WH Press Secretary Jay Carney on Yemeni plot, Snowden, Obama’s Putin/KGB comment


See notes below from my FNC colleague Kelly Chernenkoff:

These are my notes from the AF1 gaggle that just completed. Obama is en route from California to the WH. Audio was piped in live to the White House. Transcript to come later. Likely OFF-camera.


Carney was asked about the Yemenis saying they broke up a terrorist plot. He said we work cooperatively w/Yemen on counterterrorism and welcome any successes but that he does not have any details on that, referring to the State Department.

When asked if what the Yemenis are talking about is the same as what led to the embassy closures, Carney seemed to suggest that was not the case, saying (roughly): My understanding is we have not made any changes on the steps we’ve taken in reaction to threat we’ve been discussing the last several days.

Carney isn’t aware of any plans for Obama to talk to Putin before the G20 summit in Russia. He says the decision to cancel the Moscow summit was made shortly before they announced it publicly.

Carney wouldn’t say the “reset” with Russia was over. He said a variety of areas of cooperation still exist and over the years the two nations have been able to find “new” cooperation. He said even though challenges are sometimes encountered, the relationship should not be seen as entirely black and white.

Asked about the potential benefits of a face-to-face meeting in Moscow on Snowden, Carney said there was no question the Russians clearly already understood the US’s perspective on the issue.

Carney was asked if there were any other ways the administration would express its disappointment, to which Carney said he did not have any “expectation” of that.

A reporter asked Carney if Obama’s impression was that Putin actually headed up the KGB, as he told Leno last night. Carney said it was his understanding that Putin was perhaps not the head of the overall organization (need to check transcript for wording as was hard to hear).

But Carney said the point president was making is Putin did spend quite a bit of his formative years in the KGB.



Fuller notes:


Q: When did pres make decision on russia? Does president plan to talk to putin before G20?



Not aware of any calls/convos scheduled. As you know there’s a mtg scheduled for friday btw foreign and defense ministers. We continue to have issues to discuss with russians. Pres and Nat’l secy team wanted moscow summit decision to be made on the merits. We looked at utility of summit in light of # of issues and decided did not make sense to have that bilat in Sept..

I don’t have a time and an hour, but we announced soon after decision made


Q: Is the “reset” with Russia over?


We have impt relations with Russians. Engage w/them on variety of matters. Been able over yrs to find new cooperation with russians as part of reset approach. Some of that continues and is impt– troops in afghanistan and other areas

No Q we’ve encountered challenges but should also not be viewed entirely in black and white fashion. Even several yrs ago as we were making progress, continued to have disagreements on missile defense. Always been case. Continue to engage in impt relationship b/c in best interests of US


Q: As you were debating whether or not to have this summit, did the pros of having a one-on-one, face-to-face meeting talk about Edward Snowden weigh in at all? Obviously that is not what you decided– wouldn’t be worth having Obama-Putin discussion on?


pres and putin did speak on phone as we’ve previously discussed and Snowden was one topic of discussion, among many others…

No question the Russians clearly understood our perspective.. There was not another argument to be made that there was ample legal justification to have Snowden returned to US, afforded rights of defendents in this country. Points in public very much same as in private– at variety of levels: law enf, secy of state level, etc

Decision was disappointing, but judgement was made that for varity of reasions, not optimal time to have summit


Q: Concerned can escalate into trouble for cooperative efforts US-Russia engaged in?


i don’t necessarily see that.  we are continuing to meet and have disc w/russian counterparts. Have host of issues to engage on

Even when we’ve made progress in some areas, have continued to encounter disagreement on other areas.


Q: Any other ways admin will express disappt

I don’t have any expectation of that


Q: Heard from Russians?

president hasn’t had any discussions, but i’m sure state or defense might have, but refer you to them


Q: You announced Sweden on itinerary. Why Sweden?

I don’t have a lot of detail on that. Sweden impt country. Look fwd to it. Pres looks forward to making trip…

Sweden has been under consideration for some time



Q: In [Jay Leno] interview last night, Obama said he thought Putin was head of KGB? His impression?

Obviously pres putin had a long and senior career with intelligence. As I recall, and check my facts, was in Leningrad region, perhaps not head of the overall organization(?). I think the point president was making is putin did spend quite a bit of his formative yrs in KGB


Q: President wasn’t suggesting he led KGB?


He was making point Putin spent long time, formative yrs in KGB



Q: Yemenis say broken up large plot. Has admin been briefed on what Yemenis are saying and is that plot same as threat that led to embassy closures?

Issue of threat, not aware of any new info that would lead us to change our approach and some of the precautions we are taking as result of threat and reaction to it.

On other matter, we work cooperatively w/Yemen on counterterrorism and welcome any successes but i don’t have any details on that. Perhaps State.


Q: What they are talking about is same as what led to closures?

My understanding we have not made any changes on steps we’ve taken in reaction to threat we’ve been discussing the last several days