This exchange took place during today’s White House press briefing:
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Can I just ask you, the president said yesterday, ‘I was not informed directly that the web site would not be working the way it was supposed to.’ I mean, we’ve heard the latest is the project manager on healthcare.gov warned, was worried this thing could crash at takeoff. I’m just wondering, did the president at any point ask the question has this thing been tested? Are we ready to go? What was the answer to that.
JAY CARNEY: The president was regularly briefed on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the run-up to the launch. What he and others have said is that we — at no time did we anticipate that the problems that we ended up seeing on October 1st would occur. And if we had —
KARL: People working on this knew there were problems, were worried this could happen and I’m just asking did the president ask the question?
CARNEY: Absolutely. The president constantly asked where we were and what the progress on —
KARL: So who misled him? If they knew these problems and didn’t disclose it to him —
CARNEY: Again, there’s a jump in your logic there. The fact is, as we acknowledged and have said since October 1st and even before that, we anticipated glitches, we were told there might be some problems, and as is the case when any site —
Video and more over at RealClearPolitics.
Remember, yesterday Obama said that he was not told “directly” that there were problems with the website before it launched. The government officials in charge of developing Healthcare.gov were so worried about the site’s viability that, on July 16, project manager Henry Chao emailed that he feared it would “crash on takeoff.”
In a July 16 email sent ahead of a meeting with the site’s chief contractor CGI Federal, HealthCare.gov project manager Henry Chao, who was a key witness during the House Oversight and Government Reform’s hearing earlier this week, wrote, “I just need to feel more confident they are not going to crash the plane at take-off, regardless of price.”
The next day, July 17, Chao testified at a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that Healthcare.gov would be ready to launch on-time. He then distributed a video link to his testimony to several people he described as “leaders in this endeavor,” urging developers to ensure his pledge under oath did not come back to haunt him.
“I wanted to share this with you so you can see and hear that both [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner] and I under oath stated we are going to make October 1,” Chao wrote in a July 20 email where he distributed the link to his testimony. “I would like you [to] put yourself in my shoes standing before Congress, which in essence is standing before the American public, and know that you speak the tongue of not necessarily just past truths but the truth that you will make happen.”
So Chao, the project manager, was worried about Obamacare crashing on October 1. He had been worried about that for months. Obama said he had not been told “directly” of these fears. Carney said today that Obama was “briefed regularly” on the site’s progress and issues.
How do we resolve this? What was in those briefings? Did Obama pay any attention to them?
It may be that Obama was not actually being briefed regularly at all. We know that he skips other duties such as attending his Daily Intelligence Briefing. You can lead a horse to water, and all that. Or maybe David Axelrod was right when he said earlier today that Obama has surrounded himself with yes-men who just tell him what he wants to hear. They knew there were problems but they lied to Obama because they knew he couldn’t handle or didn’t want the truth.