Snow retreats on claims about the prosecutor purge

After claiming that it was all Harriet Miers' idea, the White House press secretary now says that nobody really remembers.

Published March 16, 2007 5:53PM (EDT)

You could call it a slippery slope, only it's more like a cliff, and Tony Snow has just fallen off of it.

When asked Tuesday about the notion of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys at the beginning of George W. Bush's second term, the White House press secretary said the idea had been Harriet Miers' and "her idea only."

On Thursday, Snow was confronted with an e-mail message showing that Karl Rove had asked about firing all 93 U.S. attorneys in January 2005. Snow said again that the idea had originated with Miers and that Rove had actually been opposed to it.

This morning, Snow was asked again about the origination of the idea. His response: a complete retreat. "It has been described as [Miers'] idea but ... I don't want to try to vouch for origination. At this juncture, people have hazy memories."

Snow didn't mention that he was the one doing the "describing" just a few days ago -- or that, at the time, he didn't seem at all hesitant to "vouch for the origination." Now, he seems awfully hesitant to commit to anything at all.

Is it possible that the president himself had a hand in suggesting that all 93 attorneys be fired? "Anything's possible," Snow said today, "but I don't think so."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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