PLEASE READ BOTH OF THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES - THE FIRST A SOFTBALL BY USA TODAY, THE SECOND BY MOL IVINS TRANSCRIBED FROM GOVERNMENT HEARINGS... UNDER OATH! YOU DECIDE IF ROVE ISN'T A LYING, CHEATING SLIME-BALL!
Finger-pointing finds a familiar target in Rove Bush adviser denies involvement in leak, but such speculation comes as no surprise
By Judy Keen
WASHINGTON -- Karl Rove has a reputation.
President Bush's senior adviser, whose catch-all title understates his considerable role in shaping the administration's policies, politics and image, often is held liable for White House blunders and credited for its successes.
So it was not surprising that Rove was identified in news stories as a possible culprit when news broke that the Justice Department is considering investigating whether someone in the administration leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to journalists.
''He wasn't involved,'' White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Monday. ''The president knows he wasn't involved. . . . It's simply not true.'' Asked whether he did it, Rove told ABC, ''No.''
Syndicated columnist Robert Novak published the name of the CIA officer, Valerie Plame, on July 14. Eight days earlier, her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, writing in The New York Times, had disputed Bush's statement that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa for use in nuclear weapons.
Wilson told USA TODAY on Monday that a reporter who received the leak told him, ''Rove says your wife is fair game.'' Wilson told the Associated Press that he didn't intend to imply that Rove was ''the source or the authorizer, just that I thought that it came from the White House, and Karl Rove was the personification of the White House political operation.''
He's more than that. In Washington, where power is both respected and reviled, Rove has become an almost mythic figure. He advises the president on almost everything.
A political wizard
Rove left college to work on campaigns. After a string of wins in Texas, he met Bush. He groomed him for office, ran his two successful campaigns for governor and oversaw the 2000 presidential campaign. He helped transform Bush into the GOP front-runner and helped devise plans to raise a record-shattering $100 million. He's known as a political wizard.
But he does make mistakes. In 2000, he underestimated the appeal of Arizona Sen. John McCain, Bush's main challenger for the Republican nomination. He erred when he predicted that Bush would rack up a big Electoral College win over Democrat Al Gore. He signed off on Bush's visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1. Bush climbed off a Navy jet wearing a flight suit, strode across the deck of the aircraft carrier and announced that major combat operations in Iraq were over. That declaration is now considered to have been a misstep.
Rove, 52, has a reputation for the behind-the-scenes maneuvering and political shenanigans that are part of the portfolio of most political operatives -- but not necessarily top White House officials.
When Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., resigned his post as majority leader last year after remarks that were considered racially insensitive, Washington insiders thought Rove engineered the ouster. During the 2000 campaign, there were rumors that he orchestrated the theft of a videotape of Bush preparing for a debate so the incident could be blamed on Democrats.
During the 1986 race for Texas governor, he told reporters he had found a listening device hidden in his office just before a debate between his candidate, Bill Clements, and Democratic Gov. Mark White. There was speculation that White, who lost the election, was responsible. Others wondered whether Rove had planted the bug himself to discredit White. Rove has denied involvement in all these episodes, and there's no proof he played any role.
Rumors come with territory
A year ago, Rove said he ignores Washington chatter about him and his role. ''Look, that comes with the territory,'' he said. ''I grew up in small towns. Despite the large number of people in Washington, it's really like a small town. If you try and spend your day correcting what people are saying about you or saying about the White House, you won't get your job done.''
Rove's allies say his larger-than-life image is exaggerated. In his spare time, jokes Mary Matalin, a former aide to Vice President Cheney, Rove ''has found the cure for cancer.'' The president's political opponents, she says, are projecting their own bad impulses on Rove.
''Poor Karl Rove gets blamed for everything, including rain,'' says Scott Reed, a Republican strategist. Reed says Rove is a target because he has so much clout. ''Few individuals have harnessed so many of the presidential levers of power and consistently performed at such a high level.''
Veterans of past administrations say almost every president has an adviser whose influence is scrutinized, criticized and overestimated. Edward House helped Woodrow Wilson win the Democratic nomination, then helped choose his Cabinet and negotiate with Congress. Rove, a passionate student of history, has said that his role model is Mark Hanna, William McKinley's closest adviser.
Stephen Hess, a Brookings Institution scholar who worked for Republican presidents Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford, says the news media ''always has to invent a Svengali'' inside the White House. Reporters refuse to accept that presidents make their own decisions, so ''there must be a Wizard of oz
behind the scenes,'' he says.
Jody Powell, President Carter's press secretary, says he and chief of staff Hamilton Jordan often were considered a single person. ''For a lot of people, there was a mythical creature, Jody Hamilton, who was responsible for all the mistakes . . . committed or alleged,'' he says.
Rove catches heat because of ''his reputation for power and reputation for playing political hardball,'' Powell says. ''You do become a target for people . . . who want to target the person at a senior level whose name is known and recognized.''
Rove: What It Means to "Know"
n interesting semi-historical footnote concerning Dick Cheney’s oft-reiterated references to President Clinton’s weaseling under oath. "He knows what the meaning of ‘is’ is," says Cheney in his campaign stump speech, to show the moral superiority of the Republican camp. Which leads us to this story about Karl Rove, Bush’s campaign manager and the man they call "Bush’s brain."
Rove has been a Texas Republican political operative for twenty-three years. During that time, Texas Democrats noticed a pattern that they became somewhat paranoid about: in election years, there always seemed to be an F.B.I. investigation of some Democrat either announced or leaked to the press. After the election, the allegations often vanished, although in the case of Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, three of his aides were later convicted. The investigations were conducted by F.B.I. agent Greg Rampton, who was stationed in Austin in those years.
In 1989, Rove was nominated for a position with the federal Board for International Broadcasting. He answered a questionnaire from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. One of the questions was: "Have you been interviewed or asked to supply any information in connection with any administrative or grand jury investigation in the past eighteen months? If so, provide details." Rove responded, "This summer I met with agent Greg Rampton of the Austin F.B.I. office at his request regarding a probe of political corruption in the office of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower."
In 1991, Rove was undergoing State Senate confirmation hearings for an appointment to the East Texas State University Board of Regents. Senator Bob Glasgow was questioning Rove about his work for Governor Bill Clements in the 1986 campaign against Governor Mark White, the Democratic incumbent. A now-forgotten incident of that campaign involved a listening device allegedly found in Rove’s office by a private security firm, a few days before a televised debate. The case made headlines around the state. It was investigated by Rampton, who never found the alleged perpetrator.
Glasgow: "Ah, Mr. Rove, would you now tell us publicly who bugged your office that you blamed upon Mark White publicly and the press statewide?"
Rove: "Ah, first of all, I did not blame it on Mark White. If, ah, if you’ll recall I specifically said at the time that we disclosed the bugging that we did not know who did it, but we knew who might benefit from it. And no, I do not know. ..."
Glasgow: "And are you now satisfied that Mark White and the Democratic Party did not bug your office as you – as you released, ah, to the newspapers?"
Rove: "Senator, I never said Mark White bugged my office, I’m not certain he has an electronic background. I never said the Democratic Party bugged it either.... As to who bugged it, Senator, I do not know – and the F.B.I. does not know...."
Glasgow: "How long have you known an FBI agent by the name of Greg [Rampton]?"
Rove: "Ah, Senator, it depends – would you define ‘know’ for me?"
Glasgow: "What is your relationship with him?"
Rove: "Ah, I know, I would not recognize Greg [Rampton] if he walked in the door. We have talked on the phone a var – a number of times. Ah, and he has visited in my office once or twice, but we do not have a social or personal relationship whatsoever...."
Glasgow: "During the Rick Perry campaign (against Jim Hightower), did you have any conversations with FBI agent Rampton about the course and conduct of that campaign?"
Rove: "Yes, I did, two or three times...."
Glasgow: "Did you issue a press release in Washington, at a fund-raiser, about information you’d received from the FBI implicating – implicating, ah, Hightower?"
Rove: "We did not issue a press release.... We did not issue a news release. I talked to a member of the press...."
Glasgow: "Ah, involved in campaigns that you’ve been involved in, do you know why agent Rampton conducted a criminal investigation of Garry Mauro at the time you were involved in that campaign, pulled the finance records of Bob Bullock at the time you were involved in that campaign, pulled the campaign records of Jim Hightower at the time you were involved in that campaign?"
Rove: "Well, Senator, first of all, as I said before, I was not involved in either Bob Bullock or Garry Mauro’s campaigns or the campaigns of their Republican opponent. I’d be hard pressed to tell you who Garry Mauro’s opponent was in 1986. Ah, and I’d – think I’d be hard pressed even to remember who Bob Bullock’s opponent was in 1986. So I can’t answer that part of the question. I do know that I became involved in Rick Perry’s campaign in November of 1989. At that point there was already an investigation ongoing of the Texas Department of Agriculture, prompted by stories which had appeared in August and September, I believe, in The Dallas Morning News regarding the use of Texas Department of Agriculture funds."
Glasgow shifts to the International Broadcasting appointment: "And in answering a question for that perspective [sic] federal appointment, did you make a claim in there that you were involved in the Hightower investigation at the request of special agent Rampton of the Federal Bureau of Investigation?"
Rove: "No, sir."
Glasgow: "You did not make that statement in response…."
Rove: "I did not, and I was…."
Glasgow: "Let me finish my question. Did you make that statement in response to a written questionnaire?"
Rove: "Ah, Senator, ah, no, I did not make that statement, but I…."
Glasgow: "Thank you very much."
Rampton, and who is now in charge of the F.B.I.’s Denver office, said recently that he had not talked to Rove about the Hightower case. Told that Rove had so claimed in his federal questionnaire, Rampton said: "Let me think. I couldn’t recall talking to him on that particular case at all. My memory, if there was a conversation we had on that case, well, I can’t recall it. He was not an integral part of that case. I don’t even remember bouncing anything off him as somebody who was familiar with politics in Austin."