(CNSNews.com) - Congressional leaders Wednesday sparred over Democrats' demand that President Bush fire White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove for partially divulging the identity of a covert CIA agent.
According to Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, who testified Wednesday before a federal grand jury investigating the leak, Rove spoke with him on July 11, 2003, about CIA agent Valerie Plame without naming the agent. Five days earlier, Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had used an op/ed to criticize the Bush administration's claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program.
That was enough of an implication for U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, who Wednesday called for Rove to be fired.
"The president said two years ago that he wanted to get to the bottom of this. If he were sincere, it would have happened," Pelosi said.
"For two years, there has been an investigation that did not reveal Karl Rove's involvement until a reporter went to jail," she added, a reference to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who refused to identify the source of the information she gathered about Plame and was subsequently held in contempt of court.
"It looks to me that there may have been some effort by people in the White House to obstruct the investigation," added Pelosi.
U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), the House majority leader, rushed to Rove's defense, telling Fox News that Pelosi's remarks were "typical of the Democrats.
"They smell blood, and Democrats are the sharks in the water," DeLay said. "You shouldn't be fired for a leak. You should be fired for a crime."
The Los Angeles Times has reported that Rove was fired from President George H. W. Bush's re-election campaign in 1992 over suspicions that he leaked information to Robert Novak, the columnist who first reported that Plame was a CIA operative.
The current Bush administration says it is still investigating how Plame's name was leaked to the press and has not determined whether a crime was committed.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan defended Rove, saying that he and every member of the White House staff had Bush's support. "They wouldn't be working here at the White House if they didn't have the president's confidence," he said.
Miller, the New York Times reporter, spent her eighth day in jail Wednesday for refusing to comply with a grand jury subpoena to name her source for the leak.
See Earlier Story:
Judge Jails Reporter for Shielding Source in CIA Leak Probe (July 06, 2005)
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