White House Watch: Bracing for new Rove attacks


By Paul Bedard
Posted 8/4/05

White House officials and senior Republican strategists are bracing for a new round of attacks on Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove's involvement in the CIA leak probe, as Democrats move to take advantage of the slow news cycle in August. But insiders say they don't expect to hear anything new in the charges.

"There is no new news," says one senior White House adviser and Rove ally. "Rove is cool as a cucumber."

The Democrats, nonetheless, are looking at the case involving the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame as a way to paint the White House as stonewalling a legitimate investigation. Coupled with the Bush administration's decision not to provide all documents related to Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, some Democrats believe they can make the case that the White House isn't being honest with the public. Part of the strategy was unveiled this week when the Democratic National Committee released a fact sheet titled "Mr. Bush, Tear Down That Stone Wall." The opening paragraph said the theme will be built on every day.

"A daily service of the DNC, 'Mr. Bush, Tear Down That Stone Wall!' will highlight a specific fact that has been revealed and what Americans deserve to know about the White House's involvement in the improper and possibly illegal disclosure of an undercover CIA agent's identity for political gain." A DNC official said that "our main point has been that this is about more than just Rove; there was an internal working group focused on discrediting Joe Wilson," Plame's husband, who before her CIA connection was leaked had publicly criticized the Bush administration for its handling of intelligence on Iraq's weapons-making capability.

Democrats claim that Rove was a part of the discrediting operation. "This is bigger than Rove," said the official.