Karl Rove – Sometimes The Cover-Up Is Worse Than The Crime
During yesterday’s daily briefing with White House reporters, Press Secretary Scott McClellan learned how difficult it can be to defend the indefensible. McClellan was given countless opportunities to clear up previous White House statements regarding the involvement of Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove in the outing of an undercover CIA agent. McClellan instead dodged all questions regarding the scandal, frustrating the White House press corps and causing NBC White House news correspondent David Gregory to exclaim, “this is ridiculous.” It is indeed ridiculous that the White House is not being forthcoming about a possible breach of national security and criminal activity that involves one of its highest ranking staffers.
McClellan’s excuse for his silence doesn’t hold up when compared to his past actions. During yesterday’s briefing McClellan noted 23 times that he could not comment because there was an “ongoing investigation.” That did not stop McClellan from previously talking about Karl Rove and his role in the scandal. On October 1, 2003, McClellan said, “There is an investigation going on ... you brought up Karl's name. Let's be very clear. I thought – I said it was a ridiculous suggestion, I said it's simply not true that he was involved in leaking classified information, and – nor, did he condone that kind of activity." So it was OK for McClellan to talk about Rove and the scandal in 2003 but not yesterday?
With each “no comment,” the White House is losing credibility with the American people. Even if Rove is not found to have committed any crime, the fact that he leaked Plame’s identity to Time magazine when the White House previously denied any involvement is damaging to the White House and the president. The fact that the White House seems unwilling to even stand by bland assertions that the leak is a "serious matter" (which McClellan did not say yesterday) or that the White House wants to find out the "truth" (which also wasn't stated) indicates how this matter has become one of credibility for the Bush White House. The inability to stand behind those statements yields little confidence that Bush will hold to his pledge to fire anybody who leaked the agent's name.
The president, known to speak up for his friends, has been noticeably silent on Karl Rove. When right-wing conservatives started attacking Attorney General Alberto Gonzales following Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement, President Bush was quick to come to his defense. Since it was revealed that Rove was Matt Cooper’s source, President Bush has not said a word about Rove’s involvement in Plamegate, nor has he issued a statement of support. President Bush knows he can put an end to all these questions by demanding that Karl Rove himself come forward and tell all that he knows.