On Wednesday, the White House sent a threatening email to veteran journalist Bob Woodward after he said that President Barack Obama and cabinet official Jack Lew lied about the sequestration cuts. Woodward made the revelation in a Feb. 27 appearance on CNN's "Situation Room".
*Update (Feb. 28): White House threatened journalists
"They're not happy at all," said Woodward, who serves as editor of the Washington Post. "It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this. He added that he was "very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters you're going to regret doing something. Let's hope it's not the strategy."
On Feb. 28, Gene Sperling, economic adviser to Barack Obama, was identified as the cabinet official behind the threats. On Thursday, Politico published Speling's Feb. 22 email to Bob Woodward. In part, it reads:
I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.
But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.
On Thursday, former Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter and NewsMax blogger Lanny Davis also came forward to detail threats from the White House aimed at the media. Alter said he was banned from certain campaign events in 2008 due to anti-Obama articles he had written. He, along with his editor, were recently threatened with losing their White House press credentials if they did not provide more favorable news coverage of the president.
Last week, Woodward posted an op-ed piece on the Washington Post. He wrote that the March 1 sequester cuts was originally the White House's idea, and not congress. Since 2011, Obama has appeared in several campaign-style events stating that cuts to the federal budget was proposed by congress. The president has also been blaming House Republicans for looming furloughs to tens of thousands of government employees.
In his article, Woodward wrote:
That statement was not accurate . . . . the president and Lew had been wrong . . . . So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.
During the final presidential debates on Oct. 22 last year, Barack Obama told Republican challenger Mitt Romney as well as a live television audience that sequestration was a proposal advanced by congress. (Video) After conducting an analysis, PolitiFact.com concluded right after the debates that the president's claim was false. Last week, Obama also claimed in a speech that if the sequester hits, federal prosecutors will have to "let criminals go." On Feb. 19, PolitiFact said that claim is mostly false.
In 2011, Obama gave a press conference at the White House in which the president stated that he would veto any sequester legislation. (Video) However, on Aug. 2, 2011, the president signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 which mandated automatic sequester cuts.
In Wednesday's appearance on MSNBC, Bob Woodard blamed Obama's sequestration strategy as "a kind of madness". Appearing on "Morning Joe," he said:
Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement. ‘I can’t do what I need to do to protect the country.’ That’s a kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.
Woodward cited his 2012 best-selling book The Price of Politics in which several insiders within the Obama administration served as sources. Those sources provided insights into how the White House (and not congress) originally proposed the March 1 budget cuts. Earlier this week, Jack Lew was confirmed by the U.S. senate as the next treasury secretary.
In his book, Woodward also blasts Obama's legion of advisers for opposing U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war. According to Woodward's sources, the president overruled his entire national security staff - including Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, and Gen. Martin Dempsey - who recommended to the commander-in-chief that the United States arm the Syrian rebels.
Obama disapproved such plans in order to increase his chances for re-election in 2012, according to White House insiders. So far, Syria's three-year unrest has resulted in the deaths of over 70,000 civilians.
According to a Feb. 27 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 52 percent of Americans disapprove of how Barack Obama is handling the sequestration cuts. The president also has a 43 percent approval rating on federal spending.
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