Karl Rove to quit this month
By Jeremy Pelofsky 25 minutes ago
Karl Rove, one of President George W. Bush's closest aides and a lightning rod for controversy among Democrats, said he will leave the White House at the end of August.
Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff known as "The Architect" for guiding Bush from being the governor of Texas to two terms as president, is the latest in a series of senior aides to quit as the clock ticks toward the end of Bush's presidency.
"I just think it's time," Rove, 56, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Monday.
"There's always something that can keep you here and, as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this for the sake of my family."
Rove's departure could complicate Bush's agenda for his remaining 17 months in office. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino, who confirmed Rove's departure to Reuters, called it a "big loss."
Rove has been a key figure throughout Bush's presidency but not without his own controversy, including being investigated by a special prosecutor searching for who leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent. He was never charged.
Democrats in Congress have also had Rove in their sights as they look into why nine U.S. prosecutors were fired. He was subpoenaed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Bush cited executive privilege to reject it, setting up a court battle.
Democrats say the firings may have been intended to influence investigations of Democratic or Republican lawmakers. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who signed off on the firings, have said they were justified but mishandled.
While Rove acknowledged Democrats in Congress may argue he was leaving to avoid their scrutiny, he told the Journal: "I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."
He helped Republicans expand their majorities in Congress after Bush won the White House in a contested 2000 race, but Bush and Rove suffered a major setback in 2006 when Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
THINKING ABOUT LEAVING
Rove's departure also comes as Bush's job approval rating has hovered near historic lows, in large part due to the protracted war in Iraq.
Rove told the Wall Street Journal that he had been thinking of leaving a year ago but decided against departing right after the election losses last November and was also pulled into issues like the war in Iraq and the immigration reform debate.
"There's always a big project to work on, and his strategic abilities -- and our need for his support -- kept him here," Perino said. "He said there's never a good time to leave -- just the 'right' time."
Rove finally decided to leave after Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, told senior aides that if they remained past early September, they would be obliged to stay until the end of Bush's second and final term in January 2009, the paper said.
Bush has lost several key aides over the last several months, including one of his most trusted advisers, Dan Bartlett, who left last month and was a member of the president's inner circle for more than 13 years.
The Journal said Rove was planning to return to Texas, as he and his wife have a home in Ingram and a son attending college in San Antonio. He also plans to write a book about the Bush presidency, it reported.
Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited.