The Note

"The White House encouraged Republicans to portray … Wilson, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department."

"'It's slime and defend,' said one Republican aide on Capitol Hill, describing the White House's effort to raise questions about Mr. Wilson's motivations and its simultaneous effort to shore up support in the Republican ranks."

This is a must-read for those of you wanting to know how the West Wing is preparing to greet the arrival of its DOJ guests. And we want to know how many of you already have the offices of the five GOP Members-who-might-waver listed in the last graph programmed into your speed dial?

The Wall Street Journal 's Gary Fields and Tom Hamburger nicely lay out the McClellan briefing Rove dance from yesterday, and report this:

"Justice Department officials plan to notify employees of the Defense and State departments to preserve any documents relating to the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson … "

Wilson, somewhat newsy daily stories:

She surfaces! Perhaps the Ghost of 43rd Street charmed her out of hiding? We shall credit the intrepid Lone Star press corps.

The Houston Chronicle 's Robison reports "Karen Hughes, one of President Bush's longest-serving and closest advisers, said Wednesday that the public disclosure of a CIA operative's name was a disservice to the president and 'very disruptive to democracy.'" LINK

Said Hughes, "President Bush has said — and I agree — there are too many leaks in Washington … We didn't experience that kind of situation when we were here in Texas."

Hughes "said she was confident that her fellow Texan and sometime rival, Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, didn't leak the name to a syndicated columnist because 'Karl has said that he was not involved.'"

The New York Times ' Rove-ing reporters Bumiller and Lichtblau finds Democrats asking whether the ties that bind among the Attorney General and his former staffers present a conflict of interest in the Wilson case. LINK

James Risen of the New York Times sees the Wilson episode as the watercooler around which all the critics who say the administration relied upon Artificial Intelligence on Iraq now gather. LINK

"The White House yesterday hinted it would allow lie-detector tests for President Bush's staff in the investigation into the CIA leak," The New York Post 's Deborah Orin reports. LINK

Although at the gaggle this morning, the White House press secretary seemed to be trying to get out of the hypothetical business — which is to say, the business of answering hypothetical questions.

USA Today 's Keen and Locy report on the likely "next step" of requesting records from the president's advisers. LINK

The Washington Times ' Rowan Scarborough writes on Wilson's Democratic ties. LINK

The New York Daily News has this blind quote:

"'Somebody will have to go before it's over,' an official said." LINK

"'The only question is whether it's a low-level person following orders or somebody higher up.'"

USA Today also has bullet points of a "who's who" of recent White House controversies. LINK

Wilson, today's 42 missive:

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