During a press conference this week, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said things have changed since President Obama said “I am not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”
On Tuesday, ABC reporter Jonathan Karl asked Earnest, “Does the president still stand by what he said last year when he said, ‘I am not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.’ Is that still operative?”
“Absolutely,” answered Earnest.
“Not a king, either?” Karl continued.
“That’s right,” said Earnest.
Karl then explained why he asked the question.
“[Obama] was asked very specifically about the idea of expanding the deferred action executive order for the DREAMers to their parents,” he said. “And he said September 17th last year, Telemundo, very clearly: ‘If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that would be very difficult to defend legally so that is not an option. Is that still operative — when the president said specifically that expanding the DACA executive order is not an option because it would be ignoring the law? Does he still believe that?”
Earnest said that things may be different now because the Obama administration has reviewed its options.
“Well Jon, I don’t want to get ahead of — what — any sort of announcements that the president may make, before the end of the year, about executive actions that he may take to fix our broken immigration system,” the press secretary said. “Since [the Telemundo] interview aired, the president did direct the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to conduct a review of the law to determine what, if any, authority he could use to try to fix some of the problems that House Republicans have refused to address. So this is something that has been under consideration for some time…”
On Wednesday, Earnest insisted that Obama wears GOP allegations of executive lawlessness as a badge of honor.
“We’ve heard this kind of rhetoric about lawlessness from House Republicans for some time,” he said, adding that Obama is “willing to examine the law, review the law and use every element of that law to make progress for the American people.”
“If that is something that Republicans are critical of, then that’s, you know, maybe a criticism that the president wears with a badge of honor,” Earnest said.