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President defends Rumsfeld, DeLay

Thu., Dec. 15, 2005, midnight

WASHINGTON – President Bush said Wednesday that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has done “a heck of a good job” and there are no plans to replace him.

Bush also spoke up for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, saying he believes DeLay is innocent of money laundering charges, and he hopes the Republican congressman will reclaim his leadership post.

Rumors have been swirling about the possibility of Rumsfeld’s departure from Bush’s Cabinet. But the president said in an interview aired Wednesday on Fox News Channel that the Pentagon chief wasn’t leaving anytime soon. “End of my term is a long time, but I tell you, he’s done a heck of a good job,” Bush said, “and I have no intention of changing him.”

Several administration figures whose futures in the Bush administration have been in question because of their connections to the CIA leak case also got hearty endorsements from the president.

Bush said that Vice President Dick Cheney remains a “very close adviser” and a good friend. Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, has been indicted in the CIA leak investigation on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. The vice president’s heart trouble also periodically leads to speculation that he could be on the way out.

As for Karl Rove, the president said his deputy chief of staff and top political adviser retains his affection. The special prosecutor in the CIA leak case is still exploring Rove’s involvement. “We’re still as close as we’ve ever been. We’ve been through a lot,” Bush said.


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