Monday, November 07, 2005

Monday 7 November 2005

White House Tension Builds As Bush, Cheney Clash Over Ethics Classes

VP Wants Liddy, Magruder For Scandal Experience; President Believes Miers "Most Qualified" To Conduct Trainings

Signs that there is more tension in the White House surfaced this weekend, in a heated video telephone conference between President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

According to a source close to the administration, Cheney criticized the President for "ambushing him" from South America with the announcement of ordering mandatory Ethic Briefings for all White House staff.

The ethics presentations, beginning this week, will provide "refresher lectures on general ethics rules, including the rules of governing the protection of classified information," according to The Washington Post, who obtained a copy of the memo from a senior White House aide.

An argument ensued as Cheney allegedly told the President that "he'd handle it" and would bring in former Nixon staffers G.Gordon Liddy and Jeb Stuart Magruder to conduct the ethics classes.

President Bush objected to Cheney's suggestion, saying that White House Council Harriet Miers was "the most qualified" person to do the trainings and that he was "sticking by her this time".

"Cheney went ballistic," according to the administration source. 'He was screaming at the President, telling him that he's not interested in nice-nice, but not in those exact words. There were a lot of invectives laced in the conversation."

Cheney, reportedly, angrily told the President to "butt out and let me run this administration" before hanging up on Mr. Bush. Cheney than called White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and lashed into Card over the ethics training.

Card, along with the President and Miers reportedly decided on the ethics courses following the indictment of Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, while at Camp David last weekend. It was determined in that meeting that Miers's office would conduct the ethics briefings.

Cheney was not briefed by the President, or anyone else in the White House, before Mr. Bush left for the summit in Argentina.

Adding to the discord between the President and Vice President, the administration source says the White House Special Council Karl Rove has reportedly stated he's skip the Miers' training and attend the Liddy-Magruder session.

Rove, it is said, continues to be under investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

"The President is very disappointed with Rove." said the source. "But Rove is, clearly, in the position where he needs to save his behind. He doesn't have time to play around with ethics. He needs to come up with a new strategy to get himself off the hook."

The administration source told The Garlic that it was the Vice President's new Chief of Staff, David Addington, who suggested bringing in Watergate veterans Liddy and Magruder.

'Cheney's not interested in ethics or anything else. He wants to be able to conduct his business, whatever it may be, without questions or oversight. And Addington is the man, step-by-step, making sure he can do that"

Cheney was pleased with the selection of Liddy and Magruder, citing that "we'll have some people that know how to run a covert scandal."

Cheney was said to have also suggested placing another former Nixon aide, John Dean, to the team but was persuaded by Addington to drop Dean, after it became known that Liddy would "kill the bastard with my bare hands" if they were to be in the same room with each other.

Liddy, still, after 30+ years, continues to blame Dean and hold him responsible for the unraveling of the Watergate scandal.

Liddy, working with E. Howard Hunt, headed Nixon's fabled "Plumbers" and organized the break-ins of the Watergate complex, which at the time was the headquarters of the Democratic National Convention, in 1972, and Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office as Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers.

Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary and illegal wiretapping, and received a 20-year sentence for his role in Watergate. He served four and a half years in prison before his sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter.

Magruder, working with H.R. Haldeman, worked as a Nixon aide in a variety of roles, moving from Special Assistant to managing the Committee to Re-elect the President (or CREEP, as it became known). Magruder began cooperating with the prosecutors and was allowed to plead guilty. Watergate Judge John Sirica sentenced Magruder and he served seven months of the sentence in a prison near Allenwood, Pennsylvania for his role in the Watergate burglary and cover-up.

The White House would not comment on the dispute over the ethics classes.

The Vice President's office also declined to comment, citing their focus on getting the CIA exempt from "any legislation" that would bar them from torturing captured terrorists or enemy combatants.

Both Liddy and Magruder would not confirm or deny their discussions with Cheney and Addington, or their roles in conducting any scandal training.

It is possible, according to the source, that the White House staff will receive "two ethics briefings".

"As far as I know, Miers and her staff are planning their program and Cheney isn't backing down from his."

'Too bad they didn't do this a few years ago." offered the administration source. 'Maybe Libby would have come up with a better story, or some other action, so he could have avoided being indicted."

As he awaits trial, former House Leader Tom DeLay has come to agreement with a Japanese firm to conduct his money laundering off-shore, and out of reach of the Texas prosecutor and other U.S. agencies.

1 comment:

Blake said...

The thought of Republican ethics classes is extremely amusing. Why does Tom DeLay look so much like Freddy Krueger in that cowboy hat?