At CNN on Thursday night, Anderson Cooper asked former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who is now a contributor at the network, to square President Barack Obama's Thursday night immigration announcement with past presidential statements that he didn't have the power to do what he had just done.
Transcript (full original here; bolds are mine):
ANDERSON COOPER: I just want to play again, uh, the President's past comments right now. Because there's a stark distinction between what he said tonight and what he has said in the past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA (Univision, March 2011): With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that's just not the case.
(At the White House, April 2011) I can't do it by myself. We are going to have to change laws in Congress.
(At the White House, September 2011) The notion that somehow by myself I can go and do these things is just not true.
(Telemundo, September 2013) What I've said is there's a path to get this done and that's through Congress.
(Google Hangout, February 2013) I'm the president of the United States. I'm not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
... COOPER: So, I mean, other than his frustration, what has changed? I mean, he's a constitutional scholar. What has changed that allows him to do this?
CARNEY: Well, here's what I say. I think if he could have those words back, especially the first clip where he specifically talked about suspending deportations--that is literally what he is doing today. In later instances including when I was there he would speak carefully about what he could not do as president.
So, to paraphrase Carney, what Obama said about not having the constitutional power to suspend deportations was right, and Obama wishes he could have that statement back. But he can't, Jay.
Further paraphrasing Carney, after that, Obama didn't make a statement that was so blatantly and obviously wrong, remaining relatively vague.
So we know that Obama knows that what he did yesterday is unconstitutional.
Thanks for clearing that up, Jay.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.