NY Daily News: Bush Furious with Rove Over Plame Leak in 2003
Just one day after excerpts from the upcoming Scott McClellan tell all book suggested President Bush lied about the roles of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby in the Plamegate affair, the publisher is now back-tracking on the explosive claim. But despite a spokesman's assertion that McClellan "did not intend to suggest Bush lied to him," a seemingly forgotten 2005 story from the New York Daily News suggests otherwise.
As Perrspectives, Talking Points Memo, the Washington Note and other blogs noted in October 2005, the New York Daily News' Tom DeFrank revealed that President Bush was apoplectic with Karl Rove in the fall of 2003 over his role in the outing of Valerie Plame:
Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak...the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger..."Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.
(The DeFrank piece apparently is no longer available for free from the New York Daily News web site. The link leads only to the paper's home page. The full text of "Bush Whacked Rove on CIA Leak" is available for a fee.)
That picture of George W. Bush beside himself with rage in 2003 doesn't square with the McClellan retreat signaled by his publisher today:
Peter Osnos, the founder and editor-in-chief of Public Affairs Books, which is publishing McClellan's book in April, tells NBC from his Connecticut home that McCLellan, "Did not intend to suggest Bush lied to him."
Osnos says when McClellan went before the White House press corps in 2003 to publicly exonerate Libby and Rove, the problem was that his statement was not true. Osnos said the president told McClellan what "he thought to be the case." But, he says, McClellan believes, "the president didn't know it was not true."
As I detailed yesterday, on October 7, 2003, President Bush did what comes naturally and played dumb when it came to the identity of the "senior administration official" responsible for smearing Ambassador Joe Wilson and betraying his CIA agent wife Valerie Plame:
"I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth."
As it turns out, President Bush wasn't telling the truth. But on this as on so many othr matters, the American should have known George W. Bush was lying. After all, his lips were moving.