WASHINGTON - Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan, branded a "miserable creature" by former Sen. Bob Dole, could be headed for a congressional hearing examining his new book's account of Bush administration involvement in the disclosure of a CIA operative's identity.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said Friday he will talk to McClellan about the book's account of the possible White House cover-up of top aides' involvement in the leak of Valerie Plame's name.
Conyers said McClellan's revelations about the episode are "extremely troubling."
"I believe this issue may require closer examination, so I have instructed my counsels to begin discussions with Mr. McClellan to determine whether a hearing is necessary and to secure his possible cooperation," Conyers said.
Asked by CNN's Wolf Blitzer if he is willing to testify, McClellan said, "I'm glad to share my views," although he noted, "I think I made them very clear in the book."
McClellan wrote that former White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby lied to him by saying they were not involved in the leak. McClellan also wrote that he was disturbed when President Bush acknowledged to him that he secretly declassified a portion of a National Intelligence Estimate so that Vice President Dick Cheney could see it. McClellan thinks information from that NIE was involved in the leak.
Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was among the first to challenge the administration's rationale for the ouster of Saddam Hussein.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said the White House "hypothetically" could block a hearing appearance.
Perino also said White House lawyers routinely had reviewed the book before publication "for any possible classified information or any needs for executive privilege to be asserted."
"None of them were in this case," she said, adding, "So we've known for a little bit of time that this was coming."
Perino also said she "absolutely" has access to meetings and information she needs to do her job. McClellan says in his book that he often was kept out of the loop, rendering him unable to adequately inform the media and the public.
Dole's criticism of McClellan came in an e-mail to him.
"There are miserable creatures like you in every administration who don't have the guts to speak up or quit if there are disagreements with the boss or colleagues," Dole told McClellan.
"No, your type soaks up the benefits of power, revels in the limelight for years, then quits, and spurred on by greed, cashes in with a scathing critique."
Perino said Friday that Bush has not read the book.
The Salt Lake Tribune, quoting attendees at a closed-door GOP fundraising event in Park City, Utah, on Wednesday night, said Bush told the audience he was disappointed by the book but would work to forgive McClellan. Bush said McClellan is "not the same guy" he has known for many years, according to the newspaper.
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