Obama White House: We did not return the Churchill bust to Britain!
Great Britain: Umm… Yes, you did.
On Friday, Dan Pfeiffer posted this nasty rant on the White House website accusing Charles Krauthammer and critics of President Obama of making up rumors about the Churchill bust in the White House. Pfeiffer wrote,
“Normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
Pfeiffer was wrong.
The White House did return the bust.
The Telegraph reported:
Barack Obama’s White House has been forced to admit that it did return a bust of Sir Winston Churchill to British diplomats, after describing such claims as “100 per cent false”.
Aides to Mr Obama were furious after The Daily Telegraph disclosed last week that Mitt Romney planned to restore the Jacob Epstein sculpture to its home under George W Bush from 2001 to 2009.
“I’m looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again,” the Republican challenger confirmed at a fund-raiser at London’s Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Dan Pfeiffer, the President’s communications director, said in a statement that widespread reports of the bust being returned to Britain’s embassy in Washington as Mr Obama took office were untrue.
“This is 100 per cent false,” Mr Pfeiffer said. “The bust is still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room”. Illustrating his statement with a photograph of Mr Obama inspecting it with David Cameron in 2010, he added: “Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again”.
British officials were surprised by Mr Pfeiffer’s statement and photograph, however, because the bust now resides in the residence of Sir Peter Westmacott, Britain’s ambassador to the US. Further inquiries led to the discovery that there are, in fact, two matching Churchill busts by Epstein.
The one displayed by Mr Bush was indeed returned, along with all other art lent to him, as his presidency came to an end. The other, which remains in the White House residence, was given as a gift to President Lyndon B Johnson in 1965 by a group of Atlanticist diplomats and military officers.
It looks like the White House owes Mitt Romney and Charles Krauthammer an apology.
But, don’t hold your breath.
They will say anything.