As prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald prepares for upcoming grand jury sessions and decisions on whether to bring indictments, defense lawyers say they now believe there is a White House insider or former official who has been helping the investigation for months.
The lawyers say this is based on information grand jury witnesses heard about the actions of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby well before reporters Matt Cooper and Judy Miller testified White house officials leaked information about an administration critic.
The lawyers supporting the White House also point to a sealed legal brief Fitzgerald submitted to the courts more than a year ago that prompted judges to refer to the gravity of the case.
According to several news accounts, the grand jury is looking at the office of vice president Cheney. While the public attention has been on Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, other Cheney staffers are believed to have testified, including Mary Matalin, John Hannah, Cathie Martin, and David Wurmser.
But giving testimony does not mean anybody has done anything wrong.
The vice president and the CIA clashed over pre-Iraqi war intelligence. It was the vice president request for more for more information about Saddam Hussein's nuclear desires that led the CIA to send Joe Wilson on a mission to Africa. The ambassador's trip was the basis, eight months later, for Wilson's criticisms of Cheney and the administration.
Prosecutors have pressed administration witnesses on whether there was an orchestrated campaign to undermine Wilson, and whether that involved White House meetings of the so-called Iraq group which was responsible for selling the administration's reasons for war.
When Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper appeared at the grand jury, he testified not only that Karl Rove was his source, but that Rove indicated some of the information about Wilson's trip and wife would soon be declassified.
How did the president's top advisor hear that? And who did he discuss it with? It was an issue for the grand jury, lawyers say, when rove testified last week.
When a U.S. attorney like Patrick Fitzgerald is ready to indict, the prosecutor will head to the grand jury with the charges, review the evidence with the panel, and then explain the relevant laws and statutes.
After a discussion, the prosecutor will ask the grand jury, through a simple vote, to indict.
At the D.C. federal courthouse, if the panel agrees with the prosecutor the panel will move from the 3rd floor grand jury room to a magistrate's courtroom on the first floor. There, in public, the indictment charges will be read and then filed with the clerk.
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