WASHINGTON, DC — In a rare public admission of error, the White House said Monday the U.S. should have sent a high-level official to an anti-terror march in Paris that was attended by more than 40 world leaders.
The Obama administration was represented Sunday by the U.S. ambassador to France, though Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris for security meetings.
“It’s fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Earnest suggested the elaborate security apparatus required for presidential travel prohibited President Barack Obama, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, from traveling to Paris on relatively short notice.
“There’s no doubt that had the president or vice president, on this very short time frame, gone to participate in this event that took place outdoors with more than a million people in attendance, that it would have significantly impacted the ability of those who attended the march to participate in the way they did yesterday,” Earnest said.
Secretary of State John Kerry was on a long-planned trip to India Sunday. The Justice Department hasn’t said why Holder could not stay for the event.
The State Department said Kerry would travel to Paris this week to show solidarity with the French people following three days of terror attacks by Islamic militants that resulted in 17 deaths.