the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 4/19/12

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:34 P.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY:  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room for your daily briefing.  It's good to have you here.  I have no announcements to make at the top, so we will go straight to questions.  I know that there's an event that Alabama fans probably are eager to cover, so we'll try to get you out before that starts.

Ben.

Q    Thanks, Jay.  I had a couple questions about the broader issue raised by the Secret Service controversy.  Lawmakers are raising questions that go to not just the morality of what happened but the security.  Does the White House think that those questions being raised on the Hill are legitimate?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I'll say two things.  First, as I think I said the other day, the Secret Service has made clear that with regard to this incident in Colombia, the President's security was never compromised.  The President has said, and I have reiterated, that he has high regard for and great appreciation for the extraordinary work that the Secret Service does to protect him, his family, those who travel with him.  And that regard remains high to this day.

The incident in Colombia is under investigation by the Secret Service.  It continues to be under investigation.  And questions about broader concerns that aren’t related specifically to this incident I think might be asked and dealt with after conclusions are reached in this investigation.  Right now I hesitate to take questions on sort of broader thematic issues while this investigation is underway.  The President is obviously awaiting the conclusions of that investigation, and for now I think we'll keep focused on that.

Q    Okay, but while that Secret Service investigation is happening -- and there's a military one as well -- about what happened in Colombia, lawmakers, in their oversight capacity, are asking those broader questions and they're not waiting for the Secret Service investigation.  They're scheduling their own hearings.  So I'm just wondering, from the White House perspective, the kind of questions that are being raised on the Hill are legitimate policy questions, or do you think that this is getting political?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the Secret Service is an apolitical organization that provides security and protection to Presidents of both parties, of any party, first of all.  Secondly, without  -- I don't know specifically what questions are being asked, but it is certainly legitimate for congressional members -- members of Congress who have oversight responsibility to ask questions in the areas for which they're responsible.  So I don't see any problem with that.

But right now, the Service is very focused on its investigation into this incident.  The President has spoken clearly about his views on this when he had a press conference on Sunday.  And we’ll await the results of that investigation before we can talk about broader issues.

Q    One other quick one on this.  It’s our understanding that the President has not spoken to Director Sullivan.  If that is accurate, can you explain why he hasn’t?  It might seem to the public that, in the course of trying to find out what’s happening, that the President would make that phone call.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President has been kept very much up to speed on the situation with regards to this incident and the actions the Service has taken, the very swift actions the Service has taken to investigate this matter.  Senior officials within the White House have been in contact with Director Sullivan and others over at the Secret Service as part of that effort. 

And the President has not spoken with Director Sullivan in recent days, but I wouldn’t read anything into that.  I think I said yesterday that the President has faith in the director, confidence in his leadership.  And I noted that Director Sullivan acted very quickly and swiftly in response to the incident that we’re discussing.

Q    One other topic, quickly.  When the President, at an official event yesterday, said that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth and neither was the First Lady, was that in any way a reference to Governor Romney?

MR. CARNEY:  Those of you who have covered President Obama know that he has used that phrase to describe his background many times in the past.  And I suppose anybody who thinks it was a reference to them might be a little oversensitive, because -- unless they think that when President Obama said it three years ago it was in reference to them.

Jeff.

Q    Jay, is there any thought being given in the White House to asking Chairman Jaczko at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to step down?

MR. CARNEY:  Not that I’m aware of, no.

Q    With the reappointment of the Republican commissioner, the story about sexist comments from the chairman are coming back up to light.  Is that something that the White House is concerned at all about, going into the campaign where women are obviously a very important constituency group that the President is doing well with?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think it’s a fairly obvious statement of fact that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not a political body.  It is responsible for overseeing nuclear facilities in this country. 

The President believes that we need to have an NRC that's functioning effectively.  And that is why, as I think has now been made clear in the media, the President will renominate    Ms. Sviniki, because he doesn't want to have a break in service in June when her current term expires.

Q    One of the reasons there's been controversy on the Hill about her nomination is because she and some other commissioners have accused the chairman of behaving badly towards women.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, that may be the case and whatever review of that may take place.  The President is focused on the need to ensure that the NRC functions effectively and fulfills its responsibilities on behalf of the American people because of the high priority he puts on nuclear safety.

Q    Does he speak to the chairman very often?

MR. CARNEY:  The only time I can remember was during the Fukushima disaster, and I believe he did, at that time, meet with him because of the earthquake and tsunami that led to the situation at the reactor in Japan.  And I think the chairman was here for briefings on a couple of occasions during that time period.

Q    And did the White House let Senator Majority Leader Reid know about this report ahead of time?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, we communicate with the Senate Majority Leader all the time, so I would assume that the answer to that is yes.

Q    Let me just ask one question on a separate issue.  There appears to be the potential or beginnings of a war between Sudan and South Sudan.  Is that something that the White House is watching, and what is your reaction to that?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, we are, of course, watching that matter, and I've discussed it in the past from this podium.  We're very concerned about stability in that region.  We've very concerned about the need for actions to be taken to reduce potential conflict there.  I don't have anything specific to discuss with you in reaction to recent developments in the last few days, but absolutely, we're very focused on this.

Let me go to Jessica.

Q    Two different topics.  First of all, Secretary Clinton just told ministers in Paris that if the Kofi Annan peace place isn't successful, the U.N. should pass a resolution saying it would intervene using all means necessary -- Section 7.  Why does the administration think that this is necessary and appropriate?

MR. CARNEY:  That what is necessary and appropriate?

Q    That this is what the U.N. should do.

MR. CARNEY:  Well, first of all, I think, again, the Secretary, as you report to me, has just said this.  But we are very concerned about the failure thus far of the Assad regime to fulfill its obligations under the Kofi Annan plan that it promised it would.  It is an incomplete cease-fire at best.  We are working with our allies and partners within the "Friends of Syria" framework as well as broadly within the United Nations to consider next steps should the Annan plan not succeed. 

But ultimately, our focus is on the need for a cease-fire, the need for a withdrawal of government forces from regions of the country, the need to provide humanitarian and other non-lethal assistance to the Syrian people and the opposition, and the need for a peaceful process to begin that would allow the Syrian people to determine their own political future.

Q    Does that mean the U.S. would now be prepared to potentially provide arms to some of the --   

MR. CARNEY:  Our position has not changed, which is that we do not believe that is the right course of action, because further militarization of Syria could lead to even more devastating consequences.  We believe there is still the possibility of the preferred outcomes here, which is a withdrawal by Assad’s forces, a cease-fire withdrawal, and a political process that is peaceful that allows the Syrian people to have a better future and one that is more democratic.

We're fully aware of the fact that the Syrian regime is not -- and not for the first time -- is not living up to its obligations fully.  And we’re monitoring that very carefully.

Q    Okay.  On the Secret Service -- they’ve announced, or they -- we’ve learned that they’re forming an external board to study the culture of the service.  Does the White House or the President plan to name some of the members of the board?

MR. CARNEY:  I just don’t have anything specific for you on that kind of review or further steps that might be taken.  Right now we’re focused on awaiting the results of the completed investigation of the incident in Colombia.

Q    Does the President feel that whenever Director Sullivan decides to retire years from now -- if it’s years from now or if it’s in the near future -- that at some point in the future the Secret Service should be run by somebody outside the culture of the Secret Service, the way the FBI is run by somebody from outside the culture?

MR. CARNEY:  I think that we are about four days or five days into this incident -- six days into this incident.  To then speculate about what might happen in the future with regard to this agency is I don’t think particularly illuminating.  So right now we’re focused on this investigation, this incident, finding out what happened, holding people accountable and responsible for transgressions, if they occurred, and then making other assessments as necessary. 

The President believes that, as I stated in response to an earlier question, that the Secret Service is filled with men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the President of the United States.  And the implications of that are not about the personal security of one individual or one individual's family, but the -- sort of the essence of our democracy, the ability for our democracy to function, which requires the protection of the President.

Q    But you already know that two GS-14 level supervisors have left as a result of this, and that you --

MR. CARNEY:  Jessica, I understand that you and everyone else here has a reporting interest in getting facts as quickly as you can with regards to this investigation, and I understand that.  I've been there, and I appreciate that.  But we are not going to pre-judge outcomes and discuss the future of this agency in a press briefing while this investigation is going on. 

The fact of the matter is this is an incident that requires investigation.  The Secret Service has acted with speed in addressing the matter, investigating the matter, holding people accountable, and continuing to push forward with the investigation.  When there are results of the investigation and we can assess those, we may have more to say about it.  But it is not helpful to the process for us to speculate about what we might, or an administration might do in response to an investigation whose results are not yet concluded.

Jake.

Q    This is the second serious security breach to take place under Director Sullivan's watch.  The first one, of course, has to do with the White House crashers for the state dinner.  How many incidents like this do there have to be before the President loses confidence in his Secret Service director?

MR. CARNEY:  I will restate what I've said, Jake.  The President has confidence in Director Sullivan.  He has great appreciation and regard for the men and women of the Secret Service who perform their duties admirably and at risk to their own lives.  That is not to excuse any behavior or activity that was in appropriate.  The incident is under investigation, but, again, I think it is unhelpful --

Q    What more do you need to know?

MR. CARNEY:  What more?  Quite a bit more, Jake.  This thing is under investigation.  This incident became -- happened last week, became public very quickly after it happened.  The investigation was launched immediately, and we're several days into an investigation.  I think it is very much in the interests of everyone, and most importantly, of the United States and its security service here -- the Secret Service, with regards to the mission it is charged with -- to allow this investigation to be completed before we make judgments based on conclusions we don't yet have. 

Q    The President talks a lot about accountability, people in the government being held accountable.  It seems as though incidents happen in this administration, and have happened in this administration, and people are not held accountable.  Maybe lower-level people --

MR. CARNEY:  Jake, let me just -- I know you were covering this yesterday, but based on the reports I read that I think you and others filed, people have already been held accountable or have held themselves accountable in this very incident that has been under investigation for a few days.  So I think the swift --

Q    Harry Truman did not have a plaque on his desk that said "the buck stops there" -- okay?  The point is that accountability rises -- people are in charge of agencies and they are held accountable for the behavior of the people that they are in charge of.

MR. CARNEY:  Right.  And perhaps, Jake, perhaps, it would be in the interest of a complete and thorough and fair investigation not to make determinations about the conclusions of an investigation before they've even been reached.  That's the President's position.  I think that is a position that is -- fits naturally into a general sense of appropriateness and justice and the pursuit of the truth.  And that is the position we're going to take.

Q    I have one other question.  We've talked about this before in this room, about the President's trips to battleground states in which he has an event and then he has a fundraiser.  And I know you've talked more recently when Ann asked you about how the language in these different official versus campaign events are often quite similar.  What is your message to taxpayers when they see the President flying on Air Force One, doing one official event, one campaign event, flying back, knowing that in a lot of ways, taxpayers are paying for the President to campaign?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, they’re not, first of all, because as in other administrations, including our immediate predecessors, as you know, we follow all the rules and regulations to ensure that the DNC or other relevant political committee pays what is required for the President or First Lady to travel to political events.  And this -- we go absolutely by the book with regard to the payments according to -- depending on which events are campaign or political and which are official. 

The suggestion that there is something wrong with the fact that the President says the same thing about what his vision is and what his policies are and what his beliefs are in front of official audiences, non-political audiences as he does in front of audiences who are his supporters I think is kind of ridiculous.  In fact, I think it is a testament to his absolute constancy and consistency that he -- this goes back to Ann’s question -- that, yes, when he stands before supporters who are donating to his campaign, who may be wealthy, and says, it is only appropriate that the wealthiest among us do our fair share so that everybody gets a fair shot -- that’s the same message he has when he’s talking about the need to pass the Buffett Rule in the Senate.  Totally -- I think that’s absolutely the way it should be. 

And again, with regards to the way every President who's been running for reelection in our lifetimes deals with these matters, it is by the book, very carefully done and appropriately done.  And as you know, Jake, the President is the President 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and he has to fly on Air Force One.  He has to have security and communication.  There are elements of his job that are always with him, regardless of whether he’s in a campaign event or an official event.  And costs are apportioned accordingly.

Q    I think the issue is that President Obama is fundraising more than any President before.  Each President -- you could say this about each President -- that he has broken records for fundraisers than the one before; that President Obama has attended dozens more fundraisers than President Bush had done at this point in his presidency, and is going to visit battleground states more than any President --

MR. CARNEY:  Well, that's a fact that I'd like to contest, because when that was first raised based on a Wall Street Journal article that included Virginia as evidence -- the President's trips to Virginia as evidence of traveling to battleground states, but when it was noted that they didn't include that when assessing President George W. Bush's travel in 2004 -- they didn't include Virginia because nobody thought Virginia was contested, and if you did include Virginia, Bush actually traveled to more battleground states at an earlier period of time.  So the President should not be penalized for the fact that the voters of Virginia decided to vote for him in 2008.  (Laughter.)

Q    Do you know the states he's visited the most this year?

MR. CARNEY:  And 2012, we hope.  I'm sorry, I don't.

Q    The two states he's visited the most this year are Ohio and Florida.  That's just a coincidence?

MR. CARNEY:  Two very populous states; very important states. And I'm sure he'll be back to those states as well as others.  We were recently in Oklahoma.  I'm an eternal optimist, but I'm prepared to suggest that it's unlikely that anyone would call that a battleground state.  He gave a major speech in Nebraska Kansas -- again, prepared to suggest that that's not a battleground state, although a portion of it was in 2008.*

If you look at everyone in the news organizations and all their maps about what states are up for grabs and that kind of stuff, and say the President can't go to those states, you're basically saying he can't go to half the country -- he can't go to -- and probably far greater than half in terms of population. He can't go to --

Q    Nobody is saying he can't go to those states, Jay.  The question is should they be declared campaign trips?

MR. CARNEY:  So you're saying he cannot make official event -- make official trips to a significant portion of the country because you guys have declared them battleground states.  And let me be clear.  Some of the states you've declared battleground states had never been won by a Democrat before until -- for years and years before 2008, or President Obama won by double digits in 2008.  But that's not -- that's a battleground state now. 

Again, it is impossible for him to appropriately do his job and travel around the country and talk with the American people if he is guided by that kind of narrow view of what is a battleground state or a safe state for a Democrat or a safe state for a Republican.  He's President of all the people, all of the United States, and will travel accordingly.

Let me move around a little bit.  Roger.

Q    Thank you.  The President said on Sunday that he would withhold his anger on the Secret Service until the allegations were investigated.  Three people are now gone, so misconduct is really not a --

MR. CARNEY:  The investigation is continuing, Roger, and I think as I've said a few times now, we will await the results of the full investigation, the complete results of the investigation.  As I noted to Jake, obviously some action has been taken, but as has also been made clear, the investigation is still underway.  So we'll await the results of that investigation.

I have no update on that.  I think, again, we'll wait until the investigation is completed.

Ann and then Donovan and then April.  Sorry.

Q    Has anybody from the West Wing Chief of Staff’s office talked to any of the West Wing staffers or the Executive Office of the President staffers who were in Cartagena on what they know preceded that week?  Was there any involvement at all by members of the President’s staff?

MR. CARNEY:  There are conversations that have happened at senior White House staff levels with the Secret Service and with Director Sullivan, but not with regards -- as I understand it -- with regards to the incident itself, which did not -- has to do with members of the Secret Service and members of the military.

Q    You’re positive there were no White House Executive Office of the President employees involved?

MR. CARNEY:  I have not heard otherwise, Ann.

Donovan.

Q    I’m going to change the tone to dogs.  (Laughter.)  Has the President -- does he know about the recent back-and-forth about Republicans picking out this section of his book where he eats dog and making a big issue out of it?  And is there any opinion on whether that’s -- does he know about it?  What does he think about it?  What do you think of it?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, like I said, he keeps up with the news.  He may know about it.  I don’t know more than that.  I think we’re talking about a reference in his book to a period when he was six or seven years old.  Making a big deal out of it sounds like somebody who’s trying to get out of the doghouse on something. 

Q    Oooh --

MR. CARNEY:  But -- it just occurred to me to say that.  (Laughter.)  I’ll leave it at that.

April, you’re next.

Q    Back on the Secret Service.  The President was talking about standards for those in the delegation that travels with him.  But when you talk about standards with the Secret Service, can you get into their conduct clause in their contracts that they have to sign?

MR. CARNEY:  I have no knowledge of any employment contracts that the Secret Service has.  It’s not my field.

Q    When they’re hired there is a certain --

MR. CARNEY:  I would refer you to the Secret Service.  I have --

Q    Okay, now back on Sudan with what Jeff had asked.  Has the President had a chance to talk to China as of yet?  George Clooney, when he was here, he said that the President did acknowledge he wanted to talk to China about the issues to help fix the problem there over oil. 

MR. CARNEY:  Well, in reference to that comment -- I’m looking at sequencing here -- I don’t remember when that was in relation to the President’s bilateral meeting with President Hu fairly recently.  And while I would have to get back to you on specifics, when the President has a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, they cover a whole range of issues.

Q    But George Clooney specifically said in a stakeout that the President would --

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I don’t have -- I can't remember if that was before or after the bilateral, and I will have to get back to you on whether or not Sudan was discussed at the bilateral.

Norah.

Q    I know you've expressed that the President wants to wait until the full investigation has been completed in the Secret Service scandal.

MR. CARNEY:  Are you guys doing pieces on this?

Q    Yes.

MR. CARNEY:  Am I picking up something here?  (Laughter.) 

Q    But the director of the Secret Service has already revealed to members of Congress that at least 20 women were signed in as guests to this hotel where the President's staff and the presidential press corps stayed.  What was the President's reaction when he learned that three members of the Secret Service are now gone?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have a reaction to report to you.  Again, the matter is still under investigation.  The President made clear just a few days ago when he was asked about this that, A, if the allegations that had surfaced in the media and been reported turned out to be true he would indeed by very angry; B, that he believes that whether it's the Secret Service or the State Department or the White House or any other agency of government, that those of us who travel abroad representing the United States of America need to conduct ourselves appropriately because we are representing not just him but the entire country, and every American across the country.  And I think his views on this are quite clear.

What I'm not prepared to do is to offer you sort of day-by-day commentary on new revelations or even new actions taken with regards to this investigation while it's still underway.  I don’t think that’s helpful to the process.  The President has made his views clear as they are now while the matter is under investigation.  When that investigation is concluded I'm sure there will be an opportunity for you all to ask him questions at some point about this if you want to, or he may express his opinions more fully about it.  But for now, it's just not -- it's not helpful to, again, offer day-by-day, play-by-play commentary.

Q    Do you think it's helpful to the process or helpful to the reputation of the Secret Service to have daily details leak out about what kind of behavior occurred in Colombia?  Or should there be some quick and decisive action taken?

MR. CARNEY:  I'll leave it to -- I mean, you cited some of the ways that details have been revealed -- or alleged details have been revealed.  There is a responsibility of Congress to have oversight, as we discussed earlier, and I'm sure the Secret Service is in conversation with relevant members of Congress for that reason. 

We are focused on allowing this process to continue and to conclude before we comment further.

Q    Is the President convinced this is an isolated incident?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, that would be a conclusion that you would have to reach after you actually investigated this incident.

Q    Okay.  And then a final question.  Can I ask you to respond to Senator Sessions, who up on the Hill today suggested that the President is in part to blame, and that the President needs to assert discipline and direction throughout the executive branch, and Presidents are to be held responsible.  He doesn’t sense that this President has shown managerial leadership.

MR. CARNEY:  That sounds very much like a lawmaker attempting to politicize something that is not at all political.

Wendell.

Q    Budget Director Zients has sent the House Appropriations Committee a letter asking for a commitment to abide by spending limits before the President will sign appropriations bills.  Can you explain that for us, please?

MR. CARNEY:  Yes, we actually think that members of Congress ought to keep their word. 

Alexis.

Q    Can I follow up on that?

MR. CARNEY:  Sure.  And then Alexis.

Q    How likely do you think -- I mean, this has a long way to go before he would be even be in a position of vetoing it.  Do you think that the Senate would actually go along with this?

MR. CARNEY:  Mara, call us naïve but we did not -- we actually did not think -- we didn’t even take a handshake on it, we insisted on legislation that was voted on and passed and signed into law by significant percentages of Republicans in both houses.  But we didn’t know when they did this that they were crossing their fingers behind their backs.  They either keep their word or they don’t. 

There is an agreement in place that set spending levels at historic lows -- non-defense, discretionary spending levels -- at lows we have not seen since the Eisenhower administration.  They represent $2 trillion in deficit reduction commitments.  That is significant.  Now, you have to ask yourself, why are they going back on their word?  Why are they insisting on deeper cuts in programs we need to sustain and grow our economy -- investments in education and innovation and research and development -- why? Well, because they have a plan in place that requires more tax cuts for the wealthy, and they need to pay for it somehow. 

So what do they do?  They ask the middle class and they ask seniors to pay for it.  And how do they do that?  By busting their own -- violating their own agreement, by failing to live up to and keep their word. 

We’re opposed to that -- pretty simple.

Alexis.

Q    -- the proposed new trajectory for the pipeline improve the President’s confidence in moving the permit forward and agreeing to that anytime soon?  And on the contrast, is the congressional action related to Keystone also moving it forward or slowing it down?

MR. CARNEY:  Two questions and on the first one, I think it was -- there was some confusion initially about what happened yesterday.  Let me be clear.  TransCanada -- Canadian corporation -- in accordance with legislation passed by the Nebraska legislature, submitted -- made a submission to Nebraska.  No submission for any permit has yet been made to the State Department, in accordance with the necessary procedures that exist here and have existed for quite some time.

As the President has said, if and when an alternate route proposal is submitted to the State Department for consideration, it will be duly considered without bias and in accordance with the procedures that are longstanding and required when we're talking about the approval of a pipeline that crosses U.S. borders with a foreign country and is built by a foreign company. 
Now, there is an effort -- going to your second question -- and not for the first time, an effort by Congress -- members of Congress who seem to think it is a wise decision to preemptively approve something that will be done -- in violation of many, many years of precedent, approve a pipeline that would be built by a foreign company, that emanates from a foreign country without knowing where that pipeline would go. 

We need -- the process is built -- is designed in a way that's very sensible.  And the only reason why we're in this position now is because Republicans in Congress decided to hijack that process for political reasons.

Let me be clear.  Back in November, when the permit initial submission was denied, it was denied in large part because the Governor of Nebraska, a Republican, had requested that it be denied.  Therefore, there was an occasion, an opportunity, and that remains the case today, for the company in question here to submit a new proposal for an alternate route.  They seem to have taken a step in Nebraska to meet requirements set by the Nebraskan legislature.  And as the President said when he was in Oklahoma, we anticipate a submission by TransCanada in the future and we'll judge it accordingly.

Yes, Kristen.

Q    Senator Chuck Grassley yesterday said that, "If heads don't roll, we're not going to get any change in the culture of the organization," meaning the Secret Service.  Does the President share that view?

MR. CARNEY:  I will answer you as I have answered others -- that the President will be angry if it turns out that the allegations that have surfaced in the press about this incident turn out to be true.  He is awaiting the conclusions of an investigation that is ongoing. 

In response specifically to the comments by the Senator you quoted, I think that, based on the reports I saw in the media, there has been some accountability already.  But this matter remains under investigation.  Other individuals at Secret Service remain part of this review, and of course there's the -- those individuals in the military.  So the process continues.  We will not offer day-by-day commentary on it, even as others might.

Q    Is he satisfied that the investigation is moving quickly enough?  And does he have a date by which he would like to see this --

MR. CARNEY:  I do not have a date for you.  I think it is an observable fact that the investigation has moved -- was started quickly, is moving with some speed.  Having said that, I think it’s important also that any investigation of this nature be done thoroughly and fairly.  But I don’t have a timeframe to put on it.

Q    One of the Secret Service supervisors who was fired yesterday is reportedly planning to sue.  How concerned is the President that this is going to drag out into an election year?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I make two points.  One, I have no comment to make on that specific thing.  And just to -- again, contrary to the efforts of some apparently in Congress, this has nothing to do with politics or the election.

Olivier and then Carol.

    Q    Jay, in your answer to Jessica it sounded like you haven’t given up hope on the Annan plan.  And I’m wondering, in a word, why?  What’s going on, on the ground in Syria that would give you any optimism at all that this is going to work?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, let’s be clear.  We support the Annan plan, as has every member of the United Nations Security Council, as have numerous nations around the region and the world.  But we are horrified by reports of significant violations of the cease-fire by the Syrian regime.  Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, is consulting with the Security Council today on next steps as the cease-fire continues to unravel.  And I’m simply not -- I don’t want to get ahead of those consultations or what may emanate from them. 

It is still our hope, obviously, that Assad ceases to attack his own people, that he enforces a cease-fire and withdraws his soldiers and heavy equipment from those regions of the country that have been identified under the Annan plan.  He does not seem to be abiding by that, and that is of great concern to us.  And that’s why we’re having these consultations.

I’m sorry -- I did say Carol next.

Q    You’ve said a couple times that senior White House officials have been in touch with Director Sullivan.  Who are those officials?

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t know every individual that has been in touch with the agency with regards to this.  But senior officials within the -- on the White House staff and Chief of Staff’s office have been consulting with Director Sullivan and others, and ensuring that the President is kept informed of this matter. But I don’t have anything beyond that for you.  I don’t have any -- I said the Chief of Staff’s office.  I don’t have any names for you.

Q    And secondarily, on the fundraiser tonight at the W Hotel, why is that closed press? 

MR. CARNEY:  I'll have to look at it.  If there are no remarks -- I mean, we open fundraising remarks on a regular basis.  If he’s not making remarks and he’s just visiting with folks, then they tend to be closed press.

As someone who spent many, many hours on the driveway outside homes during the Bush administration, the fundraisers when the President then was making remarks, I can tell you that I’m glad that we’re ensuring that you’re there when he gives remarks at fundraisers.

Yes, ma’am, in red.  Oh, yes, hi.

Q    On the renationalization of the YPF with Argentina the other day -- I know you were asked this two days ago -- but do you have anything further for us on that? 

MR. CARNEY:  I wish I did.

Q    How concerned are you?

MR. CARNEY:  I think I would have to refer you to the State Department.  I can take the question again.  I just don’t have anything new for you on it.

Q    Jay.

MR. CARNEY:  In green.  I’m trying to mix it up a little bit here.  Sorry --

Q    Jessica.

MR. CARNEY:  Jessica, nice to see you.

Q    Does the White House have any response to the launch of the missile at India towards China, particularly the criticism by the Chinese press that Western powers were not condemnatory enough?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’d say two things.  One, we understand that India did test-launch a ballistic missile earlier today.  We urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear and missile capabilities, and continue to discourage actions that might destabilize the South Asia region. 

I would simply point out, because comparisons have been made to the DPRK and its actions, that India’s record stands in stark contrast to that of North Korea, which has been subject to numerous sanctions, as you know, by the United Nations Security Council.

Q    Can I just follow up?

MR. CARNEY:  Sure, Goyal.

Q    As far as this missile tested by India is concerned, upcoming U.S.-India strategy dialogue is coming at the highest level.  Is there any discussion going to be about this missile test?  And also, China’s threat in the region is imminent. 

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don’t have anything for you on that.   Maybe the State Department does.  I think my reaction -- our reaction to this missile test is what I just provided to you.

Q    Thanks, Jay.

Q    One on World Bank?

MR. CARNEY:  Okay.

Q    The World Bank just opened its meetings, and they are concerned about three things -- one, poverty around the globe, high rise of oil prices, and corruption.  And now, World Bank has a new president, of course, selected by the President.  This is great news for the World Bank officials.  So anything the President wants to say about these issues?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think those issues all merit concern.  Thank you very much.

END  
2:18 P.M. EDT