state department press briefing -- 11.15.07 -- video up, shortly, of krongard's precarious position with secretary rice
well -- video is up.
"cookie chronicles, part two."
it is a little more than one
minute in total length. . .
it seems that not even condoleezza rice
will be able to tolerate the potential for a
perjury charge investigation against her
current, but-soon-to-be-departing, IG, cookie
krongard. . . here's the transcript from
today's state department briefing; video
of this, in mere moments, as a new
"nightly nolo". . .
T R A N S C R I P T
12:40 p.m. EST
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. Nothing to start off with. Someone want to grab Matt's tape recorder for him?
MR. MCCORMACK: Jumped out of your seat, literally. We can get right to your questions, whoever wants to start.
QUESTION: You have any updates on the employment status of the Inspector General?
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't; still employed, still working as Inspector General here at the State Department.
QUESTION: Do you still have confidence in him?
MR. MCCORMACK: He is still working here as a -- at the State Department and I expect that he is going to be working hard at his job to do the best possible job he can do on behalf of the American people and the Secretary.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about any of the recusals that he's decided to take from any cases?
MR. MCCORMACK: Not aware of any others beyond the one that he talked about with Chairman Waxman's committee yesterday as well as one that the committee asked him to take regarding the new embassy compound. I'm not aware of any others.
QUESTION: Is it not unusual for -- these would appear to be the two -- to the outside observer, the two biggest internal State Department investigations going on. Wouldn't it be appropriate for there to be an Inspector General or at least someone of that similar rank, a Special Inspector General or a special something or other to look into that? As just a (inaudible)?
MR. MCCORMACK: I can't tell you what investigations the Inspector General currently has underway. Typically, they have multiple investigations into issues small, medium, large.
QUESTION: These are unquestionably not just large, they're huge. We're talking about one aspect of a multibillion dollar worldwide contract and --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- the embassy project, which is 600 -- you know, more than $600 million.
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, you know, again, I can't draw -- I can't draw any particular linkage between the size of particular projects and the effort that is being allocated on behalf of the Inspector General. You can talk to their office about the resources they have devoted to any investigations they might have underway. We do not, as a practice, talk about Inspector General investigations.
QUESTION: (Inaudible). I understand that, but these are two that you have spoken about and these are two that he is no longer going to be involved in.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: And he happens to be the Inspector General.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right. And there's a professional staff that works for him and I would imagine that they are working with all the energy and resources that they need in order to conclude the investigations; again, to conduct them in a way that they feel as though they need to be conducted.
And remember here, that this is -- with inspector generals' offices, there is a line that goes up to the cabinet secretary for whom they work, as well as to the Congress. So the Congress has full visibility into the activities of the inspector generals across the U.S. Government and I would expect that in any case where you did not have an inspector general or the office that was performing up to standards, you wouldn't just hear it from the cabinet agency. You would hear it from the Congress. And there have been questions that Chairman Waxman's committee has posed to Howard Krongard directly. He had an opportunity to answer some of those yesterday.
And I would expect if there are any future questions, Howard is going to be responding to Chairman Waxman in as full and complete manner as he possibly can.
QUESTION: Right, but two small things. One, aren't you concerned about at least the appearance of the IG's office being leaderless in two major investigations?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, first of all, it's not leaderless. He's still -- he is working as the Inspector General, he's still there. He has appropriately recused himself from these two issues, Blackwater and the new embassy compound. It's -- it is not unusual for people who have had a previous life outside of government, when they come into government, to recuse themselves on certain issues. Howard has done that as he believes appropriate. As soon as he found out yesterday that his brother had some relationship with Blackwater, he recused himself.
QUESTION: Okay. And just the second thing, you've been asked several times if you could say that the Secretary or the building has confidence in him and you have declined --
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, he's still --
QUESTION: -- to say that.
MR. MCCORMACK: He's still -- he is still doing his job as Inspector -- as Inspector General. He has --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) that you have confidence in his ability to do the job --
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, it's not --
QUESTION: Do you have confidence in his --
MR. MCCORMACK: It's not for me to judge, Matt, the job the Inspector General is doing. The Congress can do that. The Secretary can do that. There have been questions that he has had to answer. He has answered those with Chairman Waxman. There have been some issues that have been raised with respect to the Inspector General's office. As appropriate, we have asked the overseer board of inspectors general to look into the work of the State Department Inspector General Office. These are -- this is all strictly according to the book. Howard is continuing his work as Inspector General. It's important work, the Secretary believes it's important work, and clearly, the Congress believes it's important work.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- but the word, confident -- you can't use the word, confidence, or give me a yes or no answer to the question, do you have confidence?
MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible) you can play the Washington games with people. Howard is still working as Inspector General here at the State Department.
QUESTION: You talked about the two ties on the organizational chart.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: In fact, if the Secretary wanted to ask him to resign, does she have the power to do that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well --
QUESTION: What is the legal authority?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'll have to ask, Charlie. I haven't even asked that question. I don't know. I can't tell you what the answer to that question is; happy to post an answer for you.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure, happy to post an answer for you, yeah.
QUESTION: Can we switch to Iran now or --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don't know. Anything else on this?
(No response.). . .