WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House faced mounting Democratic calls for President Bush to sideline or fire his top political aide Karl Rove on Monday over his involvement in a CIA leak scandal....
After publicly defending Rove two years ago, the White House responded to the barrage by saying it would not comment at the request of the prosecutors investigating who leaked the identify of CIA agent Valerie Plame.
"The White House promised if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration. I trust they will follow through on this pledge," Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said.
Other Democrats urged Bush to sideline Rove by suspending his access to classified information and said the deputy White House chief of staff should "clear the air" by answering questions from Congress. Another lawmaker said the intentional disclosure of a covert agent's identity amounted to an "act of treason."Full Text...
Bush Knew About Leak of CIA Operative's Name
By Staff and Wire Reports
Jun 3, 2004, 05:28
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Witnesses told a federal grand jury President George W. Bush knew about, and took no action to stop, the release of a covert CIA operative's name to a journalist in an attempt to discredit her husband, a critic of administration policy in Iraq.
Their damning testimony has prompted Bush to contact an outside lawyer for legal advice because evidence increasingly points to his involvement in the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
The move suggests the president anticipates being questioned by prosecutors. Sources say grand jury witnesses have implicated the President and his top advisor, Karl Rove.
White House spokesmen, however, dismiss the hiring of outside counsel as a routine precaution.
"The president has made it very clear he wants everyone to cooperate fully with the investigation and that would include himself," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday night.
He confirmed that Bush had contacted Washington attorney Jim Sharp. "In the event the president needs his advice, I expect he probably would retain him," McClellan said. There is no indication Bush has been questioned yet.
A federal grand jury has questioned numerous White House and administration officials to learn who leaked the name of CIA operative Plame, wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to the news media. Wilson has charged that officials made the disclosure in an effort to discredit him.
Bush has been an outspoken critics of leaks, saying they can be very damaging, but he has expressed doubts that the government's investigation will pinpoint who was responsible. While Bush has said he welcomed the leak investigation, it has been an awkward development for a president who promised to bring integrity and leadership to the White House after years of Republican criticism and investigations of the Clinton administration.