For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 20, 2007
BY DANA PERINO
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Grand Rapids, Michigan
11:56 A.M. EDT
Q Is he doing any interviews on potential new candidates for the AG --
MS. PERINO: Not that I'm aware of, no. One of the things that the President did upon returning from his trip yesterday was spoke to the Attorney General, following his hours of testimony. The President was pleased that the hearing had finally been held; that the Attorney General was fully responsive to the Congress, answered hours worth of questions after providing thousands of pages of documents, and again proving that there was no credible allegation of wrongdoing. The Attorney General did apologize for the way it was handled, said it could have been handled better, and the President agrees with that. But the Attorney General continues to have the President's full confidence.
Q Was the President disappointed in the testimony?
MS. PERINO: Is the President? No.
Q But what about the fact that even Republicans now are coming out and calling for the Attorney General to resign?
MS. PERINO: There is no doubt that there were many members from both sides of the aisle who had expressed frustration over the confusing remarks from the initial responses on this matter. And that frustration had built up over many weeks. The President believes that the Attorney General answered all of their questions honestly and forthrightly. I can understand there are some people who still don't want to support the Attorney General; that is their right. But he has done a fantastic job at the Department of Justice. He is our number one crime fighter. He has done so much to help keep this country safe from terrorists. He has worked determinately to prevent predators from attacking our children. He has worked -- they have a fantastic record of fighting corruption in government and in keeping gang violence off our streets.
And I could go on and on, but I think that following the hearing and following the tension that was in the room, I think on this new day I think -- hopefully people will be able to take a step back, realize that there was no credible evidence of wrongdoing, that the Attorney General has apologized for how it was handled, and that he has a job to do, and he's been doing it very well. And the President has full confidence in him.
Q Dana, has the President spoken with Paul Wolfowitz over the last couple weeks?
MS. PERINO: No, not that I'm aware of, and there's no change -- the President still has confidence in him. And there is a review that's ongoing by the board, and we're leaving it with them to go ahead and complete that.
Q Is there any plans for the President to personally call Mr. Wolfowitz and express his support to him directly?
MS. PERINO: I've said it publicly for days, and I'll let -- if there's an update on the President's call schedule --
Q Does the President ever get tired of having to express his full confidence in the people around him these days?
MS. PERINO: When you're President of the United States and you have this many folks that you are employing, it's a pretty small number that he's had to express full confidence in. All of us who serve at the pleasure of the President, if the moment he doesn't have full confidence in you, you no longer work for him. And we all take that very seriously.
Q Dana, at some point, though, whether or not the Attorney General has done anything wrong, there comes a question as to whether he's being effective any more in that job, particularly when Arlen Specter, the chairman of that committee, says there is a credibility gap.
MS. PERINO: Well, I could go through the list again of all the things -- the great things that the Attorney General has been able to do at the Department. I won't, I'll just refer you back to the transcript when you get it.
Q That isn't what I'm asking.
MS. PERINO: I hear your point, but I can tell you that this President believes that the Attorney General's effectiveness is something that he has been very proud of, and that he believes will continue with the Attorney General at the helm of the Justice dept.
Q Does the White House view this matter as closed?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that there's no doubt there's probably going to be follow-up questions; there usually are. And the request by the President for the Department of Justice to be fully responsive stands. And as you know, we're in communication with the Hill, in terms of their requests for us, as well. I think that the hearing is over, and we'll just see where it goes from here. A lot of this isn't in our control.
Q So the President said in Mexico that he had work to do in Congress, and went up there, and we were waiting for him to go there, so do you think he did what was necessary?
MS. PERINO: I've said repeatedly, since yesterday, that the President was very pleased with how the testimony went yesterday; that the Attorney General was responsive, and he did what the President asked him to do, and that the Attorney General fulfilled his responsibility to the Congress by answering hours worth of testimony and providing all of the documents.
Q Is the President going to mention it today at all?
MS. PERINO: No. The President is going to be giving a speech about Iraq, which is something you guys might want to focus on -- with a nation that is at war. This speech is going to be more formal -- more formal, in terms of his remarks, than yesterday's, where that was a little bit more off-the-cuff. He will also be using some visuals today, some maps, that help describe what our force posture was prior to the Baghdad Security Plan implementation, and the current force structure, as well as -- so he'll talk about Baghdad, and he'll also talk about al-Anbar province, as well as areas outside of those, in terms of what we are doing to help put the Iraqis in control, quell the violence in Baghdad, and allow for those political and diplomatic and economic reforms to take place, and then so that we can eventually get to the place where the American troops can come home. The President will talk about the consequences of withdrawing too fast, when the conditions are not ripe on the ground.