Woodward: Laura Wanted Rumsfeld Out

Bob Woodward, talking to Mike Wallace for a 60 Minutes segment, to air 10/01/06.
Veteran Washington reporter Bob Woodward writes in his new book of fierce efforts inside the White House to get rid of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a revelation that has caused a tremendous amount of concern at the White House.

In Mike Wallace's interview with Woodward, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT, the reporter also claims that Henry Kissinger is among those advising Mr. Bush.

Woodward writes that several people inside the White House have pushed to oust Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The ranks of those calling for Rumsfeld's resignation included the president's then Chief of Staff, Andy Card, apparently with the backing of First Lady Laura Bush.

As CBS News correspondent David Martin reports, Woodward tells Wallace that after President Bush was re-elected, Card tried for months to convince the president to fire Rumsfeld.

"It wasn't working. Card felt very strongly that the president needed a whole new national security team," Woodward tells Wallace.

Laura Bush was also worried that Rumsfeld was hurting her husband, Martin reports. When Andy Card told her that the president seemed happy with Rumsfeld, Woodward says that Mrs. Bush replied, "He's happy with this, but I'm not." Later, she said, "I don't know why he's not upset."

"What's interesting, Andy Card, as White House Chief of Staff, every six weeks set up a one-on-one meeting with Laura Bush. And in the course of these sessions, the problem with Rumsfeld came up, and she voiced her concern about the situation," Woodward tells Wallace.

The First Lady's office says that's not true, Martin reports, but according to Woodward, Card had at least one other high-level ally: Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell, who himself was leaving the administration, told Card, "If I go, Don should go." But the vice president thought differently.

"Rumsfeld's his guy. And Cheney confided to an aide that if Rumsfeld goes, next they'll be after Cheney," Woodward tells Wallace.

It's not clear that Rumsfeld knew what Card was up to, but in an interview with Woodward, the Defense Secretary said he told Card that after the election, he would be happy to stay or go, depending on what the president wanted. The president has that he had no intention of changing him.

In the end, it was Card, not Rumsfeld, who left. Rumsfeld hosted a farewell dinner in his honor.

These efforts to get rid of Rumsfeld, apparently continue to this day, CBS News White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports. A top Republican strategist told CBS News today that just this week, he heard the president say, "I know the way to keep Americans' support for the war is to fire Don Rumsfeld. I am not going to do that. It's not going to happen."

Not surprisingly, revelations from the book are causing a tremendous amount of concern at the White House, mostly because what Woodward writes is read and believed, not just in Washington, but all across the country, CBS News White House correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.

Today, the administration hit back.

"There's a whole lot of stuff here. You know, in a lot of ways, the book's certainly cotton candy. It, kind of, melts on contact. We've read this book before," White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said.

Woodward also says that the Bush administration has not told the truth regarding the level of violence, especially against U.S. troops, in Iraq. He reveals key intelligence that predicts the insurgency will grow worse next year.

According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. "It's getting to the point now where there are 8, 900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces," says Woodward.