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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 17, 2007
Press Gaggle by Gordon Johndroe
Crawford Middle School
10:17 A.M. CDT
MR. JOHNDROE: Good morning, everyone. This morning the President had his normal briefings. Then he taped the radio address; the topic will be Iraq, and how the provincial reconstruction teams are working to help facilitate political and economic reforms, as well as assist with bottom up reconciliation.
The President was also briefed this morning on the mine situation in Utah. Our heart goes out to the mine rescuer from the Mine Safety and Health Administration office who was lost. Assistant Secretary of Labor Richard Stickler is out in Utah, and will be briefing on that later today.
At 12:20 p.m. today, the President and Mrs. Bush will attend the annual Republican National Committee reception at the Broken Spoke Ranch. The President has attended this event every year since 2002.
And with that, I'm happy to take any questions.
Q Gordon, what does the White House think of the Federal Reserve action, cutting the discount rate?
MR. JOHNDROE: We have full confidence in the Federal Reserve and respect their independence, but we don't comment on their specific policy announcements.
Q Was the President briefed on it, on the action?
MR. JOHNDROE: The President's economic advisors, led by Secretary Paulson, keep him updated. They are in regular communication with him. I can't speak specifically to the Federal Reserve action. I do know that Secretary Paulson called the President yesterday evening to give him an update on the economy and the markets.
Q Gordon, what's the level of concern at the White House about Russia's resumption of strategic bomber patrols?
MR. JOHNDROE: We have very good working relations with the Russians, with the Russian military. Militaries around the world engage in a variety of different activities. It's not entirely surprising that the Russian air force, the Russian military might engage in this kind of activity or exercise.
Q Why isn't it surprising? I mean, this is a Cold War activity, put in moth balls, what, in the first Bush administration? Why isn't surprising that they'd bring their planes back on line?
MR. JOHNDROE: Well, I think it's an internal decision made by the Russians. And as I said, various militaries around the world can choose to exercise their forces in different ways. I'd just leave it at that.
Q Can I follow up?
MR. JOHNDROE: Sure, Suzanne.
Q Is it considered a security threat in any sense to the U.S. military?
MR. JOHNDROE: Oh, I don't think our military has those concerns about it.
Q Gordon, how does the White House square the rather dramatic difference between FBI Chief Muller's written notes on the meeting with Ashcroft in March 2004 in the hospital with the Attorney General's comments? Just to read out a couple of the comments he had, Mueller says the Attorney General was "feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed," whereas the Attorney General -- I'm sorry, Gonzales says he was "lucid" and "did most of the talking" during that visit.
MR. JOHNDROE: I think this issue and this time period and this event have been gone over many, many times, and I just don't have anything to add to it. I think if you need additional comments -- not that he may have much to add, either -- but Tony Fratto back in Washington follows this issue and comments on it for the White House. But I just -- it's been gone over many, many times, and there's just nothing to add to it.
Q On a different subject. Tony Snow this week told Hugh Hewitt that he's already made it clear at the White House that he's not going to be able to go the distance, meaning serve to the end of the term. Has he submitted his resignation?
MR. JOHNDROE: You know, I had not heard that Tony had made those comments. I'm not aware of any resignation being submitted or anything like that.
Q On Freddie and Fannie, have you ruled out Fannie and Freddie buying mortgages beyond their current limits, or to do anything else to help provide mortgage finance and other credit markets?
MR. JOHNDROE: I don't believe the White House is going to have any additional comments on the markets or no the mortgage situation. I think the Fed obviously took action today, and I think the Treasury Department may have more for you on that.
Q Gordon, does the verdict in the Jose Padilla case lead the administration to think that enemy combatants can be tried in civilian courts?
MR. JOHNDROE: One, pleased to see that Jose Padilla received a fair trial and a just verdict. But I think each case has to be looked at individually. Some cases do fall into a certain tranche, but each case has to be looked on an individual basis. Different detainees fall under different -- they have different status, and some might be an American citizen, but many are not, as are most held in Guantanamo Bay. And I think that's an important distinction.
All right. Thank you all.
END 10:23 A.M. CDT