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

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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.

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

"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."

Investigators want to know who leaked the name of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative, to syndicated columnist Robert Novak last July. A federal grand jury in recent months has questioned numerous White House and administration officials.

Disclosure of an undercover officer's identity can be a federal crime.

Wilson has said he believes his wife's identity was disclosed to attack his credibility because he criticized Bush administration claims that Iraq under Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain uranium from Niger. Wilson went to Niger for the CIA to investigate the information about Iraq and he found the allegation to be highly unlikely.