President Obama has finished his one-on-one with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and he’s likely to tell the world from the Rose Garden whether he still has faith in the top commander in Afghanistan to finish out the job. It’s not looking good, since McChrystal has already left the White House.
Administration officials say Obama wanted to give the imperiled general a chance to defend himself in person, going into the meeting with an open mind. At 9:51 a.m., Obama and McChrystal sat down privately in the Oval Office. By 10:21 a.m., the meeting was over. White House aides wouldn’t say whether Obama would make a statement before his regularly scheduled Situation Room meeting to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan.
McChrystal was summoned to Washington after Rolling Stone published a detailed — and unflattering — profile in which he and his team mocked Obama and White House officials. ABC’s Jake Tapper reported today that while phoning top officials to apologize, McChrystal told them he had “compromised the mission.”McChrystal huddled first with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen at the Pentagon for 30 minutes this morning.
On his way in to that meeting, McChrystal scolded reporters for asking if he’d submitted his resignation, telling them, “Come on, you know better than that! No.”
Democrats said privately they fear it would make Obama look weak if he allows McChrystal to stay, but also recognize that starting anew would disrupt the administration’s goals for Afghanistan and the region at a critical time.
Late Update: The White House sends word a few minutes before noon that the meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan has begun in the Situation Room. All the evidence suggests McChrystal is not there in person, but we don’t know if he might be attending on video conference as he has done from previous meetings. Aides won’t say if Obama will address the press to announce his decision.
Newsy Update: Obama has scrapped the remainder of his day’s schedule, including a meeting with senators. He’ll deliver remarks in the Rose Garden at 1:30 p.m.