Democrats in Congress continue to step up pressure on President Bush regarding his close political adviser, Karl Rove. House Democrats have introduced a resolution aimed at obtaining documents and other information from the White House about the leak of a covert CIA officer's name two years ago, which is the subject of a criminal investigation.
A resolution of inquiry is a request from members of Congress to the president or other officials to release specific information to the House of Representatives.
Sponsored by House Democrats Rush Holt, Henry Waxman and Jay Inslee, this one seeks documents, telephone or electronic records, and other material relating to the disclosure of CIA officer Valerie Plame in 2003. It is a federal crime to knowingly and intentionally reveal the name of someone working undercover for the CIA.
Karl Rove, who the president describes as the political architect behind his presidency, has denied identifying Ms. Plame by name to Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.
In a news conference, Congressman Holt said the matter goes beyond questions of damage to Ms. Plame, or potential embarrassment to the Bush administration, saying Congress has a responsibility to get to the bottom of the matter.
"How did this information get to the White House," Congressman Holt asked. "Somebody in the intelligence community, or the State Department, or the Defense Department, must have told Karl Rove and others. How did that happen, why did that happen? It is bad enough if it happens, but if it happens for what appear to be gratuitous political reasons, that is a disgrace."
Senate Democrats have sent a letter to White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, demanding that he begin an internal investigation into who, besides Mr. Rove might have been involved.
In the face of persistent questions, President Bush has refused to comment in detail citing an ongoing investigation by a special prosecutor, although his spokesman Scott McClellan says the president still has confidence in Mr. Rove, and considers him a friend.
On Capitol Hill, Republicans have accused Democrats of conducting a witch hunt regarding Mr. Rove's involvement.
Congressman Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas, defended Mr. Rove on the floor of the House, bringing a response from Democrat Frank Pallone.
"The Democrat's witch hunt of the week is aimed at my friend - Karl Rove," said Rep. Hensarling. "I have had the pleasure of knowing Karl for over 20 years. I believe is a man of honesty and integrity who loves his country and serves it well."
"Rather than demand answers from Rove, congressional Republicans are either silent, or are attacking Democrats," replied Rep. Pallone. "They should be asking how Rove had the very information about Valerie Plame from the beginning and they should deny him any further security clearance."
Democrats dismiss explanations offered in recent days by supporters of Mr. Rove.
"The American people are getting many excuses from the White House when what the American people need is the whole truth," Congressman Jay Inslee said.
Meanwhile, the husband of Valerie Plame, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, told NBC's Today program Thursday that he believes President Bush should fire Karl Rove for his involvement in the leak case.
"The president said in the middle of 2004 that he would fire anybody who was caught leaking in this manner," Mr. Wilson said. "Karl Rove has now been caught. The president has said repeatedly I am a man of my word. The president really should stand up and prove to the American people that his word is his bond and fire Karl Rove."
Mr. Wilson, a former ambassador to Iraq and Niger, angered the Bush administration before the United States and allies invaded Iraq by publicly questioning the president's assertion that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium in Africa.
He has accused the White House of deliberately leaking his wife's covert CIA identity to retaliate against him for his highly-visible public opposition to administration justifications for going to war in Iraq.
Time magazine reporter Cooper testified this week before a federal grand jury investigating the leak of the CIA officer's identify after his source released him from his commitment to maintain confidentiality.
But another reporter, Judith Miller of the New York Times, went to jail rather than disclose the identity of her source.
Newspaper columnist Robert Novak, who wrote the first story identifying Ms. Plame as a CIA officer, has refused to say if he has testified before the grand jury or comment on his cooperation with the special prosecutor.