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White House Rebuts Chertoff Exit Story

In two strongly-worded statements over the past three days, the White House denied my report from Administration sources that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff would be leaving his position in a short time.

Hours after posting my report about Chertoff on Friday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy sent me an e-mail titled, “You’re wrong on Chertoff!” According to Duffy’s response, “That nasty rumor is simply not true and it’s not fair. President Bush is glad Chertoff is a valued member of his team. The Secretary is doing terrific work at DHS in helping to make America safer and stronger.”

This morning at the regular early press briefing at the White House, I reminded Press Secretary Scott McClellan of his response to me in February when I asked whether the President had confidence in Chertoff and if he would remain in the Cabinet. (To that question, McClellan had replied: “Absolutely.”) When I asked if he would reply today in the same way about Chertoff and his continued tenure, the President’s top spokesman said: “Absolutely.”

Although such statements appear to put the question of a Chertoff exit off the table, there are many in the White House press corps who are not so sure. They note that last year, at a morning briefing, McClellan expressed confidence in another presidential appointee who was under fire and, at the afternoon session with reporters, he announced the same appointee’s resignation. His name was Michael Brown.

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John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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