was there no staff member with the vice president --

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, actually, as I pointed out, there was information that was coming in to people back here all the way at 3:00 in the morning and beyond. So additional information was coming to light from what occurred down in the Corpus Christi area of Texas.

Q Over the roughly 12 hours or so, none of that information -- it took 12 hours for someone to tell someone up here --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, Jim, keep in mind two things. One, the very first priority was making sure Mr. Whittington was getting the medical care, and that's where all efforts were focused.

Q (Off mike.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: There wasn't a press corps traveling with the vice president. He didn't have his full entourage that he might have on other trips, official trips. This was a weekend hunting trip.

And then secondary to that is gathering the facts. And so you want to get the facts together, so you can provide that information to the public. And I think that's important to do. And so they gathered facts together, and those facts were coming back to us throughout the evening and into the morning hours of Sunday.

Q Who was gathering the facts? Who was --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q Who was doing that?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think there's information on the ground there, as well as information then being provided -- from the ground there being provided back here.

Q Right, and who was doing the providing? And who were they providing it to?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, people with the Vice President's Office. I think he can probably -- I will check with his office on more specifics.

Go ahead --

Q But when did the president specifically know that the vice president had shot somebody?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

Q When did the president know that the vice president --

MR. MCCLELLAN: He was learning additional details into that evening, on Saturday --

Q (Off mike) -- it was the vice president that pulled the trigger --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Yeah, but we didn't know the full details. But I think he was informed because Karl --

Q (Off mike) --

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- I think his deputy chief of staff had spoken with Mrs. Armstrong and provided him additional update in that evening. So there were more circumstances --

Q The deputy chief of staff --

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- more circumstances known Saturday evening, so the president was getting more information about who was involved, and that was in -- that was late Saturday evening.

Q Scott --

Q So he knew -- so he knew Saturday evening --

Q Scott, definitively, did the president know --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Some additional information, yes, and that the vice president --

Q -- (inaudible) --

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- and that the vice president was involved, but didn't know the full facts of what had occurred.

Q How is that possible?

(Cross talk.)

Q Scott, he knew Saturday night?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Carl, go ahead.

Q He knew Saturday night?

Q Straight chronological questions, so we don't have to yell it.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Sure.

Q If the deputy chief of staff had a conversation with the president late Saturday night, what time was that conversation? And did the information, though developing at the time, contain the fact that the vice president had actually been shot --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Yes, and I don't know the specific time. I know that Andy Card talked to him initially, probably in the -- my sense is probably in the seven to eight range initially, and then it was later that evening when he found out additional information, but we still didn't have all the details at that point. And additional details were coming into Andy Card at even three in the morning and beyond.

Q So let me just -- let me --

MR. MCCLELLAN: And so what -- so what -- let me finish this because -- what we're trying to do from here, you know, in the course of the night is get more information and find out exactly what occurred.

Q All right. So if I may then, the chief of staff at seven to eight o'clock and tells the president that there was an incident. Later in the evening, the deputy chief of staff tells the president that the vice president was in fact the shooter.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Yes, that was correct.

Q Is that what you're telling us?

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's correct.

Q And then, the further details then unfolded throughout the course of the early morning --

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's correct. Additional details -- additional information was coming in.

Q So on Sunday morning at 6:00 --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Right.

Q -- you were clear personally that the vice president had in fact been the shooter.

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's correct. That's correct.

Q Thank you.

Q Wait, hold on one second. I mean, that -- human beings are not totally this inefficient. I mean, you know --

Q Somebody didn't --

Q -- if -- was the vice president immediately clear that he had accidentally shot his friend or not, or did that information become available later? You make it seem like there's all this information that had to develop.

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, I wouldn't suggest that at all. I'm sure that that was the case. I mean, I think he --

Q Well, what -- I don't understand what --

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- Mrs. Armstrong was there and saw the incident.

Q -- what information had to trickle in?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, David, I -- again, what's important when it happened was to make sure that medical care was getting to Mr. Whittington.

Q Fair enough. (Off mike.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's where all the attention was focused and making sure he was getting to the hospital.

Q (Off mike) -- not the debate in here. Everybody agrees that that's fine.

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's correct.

Q And that doesn't -- I -- it didn't seem to me that that would take an enormous amount of time. It certainly --

MR. MCCLELLAN: This is happening Saturday evening.

Q But you've got like a -- you've got a situation room here. You've got people who monitor stuff. It's impossible to find out -- I mean, the vice president knew immediately, "Oh, no! I've shot somebody accidentally," and it takes 24 hours --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well -- and you know what his first reaction was? His first reaction was go to Mr. Whittington and get his team in there to provide him medical care.

Q Absolutely. But what -- why is it that it took so long for the president, for you, for anybody else to know that the vice president accidentally shot somebody?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, early the next morning, Mrs. Armstrong reached out to the Corpus paper. That's her local paper --

Q Oh, come on!

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- to provide them information.

Q Scott?

Q -- that's ridiculous --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well --

Q -- to say that you don't within the White House?

MR. MCCLELLAN: No, listen again to what I said.

Q What took so long?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Listen again to what I said. The first priority is making sure Mr. Whittington is receiving medical care. Secondary to that is making sure you get the facts together, and then, as quickly as possible, provide that information to the public. Now, the vice president agreed with Mrs. Armstrong that it was best that she provide that information publicly first.

Q Right. Understanding that, but he doesn't --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Because she was not --

Q That's fine if you want to --

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- hang on, hang on. She was an eye witness to what occurred and could provide the facts to the press.

And the vice president's office was ready, they were on point to provide additional comment on the incident that took place.

Q Scott, look --

Q Scott, do you think it's appropriate for a private citizen --

Q Scott? Scott, the vice president has a --

MR. MCCLELLAN: We've got three people from each news organization here today.

Q All right. Look, the vice president has a Secret Service detail and has communications which are up to date, operating and in place. How is it that the word of the shooting and the fact that the vice president was involved, could have been confused or delayed, given the fact that that was almost certainly --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think the initial information is coming from his team on the ground with him, and they're just providing initial report an accident has taken place. They might not know all the facts at that point, Bill.

Q Are you kidding? They're right there. There out there with him. They have --

MR. MCCLELLAN: The ones who are providing that information may have not been right there physically with them and saw exactly what happened. I don't. But I'm telling you --

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: But -- hang on. Can I finish?

Q Yes.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Okay. But I'm telling you the facts as they occurred and as I know them. And if there's additional information you want, you can direct those questions to the vice president's office.

Q It also sounds as though your suggestions about how to handle this were disregarded by the vice president's office.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, I'll keep those conversations private.

Go ahead, Goyal.

Q Well -- so you might as well --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Wait. Let's -- let me -- is this on this subject, Goyal?

Q No.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Okay, Jim, go ahead.

Q I just want to clarify one thing. Is it appropriate for a private citizen to be the person to disseminate the information that the vice president of the United States has been -- has shot someone?

MR. MCCLELLAN: That's one way to provide information to the public. The vice president's office worked with her -- well, I should say the vice president -- the vice president spoke with her directly and agreed that she should --

Q But you make it sound like it's up to her to decide when it comes out.

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- agreed that she should make it public, and then they would provide additional information.

Q But why should it be up to a private citizen to decide when it comes out?

MR. MCCLELLAN: It came out -- it came out Sunday morning. I've told you the way that I've operated and the way I've provided information in similar circumstances.

Q Certainly different --

Q Scott, has the vice president --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Is this on -- Go ahead. Michael, go ahead.

Q Has the vice president always had a hunting license whenever he's gone hunting? There was an item in one of the wire stories this morning that he had a license prior to November, but other stories said he goes every year to Texas. I have a follow-up as well.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Check with his office. I don't have those facts.

Q Do you know whether he's taken a hunting safety --

MR. MCCLELLAN: It's my understanding that he had the hunting license for this hunting trip.

Q What about other trips where he's taken --

MR. MCCLELLAN: You can check with his office.

Q Has he also -- has he taken a hunting safety course in Texas?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Check with his office. I don't have those facts, Mike. I haven't checked into that.

Q Scott?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Is this on this subject?

Q Yes.

MR. MCCLELLAN: John, go ahead.

Q Thank you, Scott.

MR. MCCLELLAN: And then Connie.

Q Thank you.

Q Will the vice president be available soon to answer all questions himself about the incident?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think you ought to direct questions like that to his office. He has a press office you can direct questions to.

Jessica.

Q Scott, would you --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Keeping with the practice of at least two or three reporters from each news organization today.

Q You've repeatedly said that the vice president's office will share this information with us. Will you tell us -- will you now ask them to share this information with us, because they're not.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Share what information?

Q Details of what happened during the shooting incident --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't know the -- with the way you --

Q -- and more information about --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, Mrs. Armstrong provided that information. She was eyewitness to what took place.

Q Can we get someone from his office in here to answer?

Q Why can't we get someone from his office to answer the questions.

Q Yeah, get HIM.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, talk to his office. I think they have provided response to questions.

Q Scott --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Go ahead, Connie.

Q Is it proper for the vice president to offer his resignation, or has he offered his resignation?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Connie, that's an absurd question. I'm not -- go ahead, Ken.

Q Can we get someone from the vice president's office in here to answer all these questions that you're deferring?

Q Yeah.

MR. MCCLELLAN: I think you can ask questions to his -- direct questions to his office.

Q I'm sure they're overwhelmed, but it seems like it would be more efficient.

Q (Off mike) -- million calls to return. A more efficient --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Understood, but they're the ones who can provide additional information if there is any to provide.

Go ahead, Todd.

Q Scott, you said Ms. Armstrong was the eyewitnesses. There were other eyewitnesses. Can you tell us who they were and --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I mean, the vice president's team was with him. You ought to check that with the vice president's office. But the vice president's traveling team was with him, so you'd have your normal security detail as well as military aide and others and doctor.

Q Who was the third hunter, Scott?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Check with his office. I don't know.

Q Can I follow up on --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Peter?

Q Scott, when you consider the chronology that you've tried to go to here and all of the various wrinkles of how long it took for the primary information that the vice president was the person who shot this fellow to get through to the president himself, is there any notion here of reviewing your own communications apparatus? I mean, this is sort of reminiscent of the levee story, frankly, you know.

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm sorry, I'd reject that. I disagree with that fully, Peter. I don't know what you're referring to there, but I reject the insinuation there.

Q Well, when you look at how long it took for the information in that case to get through and the information in this case to get through, are you looking --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Peter, there are certain facts that you don't know, necessarily, immediately. People are getting that information together in terms of exactly what happened. I mean, I don't think you immediately know all the facts in situations that you bring up, and particularly in terms of a hurricane that was unprecedented in terms of the scope of the damage that occurred. So I don't know how you can leap from here to that comparison.

Q Well, surely they immediately knew that the vice president of the United States shot someone.

MR. MCCLELLAN: And you know what the immediate response was? To make sure he was getting the medical care.

Q (Off mike.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, no, no, you may know that, but people that are listening --

Q (Off mike.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: -- but people that are listening need to hear that too. The vice president went over to him and was making sure that his team was getting to him and taking care of him. That's what the first priority always ought to be. Now, I know that it's important to inform the media, and I have told you I believe it's important to get that information out as quickly as possible.

Q (Off mike.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, I think he was informed -- I think he was informed in a relatively reasonable amount of time.

Q Relatively.

Q Scott? Scott, in Texas is this kind of accident --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, we can always look back, Bill, and we can always look back and say, you know, here or there, but the important thing is the information was provided to the public; and most importantly, Mr. Whittington is being taken care of.

Q Scott, under Texas law, is this kind of accidental shooting a possible criminal offense?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I wouldn't even speculate on that. But I think the sheriff's office or the local law enforcement office has already commented on that and said it was a hunting accident, so.

Q Scott, would this be much more serious if the man had died? And would that change the equation about --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Of course it would, Connie. It would have been terrible. I -- personally I don't know him very well, but I know Mr. Whittington and I have great respect for him from knowing who he is and what he's done. And it would be horrible news.

Go ahead.

Q Who made the decision -- if the deputy chief of staff told him sometime after the 8:00 hour, told the president that it was Cheney that had pulled the trigger, who made the decision not to inform us, and specifically, not to inform you until the 6:00 hour the next morning?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't think that's the way I would look at it. I think there was additional details that were coming in, and we were trying to learn --

Q Who made the decision -- (off mike) --

MR. MCCLELLAN: We were trying to learn what the details were. I think it's important to have the facts together to be able to provide that information to the public.

Now I also believe -- I also believe in a situation like this, it's important to provide as much information as public as quickly as -- to the public as quickly as possible.

(Cross talk.)

MR. MCCLELLAN: Ivan, go ahead. Is this on this subject?

Q No, what I was going to ask --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, let me stay on -- let me stay on this subject.

Q Yeah, but please don't leave before he gets out of the subject --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Okay. Okay. Let's wrap it up on this subject here.

Go ahead.

Q Will the vice president and the president, for that matter, continue to go hunting, and is there some thought about -- maybe this is too dangerous an activity for such an important person to --

MR. MCCLELLAN: I haven't had any discussion with either of them about that. I don't know of any change.

All right, let's go to a new subject.

Q Iran.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Go ahead.

Q Was there any consideration, to your knowledge, that the information should be delayed in order to avoid it becoming red meat on the Sunday talk shows?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Not that I know of. In fact, she reached out to the local paper that morning. I don't know what time, but I was told she reached out that morning.

Q On the subject, have you --

MR. MCCLELLAN: All right, let's go to a new subject.

[Questions about Iran, Brazil, etc]

Continued.

Q Briefly back on the topic du jour, if I may. How long did it take until everyone involved was sure that Mr. Whittington was in the proper medical care that he needed? Did it take 12 to 14 hours?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I don't know all the specific facts. Mrs. Armstrong and/or the vice president's office may be able to provide you additional information. And no, I -- he was taken to the hospital that evening in Texas.

Q So any concern about making sure he had the medical attention he needed was quickly dissipated. That was not a reason for not divulging what happened, was it?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again and then the secondary issue is what I said; you're working to make sure you have all the facts, and then you get that information out.

Q Were there conflicting reports?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Go ahead.

Q (Off mike) -- timeline because there's two different time figures. At what point Saturday evening --

MR. MCCLELLAN: You-all, not me.

Q Well, you seem to have some -- anyway, what time did the president find out that it was the vice president who had accidentally --

MR. MCCLELLAN: It was later that evening. I don't have the specific time, but it was later that evening.

Q Later that evening. I mean --

MR. MCCLELLAN: When he talked to the deputy chief of staff.

Q Right, that was about 5:30 that the event happened, he talked to Karl --

MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, he talked to Andy, like I said, probably somewhere in the 7:00 range plus or minus -- (inaudible).

Q Right. And so it's after that, you think sometime later that night, that he founds out it was the vice president.

MR. MCCLELLAN: Yeah. I think the deputy chief of staff had talked to Mrs. Armstrong.

Q Isn't the Corpus Christi paper a member of the AP? Scott, isn't the Corpus Christi paper that reported this --

MR. MCCLELLAN: You want to answer that?

Q Aren't a member of the AP?

MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm sure they are, having come from Texas.

Q Why didn't the AP pick it up?

MR. MCCLELLAN: Martha, go ahead.



 


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