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Senate Democratic leader calls for Rove's resignation

Poll: 46 percent believe ethics, honesty has fallen with Bush

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Oct. 31, 2005 

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WASHINGTON -- The Senate Democratic leader said Sunday presidential adviser Karl Rove should resign because of his role in the exposing of a CIA officer's identity, and a veteran Republican senator said President Bush needs "new blood" in his White House.

Rove has not been charged, but the investigation continues in the case that brought the indictment and resignation Friday of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Sunday he was disappointed that Bush and Cheney responded to the indictment by lauding Libby. He suggested they should apologize for the leak that revealed the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, has been critical of the Bush administration.

"First of all, the vice president issues this very terse statement praising Libby for all the great things he's done," Reid said. "Then we have the president come on camera a few minutes later calling him Scooter and what a great patriot he is."

"There has not been an apology to the American people for this obvious problem in the White House," Reid, D-Nev., told ABC's "This Week."

Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said on "Fox News Sunday" that Cheney should "come clean" about his involvement and why he discussed Plame with Libby before Libby spoke to reporters about her.

"What did the vice president know? What were his intentions?" Dodd said. "Now, there's no suggestion the vice president is guilty of any crime here whatsoever. But if our standard is just criminality, then we're never going to get to the bottom of this."

Democrats appearing on Sunday talk shows portrayed Libby's indictment as one of many serious problems surrounding the White House and one of several allegations raising questions about Republican ethics.

Republicans repeatedly said the charges have been made against only one individual and that Libby should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

When it comes to public opinion, 46 percent of people surveyed for an ABC News-Washington Post poll said the level of ethics and honesty in the federal government had fallen with Bush as president -- three times the number who said ethics and honesty had risen during that time.

Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi said Sunday that Bush should be on the lookout for "new blood, new energy, qualified staff, new people in administration." He said poor advice may have contributed to the failed nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said there "absolutely" should be an internal White House investigation. But he said allegations of illegal activity appeared to be focused only on Libby.

"I think the likelihood of Karl Rove being indicted in the future is virtually zero," Graham said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

A grand jury charged Libby on Friday with five felonies alleging obstruction of justice, perjury to a grand jury and making false statements to FBI agents. If convicted, he could face a maximum of 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.

Libby was not charged with the crime that the grand jury was created to investigate -- specifically, who leaked the name of Plame to reporters in 2003. Libby and Rove were named by reporters brought before the grand jury, but it was unclear whether they knew that she was a covert agent.

Graham also urged an internal investigation and said Bush, "if need be, take the vice president to the wood shed."

"The real question for President Bush is going to be: Is he going to be like Nixon -- hunker down, get into the bunker, admit no mistakes," Schumer said, "or like Reagan, who actually admitted mistakes, did a midcourse correction and brought in new people, bipartisan people, people above ethical reproach, into the White House."

 

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