Thursday, December 08, 2005
Rummy Exit Rumored; Lieberman Eyed for Job
By Thomas M. DeFrank and Kenneth R. Bazinet
The New York Daily News
Thursday 08 December 2005
Washington - White House officials are telling associates they expect Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to quit early next year, once a new government is formed in Iraq, sources said yesterday.
Rumsfeld's deputy, Gordon England, is the inside contender to replace him, but there's also speculation that Sen. Joe Lieberman - a Democrat who ran against Bush-Cheney in the 2000 election - might become top guy at the Pentagon.
That's not as farfetched as it might first appear.
The Daily News has learned that the White House considered Lieberman for the UN ambassador's job last year before giving the post to John Bolton, a Bush adviser said.
"He thought about it for a week or so and finally said no," the adviser recalled.
A source close to the White House said Rumsfeld wanted out a year ago, after Bush's reelection, but neither he nor President Bush wanted his departure to appear to have been forced.
"They didn't want to give the critics the satisfaction that their piling on was what got rid of him," a Bush adviser said.
Bush has told friends that Rumsfeld is a political liability, but the President has a history of sticking with his personnel baggage until an opportune moment.
"Only Rumsfeld will make Rumsfeld leave," a White House source said.
Rumors that Lieberman could replace Rumsfeld started flying early this week, and Bush and Vice President Cheney fanned the flames by quoting the former Democratic veep candidate's pro-war statements.