Politics & Government

White House says missing portion of transcript a mistake, not intentional

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a campaign rally for Gov. Pat Quinn, D-Ill., at Chicago State University on Oct. 19, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) AP

President Barack Obama joked at a fundraiser Monday night that while visiting his Chicago home he found junk left on his desk -- “including some unpaid bills” -- that he said he believes were eventually paid.

But the official White House transcript of the event omitted the exchange, raising questions about why the quote didn’t appear.

A print reporter at the event said Obama noted that “one of the nice things about being home is actually that it's a little bit like a time capsule. Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills -- I think eventually they got paid -- but they're sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff."

In the official White House transcript, the reference to unpaid bills did not appear, only the reference to the newspapers.

The White House issued a corrected version Tuesday morning and Press Secretary Josh Earnest said there was a problem with the recording of the event, which White House transcribers used to prepare the transcript.

“I'm sure that all of you who have tried to take your tape recorder or even your more sophisticated recording equipment into a presidential event have experienced a little bit of a malfunction like this,” Earnest said.

And he argued that the only reason it was known that the remarks weren’t included was “because of the unprecedented commitment to transparency that this administration has put in place by opening up the president's comments at fundraisers and private homes to press coverage.”

Asked whether the unpaid bills had anything to do with Obama’s credit card recently being denied, Earnest laughed.

“Not that I know of,” he said. Obama said last week he was at a New York restaurant recently dining with first lady Michelle Obama when he was told his credit card had been declined.

He said it turned out it was flagged for fraud abuse because he had used it infrequently.

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