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Testimony By Rove and Libby Examined

Also, when first questioned in the days after Plame's name appeared in the press, Rove left the impression with top White House aides that he had talked about her only with Novak, according to a source familiar with information provided to investigators.

Initially, Fitzgerald appeared focused on the theory that Libby had leaked Plame's identity, according to lawyers involved in the case. He had interviewed three other reporters about their conversations with Libby, but all three indicated he either did not discuss Plame or did not reveal her identity.

He also sought testimony from Cooper about his July 2003 story in Time. In 2004, Cooper obtained a waiver from Libby to discuss their conversation, as had the three other reporters.

Cooper and his attorneys were surprised that Fitzgerald agreed to ask Cooper questions only about his conversations with Libby, sources familiar with the investigation said.

The sources said Fitzgerald looked surprised in the August 2004 deposition when Cooper said it was he who brought up Wilson's wife with Libby, and that Libby responded, "Yeah, I heard that, too."

The prosecutor pressed Cooper to then explain how he knew about Wilson's wife in the first place, and Cooper said he would not answer the question because it did not involve Libby, the sources said.

That testimony contributed to a lengthy legal battle, as Fitzgerald sought to compel Cooper to testify before a grand jury about his conversation with the source. He also sought testimony from New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

While Miller has refused to answer questions about her confidential source -- and has been jailed in Alexandria -- Cooper testified last week after he received what he concluded was a sufficient release from his source.

Cooper then told the grand jury that Rove was the first administration official to tip him off that Plame worked for the CIA. It is not clear whether Rove's tip violated the law, and his attorney has said he was only trying to warn Cooper off of information being peddled by Wilson.

Rove has at some point testified that he passed on information about Plame to Cooper, according to two lawyers involved in the case. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to say when Rove gave this testimony.

But a source close to Rove said the senior adviser volunteered the information: "It appeared they were not aware of the conversation."

The prosecutors have appeared keen to see if they can fill in some gaps in Rove's memory about how he learned about Plame, and they have repeatedly asked witnesses if Rove told them how he knew about Plame. Rove testified early in the investigation that his information about Plame came from Novak, his attorney said. Rove testified he also may have heard about her from another reporter or administration official who had heard it from a reporter, but he could not recall the second source of his information, his attorney said.

Staff writer Howard Kurtz contributed to this report.


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