News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Leak case announcement seen Friday - Yahoo! News

By Adam Entous

With the fate of at least two top White House advisers in the balance, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald conferred on Thursday with his legal team a day before he was expected to announce his decision on charges over the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Expected indictments in the case could trigger an immediate shake-up at the White House, already on the defensive over plummeting poll figures, soaring gas prices, opposition to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of President George W. Bush's nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Harriet Miers.

Fitzgerald has zeroed in on Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser. Other current and former administration officials may also face charges.

Plame's identity was leaked to the media after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to support action against Iraq. Wilson said it was done deliberately to erode his credibility.

White House officials were anxiously awaiting the outcome of Fitzgerald's investigation, since any indicted officials were expected to resign immediately. Bush was then likely to make a public statement.

Asked to describe Bush's mood, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "The president is continuing to focus on the work we've got to get done."

Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, said no announcements were expected on Thursday, leaving any legal action for Friday, when the grand jury hearing the case is scheduled to meet for the last time. Fitzgerald appeared unlikely to seek an extension.

Fitzgerald spent the day in Washington with his deputies as he prepared to wrap up the two-year leak investigation. The prosecutor, who has joked about not looking good in photos, took a break to visit a nearby barber shop, where he got a shoe shine.


On Wednesday, he met for three hours with the grand jury, and spent 45 minutes behind closed doors with the chief U.S. district judge, Thomas Hogan.

In a last-minute flurry of interviews, FBI agents this week canvassed Plame's neighborhood to see if anyone knew about her covert work for the spy agency before she was exposed in a July 2003 newspaper column by Robert Novak.

Fitzgerald met with Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, and prosecutors conducted an 11th-hour interview with Adam Levine, a former official in the White House press office, about his conversations with Rove.

In advance of any possible indictment against Rove, his legal team consulted with former Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo on legal and public relations strategy, a source close to the matter said.

The White House initially denied that Libby and Rove had anything to do with the leak, but reporters have singled them out as sources in grand jury testimony.

Fitzgerald could charge administration officials with knowingly revealing Plame's identity, as well as bring charges for easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements, perjury, obstruction of justice and disclosing classified information, lawyers involved in the case said.

Legal sources said Rove could face perjury charges for initially not telling the grand jury he talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Plame.

Libby was open to false statement and obstruction charges because of contradictions between his testimony and that of Miller and other journalists, the lawyers said.


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