Rich Galen

During the Senate hearings into what had already become known as "Watergate," the leading Republican on the panel, Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee asked of witnesses "What did the President know and when did he know it?"

"The President," in that construct, was Richard Nixon but in the ensuing 41 years, Senator Baker's question has been asked of many Presidents regarding many scandals and crises.

The current crisis is the tidal wave of children crossing the Southwestern border from Mexico, many having made the harrowing trip from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala as well as from Mexico.

The Washington Post published a damning article on Monday maintaining that what the President knew was that "top officials at the White House and the State Department had been warned repeatedly of the potential for a further explosion in the number of migrant children."

And those warnings had begun two years ago.

According to the Post, these warnings weren't just some guy walking along Pennsylvania Avenue and shoving a paper airplane with the warning written in #2 pencil through the White House Fence.

The Post story maintains that:

-- Two years ago "Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, were "ringing alarm bells" within the administration."

-- "In April 2012, the first ladies of Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala voiced their concerns at a conference in Washington on unaccompanied minors."

-- Shortly after that visit, "Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) wrote a blistering letter to Obama, citing a 90 percent increase over the previous year in the number unaccompanied minors arriving from Central America."

The problem, as we now know, has continued to escalate to the point that current estimates by the Border Patrol are for as many as 90,000 unaccompanied children arriving by the end of September.

The Administration's response to this story was to send the new White House Press Secretary, improbably named Josh Earnest, out to criticize the Washington Post for, as reported by Dylan Byers in Politico.com:

"running a story in which anonymous sources -- former government officials, outside experts and immigrant advocates -- said that the White House had been warned of the current immigration crisis."

Note, Earnest didn't dispute that the President's senior team had been made aware of the growing crisis, just that there were anonymous sources included in the story.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.