ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday expressed continued full support for World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, under fire over a pay and promotion deal for his companion.
"We still support him fully," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters as he flew with President George W. Bush to visit parts of Kansas devastated by tornadoes last week.
Controversy over Wolfowitz's continued leadership of the World Bank has raged for weeks, pitting European critics against Bush administration officials who insist they consider the former Pentagon official's ability to guide the global lender still is effective.
The debate has grown more heated since findings were leaked from a bank investigating panel that said he broke rules when he personally directed a promotion for his companion, World Bank Middle East expert Shaha Riza, and her transfer to the State Department in 2005.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Department stepped into the fray by saying that Wolfowitz deserved a fair process and urging the bank panel to give him a week to respond to its findings.
"That includes sufficient time to review the ad hoc committee's report and respond, as well as sufficient time for the ad hoc committee to consider his response to the report," Treasury spokesperson Brookly McLaughlin told Reuters.
Wolfowitz's lawyer, Bob Bennett, complained it was "terribly unfair" his client was given only three days until the close of business on Wednesday to answer the panel's findings.