Fitzgerald Leaves Questions Unanswered

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Tuesday, June 13, 2006; 1:08 PM

Senior White House political adviser Karl Rove's successful avoidance of criminal charges in the CIA leak investigation is a huge win for the White House.

It's also a massive blow to those who had hoped that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation would end Rove's career as a cunning and outlandishly successful Republican strategist.

And finally, it means Fitzgerald probably won't be shedding any more light on Rove's role in the outing of Valerie Plame.

By all rights, that latter job should now fall to the press.

The White House has long maintained -- spuriously, I might add -- that the ongoing criminal investigation precluded them from answering any questions even vaguely related to Rove's conduct.

Now, without charges against Rove in the offing, the media should demand answers to a slew of questions. The overriding issue: Just because Rove wasn't charged with a crime doesn't mean his conduct meets the standards the public expects from its White House.

If Rove was irresponsibly lax with classified information, if he intentionally misled the press, the press secretary and the president, if he conspired with fellow White House aides to punish someone who spoke out against the president -- all of which appears to be the case -- what is he still doing serving as the president's most trusted aide?

(Note: President Bush's surprise visit to Baghdad is playing out even as I approach deadline, so it'll have to wait until tomorrow for a closer look. There's ongoing coverage here and here . Here are some wire photos . Don't miss this one .)

What Luskin Said

Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, released a two paragraph statement this morning:

"On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove.

"In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation. We believe that the Special Counsel's decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove's conduct."

David Johnston writes for the New York Times: "The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.

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