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Rove to Testify Again in Grand Jury's CIA Leak Probe
As recently as a week ago, people familiar with Rove's role in the affair said they believed he was in the clear because, after Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper testified in July about his conversation with Rove, Rove had not heard back from Fitzgerald.
Rove offered then to come back and answer any questions that might arise from Cooper's testimony, Luskin has said.
It is highly unusual for a person who has any risk of being indicted in a white-collar case to offer to go before the grand jury, say veteran defense lawyers and former prosecutors. But the rare exceptions, they say, are almost always high-profile figures and politicians. Public figures can expect that an indictment will end their careers, and that refusing to cooperate in an investigation could do the same, criminal lawyers said.
A witness who has already appeared several times may be recalled to explain why earlier answers appear to conflict with accounts of other witnesses, said two former prosecutors. Or the prosecutor may simply want to inquire about new topics that have arisen in the investigation.
Under Justice Department guidelines, prosecutors must provide witnesses the opportunity to testify again if they want to recant previous testimony that may have been false. That does not necessarily prevent a prosecutor from bringing charges but can be part of that person's defense.
Besides Cooper, at least two other people have testified before the grand jury since Rove last answered questions: New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who was questioned after initially refusing to appear and serving 85 days in jail, and Rove's secretary.
Under an agreement with Fitzgerald, Miller's testimony last Friday focused on her conversations with Libby. Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, did not return telephone calls seeking comment yesterday.
Rove's secretary was questioned about why a phone call from Cooper to Rove in 2003 was not recorded in White House phone logs, according to sources familiar with the probe. She reportedly explained that Cooper called the main switchboard and his call was not logged because it was rerouted to Rove's office.
One apparent conflict between Rove's and Cooper's accounts centers on Rove telling the grand jury that he and Cooper talked primarily about welfare during their conversation, according to lawyers familiar with Rove's account. Cooper has said the grand jury asked him repeatedly about the welfare portion of his discussion with Rove, but Cooper said that, although he left a message for Rove about welfare reform, their conversation that day centered on Wilson.
Randall Eliason, former chief of public corruption prosecutions in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, said it is difficult to speculate about Rove's possible exposure.
"Obviously, some more questions were raised since the last time he testified that Fitzgerald wants to answer," Eliason said. "It would be unusual for Rove to go back in if he felt he was going to be indicted."
A notable example of a public figure voluntarily going before a grand jury despite the risk of indictment is Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.). He had been notified in 1992 that he was a target of an investigation into illegal wiretapping of a political opponent. When he learned the Justice Department had authorized bringing charges against him, his attorney pressed to let him reappear before the grand jury. He was not indicted.
Staff writers Walter Pincus and Susan Schmidt contributed to this report.