During an interview with Texas reporters at the White House yesterday, President Bush was asked about Karl Rove’s role in the Plamegate investigation. First, he expressed “complete confidence” in Rove. Then, as he has before, he declined to discuss any details. And then he suggested that, because of warnings from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, he has not discussed the case with his staff.
Q When did you first know and how did you find out that Karl Rove had discussed Joseph Wilson’s wife with a reporter?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re in the midst of a serious investigation. There is a very fine lawyer looking into all this, all the allegations. I caution the media not to prejudge. I will be glad to comment on the particulars of this investigation once it’s finished. Karl has got my complete confidence. He’s a valuable member of my team. And Mr. Fitzgerald will complete his work, and when he does we will all know the facts.
Q You have said anyone violated the law, they would be out of your administration. Are there measures lower than the law that would force you to ask someone to leave your administration?
THE PRESIDENT: See, what’s happened here in this case is that many have started to prejudge the outcome of Mr. Fitzgerald’s investigation in the newspapers. And I’ve asked people to wait until he puts out his report. And I’ll be more than happy to comment upon that when I find out the facts.
Q Without telling us the facts, which clearly you won’t, do you at this point –
THE PRESIDENT: Well, how do — I mean, how do you know –
Q — do you feel like you know the facts about what happened involving your staff members?
THE PRESIDENT: We have been — we have been cautioned about talking about this issue.
Q Even amongst yourselves and amongst the staff?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Okay. So you don’t know the facts on what Mr. Rove may or may not have said?
THE PRESIDENT: As you know, I occasionally read the newspapers. It depends on who the writer is, in your case –
Q Daily basis –
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. (Laughter.)
Q The Morning News has a great sports page. (Laughter.)
Q Well, but –
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve said as clearly as I can. Why don’t you wait and see what the true facts are. And Mr. Fitzgerald’s job is to talk to a lot of people, and he has done so. And then we’ll lay out his findings for us all to see.
Q But you know of nothing at this point that would lead you to ask someone to leave your staff?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m much more disciplined now than I used to be, Herman.
Q I hate when that happens. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve answered this question 17 different times.