Asked what President Obama knew about the spy swap, a senior administration official tonight said that "the president was kept fully informed of developments and approved the recommendations of his national security team on how the matter should be handled."
On the PBS NewsHour this evening, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel elaborated, saying, "It was not the decision of the president. It was the decision, obviously, of the law enforcement community and the intelligence community."
Did the president sign off on it? Jim Lehrer asked.
"The president was briefed about it," Emanuel said. "These type of things are done by the law enforcement community and intelligence community. He was briefed about it, given the information about it. But the actions were taken by the law enforcement community. ... The president was fully informed of what was going on along the way."
Emanuel said that a) "they pled guilty ... b) they are deported, c) we also, as you know, there are four people now coming ... to the United States."
He added, "There is no doubt it's a good thing because we've uncovered individuals here who, although they didn't plead to being spies, were clearly caught in the business of spying. And it sends a clear signal to not only Russia but other countries that will attempt this that we are on to them."
- Jake Tapper