The White House spent the last two days dodging direct questions about whether President Obama would attend the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral on Saturday, and instead left it to reporters to infer that Obama would not be attending.
On Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked directly, "Does the president plan to travel to the Court on Friday when Justice Scalia will lie in repose, or to attend the funeral on Saturday?"
In reply, Earnest never said "no" to the question about attending Saturday's funeral, and instead said Obama would go to the Supreme Court on Friday.
"The president will not be at the funeral on Saturday?" the reporter pressed a second time.
"The president will pay his respects at the Supreme Court on Friday, and he'll be joined with the first lady when he does that," was Earnest's reply.
It was more of the same on Thursday, when Earnest was asked why Obama wouldn't be attending Scalia's funeral. But Earnest avoided the direct question again.
"As we discussed yesterday, the president and first lady tomorrow will be traveling to the Supreme Court building to pay their respects to Justice Scalia, whose body will be lying in repose at the Supreme Court," he said.
When asked why Obama wouldn't go to the funeral a second time on Thursday, Earnest repeated his answer from the day before that Vice President Joe Biden would be at the funeral. While he didn't offer a firm reason for Obama's absence, he did seem to imply that Biden was a better choice because Biden knew Scalia personally.
"Vice President Biden, who is somebody that had his own personal relationship with Justice Scalia and his family, will be representing the administration at the funeral," he said.
Earnest also implied that logistics might be an issue, as he noted that "when the vice president travels someplace, his security footprint is at least a little bit lighter."
Earnest also lashed out at speculation that there was some political motivation behind the decision not to attend the funeral. He said the rancor in Washington is so heavy that "some people actually want to use the funeral of a Supreme Court justice as some sort of political cudgel. The president doesn't think that that's appropriate."
Many political observers on Twitter say they suspect Obama has plans to play golf on Saturday, speculation that the White House helped to spread. On Wednesday, Earnest was asked if he could rule out the possibility that Obama would be playing golf on Saturday, and Earnest indicated he could not.
"I don't have a sense of what the president's plans are for Saturday," Earnest said.