Cranston and two other members of the Intelligence Committee--Sens. John Glenn (D-Ohio) and Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.)--have recently been under investigation themselves. All three were targets of an Ethics Committee probe into the "Keating Five" scandal.
Before the President announced his decision, his most senior aides--Gates' boss Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser, and White House Chief of Staff John H. Sununu--consulted with key senators, among them Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman David L. Boren (D-Okla.) and Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska), the vice chairman.
Bush said he was "very, very pleased" with the results, and a White House aide reported: "They've both been thumbs up on it."
"This matter has been investigated over and over again, this Iran-Contra has been going on for years," Bush said. "And if I were worried about opening up Iran-Contra, you might suggest I wouldn't send that name forward. But this man has my full trust. He's honest. He's a man of total integrity."
However, one key Republican senator, Warren B. Rudman of New Hampshire, has called for careful review of Gates' testimony on the Iran-Contra affair before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Dec. 4, 1986.
"There were serious questions about whether he was entirely candid with the committee about what he knew," Rudman said, although he added: "I don't think anything in the record indicates Gates was a participant in the events leading up to Iran-Contra."
Staff writers Jack Nelson and David Lauter contributed to this story.