Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was back before a federal grand jury on Wednesday in the CIA leak case, with deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove still under investigation.
Since the Oct. 28 indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, two more reporters have been pulled into the investigation — The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Time magazine’s Viveca Novak.
Woodward has given a deposition about a conversation he had in mid-June 2003 in which a senior Bush administration official disclosed the CIA status of undercover officer Valerie Plame. Fitzgerald is seeking Novak’s testimony about her conversations with Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, in 2004.
Fitzgerald did not comment on Wednesday’s nearly three-hour grand jury session where the prosecutor was accompanied by three deputies and an FBI agent.
Rove’s legal problems stem from the fact that it was not until more than a year into the criminal investigation that he told the prosecutor about disclosing Plame’s CIA status to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper on July 11, 2003.
After weeks of avoiding many public appearances with the president, Rove has been noticeably at Bush’s side this week.
They traveled together Monday to North Carolina for a speech on the economy.
Rove also rode with Bush in his limousine Wednesday across Washington and listened attentively from the sidelines while the president delivered a speech on Iraq.
In the last grand jury activity in the leak case, on Oct. 28, Libby was indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. Libby resigned and has pleaded not guilty.
For nearly two years, Fitzgerald has been looking into who in the administration leaked Plame’s identity to the news media.
Plame’s CIA status was disclosed eight days after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, publicly accused the administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat in the run-up to the war.
Rove was not indicted. But Fitzgerald made clear at the time of Libby’s indictment that the investigation was not finished.
The prosecutor underscored that point in court papers last month, saying the investigation continues and will involve proceedings before a different grand jury. The earlier grand jury’s term expired the day it indicted Libby.
Rove says he did not disclose the Cooper conversation to investigators because he had forgotten it. It occurred days before Plame’s identity was revealed by the media.
The presidential adviser revealed the CIA employment of Wilson’s wife to Cooper two days after another conversation in which Rove and conservative columnist Robert Novak discussed Plame’s CIA status.
Robert Novak and Viveca Novak are not related.
Robert Novak was the first journalist to disclose Plame’s identity, on July 14, 2003. Cooper co-wrote a Time article about Plame on July 17, 2003.
Two and one half months later, the Justice Department began the criminal investigation. That led the White House spokesman to check with Rove and Libby before providing public assurances that neither Rove nor Libby had been involved in leaking Plame’s identity.