WSJ Reporter Grills Earnest on Obama Private Party With CEOs and Lobbyists: "How Do You Justify That?"

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At Monday's press briefing, White House correspondent for The Wall Street Journal Carol Lee questioned White House press secretary Josh Earnest on a private party held by President Obama over the weekend attended by 500 people, including CEOs, lobbyists and celebrities.

"Can you just explain what criteria the White House bases classifying something as a private event that you don't disclose on the president's schedule?" Lee asked Monday.

"This was 500 people," Lee said. "Lobbyists, corporate executives, an international celebrity and it wasn't even on the president's schedule."

"How do you justify that and how is that in line with the president's commitment to transparency?" she asked.

"Well, Carol, I think the fact that we're talking about a private event and the fact that details of this are known is an indication that the president is committed to being transparent," Earnest replied. "At the same time, the president and the First Lady are going to reserve the right to host private parties at the White House. And they did it on their own dime and I think that's consistent with the kind of values they have talked about."

CAROL LEE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Following up on the party the president had. Can you just explain what criteria the White House bases classifying something as a private event that you don't disclose on the president's schedule?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: Carol, I think what I can describe to you is just the president and the First Lady hosted a private social event at the White House on Saturday night and it was not something that -- it was a private event and it was something that they paid for.

LEE: Well, you guys disclose private events, presumably, that don't have coverage, for instance when the president hosts a screening in the White House movie theater. This was 500 people. Lobbyists, corporate executives, an international celebrity and it wasn't even on the president's schedule. So how do you justify that and how is that in line with the president's commitment to transparency?

EARNEST: Well, Carol, I think the fact that we're talking about a private event and the fact that details of this are known is an indication that the president is committed to being transparent. At the same time, the president and the First Lady are going to reserve the right to host private parties at the White House. And they did it on their own dime and I think that's consistent with the kind of values they have talked about.

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