Karl Rove At Center Of CIA Leak Investigation
Mark Wilson  /  Getty Images
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove emerges from U.S. District Court October 14, 2005 in Washington, DC. Rove appeared before a grand jury investigating the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.
msnbc.com
updated 11/28/2005 8:23:07 PM ET 2005-11-29T01:23:07

It was just a few weeks ago when the convention wisdom in Washington was that Karl Rove, while still under investigation, was not going to be charged and was free to resume his role running the Bush White House. 

But today, new clues suggest the investigation is still focused on Rove.  Legal experts say the development means prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is still considering obstruction of justice or perjury charges against Bush's top advisor.

Time Magazine reporter Vivica Novak — no relation to Bob Novak — has agreed to testify about a series of discussions with Rove's lawyer Bob Luskin that began in May 2004.

At the time, Rove had already testified at least once to the grand jury and the White House had publicly denied Rove was involved with the leak.

During that same period, Time Magazine was fighting in the courts to keep reporter Matt Cooper from revealing his White House source, which would eventually be identified as Rove.

The involvement now of reporter Vivica Novak has sparked a frenzy of questions about what this development means for Rove and Fitzgerald's investigation.

Video: Fitzgerald: Full steam ahead Depending on the nature of her conversation with Luskin, legal experts say Vivica Novak could either help or hurt Rove's fate at a time when Fitzgerald is still trying to evaluate Rove's apparent inconsistencies to the CIA leak grand jury.

"There is a mountain of questions," said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University.  "What's clear is that this investigation is not nearly over."

Rove's lawyer Bob Luskin told MSNBC today prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has still not indicated whether Rove will be charged.

In court documents last week, Fitzgerald wrote, "The investigation is continuing... and will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the [Libby] indictment."

That notation was a surprise to many lawyers in the case who considered the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff in October as a sign the investigation was coming to an end. 

Since then, there have been new revelations about who leaked information about the wife of administration critic Joe Wilson and new questions about White House actions during the course of the case.

Two weeks ago, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward disclosed he was actually the first to be told the identity of a CIA operative.  He also admitted this secret came not from Libby or Rove, but from another administration official.

Lawyers say the unnamed official has now testified in the case.  While it's not clear whether the official is in legal jeopardy, the late disclosure flies in the face of this pledge two years ago from President Bush.

"I want to know the truth," Bush said On Oct. 7, 2003.  "That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators.  Full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out."

The late disclosure has also raised questions inside the Washington Post about Bob Woodward, the famous Watergate reporter who publicly criticized the investigation in this case.

The hardest issues, however, are over at the White House.  The CIA leak case has reinforced public perceptions the Bush administration hyped pre-war intelligence.  Though the dark still lingers over Karl Rove head.

Watch 'Hardball' each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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