The White House and senior lawmakers on both sides of the aisle defended Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday as a cadre of Republicans continued to call for her resignation.
But House GOP leaders did not bring the topic up during a meeting with President Obama, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting.
Republicans are split on the issue, with some calling for Napolitano’s resignation and others saying an apology is enough.
The outrage is in response to a Homeland Security report issued last week that said the agency was monitoring returning veterans for possible involvement in right-wing extremist groups.
“While these members of Congress engage in a typical Washington game, they are actually talking about a report that originated in the Bush administration,” said Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for Obama. “She [Napolitano] doesn’t have time for these games, and neither does the president.”
Former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) agreed that the calls for Napolitano’s resignation were attempts at political posturing.
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a member of the conservative Blue Dog group, did not go so far as to ask for Napolitano’s resignation, but was critical of the report’s analysis of veterans.
“The president would not listen if I said it,” Taylor said of calls for her resignation, adding that the assessment of veterans in the report “was just a dumb thing to say. It certainly calls for an apology on her part — and even better, an apology and a clarification.”
“All these Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, they know where to look for an IED, they know what kind of mannerisms a terrorist suspect is going to have, so they’re tremendous assets, and I’m sorry that she missed that.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has agreed to hold a hearing on the origins of the report, which he said “appears to have blurred the lines between violent belief, which is constitutionally protected, and violent action, which is not.”