White House On DOJ Hiring Scandal: "Overall Disappointment"

08/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The White House finally responds to the Justice Department Inspector General report saying two aides to Alberto Gonzales broke the law. Press Secretary Dana Perino must have needed time to work on her vague, half-hearted condemnation:

Q Dana, what's your reaction to the Justice Department report where they -- the report essentially says, yes, that there was inappropriate influence on politics and ideology that was part of our hiring and firing practices?

MS. PERINO: Well as I have read the coverage of it -- I haven't read the report, but as I read the coverage of it, there's obviously information in there that would cause concern to anybody. And we agree with Michael Mukasey that -- the Attorney General -- that there was concern. There should be concern any time anyone is improperly using politics to influence career decisions. We believe that is improper. We could absolutely not defend that. And we are pleased that the Attorney General has taken steps to change it there at the Justice Department.

Q Can I infer from that that President Bush is disappointed in Alberto Gonzales?

MS. PERINO: I think that if you look at the report, and it is in line with what the Attorney General said at the time, which was that he was not aware of that going on. And so I don't think there's anything -- disappointment doesn't necessarily go to the Attorney General.

Q You don't think it would change -- it doesn't change the President's --

MS. PERINO: No, I don't. The whole situation -- the whole situation in terms of the politicization -- or accusations of politicization -- if you look at career hires that should not have had any sort of questions put towards them as to what sort of party they represent, or what affiliation they might belong to, or who they might vote for -- those are inappropriate for career positions. And the President is glad that the -- Attorney General Mukasey made sure that that is no longer ongoing at the Justice Department. And it's nothing that we could defend, and we never have.

Q But you won't go so far as to say that, looking at Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department, President Bush is disappointed this was going on?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that we are -- overall disappointment in the situation, sure.

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