August 13, 2007 - Karl Rove will resign from his position in the Bush regime and return to Texas Aug. 31, according to an interview published Monday with Paul Gigot, editorial page editor for The Wall Street Journal.
Rove's scalp is one for which a special place has been reserved on most Democratic mantles. His ruthless pursuit of a permanent Republican majority has left many bruised egos and damaged reputations in its wake. Rove's fingerprints are believed to smudge scandals ranging from the disclosure of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity in 2003 to the dismissals of nine U.S. Attorneys late last year. Congress has subpoenaed Rove's testimony in its investigation of the federal prosecutor-firings, but so far he has refused to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A spokeswoman for the committee said that its chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), was expected to release a statement on Rove's resignation later today.
Two former aides to Rove, Sara Taylor and J. Scott Jennings, complied with subpoenas and testified earlier this year in front of Leahy's committee. Rove refused to appear when called to appear before a Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month.
When asked by Gigot whether he's leaving "to avoid Congressional scrutiny," he said, "I know they'll say that. But I'm not going to stay or leave based on whether it pleases the mob."
Speaking to reporters today outside the White House, Rove said he and President Bush began discussing his resignation "last summer," and Bush joked of his own upcoming departure from the White House in January 2009.
"I'll be on the road behind ya here in a little bit," Bush said before he and his longtime aide boarded Marine One.
The pair ignored reporters' shouted questions as they boarded the helicopter.
Rove, who has held a senior post in the White House since President Bush took office in January 2001, told Gigot he first floated the idea of leaving a year ago. But he delayed his departure as, first, Democrats took Congress, and then as the White House tackled debates on immigration and Iraq. He said he decided to leave after White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day they would be obliged to remain through the end of the president's term in January 2009.
"I just think it's time," he says. His friends confirm he had been talking about it with others even earlier.
Observers say Rove's departure represents the extent to which President Bush has become a lame duck approaching the end of his second term. Without an upcoming election, the role of political adviser has less prominence.
"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 says. His son attends college in San Antonio, and he and his wife, Darby, plan to spend much of their time at their home in nearby Ingram, in the Texas Hill Country.