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CIA leak case mutates again

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confessed over the weekend that two years ago, as a White House counsel, he withheld information from White House staff. 'Countdown' host Keith Olbermann discussed the issue with Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford on Monday.
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A new break in the CIA leak investigation has once again turned the case upside down.  U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted that nearly two years ago, he sat on the knowledge that the Justice Department had launched a criminal investigation.

Gonzales, who was a White House counsel in 2003, said when he was first informed about the investigation into the leak by the Justice Department he waited roughly 12 hours before informing the West Wing.

Craig Crawford of the Congressional Quarterly tells MSNBC this time gap raises questions about whether Gonzales or Andrew Card contacted Karl Rove that night to possibly begin dumping evidence.

“Anybody who was worried about e-mails had a lot of time to word-search it and delete it,” says Crawford.  “We also know there’s a lot of evidence that did get through.  They were getting rid of documents, but some of it still got through, at least from what has been leaked from the grand jury investigation about e-mails between Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby.”

The new information from Gonzales also adds leverage to the Democrat’s case against Rove.

"Karl Rove has become something of a poster child for the Democrats to talk about excess and abuse at the White House, and to accuse the White House of lack of credibility and everything else, this would be a liability for Republicans in that campaign,” says Crawford.

Crawford says Rove may turn into a political liability for the president and the Republican Party down the road with congressional elections approaching. 

“At some point, I would imagine some of the Republican leaders may go to [Bush] and say, look, Karl Rove is brilliant and we need his strategy, but he's better off doing that privately, out of the public service, out of the White House.”