Flip Flop? White House Concedes Obama Shift on Immigration Action

Obama spokesman says 'things have changed' to explain view on action legality.

“I am president, I am not king. I can't do these things just by myself,” Obama said Oct. 25, 2010.

“I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed,” he declared three years later on Feb. 14, 2013.

How could the president now do what he plainly said was illegal as recently as last fall?

That’s what I asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest at today’s White House briefing. In what appears to be a rare acknowledgement of a presidential flip flop, Earnest explained “obviously there are some things that have changed on this.”

Watch the exchange.

KARL: Does the president still stand by what he said last year when he said, quote, I am not the emperor of the United States; my job is to execute laws that are passed. Is that still operative?

MR. EARNEST: Absolutely.

KARL: He’s not a king either.

MR. EARNEST: That’s right.

KARL: Because he was asked very specifically about the idea of expanding the deferred action executive order for the dreamers to their parents. And he said Sept. 17 last year, Telemundo, very clearly, 'If we start broadening that, then essentially I would be ignoring the law in a way that would make it very difficult to defend legally, so that is not an option.' Is that still operative when the president had said specifically that expanding the DACA executive order is not an option because it would be ignoring the law? Does he still believe that?

KARL But just to be clear, so you’re saying that this is no longer operative because we’ve had a review. So when the president said that expanding DACA to apply to the parents of the dreamers, for instance, would be broadening and essentially ignoring the law in a way that would be difficult to defend legally, that it’s not an option, that statement is no longer operative?

MR. EARNEST: Well, what I’m saying is we’ll have an opportunity to evaluate the actions that the president has chosen to take after he’s announced them.

KARL: But I’m not asking about the options. I’m just saying, does the president still stand by what he said in that interview in September of last year?

MR. EARNEST: Well, Jon, there – obviously, there are some things that have changed in this. Obviously, there have – some things that have changed, right? We have been in a situation where the president has ordered a broader, in-depth review of the existing law to determine what sort of executive authority does rest with the presidency to determine what kinds of steps he could take on his own.

KARL: But they had already refused to act at this point.

MR. EARNEST: Well, I guess – I guess it’s fair to say they’ve been refusing to act for quite some time. At that point it had only been a few months that they’d been refusing to act. Now it’s been almost a year and a half.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

Top Stories

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events