Leopold: Fitzgerald to Seek Indictment of Rove
Fitzgerald to Seek Indictment of Rove
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
Friday 28 April 2006
Despite vehement denials by his attorney, who said this week that Karl Rove is neither a "target" nor in danger of being indicted in the CIA leak case, the special counsel leading the investigation has already written up charges against Rove, and a grand jury is expected to vote on whether to indict the Deputy White House Chief of Staff sometime next week, sources knowledgeable about the probe said Friday afternoon.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was in Chicago Friday and did not meet with the grand jury.
Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, was informed via a target letter that Fitzgerald is prepared to charge Rove for perjury and lying to investigators during Rove’s appearances before the grand jury in 2004 and in interviews with investigators in 2003 when he was asked how and when he discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA, and whether he shared that information with the media.
If the grand jury returns an indictment Rove would become the second White House official - and one of the most powerful political operatives in the country - charged in the case since the leak investigation began in the fall of 2003.
In the event that an indictment is handed up by the grand jury it would be filed under seal. A press release would then be issued by Fitzgerald’s press office indicating that the special prosecutor will hold a news conference, likely on a Friday afternoon, sources close to the case said. The media would be given more than 24 hours notice of a press conference, sources added.
Luskin was at his office when called for comment but his assistant said he would not take the call or comment on this story.
In recent weeks, sources close to the case said, Fitzgerald's staff has met with Rove's legal team several times to discuss a change in Rove's status in the case - from subject to target - based on numerous inconsistencies in Rove's testimony, whether he discussed Plame Wilson with reporters before her name and CIA status were published in newspaper reports, and whether he participated in a smear campaign against her husband.
The meetings between Luskin and Fitzgerald which took place on several occasions a few weeks ago were called to discuss a timeframe to schedule a return to the grand jury by Rove to testify about, among other things, 250 pages of emails that resurfaced February 6 from Vice President Dick Cheney's office and the Office of President Bush in which Rove wrote to former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card about strategizing an attack against Wilson, sources familiar with the case said.
An earlier date for Rove's testimony was scheduled, but Fitzgerald canceled the appearance because of matters related to another high-profile case that was coming to close in Chicago, sources said.
The rescheduled grand jury appearance by Rove took place Wednesday afternoon and hinges on whether Rove's testimony about the reasons he did not disclose the emails during his previous testimony will convince Fitzgerald not to add obstruction of justice to the list of charges he intends to file against Rove, sources said.
As of Friday afternoon, sources close to the case said, it appeared likely that charges of obstruction of justice would be added to the prepared list of charges.
Rove testified that he first found out about Plame Wilson from reading a newspaper report in July 2003, and only after the story was published did he share the information about her CIA status with other reporters.
In fact, evidence has surfaced during the course of the two-year-old investigation that shows Rove spoke with at least two reporters about Plame Wilson prior to the publication of the column that first unmasked her identity and exposed her covert CIA status.
The explanation Rove provided to the grand jury - that he was dealing with more urgent White House matters and therefore forgot - has not convinced Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that Rove has been truthful in his testimony.
Rove has been questioned by FBI investigators and grand jurors on ten different occasions since October 2003. The time he has spent under oath exceeds 20 hours, sources said, adding that he answered a wide-range of questions about intelligence the White House used to win support for the Iraq war.
But it was during Rove's request to appear before the grand jury for a fourth time that he suddenly changed his testimony to explain the circumstances of his conversation with at least one reporter, and how his attorney, Robert Luskin, helped Rove jog his memory.
Fitzgerald has been suspicious that Rove altered his previous testimony once it became clear that the reporter he spoke to, Matt Cooper of Time magazine, would be forced to testify and reveal his sources for a story he wrote about Plame Wilson in July 2003. One of those sources has turned out to be Rove.
Moreover, Rove has testified that he and other White House officials were not involved in a coordinated effort to attack the credibility of Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who in mid-2003 questioned the veracity of the Bush administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence.
However, grand jury testimony by at least a dozen administration officials have portrayed Rove as a key player in a campaign to destroy Ambassador Wilson's credibility in Washington, DC, sources familiar with several of the witnesses' testimony said.
Jason Leopold spent two years covering California's electricity crisis as Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires. Jason has spent the last year cultivating sources close to the CIA leak invesigation, and will be a regular contributer to t r u t h o u t.