During the White House press briefing today, the White House press corps openly laughed at Press Secretary Jay Carney's statement on President Obama's assertion of executive privilege. The transcript reads. "This is entirely about principle, it has nothing to do.... (LAUGHTER)."
The questions from the press corps (marked with asterisks, below) clearly made Carney feel squeamish as he tried to stick to his undoubtedly Axelrod- scripted talking points.
* "Can you clarify or elaborate on what you mean by 'every document has been provided' when the president has exerted privilege on some documents?
* "The documents being blocked through executive privilege, any of them to or from individuals in the White House or are they all internal DOJ documents?
Carney: "I don't have a way to characterize the documents in question here. I can tell you that long ago the administration provided documentation about specific questions regarding officials at the White House and the national security staff."
* "The documents that the president is asserting executive privilege and not disclosing, you don't know or you're not going to say whether to — any of them are to or from anybody in the White House?"
Carney: "Again, I'm not going to characterize documents related to this, except to say that on the specific matter of White House or anybody in the White House .... [they] were provided back in the fall."
* "In early 2011, the Justice Department wrote a letter to Congress in which they said something that was not true..... They said that ATF had nothing to do with guns going over into Mexico. That wasn't true and it took them until December 2011 to take that back. Is there not a legitimate investigative and oversight responsiblity to find out what the Department of Justice knew when they were giving false information to Congress?"
* "The family of Brian Terry, the slain border patrol agent, at his murder scene, at least two of these guns were found, they disagree with your characterization about these investigations."
Carney had to be reminded of the Terry family's name after saying, "you talk about the family that you referred to."
* "Can you say categorically that there is no — there has been no cover-up?
* "There's nothing being covered up by the Justice Department, by the White House as far as your involvement...?"
* "You kept saying that the Attorney General deserves credit for ending the operation, does he not deserve some blame for the fact that this gun running operation resulted in a federal agent being killed on his watch?"
* " You've also given the attorney general credit here for turning over I think you at one point said every page to Congress, 7,600 pages.... I think the number is something like 70-80,000 pages. So how can you say every page has been turned over if Congress has gotten about 10 percent of it?"
* "What is covered by what the president is claiming executive privilege on beyond the broad protecting ... How broad is the scope? I mean, what does it cover?"
* "On this question of how far the privilege goes, traditionally privilege has involved with the — interactions with the White House and the White House staff or national security. In this case, it seems to go beyond that."
* "You said in answer to an earlier question that there was no White House coverup involved in these documents that the president has declared a privilege on. Is there any information that if put on the public record would jeopardize national security interests or embarrass the White House?"
Carney: "I'm not going to give you a readout of documents that are under question...."
* "How far would the president go in standing by Eric Holder in the midst of all this?"
Carney: "I don't — I'm not sure what that means."