The White House says U.S. President George W. Bush still has faith in his top political advisor, Karl Rove, despite Mr. Rove's possible role in leaking the name of an undercover CIA official. But the White House is still ducking a barrage of reporters’ questions, while Democratic Party leaders are calling for Mr. Rove to resign.
|White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove addresses employees Friday July 8, 2005|
President Bush called him the architect of his 2004 re-election. But now this master political strategist is at the center of a federal investigation into whether he revealed the name of a covert CIA operative.
President Bush brushed off reporters' questions about Mr. Rove in an Oval Office appearance Tuesday. But White House spokesman Scott McClellan says the president stands by Mr. Rove.
"Any individual who works here at the White House has the president's confidence,” said Mr. McClellan. “They wouldn't be working here if they didn't have the president's confidence."
For the second day, Mr. McClellan dodged repeated questions about the leaked information during his daily press briefing.
"What was Karl Rove trying to accomplish by having the conversation he did?" asked one reporter after another in multiple forms.
To which Mr. McClellan answered in various ways, "That's a question related to an ongoing investigation," "Let's let the investigation take place," "I'm not going to get into discussing the investigation at this point."
Newsweek magazine has published e-mail, showing Mr. Rove spoke with a reporter in 2003, and apparently hinted at the identity of then-undercover CIA official Valerie Plame. Her husband is former ambassador Joseph Wilson, a fierce critic of the Iraq war. It's a federal crime to identify an undercover agent.
The reporter who spoke with Rove, Matt Cooper, agreed to discuss the matter with federal investigators. But another reporter, Judith Miller, was jailed for refusing to reveal her source. Back in 2003, President Bush said whoever leaked the name to the media, would pay a price. "If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of."
Members of the minority Democratic Party are now demanding that the President follow and take action.
Senator Charles Schumer of New York was one of them. "I am asking the President to reaffirm that he wishes to get to the bottom of the Plame leak, and to dismiss those involved, even if that person should be his longtime associate, Karl Rove."
Democratic Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey wants an explanation. "The jig is up! The deputy chief of staff needs to come before Congress and answer questions about this."
Mr. Rove's attorney insists his client never knowingly revealed classified information.