More than a week after President Obama no-showed a historic march of world leaders united against terrorism in Paris, it appears the buck has finally stopped.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough took the blame for the absence of any administration-level official at the event, after a week of press secretary Josh Earnest deflected questions about the decision-making process inside the West Wing.
“We’ve said that we regret we didn’t send somebody more senior than our ambassador. That rests on me. That’s my job,” McDonough said on NBC this morning after prodded by host Matt Lauer. “I regret it, in particular, because the melee that ensued after that has covered up and, you know obfuscated the very good progress that our intelligence agencies, our law enforcement FBI and DOJ and all the cooperation they’re undertaking, not only with our French counterparts, but with our European allies across the board to confront this threat.”
“That’s what we ought to be focused on,” the chief of staff continued. “Unfortunately, the decisions I made obfuscated that effort. We’re going to continue to make sure that we’re focused on that and working with our friends to make sure that something like this does not happen again.”
White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett insisted Thursday that the Obama administration got the “substance” right on the Paris attacks even if they messed up the optics of Sunday’s anti-terror march.
“I think as we said, certainly we would have liked to have participated in the parade,” Jarrett told CNN. “I remind you that Attorney General Holder was in Paris for a very important meeting together with his colleagues from around Europe and around the world to take a look at what we can do to make sure that we’re cooperating fully.”