Paul Wolfowitz‘s tenure at the World Bank may end in the next day or two. Rumors are spreading like wild fire at the Bank that he plans to resign tomorrow.
I have no official information confirming this — other than that several senior staff in two specific Executive Directorships at the World Bank and some other senior staff at the IMF and other staff are reporting to me that Wolfowitz’s resignation is imminent. I’m not sure, however, that there views are not collective speculation.
Paul Wolfowitz has now admitted to helping his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, get positions outside the Bank, including “seconding” her to the US State Department that have helped up her salary to levels that clearly violate World Bank rules (i.e. nearly double her salary).
This is the kind of personnel nepotism and corruption that Wolfowitz has stated he is trying to wipe out at the Bank and in the client governments of the Bank. An anti-corruption campaign has been one of the only distinctive and memorable aspects of Wolfowitz’s tenure so far as president of the international financial institution — and now his own personal behavior belies what was his self-declared moral campaign against others’ corruption both inside the bank and in client country governments.
Wolfowitz also ran afoul of senior bank staff in the past by elevating inappropriately Bush administration political appointee Kevin Kellems, who used to be Vice President Cheney’s spokesman, in ways that violated the merit-based rules that had been adopted at the World Bank.
Wolfowitz also hired Mitch McConnell national security aide Robin Cleveland to help spearhead an internal anti-corruption campaign at the Bank when there was speculation about her own role in trying to trade favorable treatment in the Boeing Air Tanker matter in exchange for potential employment opportunities for her brother. Cleveland resigned the Senate and escaped further scrutiny for her involvement in the Boeing scandal, but her Wolfowitz-assigned task bore some irony then — and is even more ironic now.
One other tidbit about Wolfowitz that I have confirmed is less dramatic than securing his girlfriend a nearly $200,000 salary — but still quite fascinating.
I now know from a second source — as my first would only discuss this matter firmly off the record — that Wolfowitz and Kevin Kellems had dinner at the Aquarelle Restaurant at the Watergate Hotel last year with a very prominent member of Washington’s journalistic community.
The journalist in question had not met Wolfowitz previously and Kellems played a “relationship-brokering” role. What is interesting about this particular meeting — as far as I understand the details of it — is that the journalist in question, who I cannot name but can attest for his solid reputation as a serious writer, assumed that the topic of discussion at dinner would be Wolfowitz’s global economic development agenda, his view of how to make the World Bank relevant to 21st century security and economic challenges, and so on.
Instead, Wolfowitz — as recently as one year ago — was still manically obsessed with the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Wolfowitz reportedly brought with him to dinner an enormous binder of materials, articles, essays, reports, intelligence, etc. — arguing that the connection between Hussein and bin Laden’s operation was real and robust.
I can’t report on the journalist’s reaction to the dinner — other than to say he was “surprised.”
If Wolfowitz has been spending time hiring people like Robin Cleveland and Kevin Kellems — as well as pushing the career of his girl friend “illegally” — and obsessing about validating his bad decisions in the build-up to the Iraq War, then he has not been attentive to his real and fundamental responsibilites at the World Bank.
If all the rumors about his resignation tomorrow are untrue, Paul Wolfowitz should make them true as soon as possible.
— Steve Clemons