Update: Romney Reaction Coming Shortly, Obama to Speak at 12:15 PM
(CNSNews.com) - Will President Obama speak to the American people on Thursday, a pivotal day in his presidency, a reporter asked the White House press secretary yesterday. "I don't have any scheduling updates for you on that," Jay Carney said.
The Supreme Court will release its long-awaited ruling on Obama's signature health care law Thursday morning. And later, the House of Representatives is expected to hold the president's good friend, Attorney General Eric Holder, in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents that might indicate missteps at the Justice Department in dealing with the gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious.
At Wednesday's White House press briefing, Carney was asked about the contempt vote:
"Well, I can tell you that House Republicans have made the strategic choice to try to score political points by focusing their time and attention on a law enforcement operation from 2009 that was botched and that everyone agrees was botched, and that employed a flawed tactic and everyone agrees that it employed a flawed tactic. And they’ve made that choice, rather than focusing on jobs and the economy. And with millions of Americans still struggling to pay their bills, I cannot imagine this will sit well with most Americans."
The White House insists the Justice Department has been "extremely cooperative" in providing "thousands of pages of documents" to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
But Committee Chairman Darrell Issa says he's been waiting eight months to receive subpoenaed documents that would help Congress understand who at the Justice Department should have known about the "reckless" gun-running tactics; how the department concluded that Operation Fast and Furious was fundamentally flawed; how the Justice Department dealt with whistleblowers; and the extent to which the Justice Department tried to conceal information from Congress.
Carney said the contempt vote by the full House "will be viewed for what it is if it takes place, and that is as political theater, an action taken by Congress that does not respond to the most urgent priorities of the American people, and is the kind of political gamesmanship that frustrates the American people so much about what happens in Washington."
Asked about the National Rifle Association's intention to evaluate lawmakers based on their contempt vote, Carney said, "It's politics."
The NRA says a government operation that allowed straw purchases and sent those illegally purchased guns to Mexican criminals "is an issue of the utmost seriousness." Two of the guns were later found at the place where a U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed.
"The reason we support the contempt resolution is the same reason we first called for Attorney General Holder’s resignation more than a year ago: the Department’s obstruction of congressional oversight of a program that cost lives in support of an anti-gun agenda," an NRA official was quoted as telling the House Oversight Committee in a June 20 letter.
But on Wednesday, Carney denied any "grand plan" behind the Fast and Furious program:
"Everyone knows the President did not know about this tactic until he heard about it through the media; the attorney general did not know about it. The tactic itself was employed by the previous administration in a different operation. This was a field office tactic that was flawed. And when the attorney general learned about it, he took action to ensure that it was no longer used, and he directed the Inspector General at the Department of Justice to investigate."
Carney repeated that Obama has "absolute confidence in his attorney general."