Obama camp backs White House denial of ‘quid pro quo’

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team said Tuesday that President Bush did not suggest a “quid pro quo” agreement on the Colombia free trade agreement and a second stimulus package, backing up an earlier White House denial of such talk.

ADVERTISEMENT
John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, said in a briefing to reporters Tuesday afternoon that there was “no link” made by Bush on the two subjects, and that he talked early Tuesday with White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, and they both agreed that reports to the contrary were inaccurate.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Tuesday morning that reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post were inaccurate, and the president never suggested a deal that would link the two proposals.

Podesta, speaking to reporters in the transition team’s enormous headquarters in downtown Washington, said he and Bolten held a "parallel" meeting while Bush and Obama were in a private meeting in the Oval Office, and that Bolten also broached the subject of trade agreements, but did so independently of a discussion on another stimulus.

“The topic of Colombia came up,” Podesta said. “The president did not try to link Colombia to the question of an economic rescue package going forward.”

White House officials were reportedly furious that parts of the private conversation were leaked, but Perino said she just wanted to clarify that the unnamed source in the reports was wrong and there was no link made between the two policy proposals.