White House refuses to comment on Karl Rove as source of leak

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

In a televised report on CNN Tuesday morning, U.S. Senators John Kerry and Hillary Clinton expressed their belief that Karl Rove, a top advisor to President George W. Bush, should be fired. Kerry spoke from the podium and answered reporters' questions, while Clinton nodded in the background. Kerry spoke clearly for the removal of Rove, and reporters who noted Clinton's nods in agreement with Kerry queried her. She replied in support of Kerry's comments, "I agree with that."

The White House refused to comment Monday on Karl Rove's involvement in the leak of the name of the covert CIA agent Valerie Plame. The New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, was jailed for violating a contempt of court order by refusing to testify about her source, and TIME magazine reporter Matthew Cooper also involved with withholding his source now appears ready to testify.

The leak of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame's name two years ago by a member of the executive branch was in response to her husband disputing the Administration's allegations that Iraq was at the time attempting to buy so-called Yellowcake Uranium from countries in Africa. Her husband, a former ambassador under the first president Bush, Joseph Wilson has been proven correct in his assertions that Iraq was not attempting to gain or purchased uranium from Niger.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan refused to comment on a series of questions which increased in intensity quickly during a July 11 White House Press Briefing. The inquiries were about whether the White House stood by an earlier comment that any official found to be involved would be fired, and also about when President Bush found out that Karl Rove, his deputy chief of staff, was involved.

During the most heated part of the exchange, David Gregory of NBC News called the refusal to comment "ridiculous."

DAVID GREGORY: Scott, I mean, just -- I mean, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us after having commented with that level of detail and tell people watching this that somehow you decided not to talk. You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium, or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: And again, David, I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said, and I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation --
DAVID GREGORY: Why are you choosing when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?
MR. McCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish --
DAVID GREGORY: No, you're not finishing -- you're not saying anything. You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke out about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation? Was he involved, or was he not? Because, contrary to what you told the American people, he did, indeed, talk about his wife, didn't he?
MR. McCLELLAN: David, there will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.

McClellan also refused to comment on whether or not President Bush had confidence in Rove as his deputy chief of staff.