Monday at the White House press briefing press secretary Josh Earnest was asked by the Washington, D.C. correspondent for the Fox News Channel, James Rosen, if President Obama is treating the Attorney General Loretta Lynch like a Chinese food restaurant.
Partial transcript as follows:
ROSEN: We will start with guns. You spoke in this briefing about the confidence the president has in the lawfulness of the measures he is soon to implement. How did that confidence arise? Did he task people at the office of legal counsel and the department of justice to provide legal memos?
EARNEST: We will have an opportunity to get into more of this work after the president has made an announcement. I will say there have been attorneys both at the White House and at the Department of Justice that have been carefully looking at the law to determine what authority the president has to take action. They are focused as I mentioned earlier, not just on what would be effective in addressing the problem, which is keeping guns out of the wrong hands. But also making sure the steps the president is taking are within legal authority. The attorneys working on this were carefully considering both elements. That’s what gives me the confidence to assert that what the president announces will be something for which he has full confidence in the legal arguments we can make your—for it.
ROSEN: Is it fair to say that the attorney general has complied?
EARNEST: The president did ask the Department of Justice, including the attorney general, to play a leading role in what authority was available to him to keep guns out of the hands of those that should not have them.
ROSEN: Does that call into question the independence of the attorney general if the president can simply call her up like a Chinese food restaurant and order what he wants off the menu and she serves it up?
EARNEST: Unfortunately, the system for doing that was not quite as easy as ordering from column A or column B. Experts at the Department of Justice had to carefully consider what the law would allow. They bring expertise of two varieties. The first is law enforcement, which is understanding what steps can be taken to more effectively enforce the laws on the books and close loopholes that may make those laws less effective than was intended. But they also bring in expertise in understanding what the president can do using his executive authority. And understanding what Congress can do after using both of those areas of expertise, the president was able to get some recommendations from the Department of Justice.
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN