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Karl Rove on Scott McClellan's New Book

Hannity & Colmes

COLMES: This is a "FOX News Alert." A short time ago the posted a story with exclusive details about former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new book which is due out next week. McClellan leveled several criticisms at the administration over the run-up to the war in Iraq, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the handling of the Valerie Plame affair.

He also makes several criticisms of our own Karl Rove, who joins us once again tonight from Washington.

And Karl, among the things that he says is that you and Scooter Libby had a secret meeting where you kind of decided how to handle this. He says, he was misled by you about your involvement in the Valerie Plame affair, went out there and told the American public and the press one thing, and said it was fatal to his ability to be able to speak on behalf of the president.

How do you respond to those charges?

ROVE: Well, first of all, I've just read the same small article you have, so I'm going to reserve my judgment on the greater book until somebody else buys it and gives me a copy.

I will say this. It's a little irresponsible as he -- if this is accurate depiction of what's in the book. He says that following a meeting Scooter and I visited in 2005. Well, Scooter and I visited all the time. I don't know what the particular meeting in question was about. I know what it wasn't about, which was it was not about Plame and Wilson.

Both of our attorneys told us not to talk to anybody else in the White House about anything connected with that and so we didn't. But look, Scooter and I, you know, came into contact every day -- every other day on things like the selection of judges or a particular policy issue or the vice-president's travel schedule or, you know -- a draft of a presidential speech that we were commenting on.

So you know, he was the White -- he was the vice president's chief of staff, and as a result we had a lot of business, and I think it's frankly maybe a sign of irresponsibility for Scott to sort of suggest that because he saw the two of us meet and he didn't happen to be in the meeting he somehow knows what the meeting was about.

COLMES: What about this specific charge that he's claiming that you misled him about your level of involvement in the Valerie Plame case?

ROVE: That's simply not true. I'm not going to add to the public record on this because there's a civil lawsuit that the Wilsons have, and until that is resolved -- they lost at the district court level, it's on appeal, pretty confident that it's going to be tossed out -- but until that's resolved, I can't add to the public record.

But the fact of the matter is Scott's questions to me were: did I leak Valerie Plame's name, and the answer is no. In fact, we know today that the name of Valerie Plame was leaked by Robert Novak by Richard Armitage, the number two guy at the State Department, and not by me and not by Scooter Libby.

COLMES: He also says that after Hurricane Katrina, the White House, he quote, "spent most of the first week in a state of denial," and blames you for suggesting a photo of the president comfortably observing the disaster during an Air Force One flyover and that, later, you were convinced that we needed -- he said, we needed to do that and that there was.

ROVE: Yes.

COLMES: . clearly feels an error.

ROVE: Well, first of all, he was not in any of the meeting that I recall discussing this. We were in San Diego.

We were flying back to Washington, D.C., and we faced a horrible, horrible choice, which was either have the president of the United States drop into New Orleans the day of the incident, diverting valuable resources, closing down the airport, diverting valuable resources from the immediate search and rescue, so that the president could be seen on the ground at the first moment or to fly deliberately north of New Orleans and not pass over it, in which case we'd be turning a blind eye.

And unfortunately the only option we really had was to fly over the city and look at it. If we'd landed we would have diverted valuable resources from the immediate efforts to save people's lives, and that was simply unacceptable to the president.

And frankly, I don't recall Scott being in a lot of those meetings that first week, so maybe that's why he thinks we were in a state of denial. This was consuming a lot of time at the White House to make certain that all of the resources were available to Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and particularly Louisiana in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

In fact, we got into New Orleans on Thursday about as early as we could come into the city without disrupting things, and as I say, I don't remember Scott being in those meetings, and I certainly don't remember him speaking out at the time to say these were his deep felt feelings.

HANNITY: Hey, I want to put a little emphasis on the Plame point if I can, just -- without going into any more details, because I have another question about it, Karl. But, he said in his book, "I have no idea what you and Libby discussed, but it was suspicious for these two, who I'd never noticed spending any one-on-one time together."

You're saying that's absolutely not true, you did spend a lot of time with Libby.

ROVE: Well, look, it goes to show how out of the loop he was, that he didn't think we spent much time together. I mean, over the course of the seven years or six years that we worked together, Scooter and I spent a lot of time first on the campaign and then when we were at the White House we were on several committees together.

We were off times -- he was the vice-president's representative, a lot of policy meetings where we would have conversation and discuss -- I mean Scooter and I officed maybe 20 feet from each other.

HANNITY: (INAUDIBLE) a second. But let me ask one thing. Whenever we get to these tell-all books where he says the president veered terribly off course, he wasn't open and forthright as it relates to Iraq, he used propaganda to sell the war, but yet he was badly misguided in the information he's given.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: . for the podium here. Why do I always get suspicious that if he -- if he really felt this way, and I think this is a question he needs to answer, but your thoughts on it.

ROVE: Yes.

HANNITY: . if he really felt this way, why didn't he leave earlier?

ROVE: Well, two things. First of all, this doesn't sound like Scott. It really doesn't. Not the Scott McClellan I've known for a long time. Second of all, it sounds like somebody else. It sounds like a left-wing blogger. Second of all, you're right. If he had these moral qualms, he should have spoken up about them.

And frankly, I don't remember him speaking up about these. I don't remember a single world. There were people on the White House staff.


ROVE: Colleagues of mine who had doubts about this or that policy.

HANNITY: We're out of time.

ROVE: They spoke out. But this doesn't sound like Scott, frankly.

HANNITY: All right. Karl Rove, the architect, on HANNITY & COLMES, thanks for being with us.

ROVE: You bet.

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