By Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 14, 2005; Page A01
A series of scandals involving some of the most powerful Republicans in Washington have converged to disrupt President Bush's agenda, distract aides and allies, and exacerbate political problems for an already weakened administration, according to party strategists and White House advisers.
With Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove returning to a grand jury as early as today, associates said the architect of Bush's presidency has been preoccupied with his legal troubles, a diversion that some say contributed to the troubled handling of Harriet Miers's nomination to the Supreme Court. White House officials are privately bracing for the possibility that Rove or other officials could be indicted in the next two weeks.
Bush's main partners on Capitol Hill likewise are spending time defending themselves as the president's legislative initiatives founder. The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) for alleged campaign funding illegalities has thrown Republicans into one of the most tumultuous periods of their 11-year reign and created the prospect of a leadership battle. And while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) deals with a subpoena in an insider-trading investigation, a bipartisan majority rebuked Bush over torture policies.
Most of the scandals have little direct connection with one another, but their accumulation in a compressed period has challenged a White House already beset by political problems stemming from the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and high gasoline prices, according to Republican advisers close to the Bush team, several of whom said they could speak candidly only if they were not identified by name.