The White House tersely refused to endorse keeping McChrystal on as commander of troops in Afghanistan at its daily briefing, warning only that the administration will have more to say after Obama and McChrystal meet on Wednesday.
"Suffice it to say, our combatant commander does not usually participate in these meetings from Washington," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at the briefing.
Gibbs coldly told reporters that McChrystal would have Obama's "undivided attention" on Wednesday.
"I would say all options are on the table," Gibbs said as to whether McChrystal could be fired. "The president will speak with General McChrystal about his comments, and we'll have more to say after that meeting," Gibbs explained.
Gibbs said the president and McChrystal had not yet spoken since the general's critical comments about administration officials to Rolling Stone magazine, where the general and his aides said the president and top officials were disengaged or wrongheaded when it came to determining U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
One of McChyrstal's
aides described National Security Advisor Jim Jones as a "clown," while
Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMarcus Garvey's descendants call for Biden to pardon civil rights leader posthumously GOP grapples with chaotic Senate primary in Pennsylvania Trump social media startup receives commitment of billion from unidentified 'diverse group' of investors MORE was referred to as "bite me."
Gibbs said he did not want to pre-judge the outcome of Wednesday's
meeting, but made clear it would not be a pleasant one for McChrystal. He said Obama was "angry" upon reading the article.
McChyrstal was receiving a political flogging from members on both sides of the aisle on Tuesday, as well as from his superior.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates recalled McChrystal to Washington this afternoon. He said McChrystal made a "significant mistake and exercised poor judgement" in the interview.
"Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on
behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting
them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions," said Gates. "General McChrystal has apologized to me and is similarly reaching out to others
named in this article to apologize to them as well."
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) called for the general's resignation, but most lawmakers have said the decision is up to Obama and McChrystal.
"There's no question that it's poor judgment on the part of both the general and some of his staff, but I think the real question is 'will it effect his ability to continue to have a relationship with the president and his top staff,' " Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John KerryJohn KerryClimate policies propel a growing dysfunction of Western democracies Kerry calls out countries that need to 'step up' on climate change Those on the front lines of climate change should be empowered to be central to its solution MORE (D-Mass.) said on MSNBC. "That’s between them, and I think people need to give this meeting tomorrow the room to take place."
A visibly angry Gibbs said the article detracted from the U.S. focus on winning its military effort in Afghanistan, over which McChrystal is in charge. The general had pushed for the "surge" in the country, which Obama endorsed over the reservations of some in the administration.
That decision came after McChrystal already had clashed openly with the president over Afghan policy. McChrystal's advice to Obama on Afghanistan policy was leaked last fall, sparking administration anger, and after McChrystal made a speech in London that was critical of the administration's approach, Obama summoned him to a meeting onboard Air Force One during a stop in Europe.