Bush Backs Rove, Palmeiro, 'Intelligent Design'

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, August 2, 2005; 2:15 PM

In a high-spirited and free-wheeling interview with a handful of Texas print reporters yesterday, President Bush:

· Expressed "complete confidence" in top aide Karl Rove -- while stubbornly refusing to say anything more about what he knows about the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity.

· Said he still believes his friend, Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, has never used steroids -- in spite of the player's suspension Monday for violating baseball's anti-drug policy.

· Endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to include the teaching of "intelligent design" as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes.

The Full Transcript

I've just Web-published the complete transcript of the 30-minute interview in the Roosevelt Room -- another White House Briefing exclusive.

Bush spoke with Gary Martin of the San Antonio Express-News, Julie Mason of the Houston Chronicle, David Jackson of the Dallas Morning News, Ron Hutcheson of Knight-Ridder (representing the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and Ken Herman of Cox News Service (representing the Austin American-Statesman and other Cox papers in Texas).

Bush is often less guarded when talking to a bunch of reporters around a table than when he is giving a news conference, and this was no exception. He also tends to be more casual with reporters he knows well -- and at least two of the Texas crew have been covering Bush for many years.

On Karl Rove

Ken Herman writes for Cox News Service: "President Bush, saying he is temporarily muzzled by a special prosecutor, declined Monday to say how or when he found out that top aide Karl Rove had talked with a reporter about a CIA operative's identity.

"And, while indicating that all he knows is what he has read in newspapers, Bush gave Rove a ringing endorsement.

" 'Karl's got my complete confidence. He's a valuable member of my team,' Bush said, adding that internal fact-finding has been hampered by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's request that the White House not discuss the inquiry."

As the transcript shows, reporters pursued Bush aggressively on Rove and the CIA leak, but the president stubbornly refused to say anything more.

Here's the full exchange:

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