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DOJ Limits What Fitzgerald Can Reveal to Committee

DOJ Limits What Fitzgerald Can Reveal to Committee

By Matt Renner
T r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 15 March 2007

Patrick Fitzgerald has made clear the limitations of his possible testimony regarding the Valarie Plame Wilson leak-investigation set to begin in the House of Representatives on Friday.

On March 8, 2007, Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform - the central investigative arm of the House - issued an invitation to Fitzgerald for a private sit-down to discuss the upcoming investigation. In a written response, Fitzgerald made clear that the Department of Justice will not permit him to discuss any non-public information with Congress.

Fitzgerald cited the fact that Libby's case is still "pending" as an explanation of his inability to provide non-public details to the committee. Fitzgerald also pointed out in his letter to Waxman that he arrived at his conclusions after being advised by the Department of Justice.

Rep. Waxman invited Fitzgerald to participate in his committee's investigation because, in Waxman's words, Fitzgerald has "a singular understanding of the facts and their implications that bear directly on the issues before Congress." There are unconfirmed reports that Waxman may have invited additional staffers from Fitzgerald's office to testify.

Waxman's request letter to Fitzgerald sheds light on the focus of the upcoming investigation: "[The Libby] trial proceedings raise questions about whether senior White House officials, including the vice president and senior adviser to the president Karl Rove, complied with the requirements governing the handling of classified information," and "whether the ultimate responsibility for the outing of Ms. Wilson rests with more senior officials in the White House."

Ms. Wilson will giver her first testimony in regard to the leak of her identity in Friday's committee hearing.

How deep the investigation will go is unclear; Democratic willingness to force testimony from members of the executive branch or their staff through use of subpoenas remains unproven. Given the record of the Bush administration, it is unlikely that they would cooperate with requests for information from Congress.

In a press conference on March 13, 2007, White House Spokesman Tony Snow was asked about a request by Senators Leahy and Specter to hear voluntary testimony from Presidential Adviser Karl Rove to avoid a "subpoena showdown." Snow side-stepped the questions, stating that "it has been traditional in all White Houses not to have staffers testify on Capitol Hill."

At this point, subpoenas are not forthcoming from the committee although the option to issue them is still open. Appeals to the executive branch for cooperation have not been respected. It is unclear whether subpoenas would be effective at this time.


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