Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry took on White House press secretary Josh Earnest during a briefing for being disingenuous about the extent of President Obama’s use of executive orders.
Obama often mentions the fact that he has issued less executive orders than his predecessors, but as Henry noted, a recent USA Today story showed that President Obama has issued many more “presidential memoranda“– executive orders in all but name — than any other president.
“You remember some months ago, the President claimed that he’s been using executive orders, ‘at the lowest rate in more than a hundred years…’ But then you add on 198 presidential memorandum, it actually turns out he’s using a lot more executive action than his predecessors, right?” (VIDEO: Ed Henry To Earnest: Will We See ‘Replay Of Iraq’ In Afghanistan)
“Well, I think there’s no doubt that the president has sought to use his executive authority to move this country forward within the confines of the law,” Earnest said, side-stepping the question.
“But why did he make this public claim that, ‘There’s this criticism that I’m acting on an executive basis, and I’m doing that at lowest level in a hundred years’?” Henry pressed. “That wasn’t really true, right?”
But Earnest double-down, explaining what he saw as the difference between executive orders and memoranda. “Generally speaking, presidential memoranda are associated with more technical issues, and are often directives that are related to a subset of agencies. Executive orders therefore are often more sweeping and more impactful.” (VIDEO: Castro Urges Obama To Use ‘Executive Action’ To Overrule Congress)
“But you just said executive orders usually are more sweeping,” Henry noted, “but in the case of immigration, which you would acknowledge was pretty sweeping, it was a presidential memorandum, not an executive order.”
“That’s correct,” Earnest said.
“So, by your definition… I’m slightly confused…” Henry said smiling. “Doesn’t that make the point USA Today was trying to make, that no matter what you call it, he was kind of misleading people about how often he’s using executive action?” (VIDEO: Rand Paul On Executive Amnesty: Obama Can’t ‘Defend The Indefensible’)
“No, I think the president was being specific about the fact that his predecessors have issued far more executive orders than he has,” Earnest said resolutely. “I don’t think anybody has ever made the case from here about this president that he is not willing to use his executive authority to move the country forward.”
[h/t RNC Research]