For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
January 5, 2004
Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan[Excerpts on CIA Leak Investigation]
Aboard Air Force One
En Route St. Louis, Missouri
Q: Does the President have any problem on the CIA leak with members of his staff citing these confidentiality agreements?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I would remind you that the President has directed the White House to cooperate fully with the career officials who are leading this investigation. And that's exactly what he expects the White House to continue doing. We have been and we will continue to do so. I think also in the spirit of cooperating fully with the career officials who are investigating this matter, it's important that we do everything we can to preserve the integrity of the investigation and not compromise it.
And so I think it's best that if there are specific questions relating to the investigation or what the career officials are doing, that you should direct those questions to the career officials.
Q: I'm asking whether the President will direct his staff.
MR. McCLELLAN: I understand, and that's asking a specific question about matters that should be directed to the career officials at the Department of Justice. The President has made it very clear that the White House should cooperate fully in this investigation. The President said -- has always said that leaking classified information is a serious matter, and certainly no one wants to get to the bottom of this more than he does, so that we can find out the truth. And the President has said from early on that if anybody has information, they should come forward and share it with those who are leading this investigation.
Q: You're deflecting to DOJ, but of course, I'm asking what the President will do, what the White House thinks about these disclosure forms.
MR. McCLELLAN: And why I'm saying that you should direct those questions to the Department of Justice is because there is an ongoing investigation underway, and we want to do everything we can to help that investigation move forward. The sooner they get to the bottom of this, the better. That's our view. And I've said this in response to other questions about specific matters that career officials may be working on, as well, that you should direct those questions to the career officials at the Department of Justice who are leading the investigation. But the President has made it very clear that he expects the White House to cooperate fully in that --
Q: -- in the position of writing in our stories that you decline to say what the President --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that what I am saying is that the President -- well, one, that the President has made it very clear that we should cooperate fully with the investigation, that the White House should cooperate fully in the investigation, and that because this is an ongoing investigation, I think that those questions need to be directed to the career officials at the Justice Department. If there is information that they believe they can share publicly without compromising the ongoing investigation, then I imagine that they will share that information with you. And that's why I'm saying that you should direct those questions to the career officials.
Q: Just one last thing on this, have any waiver requests hit White House staff desks?
MR. McCLELLAN: See, that's asking specific questions about an ongoing investigation, and there -- if there are specific questions being asked of White House officials, we wouldn't necessarily know about that. That's why you should direct those questions to the career officials. And, as I said, I imagine if they want to share that information publicly and they believe that they can do so in a way that won't compromise an ongoing investigation, then they will do it.
Q: Scott, are you willing to say that the President thinks that his aides should sign these forms if they're asked to by the FBI?
MR. McCLELLAN: But that's getting into specific questions that I'm not aware that the career officials at the FBI or the Justice Department have discussed publicly at this point. That's why I think you should step back from this and look at what the President said. The President made it very clear that he expects the White House to cooperate fully in this investigation, because it's important that we do everything we can to help the career officials get to the bottom of this, and the sooner, the better.
Q: But Scott, does full cooperation that he's asking for mean that if the DOJ ask for anything -- forget the specific question about the waivers -- that his staff should feel obligated to cooperate with that request?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made it very clear. He expects the White House to cooperate fully. That's what --
Q: Any DOJ request?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- he has said repeatedly, he wants the White House to cooperate fully, he wants anyone who has information that can help in this investigation to come forward with that information and provide it to those who are leading this investigation.
And now, you all are trying to get into specific questions. Again, where you're asking about specific -- previously have we -- have specific people been interviewed by the career officials? Those are questions that you need to ask the people who are leading this investigation, because it is an ongoing investigation. But make no mistake about it, the President was very clear in stating that everybody -- that the White House should cooperate fully in this investigation.