White House spokesman Jay Carney refused to defend Sen. Bob Menendez when he was quizzed by a reporter Thursday.
Does “the president have full faith and confidence in the senator?” asked a reporter during the midday White House press conference.
“I’ve seen those reports. I don’t have anything for you on that,” Carney said.
“He plays a significant role in immigration,” the reporter followed up.
“I don’t have anything for you on those reports,” Carney repeated.
Carney’s refusal to back Menendez follows the senator’s announcement Jan. 30 that he had recently paid $58,500 for the cost of two flights to the Dominican Republican on a jet owned by one of his Florida donors.
Also, the donor’s dental business was raided by the FBI Jan. 29, likely in a search for evidence relevant to an investigation of Menendez.
Menendez is important for President Barack Obama, partly because he is one of four key Democrats pushing for a major rewrite of the immigration laws.
In Thursday’s press conference, Carney also deflected a question about an immigration-and-sex scandal involving Menendez.
In December, immigration agents arrested an intern who worked for Menendez’s staff. The Peruvian intern was an illegal immigrant and a convicted child molester, who worked in Menendez’s New Jersey office.
The Associated Press subsequently reported that federal immigration officials delayed any arrest of the man until after Menendez won re-election Nov. 6.
When asked today if White House officials knew of agency’s decision to delay the arrest, Carney declined to answer. “I’ve not seen those reports. I don’t have anything for you on that,” he said.
The Daily Caller first reported on Menendez’s activities Nov. 1.