While Bush was reading to students in Florida when terrorists attacked on on Sept. 11, VP Dick Cheney was running the US government. "I was in a position to see all the stuff coming in, receive reports, and then make decisions in terms of acting with it," Cheney told [Tim] Russert. "The president made [the rogue airliner] decision, on my recommendation." But Cheney's honesty on Sept. 16 created a firestorm. "Rove and Hughes, according to [Page 6's] spies, were 'furious' with Cheney for 'taking credit for all the major decisions made by Bush [on Sept. 11] and sidelining the President.' 'Everything [Cheney] said reinforced all the negative opinions about Bush [during the show]. He basically made the President look like his puppet.'" This explains why Cheney has not been seen since he appeared on Russert's show. But it begs the essential question: who's in charge of the White House - Bush, Cheney, or Rove & Hughes?
By RICHARD JOHNSON with PAULA FROELICH and CHRIS WILSON
September 27, 2001 -- Cheney angers Bush aides
VICE President Dick Cheney caused an uproar in the White House with his uncharacteristically frank comments on "Meet the Press" about his take-charge role in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, insiders say.
Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, two top aides to President Bush, were said to be angry because they felt Cheney took too much credit for running the country during the crisis. Cheney, oblivious to the fracas his comments could cause, gave a blow by blow of what happened in the White House on Sept. 11.
While President Bush was being flown around the country in Air Force One for his own safety, Cheney told Bush to stay away from Washington, the vice president told "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert five days later.
Cheney also said he ordered the Congressional leadership evacuated, dispersed Cabinet members to emergency shelters and urged Bush to scramble fighter jets to intercept any rogue airliners.
"I was in a position to see all the stuff coming in, receive reports, and then make decisions in terms of acting with it," Cheney told Russert. "The president made [the rogue airliner] decision, on my recomendation."
Rove and Hughes, according to spies, were "furious" with Cheney for "taking credit for all the major decisions made by Bush [on Sept. 11] and sidelining the President."
"Everything [Cheney] said reinforced all the negative opinions about Bush [during the show]. He basically made the President look like his puppet."
In the past, Rove and Hughes have had a rocky relationship and "hated" each other at times, spies said, but the two pulled together upon hearing the supposed slight on their boss.
Rove is said to have insisted that all future requests from Russert for White House guests would have to go through him, while Hughes screamed at Cheney's staff.
"Karen was irate that [Cheney's staff] would let him say what he did and wanted Cheney to know he had made a mistake," a spy said.
One happy footnote is Rove and Hughes - whose relationship was icy in the past - are now said to be "good friends."
White House spokeswoman Anne Womack denied the allegations. "Senior staff were very pleased with Vice President Cheney's interview on ‘Meet the Press,' " Womack said.
Cheney's spokeswoman didn't return calls.