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White House: Hey, We Still Have That Winston Churchill Bust (Or Do We?)


"I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again."

The Obama administration on Friday claimed that it never returned the Oval Office's bust of Sir Winston Churchill, according to the White House blog.

In a post written by Dan Pfeiffer, the White House claims recent remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer are "100% false."

"I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again," Romney said during his overseas trip in London

Meanwhile, Krauthammer writes President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

These comments didn’t go over well with the current administration.

“Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column,” Pfeiffer writes.

“This is 100% false. The bust [is] still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room,” Pfeiffer adds.

Oh, is it now? Pfeiffer cites a few examples of the press refuting the claim that the Obama administration returned the bust.

The National Journal, a Pfeiffer notes, reported that “the Churchill bust was relocated to a prominent spot in the residence to make room for Abraham Lincoln, a figure from whom the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office might well draw inspiration in difficult times.”

Moreover, the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”

And to prove the bust is still in the White House, Pfeiffer adds the following photo:

President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again,” he concludes.

Hold on there, Pfeiffer. There’s something huge you’re leaving out: “late Friday, British Embassy Spokesman James Barbour said there were actually two busts of Churchill [emphasis added]” writes CNN's Kevin Liptak.

“The one that was loaned to the George W. Bush administration in 2001 was returned after Bush left office and now resides at the British ambassador's residence in Washington,” he adds.

So, yes, the Churchill bust that was given to the President of the United States following 9/11 was returned to the British embassy. What, did you think everyone was making this up:

Washington Times: “So presumably it was no accident that one of the new president’s first gestures was to have a bust of Winston Churchill given to the United States by the British government removed from the Oval Office.”

The Telegraph: “A bust of the former prime minister once voted the greatest Briton in history, which was loaned to George W Bush from the Government's art collection after the September 11 attacks, has now been formally handed back.”

The Daily Beast: “…the White House sent back to the British Embassy a bust of Sir Winston Churchill that had occupied a cherished spot in President Bush's Oval Office.”

The Washington Post: “The murmurs began when President Obama returned to the British Embassy the Winston Churchill bust that had been displayed in the Oval Office since Tony Blair lent it to George W. Bush.”

Tampa Bay Times: “Churchill's bronze is now in the possession of the British ambassador to the United States, Sir Nigel Sheinwald.”

As you can see, from the left-leaning Washington Post to the more conservative Washington Times, everyone reported that the 9/11 bust of Winston Churchill was returned to the British embassy -- and it was.

Exit Question: Which part of Krauthammer's claim or Romney's off-the-cuff remark is, as Pfeiffer says, "100% false"? The fact that the bust is no longer in the Oval Office or the fact that the Obama administration returned the one given to us after 9/11?

The way we see it, both of these claims are 100 percent true and absolutely accurate.

This story has been updated.

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