The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
January 9, 2003

Press Briefing Excerpt by Ari Fleischer 01/09/03

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Q The President -- on another issue, the President resubmitted 30 judges, I think it is, the Democratic Senate either refused to consider or refused to confirm. And people around he describe that as a decision by the President that he believes he was right and he wants his nominees given another chance in the Republican Senate. Why not do the same thing with Otto Reich? Why instead give him a presidential job that does not require Senate confirmation? Why not resubmit his nomination?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President thought that the ideal place for Otto Reich would be here as part of the National Security Council. There are many people who work for the National Security Council who the President has to make a decision about. Does he want to have their expertise right here within the building, or does the President want to have their expertise at a different agency that would require Senate confirmation? So it's a different judgment about different individuals.

Dr. Rice, for example, of course, she works here for the National Security Council. There was no question of Senate process or Senate confirmation. His judgment was, he wants her advice right here close in the White House. Same thing with Mr. Reich.

Q It's not a calculation to avoid a political appointment?

MR. FLEISCHER: It was principally because of what I just outlined. Obviously, there would have been some other issues that would have been raised, had a nomination gone to the Senate. But the principal reason was because of just what I outlined.

Q I'd like to go back to John's question about Otto Reich. In the case of the judicial nominees, the opposition is coming exclusively from Democrats. In the case of Reich, the opposition was coming from a very senior Republican, Senator Lugar, who is Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Did that difference influence the President's thinking?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, I indicated the principal reason was because the President wanted his expertise here. I never ruled out that there could have been other factors, as well. And it's always important to gauge the inclinations of the Senate. And those are the reasons.

Q So Senator Lugar's weighing did have an influence, did have effect?

MR. FLEISCHER: It's always important to be cognizant of the sentiment of the Senate and to see how widespread it may or may not be.

Q Ari, a couple of Senators, including Tom Daschle, have indorsed the filibuster to block the -- any kind of a vote on Judge Pickering. Would the President drop that nomination if it appeared that it was blocking progress on other aspects of his agenda?

MR. FLEISCHER: It's hypothetical. I think it's important to let the role of the Senate take place. It's unfortunate if people are already, on the second day of the Congress, talking about filibustering. The President would hope that wouldn't be the case. But the process is just beginning. The Judiciary Committee will begin its work on this nomination as well as all nominations.

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