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White House has reached a low point but will -

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(generated from captions) And we're joined now in Washington by Rich Galen, a commentator with a long pedigree with Republican administrations. Among other things, he was a press secretary for Dan Quayle and communications director for the powerful House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Now he writes a political column called 'Mullings'.

Thanks for being there. Nice to be

with you. There hasn't been so much

fear and loathing in the White

fear and loathing in the White House since Bill Clinton was tarted by

another special prosecutor, how is

this latest scandal likely to end

up, do you think? The difference

there, of course, is that the

Clinton scandal involved the

President himself. He was the

central figure in that. There's

central figure in that. There's been nothing in thesio leak

nothing in thesio leak investigation that indicates that it goes

that indicates that it goes anywhere near the Oval Office. Obviously

near the Oval Office. Obviously Karl Rove is right next to it,

metaphorically speaking. But that's

a significant difference. It sounds

like a shade of difference but it's

a fairly big deal. And... and the

issue here is that nobody it

issue here is that nobody it doesn't look like anybody is going to be

indicted, at least none of the

indicted, at least none of the early reporting here on Friday morning in

the US looks like anybody will be

indicted for actually leaking the

name of the person. These charges

appear to be the sorts of things we

get here in Washington where people

are accused of or actually did try

to cover up whatever the original

crime was. So it gets a little

complicated, and nobody knew his

name three weeks ago and three

name three weeks ago and three weeks on they won't remember his name

again. It does look like if the New

York Times is right, he will be

indicted for perjury, which means

he's lied to a grand jufrmt Or just

lying to one of the investigate

lying to one of the investigate sors enough to get you an obstruction

charge under American law, so we're

not sure exactly what the charge

will be. But it would get down in

the weeds very quickly. The broader

issue here is that this has been a

very difficult week or week and a

half for this White House. And one

of the plots you can hatch in your

mind as you're thinking through

mind as you're thinking through this stuff, especially with the Harriet

Myers withdrawal about 24 hours ago,

is if you're going to have a

horrible week, have the worst

possible week, get everything out

possible week, get everything out of the way, come out on Monday morning

and say that was that and let's

and say that was that and let's move a-a head. As you said, the

a-a head. As you said, the President has three years ago and you will

remember that in 1998 Bill Clinton

yaz in serious trouble as late as

August of - you might have been

August of - you might have been gone by early 1998, but as early as

August 1988 he was in serious

trouble in the mona lieu win ski

scandal but 2.a months later his

party was very successful in the

mid-term congressional and

senatorial elections because they

got themselves righted on the sent

of the right track. These things

tend to alter fair Liam atically

tend to alter fair Liam atically one way or the other in American

politics. That assumes of course

that Karl Rove who has been seen as

critical to George Bush's success

doesn't succumb to this scandal and

he's admitted today he's still

he's admitted today he's still under investigation which means the grand

jury will want to see more of him.

He's been called back four times.

That doesn't look good, does it?

You never know what they're trying

to do. In his case I

to do. In his case I think

to do. In his case I think reporting is in the gossip - that he simply

forgot about an earlier

forgot about an earlier conversation he had been w a reporter. What the

prosecutor needs to show is he

didn't forget really - he

conveniently forgot. Obviously the

prosecutor could not convince the

grand jury that this was anything

other - somebody like Karl Rove has

200 conversations a day over the

course of a year, thousand and

thousands. So it appears to mow nae

the prosecutor couldn't convince

the prosecutor couldn't convince the grand jury that there was any

grand jury that there was any intent to deceive in Rove's thing. But

you're right - it does continue to

hang over him. The thing that

hang over him. The thing that people don't understand if you don't

don't understand if you don't happen to live here in Washington is

although Karl Voef the best-known

face of the staff of the

administration, there are a lot of

start men and - smart men and women

in the adadministration. I don't

think any one could replace him but

there's enough talent available to

the President to be able to do the

jobs that Karl does. They won't

jobs that Karl does. They won't have the personal relationship but the

work could absolutely get done.

Do you think George Bush is

contemplating the possibility he

contemplating the possibility he may lose the man that some commentators

refer as to as his brain. Karl Rove

has been immensely important.

Commentators don't say it, it was a

title of one book that was written

by a reporter but sure it would be

by a reporter but sure it would be a loss. If you lose your closest fren

and adviser and other people have

and adviser and other people have to do it, it's like being in a canoe -

you can have the same number of

paddlers but the paddlers get into

the rhythm, there's some shakiness

and the canoe gets a bit tippy for

and the canoe gets a bit tippy for a while. It wouldn't be devastating

but it would take a little why to

get the canoe aimed in the right

direction and padled successfully.

I appreciate that earlier you were

saying this doesn't go much further

than these aides and may in fact go

no further than Scooter... Or

journalists we 're not sure yet.

That's true. But also there have

been some revelations which do look

a little damaging for the

vice-president. After all, it's he

that told Lewis Libby that this

woman was a CIA agent. But that

wouldn't be - in the normal course

of events that might not - first of

all, there's no criminal activity

attached to that. In the US system,

assuming both of them have the

appropriate security clearances and

the vice-president obviously does

and his chief of staff assumedly

would have the appropriate security

clearances to have that dus cushion,

that in and of itself is not even

close to being criminal or

close to being criminal or unethical for that matter. The bigger problem

for the vice-president's office is the notion

the notion that perhaps the

vice-president's office was

vice-president's office was mounting a countercampaign against the CIA

because they felt the CIA was

because they felt the CIA was trying to draw a line between its pre-war

intelligence and what the White

House did with that intelligence.

The White House on the other hand

has maintained straight on that

has maintained straight on that they took what - the CIA and others by

the way, every security agency on

the planet we forget now, every

security agency on the planet

believed there were WMD buried

somewhere in the sand in Iraq at

somewhere in the sand in Iraq at the time. But what the vice-president

time. But what the vice-president 's office was apparently may have been

doing is mounting a kourn campaign

against the CIA which was trying to

put distance between itself and the

White House. Again, not in and of

itself illegal but it certainly

itself illegal but it certainly does raise questions how they were

spending their time. In fact if it

was proved it was a campaign not

just against the CIA but

specifically against the ambassador

Joe Wilson and getting him through

his wife, that would be ex-dreamily

damaging would it not? Yes but the

thing I never understood until a

couple of weeks ago when the New

York Times who went to jail Judith

Miller wrote her personal account

was why anybody Caird about Valerie.

Who cared she worked at the CIA and

she proposed her husband to do this

trip to niejeer. When she said it

was part of a mounting mission of

the vice-president's office to

separate or to not allow the CIA to

get any distance, let's put it

another way - if Valerie Plame had

worked at the US department of

commerce she might well have

recommended her husband but nobody

would have air cared about that.

would have air cared about that. The only reason they are players in

only reason they are players in this or pawns in this thing is because

or pawns in this thing is because it was apparently or at least

was apparently or at least allegedly a battle between the

vice-president's office and the CIA.

Again, I'm not sure that makes for

anything illegal but it sure makes

for a good story here at cocktail

hour. Let's get on to the other big

story of the day - the collapse of

Harriet Myer's nomination. It tends

to underscore that President Bush's

political position right now is

political position right now is very weak. I don't think there's any

question about that. This was a

choice that was a surprise to many

people. I don't know har Iet Myers

myself, my son worked with her and

thought the world of her. In this

environment you have to two two or

three things - have enormously

powerful credentials, a strong

personality and you have to have a

strong intellectual. You need two

strong intellectual. You need two of those three things to convince the

senators that you can do this job.

And I think in her case she only

And I think in her case she only had one - the intellect and the

personality part was not there nor

was the experience part. I said

was the experience part. I said when this process started that it

wouldn't be won or lost at the

committee hearings. Those are

generally like a ka bookie play -

everything knows their rule. I thought it

thought it would be won or lost in

the one on one meetings she was

taken to with individual senators

and when I said that I was trying

and when I said that I was trying to be nice about it because I thought

that's where it would be won. I

think it was lost in the one on one

meetings where she met with the

senators and they didn't come out

and think she had a good grounding.

Senator at senator, Republican and

Democrat, came out and said I just

don't know. And I think at some

point they hit a critical mass of

Republicans certainly and the

majority leader Senator Bill Fryst

had to call the White House and say

he wasn't sure if they were going

he wasn't sure if they were going to have the vote and this would be

torture for Mrs Myer whotion is a

very decent person. A quick answer

on this one if you can. It does

on this one if you can. It does look a bit like now the President is

increasingly cap tiff of his

right-wing base, does it not?

It's cap of the right-wing base

It's cap of the right-wing base only in that Ms Myers didn't have two of

those three attributes that I was

talking about. I wrote a column

talking about. I wrote a column this morning in the US, I think the

President will look for a

President will look for a moderately Conservative judge, probably some

place out of the mid-west that's

place out of the mid-west that's got at least two of those three

attributes I talked about and come

back and say I think this is the

back and say I think this is the guy that represents where America is, a moderately conservative continuery

and if you don't like it we will

and if you don't like it we will see you in the mid-term elects in 2006.

This is a guy not afraid of a fight.

We hope we have another chance to

speak to you again some time before

the end of the year but thanks very

much for being there today. Thank