POLITICS
02/22/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Robert Gibbs Didn't Answer My Question: CNN Reporter (VIDEO)

CNN's Ed Henry was at Robert Gibbs' first press conference on Thursday. Later he told Wolf Blitzer that he didn't think the new press secretary answered his query about William Lynn, a former lobbyist who is slated to become Deputy Defense Secretary. "He was trying to walk that fine line and push back on some of the tough questions we were throwing at him," Henry said.

Watch:

Good government advocates are upset by the Lynn nomination, saying that it goes against President Obama's own rules about lobbyists and that there's no reason to make an exception in this case.

ED HENRY: On the first day, he was trying to walk that fine line and push back on some of the tough questions we were throwing at him. One of them is about the President's pledge yesterday that he's cracking down on Washington, that he's trying to stop the revolving door, crack down on the influence of lobbyists. Specifically he vowed that he'd have stricter limits than any other previous Administration. And he said if you're a lobbyist entering his administration you cannot work on matters you lobbied on before. To keep him honest, I asked Robert Gibbs a question about why the president picked William Lynn to be a top defense official even though he's most recently been a lobbyist for Raytheon, a major defense contractor. Robert Gibbs insisted this is not a problem. Take a listen.

HENRY (tape): We're at war in two countries right now. So he's a lobbyist and now he's going to be deputy defense secretary.

ROBERT GIBBS (tape): Right. And if he ever leaves this administration, he'll never, as the president said, be able to lobby this administration as it relates to the work that it does for the length or entirety of that Administration. Again, what the president did yesterday was institute the strongest ethical and transparency guidelines that any administration has lived under in the history of the country.

HENRY: So you can see right there, Robert Gibbs using a tactic you've known well before, Wolf, other press secretaries have tried to use which is to focus on the part of the question they want to which is that when William Lynn leaves the government the way Barack Obama has set up the system, then he will not be able to lobby this administration anymore. But that's not really the question. The question is about why he's coming into the administration now even though he's most recently been a lobbyist.