Rove Pressed On Conflicts, Source Says

Rove has said that he did not name CIA operative Valerie Plame but has acknowledged that he mentioned her in passing to a reporter.
Rove has said that he did not name CIA operative Valerie Plame but has acknowledged that he mentioned her in passing to a reporter. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
By Carol D. Leonnig and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 15, 2005

The grand jury investigating the CIA leak case pressed White House senior adviser Karl Rove yesterday to more fully explain his conversations with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame, including discrepancies between his testimony and the account provided by a key witness in the investigation, according to a source familiar with Rove's account.

Making his fourth appearance before the grand jury, Rove answered a broad range of questions for 4 1/2 hours, including why he did not initially tell federal agents about a July 2003 conversation about Plame with the witness, Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, the source said.

Rove's defense team asserts that President Bush's deputy chief of staff has not committed a crime but nevertheless anticipates that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald could find a way to bring charges in the next two weeks, the source said.

"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," Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, said in a statement.

Fitzgerald is believed to be in the final days of a 22-month investigation into whether any administration officials knowingly identified Plame to the media to retaliate against her husband, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war. White House officials are bracing for the possibility that Rove; I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff; or other officials could be indicted.

But it remains a mystery who -- if anyone -- will be charged in the case. The grand jury expires Oct. 28.

One person who will not be charged is Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who spent 85 days in jail for refusing to testify in the case before making two recent appearances before the grand jury. Miller was recently told by Fitzgerald that she is only a witness in the case, according to a source close to Miller.

"Judy has always been a witness in this case and nothing more," said Robert S. Bennett, Miller's attorney. "She is neither a subject nor a target of the investigation."

A team of Times reporters is preparing a report on Miller's role in the saga that could be published as early as tomorrow. Until a contempt-of-court citation against her was lifted, Miller refused to tell her story to the paper on the advice of her lawyers. But Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis said yesterday that Miller is now cooperating with fellow reporters on the story.

Rove, the mastermind of Bush's political career, who is considered the leading architect of White House political and policy plans, has emerged as a central figure in the investigation. In addition to his four trips to the grand jury, he spoke with investigators several times early in the probe.

His story has changed from the earliest days, when he told reporters he had nothing to do with the leak of Plame's name. Since then, Rove has testified that he discussed Plame in passing with two reporters, including Robert D. Novak, whose July 14, 2003, syndicated column first publicly identified Plame as a CIA operative married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

On July 6, 2003, Wilson said publicly that he had found no evidence for the administration's claim that Iraq was seeking uranium for use in a nuclear weapons program. Wilson had been sent to the African nation of Niger by the CIA to investigate that claim.

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