The PJ Tatler

White House: Don't Know If Obama Listened to Arguments, But Thinks Verrilli Did a Great Job

The White House has defended Solicitor General Don Verrilli, awarded the Worst Week in Washington by the Post today for his clumsy defense (see the mix tape by Buzzfeed) of ObamaCare before the Supreme Court this week.

“The president is pleased with the presentation made by Don Verrilli, the Solicitor General, and his team,” spokesman Jay Carney told reporters yesterday. “The president believes that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.”

Today, deputy press secretary Josh Earnest took reporters’ question onboard Air Force One en route to Burlington, Vt., and the first of President Obama’s four fundraisers of the day.

“I’m not sure if the president himself has heard the audio,” Earnest responded when asked if Obama had heard the arguments for himself. “As I pointed out on Wednesday, the president has been following the news coverage and received briefings from our staff at the White House about the arguments and how they’ve proceeded. I don’t know specifically whether or not the president has heard the audio of those — of the arguments.”

“As a constitutional law professor, is he not sort of interested in that on two fronts?” a reporter asked.

“There are many reasons why the president is interested in it. As I pointed out earlier, the Affordable Care Act is certainly one of the significant achievements of the first term of this administration and so the president is both personally and professionally invested in the arguments that are taking place,” Earnest responded.

“The president has been following them in the news reports and has gotten specific briefings from our legal staff at the White House,” he continued. “And I feel confident in saying that the president shares the opinion of our White House staff that Mr. Verrilli did a terrific job in representing the interests of the government for the Supreme Court, but also representing the interests of the 2.5 million young adults who have health insurance coverage through their parent’s plan because of the Affordable Care Act.  And Mr. Verrilli effectively was an advocate for the 50 million Americans who have access to free preventative coverage — or free preventative services through their private insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.  That’s essentially the role that Mr. Verrilli was charged with and everyone at the White House was pleased with his performance.”

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