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Wolfowitz Faces Showdown with World Bank Board
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Wolfowitz Faces Showdown with World Bank Board



Okay, so that's the Justice Department, and let's move next now to the World Bank, where Paul Wolfowitz should find out today whether he can keep his job. Wolfowitz is president of the bank, and yesterday a bank investigating committee reported that he broke bank rules in arranging a pay raise for his girlfriend.

Today, the World Bank president appears before the board of directors that will decide his fate, and NPR's Tom Gjelten is covering the story.

TOM GJELTEN: The investigating committee, which consisted of seven of the 24 members of the bank board, is withering in its criticism of Paul Wolfowitz. Its report says his management of his girlfriend's pay raise amounted to a clear conflict of interest. It says Wolfowitz did not share information about what he was doing and even told the bank official who was handling the promotion to keep it to himself.

By such conduct, the committee concluded, Wolfowitz was putting his personal interests ahead of those of the bank. Wolfowitz's recent public statements attacking the investigating committee's work meant, according to the committee, that he was denigrating the very institution he was selected to lead.

The committee did not have the authority to fire Wolfowitz — that would be up to the full bank board - but it left little doubt of its own views. The committee said the board should consider whether Wolfowitz will be able to provide the leadership needed at the bank in light of, quote, "the damage done to the reputation of the World Bank and the lack of confidence in the present leadership."

The Bush administration, however, is not yet backing off its defense of Wolfowitz. The White House, for a time yesterday, tried to delay the release of the committee report. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson then began calling other ministers, arguing that the facts in the Wolfowitz case are not so serious as to warrant his dismissal from the bank.

Whether an intense U.S. lobbying effort will be sufficient to block any move to get rid of Wolfowitz should be seen this afternoon when the full board meets with him. According to board sources, 13 of the 24 directors would have to vote against Wolfowitz and against the Bush administration in order for him to be forced out.

Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington.

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