The Daily Caller reported Wednesday that — during Wednesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Situation Room” — Bob Woodward of The Washington Post told host Wolf Blitzer that “the White House has begun threatening him and trying to make him “uncomfortable,” in retaliation for his report last week that President Barack Obama repeatedly lied about advocating for the sequester trigger.”
Woodward first revealed that the sequestration originated with Obama in his book, “ The Price of Politics, released on September 11, 2012.
“The finger-pointing began during the third presidential debate last fall, on Oct. 22, when President Obama blamed Congress,” Woodward wrote in his Feb. 22 op-ed for The Washington Post.
“The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” he quoted Obama saying. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”
“Two days later,” Woodward noted, Obama’s White House chief of staff at the time, Jack Lew — who served as budget director during the negotiations that set up the sequester in 2011 – “backed up the president,” saying the sequester “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”
“The president and Lew had this wrong,” Woodward wrote, citing the “extensive reporting” in his book “The Price of Politics,” which “shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors.”
As Examiner first reported Aug. 1 — and again on Wednesday — the sequester cuts were drafted by Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
“As the implementation and enforcement arm of Presidential policy government-wide,” the OMB website explains, “the core mission of OMB is to serve the President of the United States in implementing his vision across the Executive Branch.”
Knowing that his facts are “irrefutable,” Woodward said that — rather than allowing White House officials to appear on CNN to defend Obama, they’ve chosen to try to intimidate him.
“They’ve said that this is factually wrong,” Woodward told Blitzer.
“It was said very clearly,” he added – “‘You will regret doing this.’”
BLITZER: Who sent that e-mail to you?
WOODWARD: Well, I’m not going to say.
BLITZER: Was it a senior person at the White House?
WOODWARD: A very senior person. And just as a matter — I mean, it makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, you’re going to regret doing something that you believe in.
Newsmax reported Wednesday that Woodward also slammed Obama over the Pentagon’s decision to use the sequester as an excuse not to deploy the USS Harry S. Truman, which was supposed to leave for the Persian Gulf earlier this month.
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying, ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?’” Newsmax quoted Woodward saying on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe. Or George W. Bush saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to invade Iraq because I can’t get the aircraft carriers I need. Or even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did, because of some budget document?”
“Under the Constitution, the president is commander-in-chief and employs the force,” Woodward said.
And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement [saying], ‘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.
As reported Wednesday by Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, Woodward called a senior White House official last week to tell him that he was going to call Obama’s account of how sequestration came about into question in an article in The Washington Post – “and got a major-league brush-back.”
The Obama aide “yelled at me for about a half hour,” Woodward told Politico.
After which he was sent a “page-long email from the aide,” described by Allen and Vandehei as “one of the four or five administration officials most closely involved in the fiscal negotiations with the Hill.”
“I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the unnamed aide said in the email. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
“Of course no threat was intended,” a White House official told The Hill.
As Mr. Woodward noted, the email from the aide was sent to apologize for voices being raised in their previous conversation. The note suggested that Mr. Woodward would regret the observation he made regarding the sequester because that observation was inaccurate, nothing more. And Mr. Woodward responded to this aide’s email in a friendly manner.
Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post finds Woodward’s revelations to be trivial and the ensuing White House threat to be funny.
“The hilarious sideline story to this week’s coming season finale of “Sequestration: The Musical” continues to be the whole Bob Woodwardämmerung B-plot,” Linkins wrote dismissively, “which began with his Jack-Lew-invented-the-sequester scooplet and has since spiraled into nonsense.”
However, Allen and Vandehei said “several congressional officials involved in the talks” told Politico that “Woodward was right.”
“I’ve tangled with lots of these people,” said Woodward, who finds members of the Obama administration to be of a “thin-skinned” sort who don’t like being challenged with facts.
“I think when they get their rear end in a crack here, they become defensive,” he said.
Brad Watson – the 14-year veteran reporter at Dallas-Fort Worth’s WFAA TV Channel 8 who dared to challenge Obama’s vague answers to some tough questions during an interview at the White House in April 2011 — knows all about that.
Neil Munro of The Daily Caller – the journalist with well over a decade of reporting experience who famously interrupted Obama’s June 15 speech on immigration in the Rose Garden to ask why he favored “foreigners over American workers” – has experienced Obama’s “defensive” mode as well.
Woodward, a reporter for The Washington Post since 1971 and currently an associate editor, is considered to be one of America’s preeminent investigative reporters. Having authored or coauthored 16 non-fiction books in the last 36 years – with all 16 becoming national bestsellers and 12 of them hitting number-one on the national non-fiction bestsellers list — Woodward has more number-one national non-fiction bestsellers than any contemporary author.
As one of “two of the most famous journalists in America” who broke the biggest story in American politics — the Watergate scandal — feeling heat for treading too close to White House fires is nothing new for Woodward.
“But suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years — or 10 years’ — experience,” Woodward mused, “and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this.’ You know, tremble, tremble. I don’t think it’s the way to operate.”