White House Braces for Indictment; Rove Said to Be Spared for Now

By Jim VandeHei and Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, October 28, 2005; 11:51 AM

White House officials braced for the possibility that Vice President Cheney's chief of staff would be indicted in the CIA leak case today, while the lawyer for Karl Rove said the presidential confidant's case is still under investigation.

"The Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he has made no decision about whether or not to bring charges and that Mr. Rove's status has not changed," said Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, in a statement released this morning. "Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the Special Counsel's efforts to complete the investigation. We are confident that when the Special Counsel finishes his work, he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong."

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has one indictment in hand, according to a source close to the investigation. Officials at the courthouse plan to release that indictment and a press release from Fitzgerald about noon after he has presented it to a federal magistrate. Fitzgerald is expected to hold a press conference at 2 p.m.

Rove provided new information to Fitzgerald during eleventh-hour negotiations that "gave Fitzgerald pause" about charging Bush's senior strategist, said a source close to Rove. "The prosecutor has to resolve those issues before he decides what to do."

This raised the possibility of a new grand jury getting the case because the term for the current grand jury expires today.

A source close to Rove said the matter will be resolved in "weeks, not months."

Rove's own comments to reporters outside his Washington home as he left for work this morning fueled speculation he might be spared. "I am going to have a great Friday and a fantastic weekend and hope you do too," Rove said to reporters, CNN reported. The New York Times also reported last night that Rove would not be charged today but would remain under investigation.

Two sources familiar with the investigation said yesterday that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, was shopping for a white-collar criminal lawyer amid expectations of those close to the case that he might be indicted for providing false statements or other charges. At the same time, Rove began assembling a public relations team in the event that he is eventually indicted.

At the White House yesterday, aides scrambled to put the finishing touches on a political strategy to respond to the fallout from any criminal charges, including the likelihood of staff changes. A Republican consultant with close White House ties said Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had canceled at least two trips in the past week and had met with Bush over the weekend to focus on how to react to the grand jury's decisions.

"These will be very, very dark days for the White House," the consultant quoted Card as saying.

The White House has said that anyone who is indicted will resign.

At the U.S. courthouse here, where Fitzgerald met with the grand jury for what is expected to be the final time, there was a rush of activity yesterday. Court staff made preparations to quickly produce scores of copies of documents for waiting reporters.

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