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

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

White House Rebuffs Calls for Shakeup - Yahoo! News

By TERENCE HUNT, AP White House Correspondent

The White House on Monday rebuffed calls for a staff shakeup, the firing of Karl Rove and an apology by President Bush for the role of senior administration officials in the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Three days after the indictment and resignation of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, the administration said it would have to remain silent as long as there was an investigation of the leak and legal proceeding under way. Bush ignored reporters' questions during an Oval Office meeting with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

"We don't want to do anything from here that could prejudice the opportunity for there to be a fair and impartial trial," presidential spokesman Scott McClellan said.

Friday's indictment of I. Lewis Libby and the continuing investigation of Rove were a blow to Bush's already troubled presidency. The president's approval rating has tumbled to the lowest point since he took office and Americans are unhappy about high energy prices, the costly war in Iraq and economic uncertainties.

Republicans and Democrats alike have urged Bush to begin remaking his presidency by bringing in fresh advisers with new energy to replace members of a team worn down by years of campaigning and governing. But administration officials said that was not in the works.

Cheney promoted two of his advisers to fill the jobs handled by Libby, his confidant. David Addington, who has been the vice president's legal counsel, was named chief of staff, while John Hannah, his deputy national security adviser, was named national security adviser. Both men have been on Cheney's staff for more than four years.

Libby faces his first court appearance Thursday before U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton.

"There's no discussion of staff changes beyond the usual vacancies that occur or beyond filling the vacancy that the vice president did as well," McClellan said.

While White House officials were relieved that Rove was not indicted, Democrats demanded that he be fired. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., led the charge, calling for apologies from Bush and Cheney and saying the administration should explain the vice president's role in the unmasking of Plame.

The administration refused to respond. "If people want to try and politicize this process, that's their business," McClellan said.

McClellan was repeatedly asked to acknowledge that he was wrong in 2003 when he denied that Rove or Libby were involved in disclosing Plame's identity. He said he would not comment during the ongoing legal proceedings.


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