Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff has resigned after being charged with obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements in an investigation into who leaked the name of a CIA agent.
President Bush says the Special Council's investigation is serious and, with indictments, now enters a new phase where those charged will be entitled to due process and a fair trial. In accepting the resignation of Lewis Libby, Mr. Bush said the vice president's chief of staff has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people.
"While we are all saddened by today's news, we remain wholly focused on the many issues and opportunities facing this country. I've got a job to do and so do the people who work in the White House. We've got a job to protect the American people and that is what we will continue working hard to do."
President Bush and Vice President Cheney stuck to that approach Friday with two speeches on the fight against terrorism and the war in Iraq. Neither man mentioned the indictments until Mr. Bush spoke as he left the White House for a weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David.
Mr. Libby is facing one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. If found guilty on all charges, the 55-year-old could face up to 30 years in prison and more than one million dollars in fines.
In a written statement, Vice President Cheney said he accepted his chief of staff's resignation with deep regret. He called Mr. Libby one of the most capable and talented individuals he has ever known. As it remains a pending legal matter, Mr. Cheney said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the charges or on any of the facts related to the proceedings.
Mr. Libby has served as the vice president's chief of staff since the 2000 election. He is accused of lying two years ago when questioned about how and when he learned the identity of a covert CIA agent whose husband has criticized the Bush Administration's justification for invading Iraq.
The indictments by the Justice Department's Special Prosecutor allege that Mr. Libby lied when he told investigators that he learned the agent's identity from reporters.
The indictments say he was briefed on the agent and her husband's mission to investigate claims that Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa well before reporters started asking questions.
Another senior Bush Administration official who testified before the grand jury was not indicted Friday.
Political adviser Karl Rove remains under investigation. A statement from his lawyer says Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate with the probe and is confident that when it is complete, officials will conclude that he did nothing wrong.
At that start of this investigation, White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said he spoke with Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove and assured reporters that neither man was involved in the leak.
Mr. McClellan now says he will not comment on an ongoing investigation. He says he remembers well the assurances he gave two years ago and will address them once all the facts are known.