Tags: Afghanistan | Barack Obama | War on Terrorism | Joe Johns | Jay Carney | above | law

CNN Reporter: Does Obama Think He's 'Above the Law'?

By    |   Monday, 02 June 2014 05:26 PM

A CNN reporter asked outgoing White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday whether  President Barack Obama thought of himself as above the law.

"There have been obviously a lot of questions about the legality of this," CNN chief Washington correspondent Joe Johns said regarding the prisoner swap that freed U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl over the weekend, Mediaite reports. "Point blank, does the president feel as though, on this issue and this kind of issue, he is above the law?"

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"Absolutely not. We have repeatedly noted concerns with this requirement," said Carney, according to Mediaite, alluding to the requirement that says Congress needs 30 days' notice to approve a prisoner swap.

"In signing statements, [Obama] has consistently made clear that the executive branch must have the flexibility to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers if necessary, and that was certainly the case here."

Johns then asked a follow-up question that brought up Obama's views as a presidential candidate in 2008.

"The president said when he was first running for president that he thought restraint needed to be used with signing statements," Johns said, a C-SPAN video edited by Mediaite shows. "Is this an example of presidential restraint?"

"It's often misreported that he somehow took a position against all signing statements, which was never the case as a senator and candidate," Carney said. "He made it clear that there were times when it would be appropriate, but that the authority to issue signing statements should not be overused or abused. And that a president should exercise restraint. And I think if you look at his record in office, now five and a half years, you'll see that restraint demonstrated.

"But there will be and have been circumstances when signing statements are necessary because of the president's view and the executive branch's view of the constitutional issues involved in a particular legislation."

The Obama administration is coming under fire after the president authorized five Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be freed in exchange for Bergdahl on Saturday. For one, critics of the move say it effectively puts a price on U.S. soldiers' heads and will give the enemy more reason to take hostages. Bergdahl's history as a soldier is also under the microscope.

Bergdahl went missing on June 30, 2009, after reportedly walking away from his fellow soldiers in what may have been an act of desertion. Weeks later, six U.S. soldiers were killed during a mission to find the missing Bergdahl.

"He walked off," said former Pfc. Jose Baggett, a former comrade. "He left his guard post. Nobody knows if he defected, or he's a traitor, or he was kidnapped. What I do know is he was there to protect us, and instead he decided to defer from America and go and do his own thing. I don't know why he decided to do that, but we spent so much of our resources, and some of those resources were soldiers' lives."

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A CNN reporter asked outgoing White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday whether President Barack Obama thought of himself as above the law.
Joe Johns, Jay Carney, above, law
Monday, 02 June 2014 05:26 PM
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