The Corner

The White House Position

I just talked with White House press secretary Tony Snow about the president’s statement on the U.S. attorney matter.  He stressed, as the president did, that the White House offer as put forth in the Fielding letter, is final.  “This is it,” Snow said.  “We have made our offer.”

I asked whether the president was perhaps overly confrontational at this stage of the game.  “I don’t think it’s confrontational,” Snow said.  “We feel pretty comfortable with the constitutional argument.”  If members of Congress truly want to find out what happened with the U.S. attorneys, Snow said, they can do so.  “We’re saying, ‘You’re going to be able to get your information,’” Snow continued.  “We’re saying, ‘Any question you may have, you can get an answer to.’”

I asked specifically about the stipulation in the Fielding letter that interviews with Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and other White House officials be conducted “without the need for an oath, transcript, subsequent testimony, or the subsequent issuance of subpoenas.”  I pointed to the recent Libby trial, in which there was great dispute over what had been said in unrecorded, untranscribed interviews with the FBI.  You need a transcript to know an interviewee’s precise words, I said.  Snow argued that that wasn’t necessary because there will be members of Congress from both parties, staff, and others at the interviews.  “There will be a whole lot of people there [at the interviews] to be witnesses to what’s going on,” he said.  And besides, he added, “The strongest piece here will be the sheer weight of the documentary evidence [the e-mails] that is available.”  And, of course, officials from the Justice Department will testify at hearings, under oath, in the traditional way.

The White House, Snow said, is determined to avoid “hearings or the trappings of hearings” when White House officials talk to Congress.  “They’re looking for hands up, cameras on,” Snow said of Democrats.  “They’re talking about a show trial.”

Finally, I asked whether the White House believes this is a battle the president can win.  “Yes,” Snow said.  “In terms of presidential prerogative, in terms of preserving confidential communications with your staff — yes.”

Byron York — Byron York is is the author of The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Demagoguery Is Not Leadership

The government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand has, with the support of the opposition, decided to enact fundamental changes in the nation’s firearms laws less than a week after the massacre at two Christchurch mosques. This is the opposite of leadership. It is also an example of why ... Read More
White House

The Media’s Disgrace

There will soon enough be an effort to memory-hole it, but the media coverage of the Russia investigation was abysmal and self-discrediting — obsessive and hysterical, often suggesting that the smoking gun was right around the corner, sometimes supporting its hoped-for result with erroneous, too-good-to-check ... Read More
Politics & Policy

What Was Trump So Annoyed About?

One of the stranger arguments that I heard throughout the Mueller saga -- and am hearing today, now that it's turned out to be a dud -- is that Donald Trump's irritation with the process was unreasonable and counterproductive. This tweet, from CNN's Chris Cilizza, is a nice illustration of the genre: Donald ... Read More
White House

Our Long National Hysteria 

Our long national hysteria may not be over, but at least it should — by rights — be diminished. Robert Mueller delivered his long-awaited report on Friday, and Attorney General William Barr just released his summary of the findings. They completely vindicate President Trump regarding the allegation that ... Read More