Backpedaling on Wolfowitz

ABC says the Iraq war architect could be out at the World Bank by the end of the day.

Published May 16, 2007 6:03PM (EDT)

ABC News says World Bank officials are plotting some kind of "exit strategy" for Paul Wolfowitz that would allow him to resign today and still "save some face" over the sweetheart deal he arranged for his sweetheart.

Just a few days ago, Tony Snow was saying that Wolfowitz had the "full" support and confidence of the president. But a senior White House official told ABC Tuesday that Wolfowitz's fate was an "open question," and Snow is busy backpedaling today. Asked if the White House is helping to negotiate "some kind of deal" for Wolfowitz, Snow said: "I'm not discussing it yea or nay." While Snow said that the White House "stand[s] by our support of Paul as the World Bank president," he declined to say how the White House would react if Wolfowitz decided to resign.

Snow has argued that the World Bank board faces two separate questions when it comes to Wolfowitz: The first is whether his dealings on behalf of his girlfriend amount to a firing offense -- Snow insists that they don't -- and the second is whether Wolfowitz is the most effective long-term leader for the bank.

Asked today whether he thinks the bank's board will buy in to such a bifurcated approach, Snow said he didn't know. Is the Wolfowitz scandal having any effect at all on the World Bank? Snow said he didn't know the answer to that question, either.

"Again, I'm not going to -- I really don't -- I don't even know how to answer it," he said. "Because it's a notional question that is not something we're -- I can't think of a single metric that would be useful that would allow me to answer that question in a manner that I can defend."

Which is like offering the president's "full support" for Paul Wolfowitz, only different.

By Tim Grieve

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

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room