Q Was the President scared that if Scooter Libby went to jail that he might then talk about some secrets in the White House that would damage the President?
MR. SNOW: No, he thought it was an improper punishment. He thought it was an excessive punishment and, therefore, the proper way to do this was to go ahead and leave intact this -- again, the President's getting pounded on the right because he didn't do a full pardon. The idea is -- but the point of this is that you do not engage in these acts for symbolic or political reasons. You don't do it to make other people happy and say, boy, you showed it to so-and-so. The point here is to do what is consistent with the dictates of justice.
Q So politics did not play into this decision at all?
MR. SNOW: That is correct.
Q And also, let me ask you this. The President and other White House press secretaries would not touch this question of Joe Wilson during the height of the investigation. I'm going to ask you now, since the President is now basically saying this is over and he's done what he's done -- Joe Wilson asked for an apology for the American people because of the situation. Is the White House now willing to give the American people --
MR. SNOW: I'm not going to get into --
Q Why not?
MR. SNOW: Because --
Q Why not? It's over now. You didn't want to talk about it then. Let's talk about it now. Do you think the American people are owed something because of the breach?
MR. SNOW: Number one, there is still considerable controversy about the facts of the case, including Joe Wilson's veracity. Number two, there is also --
Q What's in question about his veracity? Detail that, please.
MR. SNOW: There is also -- just, very quickly, you take a look at the Senate reports, his characterization of who sent him over and what he told people when he was in Niger is at direct odds with what he attempted to tell the American public.
Q That has nothing to do with leaking the name of --
MR. SNOW: I'm just --
Q She's making a good point.
MR. SNOW: I'm answering her question, which she raised --
Q But she's making a good point.
Q You're arguing a different case.
MR. SNOW: No, I'm arguing --
Q The apology that the American people may want -- some may want --
MR. SNOW: I understand.
Q -- has to do with the fact that the White House allowed for a breach. And doesn't Libby owe the President an apology?
MR. SNOW: Again, I'm not -- this is -- number one, I believe the investigation found that the White House was not the source of the breach. Number two, the President has said that it is --
Q But it's part of the Bush administration.
MR. SNOW: -- the President has said it is inappropriate to have such breaches, and has apologized for them. So beyond that --
Q When did he apologize?
MR. SNOW: I think he said to the American people -- gave an apology, but --
Q Tony, one point that is not in dispute is that Karl Rove was involved in the leak, in some way he was involved. He talked to at least two reporters who ended up publishing this information. In 2004, the President said -- he didn't talk about convictions or anything -- he said he would fire anyone in this White House who was involved in the leak. We now know Karl Rove was involved; he did not fire him.
MR. SNOW: There are two things to note. We have also said that we do not -- we are not going to make comments in detail until the legal process is over. And it is not; there is still an appeal through --
Q You just put out a two-page statement. He commented --
Q Wait a minute, he just put out this statement, and it's it's over.
Q He commented -- how could you not --
Q Yes, he's commented now, so that's a big -- we can shoot holes in that statement.
MR. SNOW: No, on follow-on issues like this that still may have bearing and an issue that may return to trial, I'm not going to comment on it.
Q How can you stand there with a straight face and say that this is not a political act? What he did was inherently political.
MR. SNOW: It was political in the sense that, as President, he has the authority to do this, but on the other hand --
Q Yes, he chose to do it for this person.
MR. SNOW: On the other hand, if you're doing the weathervane thing, you probably, depending on which constituency you wanted to make happy, you would have done something differently. I am telling you that this President approaches these very carefully as a matter of principle. And the key considerations were, let's figure out what we think is appropriate -- what he thinks is appropriate, in terms of punishment, and let's also do it in a way that does not do violence, but, in fact, shows respect for a system of justice -- not going in and overthrowing the hard work and the verdict of a duly constituted jury. That, to me, demonstrates just the opposite of political consideration. This is an attempt to try to figure out a principled way of dealing with what he thought was a thorny issue.
A "thorny" political issue, Tony.
And if Bush has "principles", I'd sure like to see them. What a farce.