Wolfowitz Says He Is Victim of 'Smear Campaign'

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Beleaguered World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz defended himself Monday against charges that he showed favoritism to a girlfriend at the Bank by arranging a pay raise for her. Wolfowitz told a Bank investigating committee that he has been the subject of a "smear campaign." President Bush continues to support his former deputy defense secretary Wolfowitz.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz defended himself today against charges that he showed favoritism to a girlfriend at the bank by arranging a promotion and pay raise for her. Wolfowitz told the bank investigating committee that the allegations against him were bogus and he said he had been subject to a smear campaign. He still has the backing of President Bush, who said today that Wolfowitz ought to stay at the bank. But his fate is now up to the World Bank executive board, where his support appears thin.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Once the board receives the report of its investigating committee, it may vote on whether to ask Wolfowitz to step down. Appearing alongside President Bush at a White House news conference today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said only that the board's conversation with Wolfowitz should be transparent and very candid. Wolfowitz, himself, is leaving the door open to resigning voluntarily, he said. It will be possible to determine whether he can be an effective leader of the World Bank, quote, "only when the cloud of this unfair and untrue charges is removed."

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