On January 20, Chief Justice Roberts
slightly fumbled the
oath of office. At the advice of White House Counsel
Greg Craig, "out of an abundance of caution" Roberts and
President Obama repeated the
oath at 7:35 p.m. on Jan.
21, 2009 in the Map Room; per the pool report by Wes Allison present
"Justice Roberts with a staff member, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, Greg
Craig, a WH Photographer and POTUS."
STATEMENT FROM WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL GREG CRAIG
"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and
that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday. But the
appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of
caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice
Roberts administered the oath a second time.
"EXCERPT OF TRANSCRIPT: January 22, 2009 Press Briefing by Press
Secretary Robert Gibbs
MR. GIBBS: Chuck.
Q You said yesterday it was out of an abundance of
caution that you did the re-swearing in. Out of that same
abundance of caution, has he re-signed the executive orders that he did
MR. GIBBS: No. Let me step back and address this -- and I
should call on Mark, as well, on this because he had emailed me a
question about whether or not there had been discussion of doing this,
and I emailed him in the afternoon and said there had not been a
The Counsel's Office believed strongly throughout the day that the
President had been sworn in appropriately and effectively.
Discussion later in the afternoon regarding the misplacement of a word,
and because of that and out of an abundance of caution, Chief Justice
Roberts came last night to readminister the oath.
I think in today's papers there are at least two examples in history
where words have been misplaced in the oath, and again, out of an
abundance of caution -- a similar abundance of caution -- the oath was
Q So why not re-sign the executive order, out of that
same abundance of caution?
MR. GIBBS: Because the Counsel's Office continues to believe that
the President was sworn in appropriately and effectively.
Q Well, then, why did you do it if you don't -- I
mean, that's what I'm just trying to -- if you don't feel like you
needed to do it --
MR. GIBBS: Right -- well, Chuck, I think you know lawyers, they
-- (laughter) -- they --
Q That's what I'm counting on Chip to be -- or
Savannah -- (laughter.)
Q I'm a lapsed lawyer.
MR. GIBBS: I was going to say, I don't want to raise a -- no
raising of hands as to who is. They did not believe that there
was a problem. But out of an abundance of caution, to ensure that
somebody didn't think there might ever be, that it was simply done
again. The Constitution, as Greg said in his statement,
prescribes an oath. A word was misplaced, and out of an abundance
of caution, the Chief of Justice, over the course of a 25-second period
of time and under the slow and careful instruction of the President,
the oath was readministered.
Q And in terms of transparency, why didn't you show
the world this?
MR. GIBBS: We did show the world this.
Q Well, there was no --
MR. GIBBS: I mean, I think as you --
Q -- there's, like, crackling audio recordings of it,
there's some stills. No video. You put your radio address
on video. I mean, you know, why not put it on video for everybody
MR. GIBBS: Well, let's be clear -- you just mentioned there's
audio. I've heard that audio. I was there -- far easier to
get tickets for this one. We took a print pool in there, we
released a photograph from the White House. And as I think the
pool reported, as soon as it happened we reported it out. We
think it was done in a way -- hold on -- we think it was done in a way
that was up front and transparent. We think that it -- also did
it in a way that demonstrated, again, this was done out of an abundance
of caution, and only that.
Q Did the original concern about the oath-taking
originate with the White House Counsel, or with the President?
MR. GIBBS: My understanding is the White House Counsel.
Q Did he have to persuade the President that it was
the right thing to do?
MR. GIBBS: No, because it was done, again, out of an abundance of
caution. It was not done -- (laughter) -- people usually don't
laugh when I don't say something that's not altogether generally
funny. No, this was something that was determined, again, at the
Counsel's Office, and the President was fine with that.
I think you guys read the pool report -- he seemed to -- he was in a
pretty casual mood when he instructed the Chief Justice to do this more
slowly and deliberate.