Obama summit with Al Sharpton still on

 

The White House said Wednesday President Obama was not reconsidering his trip Friday to a summit hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton amid revelations the civil rights leader assisted an investigation by the FBI and NYPD into the mob.

"No," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. "Rev. Sharpton and the National Action Network have made significant contributions to civil rights efforts, and the president looks forward to appearing at the conference."

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On Tuesday, Sharpton defended his role in the investigation, saying he had been threatened by "music industry goons."

"They were threatening to kill me," Sharpton said at a press conference. "I did the right thing and would do it again."

New York City tabloids have seized on a report by the Smoking Gun that shed new light on the Sharpton's work as a confidential informant helping to build cases against the Genovese crime factory.

"I was not and am not a rat, because I wasn't with the rats. I'm a cat. I chased rats," Sharpton said.

A senior administration official said earlier this week that the president plans to use his appearance at Sharpton's forum to discuss the issue of voting rights.

Last year, a central part of the Voting Rights Act was gutted when the Supreme Court ruled that the existing formula determining which jurisdictions needed federal approval to change their voting practices was no longer valid. Carney stopped short of characterizing the president as impatient with Congress for failing to replace that formula with new legislation.

"I think the president appreciates that there is a bipartisan effort underway to work on this issue, and that is a good thing," Carney said. "I haven’t assessed his level of patience. I know that he believes Congress needs to address this, and he’s heartened by the fact that this is a bipartisan effort."