June 19, 2005

Ignoring the Questions

Here is an update to my previous post about White House Press Briefings and Gaggles.

At the White House Press Briefing of June 16, two more questions were asked about the Downing Street memo, bringing the grand total of questions asked at White House Press briefings since May 1, 2005 (when it was first released) to four questions. These are the first since May 23.
Q Scott, on another topic, has the President or anyone else from the administration responded to the letter sent last month by Congressman John Conyers and signed by dozens of members of the House of Representatives, regarding the Downing Street memo? Has the President or anyone else responded?
MR. McCLELLAN: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Why not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Why not? Because I think that this is an individual who voted against the war in the first place and is simply trying to rehash old debates that have already been addressed. And our focus is not on the past. It's on the future and working to make sure we succeed in Iraq.
These matters have been addressed, Elaine. I think you know that very well. The press --
Q Scott, 88 members of Congress signed that letter.
MR. McCLELLAN: The press -- the press have covered it, as well.
Q What do you say about them?
Q But, Scott, don't they deserve the courtesy of a response back?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, this has been addressed. Go ahead.


But then there was a followup by another reporter.

Q Scott, on John Conyers, John Conyers is walking here with that letter again, as you have acknowledged from Elaine's comment. But 88 leaders on Capitol Hill signed that letter. Now, I understand what you're saying about him, but what about the other 88 who signed this letter, wanting information, answers to these five questions?
MR. McCLELLAN: How did they vote on the war -- the decision to go to war in Iraq?
Q Well, you have two -- well, if that's the case, you have two Republicans who are looking for a timetable. How do you justify that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I already talked about that.
Q I understand, but let's talk about this.
MR. McCLELLAN: Like I said --
Q Well, just because -- I understand -- but wait a minute, that's not -- if leaders from Congress -- if you're talking about unifying and asking for everyone to come together, why not answer, whether they wanted the war or not, answer a letter where John Conyers wrote to the President and then 88 congressional leaders signed? Why not answer that?
MR. McCLELLAN: For the reasons I stated earlier. This is simply rehashing old debates that have already been discussed.

Another question effectively stonewalled.

The basic White House position is that anyone who voted against the war in the first place is discredited and does not deserve any response.

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