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 were: "Justice Roberts with a staff member, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, Greg Craig, a WH Photographer and POTUS."


"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the President was sworn in appropriately yesterday.  But the oath 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 yesterday?
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 discussion. 
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 readministered.
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 to see?
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.
Yes, sir.
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.