News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bush: Any Criminals in Leak to Be Fired

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA-leak case, that person will "no longer work in my administration." At the same time, Bush yet again sidestepped a question on the role of his top political adviser, Karl Rove, in the matter.

"We have a serious ongoing investigation here and it's being played out in the press," Bush said at an East Room news conference.

Bush, appearing at a news conference with visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, spoke a day after Time magazine's Matthew Cooper said that a 2003 phone call with Rove was the first he heard about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson apparently working for the CIA.

Bush said in June 2004 that he would fire anyone in his administration shown to have leaked information that exposed the identity of Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. On Monday, however, he added the qualifier that it would have be shown that a crime was committed.

Asked at a June 10, 2004 news conference if he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked Plame's name, Bush answered, "Yes. And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

A tempest has swirled around the leak of the CIA agent's name, apparently by Bush administration officials, in July 2003.

Some Democrats have called for Rove, whose title is deputy chief of staff, to be fired. They have suggested that he violated a 1982 federal law that prohibits the deliberate exposure of the name of a CIA agent.

"It's best people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions. I don't know all the facts. I want to know all the facts," Bush said Monday. "I would like this to end as quickly as possible. If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

It was the second time that Bush, when asked specifically about Rove's involvement in the matter, passed up an opportunity to come to his adviser's defense.

Bush has appeared with Rove at his side several times over the past week, however. And White House spokesman Scott McClellan has said Rove — as well anyone who works now at the White House — continues to have the president's confidence.

The president did not respond directly to a reporter's question on whether he disapproved of Rove's telling a reporter that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues.

Rove has not disputed that he told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the agency. But he has insisted through his lawyer that he did not mention her by name, nor did he intend to "out" her.

Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press


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