Rove Testifies Again in CIA Leak Probe

By Carol D. Leonnig and William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 14, 2005; 7:39 PM

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove today testified again before a grand jury probing whether senior Bush administration officials illegally leaked to reporters the identity of a covert CIA operative.

It was Rove's fourth appearance before the grand jury. He testified for 4 hours and 15 minutes but said nothing to reporters when he left the courthouse. According to a source familiar with the investigation, Rove was warned by the special prosecutor's office that it could not assure he would not be indicted.

Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald also had no comment after Rove's testimony.

Fitzgerald is believed to be wrapping up his investigation; the current grand jury's term expires Oct. 28.

The grand jury is examining whether officials leaked the identity of Valerie Plame to the media in July 2003 as retaliation for public criticism by her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, of the government's case for war in Iraq.

On July 6, 2003, Wilson contended in an opinion piece that administration claims that Iraq was trying to obtain nuclear materials in Niger were false. Wilson had been sent to the African nation by the CIA to investigate the claims. Eight days later, on July 14, Plame's name and a reference to her CIA employment appeared in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak.

Rove has testified before that he talked with two reporters about Plame during that time period, but referred to her only as Wilson's wife and never supplied information about her status as an undercover CIA operative.

Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, also testified that he discussed Plame with at least two reporters but said that he, too, never mentioned her name or her covert status, according to lawyers in the case.

Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, told reporters that prosecutors informed his client they probably would not need further testimony from him, although they had not yet decided whether to charge him with a crime.

"The special counsel has not advised Mr. Rove that he is a target of the investigation, and affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges," Luskin said, according to the Associated Press.

At the White House, presidential spokesman Scott McClellan parried questions about whether Rove's grand jury testimony was a distraction to the administration.

"Well, there are a lot of important priorities that we're focused on here at the White House," McClellan said. "We are a nation at war. The president is continuing to lead the effort to win the war on terrorism. We are focused on the priorities of the American people. . . . We are working to spread freedom abroad. We're working to spread opportunity at home."

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