CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
White House Press Briefing
Aired September 29, 2003 - 12:25 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to the White House. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, is answering reporters' questions on a leak involving a CIA covert operative. Let's listen in.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: Well, there you have it. There you have it.
QUESTION: Haven't they told you?
MCCLELLAN: We've seen the...
QUESTION: Haven't you asked?
MCCLELLAN: ... we've seen the media reports. There's been no request made of us at this time.
QUESTION: But, Scott, it gets to the question, if you know, the president knows that Karl Rove was not involved, then maybe you can tell us more about what the president specifically is doing to get to the bottom of this or what has he ordered to be done within the White House to get to the bottom of it.
MCCLELLAN: That the president wants anyone, anyone who has information relating to this to report that information to the appropriate agency, the Department of Justice. That's what the president wants. And I've been very clear about that. If...
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) there was no White House involvement...
MCCLELLAN: You know, if I can get -- well, if I can get anonymous to fess up, that would make my life a whole lot easier. But there's been nothing -- there has been absolutely...
MCCLELLAN: Yes, I'm answering that.
QUESTION: Does he know -- is he convinced that no one in the White House was involved with this?
MCCLELLAN: There has been absolutely nothing brought to our attention to suggest any White House involvement. All we've seen is what is in the media reports. The media reports cite senior administration official or senior administration officials, but I've haven't seen anything before that.
That's why it's appropriate for the Department of Justice, if something like this happen, to look into it.
QUESTION: Those media reports are wrong, as far as the White House is concerned?
MCCLELLAN: Well, we have nothing beyond those media reports to suggest there is White House involvement and so there has been no specific information brought to my attention to suggest....
QUESTION: He's not doing anything proactive.
QUESTION: Let me follow up on one other...
MCCLELLAN: No, he's making it clear that this is a serious -- through his spokesman, me -- that this is a serious matter and if someone did this, it should be looked into and it should be pursued to the fullest extent.
QUESTION: Has he ordered an investigation inside the White House? If he thinks it's that serious, wouldn't he do that?
MCCLELLAN: Do you have specific information to bring to my attention?
QUESTION: No, I (OFF-MIKE)
MCCLELLAN: I would -- if you have specific information, bring it to my attention.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) media reports. I just wonder, is there an internal investigation going on to find out what's happened.
MCCLELLAN: The Justice Department would be the appropriate agency to look into this. And if something like this happened, the president believes it should be pursued to the fullest extent.
QUESTION: Scott, this is clearly a serious matter with possible penalties being going to jail. It's not going to go away. Why -- and as you said earlier, there probably is a limited number of people with access to this information. It doesn't take much for the president to ask a senior official working for him to just lay the question out for a few people and end this controversy today.
MCCLELLAN: Well, again, do you have specific information to bring to our attention?
MCCLELLAN: But are we supposed to chase down...
MCCLELLAN: Let me finish. Are we supposed to chase down every anonymous report in the newspaper? We'd spend all our time doing that.
That's what -- I think -- I think you need to -- you need to keep...
QUESTION: ... alleged criminal activity...
MCCLELLAN: You need to keep in mind that there has been no specific information, there has been no information that's come to our attention to suggest White House involvement beyond what has been reported in the newspapers. QUESTION: The implication you're leaving us with, I'm afraid, is that nothing's being done here at the White House to even look into this.
MCCLELLAN: Wait a second. I made it clear that if something like this happened, the president believes the Department of Justice should look into it and pursue it to the fullest extent. Leaking classified information, particularly of this nature, is a very serious matter.
BLITZER: Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, answering reporters' questions, a very sensitive subject, who, about a month or so ago, six weeks or so ago from the Bush administration leaked the name of a covert CIA case officer, an operative -- the wife of the former U.S. acting ambassador to Iraq, Joe Wilson. Who leaked that name to Bob Novak, the syndicated columnist, the co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE?" That is potentially a crime to release the name of a covert agent.
And we're going to pick up on this specific point. We're going to take a quick break. We have some analysis coming up on what is emerging as a major, major scandal here in Washington.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com.