The Washington Times - July 28, 2009, 10:48AM

More details emerged this morning from the White House on the logistics of President Obama’s meeting Thursday evening with the two men involved in the now infamous case of the Harvard professor and the Cambridge police officer.

It will be just Obama, professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Sgt. James Crowley. Crowley is expected to bring his wife and three kids and “take pictures,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, during an off-camera gaggle with reporters in his West Wing office Tuesday morning.

The three men – the president born of a black Kenyan father and white Kansan mother, the black Ivy League professor, and the white working class cop – will sit at a picnic table behind the Oval Office Thursday evening around 6 p.m.

Gibbs repeatedly said there would be no “formal agenda” and said Obama “hopes [this] is a further opportunity to sort of step back a bit.”

“I would not construe this as formal discussions. This is about having a beer and deescalate,” Gibbs said. “This isn’t formal. This isn’t going to have a formal agenda. There’s been a lot about this story … and I think the president wants to continue to take the temperature down a bit, look for the constructive parts that can come out of it.”

But as for who originally suggested the meeting, Gibbs changed his story from what he said last Friday. Gibbs said Friday that “it was Sergeant Crowley’s suggestion about the beer and I think the president thought it was a good idea.”

The president and the officer spoke when Obama called Crowley on his cell phone to apologize for saying that the officer had “acted stupidly” by arresting Gates at his home, following a 911 call by a concerned passerby who saw Gates trying to force his way into his own house and thought he might be a burglar.

But Tuesday, Gibbs said that the president had come up with the idea.

“I think the president actually offered it up on the call. Crowley then pretty quickly said he’d be in and he likes Blue Moon. So this was something the president suggested Friday afternoon in his call,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs said after the session in his office Tuesday morning that he would check on whether Obama or Crowley suggested the meeting.

As has been previously reported, Crowley will drink Blue Moon, Gates will drink Red Stripe or Beck’s, and Obama favors Budweiser.

I suggested to Gibbs that the president bump things up a notch and have a Dogfish Head, preferably Palo Santo. Gibbs was noncommittal, though he did share my positive assessment of the Delaware brew.

— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times


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