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Thursday, June 24, 2004

Bush Hires Criminal Attorney

From the AP:

Bush Is Interviewed in Inquiry on Leak of Operative's Name

Published: June 24, 2004

WASHINGTON -- President Bush was interviewed by government prosecutors Thursday in connection with the federal investigation of who leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative to the news media.

The president was questioned for 70 minutes in the Oval Office by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is heading the Justice Department investigation, and members of his team.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Bush has hired a private attorney, Jim Sharp, a Washington trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, and he was present for the questioning.

"The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter," McClellan said, adding that the president repeatedly has said that he wants his administration to cooperate with the investigation. "He was pleased to do his part. No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the president of the United States."

McClellan noted that Bush has urged anyone with information about the case to come forward....

...Asked if Bush had answered every question, McClellan said, "The president was glad to do his part to cooperate with the investigation. The president was pleased to share whatever information he had with the officials in charge and answer their questions."

McClellan, who said he was not in the meeting, was asked if Bush had any information about who leaked Plame's name. "That's just getting into questions that are best directed to the officials in charge of the investigation. I would not read anything into that one way or the other. This is an ongoing investigation."

John Dean had a very informative column at the beginning of June, discussing the implications.

This action by Bush is a rather stunning and extraordinary development. The President of the United States is potentially hiring a private criminal defense lawyer. Unsurprisingly, the White House is doing all it can to bury the story, providing precious little detail or context for the President's action.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Bush explained his action by saying, "This is a criminal matter. It's a serious matter," but he gave no further specifics. White House officials, too, would not say exactly what prompted Bush to seek the outside advice, or whether he had been asked to appear before the grand jury.

More of Dean's piece here.

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