Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry took Josh Earnest to task on Thursday over President Obama's executive actions in light of a USA Today analysis which shows that Obama has issued more executive actions under ‘presidential memoranda' than previous U.S. presidents.
Henry pointed out that Obama has frequently bragged about issuing less executive orders than previous presidents. "But then you add on 198 presidential memorandum, it actually turns out he's using a lot more executive action than his predecessors, right?"
Earnest instead answered a different question, claiming Obama has used executive actions to "move this country forward" in response to "congressional inaction."
"I think there's no doubt that the president has sought to use his executive authority to move this country forward within the confines of the law," Earnest said. "Often in the face of congressional inaction, that I wouldn't disagree with."
Henry then pressed Earnest to explain the difference between executive orders and presidential memoranda. Earnest explained that executive orders were generally more sweeping while presidential memoranda were for more specific, technical issues.
"You just said executive orders usually are more sweeping, but in the case of immigration, which you would acknowledge was pretty sweeping, it was a presidential memorandum, not an executive order," Henry said.
"That's correct," Earnest acknowledged.
"No matter what you call it, he was kind of misleading people about how often he's using executive action," Henry said.
Earnest doubled down, asserting that Obama was being "specific" about using less ‘executive orders' than previous presidents while refusing to acknowledge that Obama had used more executive action.
"No, I think the president was being specific about the fact that his predecessors have issued far more executive orders than he has," Earnest said. "I don't think anybody has ever made the case from here about this president that he is not willing to use his executive authority to move the country forward. In fact, he has, and I think the numbers that you cite demonstrate a commitment to doing exactly that."