Grand Jury Hears Summary of Case On CIA Leak Probe
Thursday, October 27, 2005
The prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation presented a summary of his case to a federal grand jury yesterday and is expected to announce a final decision on charges in the two-year-long probe tomorrow, according to people familiar with the case.
Even as Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald wrapped up his case, the legal team of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been engaged in a furious effort to convince the prosecutor that Rove did not commit perjury during the course of the investigation, according to people close to the aide. The sources, who indicated that the effort intensified in recent weeks, said Rove still did not know last night whether he would be indicted.
Fitzgerald is completing his probe of whether senior administration officials broke the law by disclosing the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media in the summer of 2003 to discredit her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, an administration critic. The grand jury's term will expire Friday.
But after grand jurors left the federal courthouse before noon yesterday, it was unclear whether Fitzgerald had spelled out the criminal charges he might ask them to consider, or whether he had asked them to vote on any proposed indictments. Fitzgerald's legal team did not present the results of a grand jury vote to the court yesterday, which he is required to do within days of such a vote.
Yesterday's three-hour grand jury session came after agents and prosecutors this week conducted last-minute interviews with Adam Levine, a member of the White House communications team at the time of the leak, about his conversations with Rove, and with Plame's neighbors in the District.
Should he need more time to finish the investigation, Fitzgerald could seek to empanel a new group of grand jurors to consider the case. But sources familiar with the prosecutor's work said he has indicated he is eager to avoid that route. The term of the current grand jury has been extended once and cannot be lengthened again, according to federal rules.
The down-to-the-wire moves in Fitzgerald's investigation have made for a harrowing week at the White House, where officials are girding for at least one senior administration official to be indicted, according to aides.
Most concern is focused on Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. Both had testified that they talked with reporters about Plame in the summer of 2003, according to lawyers familiar with their accounts, but both said they did not discuss her by name or disclose her covert status.
Yesterday was another surreal day at the White House, according to aides, with staff members wondering about who might be indicted. Rove and Libby continued to sit in on high-level meetings.
"We certainly are following developments in the news, but everybody's got a lot of work to do," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
A new USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup poll reminded the White House of the damage the CIA leak case has already inflicted: Eight in ten people surveyed said that aides had either broken the law or acted unethically.
As the rest of Washington waited, President Bush tried to shift national attention back to the economy. In a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, he touted the "resilient and strong" economy and asserted it showed that his "pro-growth policies have worked."