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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Bush Aide Rove Plans to Step Down

APKarl Rove
WASHINGTON -- Karl Rove, the chief architect of U.S. President George W. Bush's administration and the premier Republican strategist of the last decade, will step down as White House deputy chief of staff Aug. 31.

Rove, 56, has survived years of pointed scrutiny of his activities while in the U.S. White House -- first during Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of White House leaks, and more recently by Democratic-controlled Congressional committees examining the firing of U.S. attorneys and the involvement of Justice Department officials in White House political briefings.

He refused congressional subpoenas, citing executive privilege, and was never charged in the White House leak scandal despite evidence that he was involved.

Critics of the White House have demanded Rove's resignation for years. He first discussed the idea with Bush about a year ago, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot reported in a column in Monday's newspaper.

Rove said he did not want to leave immediately after the Democrats took over Congress in 2007, Gigot reported. Nor did he want to abandon the White House as the president pushed through a troop surge in Iraq and fought -- unsuccessfully -- to forge new immigration laws.

Rove's decision to end 19 years of working as Bush's closest political adviser came only after Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told senior White House aides that if they stayed past Labor Day of this year, they would be expected to remain on staff until Bush's second term ends 17 months from now.

"I just think it's time," Gigot quoted Rove as saying.

Rove said he was finished with political consulting, and would return to private life "for the sake of my family," which includes his wife Darby and a son who attends college in San Antonio, Monday's newspaper reported. He said he would like to teach eventually, and planned to write a book about Bush's years in office, but had no other job lined up for now.

Along with Karen Hughes and Joe Allbaugh, Rove was part of a group known as the "Iron Triangle" who were central to Bush's political success since his days as Texas governor.

But Rove proved the most enduring and influential of the group, shaping Bush's presidency in what many consider one of the closest client-adviser relationships in U.S. politics.