McDonough: Obama ‘quite angry’ over ‘chicken----' remark

McDonough: Obama ‘quite angry’ over ‘chicken----' remark
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President Obama was "quite angry" when he read that a senior administration official called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chickenshit,” his chief of staff said Thursday.

"When I read it, I was quite angry. When the president read it, he was quite angry," Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonough2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Democratic candidates should counter Trump's foreign policy MORE told MSNBC. "So it didn't go over well."

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In a story by Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic, unnamed senior administration officials vented their frustrations with Netanyahu, describing him as overly concerned about his own political future.

"The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” one official said, expanding on his "chickenshit" insult. "The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states," the official said.

"The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts."

McDonough said the White House was less interested in rooting out the individual responsible for the comment, and instead would make clear to Israel that the remark doesn’t represent the president's own feelings.

"We're not going to worry about particular unnamed quotes anywhere in stories," McDonough said. "We're just going to roll up our sleeves and get to work doing what we've done now over the course of this administration, which is to deepen and strengthen security cooperation with our friends in Israel."

The White House chief of staff also downplayed calls for a shake-up in the administration following Tuesday's electoral losses.

McDonough said the White House was "constantly looking to add new talent, fresh legs, fresh blood, fresh thinking as often as we can," and said that effort was not pegged to the results of an election.

He noted that he had recruited John Podesta to serve as a senior adviser, Procter & Gamble executive Bob McDonald to work at the Department of Veterans Affairs, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Google executive Megan Smith to work at the White House chief technology office.

"Every day is an opportunity to look for more renewal, more ideas, more fresh thinking here in the White House," McDonough said. 

"That's not something we do once every two years when the American people vote. It's something we do every day."