During the early months of the FBI's Valerie Plame leak probe, former Attorney General John Ashcroft kept close tabs on what investigators knew and believed about White House staff, before finally recusing himself and allowing the appointment of a special counsel, reports National Journal
's Murray Waas today.
For at least the last four weeks of that period -- and possibly longer -- Ashcroft knew the FBI suspected senior White House aides Scooter Libby and Karl Rove were being dishonest about their roles in the affair. Rove had previously worked for Ashcroft on his Senate and gubernatorial campaigns. As well, Ashcroft was a political appointee who owed his position to the White House. Despite those obvious conflicts of interest, Ashcroft remained as the Justice Department's top overseer of the investigation until the end of 2003.