Jeh Johnson Tells Flooded La., 'The President Can't Be Everywhere'; 'He Has a Very Busy Schedule'

By Susan Jones | August 19, 2016 | 8:00am EDT
President Barack Obama and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul walk on the first green during a round of golf at Farm Neck Golf Course in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(CNSNews.com) - Speaking at a news conference in flood-ravaged Louisiana on Thursday, Homeland Security Director Jeh  Johnson said "the federal government is here, we have been here, and we'll be here as long as it takes to help this community recover."

Responding to criticism that President Obama has not interrupted his summer vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Johnson said several times, "The president can't be everywhere."

Johnson also said the (golfing, vacationing) president "has a very busy schedule this fall and in the coming days," hinting that Obama has no plans to go Louisiana.

"There's been a lot of criticism about president Obama not visiting Louisiana. Will you be recommending that he come to Louisiana and visit?" a reporter asked Johnson.

“Well, of course the president can't be everywhere. I can tell you that the president has been closely monitoring the situation here in Louisiana. He made the federal (disaster) declaration in a matter of hours -- it was expedited, we're up to 20 parishes now.

“I will be briefing him on what I see here and what the status of our recovery and response efforts are...So the president is closely monitoring the situation, through his cabinet, through his FEMA administrator, and is very much on top of it.”

The reporter again asked if Johnson would recommend that Obama visit:

"As I said, the president can't be everywhere. I know he has a very busy schedule this fall and in the coming days, and uh, he is closely monitoring the situation. When you are the chief executive of the entire U.S. government, you can't be everywhere, uh, including places you would like to be. Uh, but through me and through (FEMA Director) Craig Fugate, I know he is very much on top of this situation."

Another reporter noted that Wednesday's briefing from the White House press pool began with the announcement that the president was playing a round of golf: "And you sit there and say twice the president can't be everywhere. The people of Louisiana are dying. How hard is it for you, as the Homeland Security director, for you to have your updates going to the president on the golf course?"

"Well, as I said, he is very much on top of the situation, and I know that he is aware of the level of federal assistance that can be provided and is being provided, and I'll be briefing him myself right after this visit," Johnson responded.

Johnson said his tour of the flooded state was a "reaffirmation in terms of our ability...to pull together at the federal state and local level to help the public good."

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, President George W. Bush was excoriated by Democrats and the media for taking a helicopter tour of the flooded city instead of getting a ground-level view.

Donald Trump planned to visit Louisiana on Friday.

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