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

Saturday, November 05, 2005

President Has Little to Say About Questions on Rove - New York Times

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina, Nov. 4 - President Bush was asked four times on Friday about Karl Rove and the C.I.A. leak investigation, and four times he refused to answer.

Speaking to reporters in this seaside resort city at the 34-nation Summit of the Americas, Mr. Bush also declined any comment on the future of Mr. Rove, his chief political adviser.

The president did not use the opportunity to offer a public endorsement of Mr. Rove, who remains under investigation in the leak inquiry. Nor did Mr. Bush address speculation in Washington about whether Mr. Rove would stay on as his deputy chief of staff.

Asked if there were discussions at the White House about whether Mr. Rove would remain in his job, Mr. Bush replied that "the investigation on Karl, as you know, is not complete, and therefore I will not comment about him and/or the investigation."

Mr. Bush reiterated that the inquiry was "a serious investigation" and "an important investigation." He added that "we're cooperating to the extent that the special prosecutor wants us to cooperate."

Lawyers involved in the case say the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has narrowed the investigation of Mr. Rove to whether he tried to conceal from the grand jury a conversation he had with a Time magazine reporter, Matthew Cooper, in the week before the identity of an undercover intelligence operative was made public in 2003.

In what is believed to be his final look at any involvement by Mr. Rove, Mr. Fitzgerald has centered on whether he was fully forthcoming about the belated discovery of an internal e-mail message that confirmed his conversation with Mr. Cooper, to whom Mr. Rove had mentioned the C.I.A. officer. Lawyers in the case say Mr. Rove had learned the officer's identity from the columnist Robert D. Novak two days before speaking to Mr. Cooper.

Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, has expressed confidence that the prosecutor will conclude Mr. Rove did nothing wrong.

Mr. Cooper was one of the reporters among a small group who questioned Mr. Bush in Argentina on Friday, but he asked the president no questions about Mr. Rove.

In New York, meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported in an editorial that its parent, Dow Jones & Company, filed a motion on Wednesday seeking to unseal eight pages of an appeals court ruling that contained arguments by Mr. Fitzgerald explaining why he needed to compel the grand jury testimony of both Mr. Cooper and Judith Miller of The New York Times.

It has never been publicly known what Mr. Fitzgerald wrote in the eight pages, but he has suggested in court appearances that grand jury secrets and national security matters were discussed. The pages were part of Judge David S. Tatel's concurring opinion on Feb. 15, 2005, against Ms. Miller and Mr. Cooper in a decision issued by a federal appeals court.

In an unedited part of the opinion, Judge Tatel wrote that "with voluminous classified filings," Mr. Fitzgerald had demonstrated that the information sought from the reporters "is both critical and unobtainable from any other source."

The Dow Jones motion argues in part that secrecy is no longer required because Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller have now testified to the grand jury and publicly disclosed their testimony in articles in their publications.

Floyd Abrams, a lawyer who represented The Times and Ms. Miller, said, "If the court permits the eight pages from Judge Tatel's opinion to be made public, it will be extremely interesting to see if Mr. Fitzgerald sought to persuade the court that the testimony of journalists was needed in order to prepare a case dealing with grave breaches of national security, as opposed to a case in which claims of perjury and false statements would be asserted."


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