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Fitzgerald won't charge Rove

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/13/washington/13cnd-leak.html?ei=5094&en=e40da3e03155858f&hp=&ex=1150257600&partner=homepage&pagewanted=print June 13, 2006 Leak
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 13, 2006
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      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/13/washington/13cnd-leak.html?ei=5094&en=e40da3e03155858f&hp=&ex=1150257600&partner=homepage&pagewanted=print

      June 13, 2006
      Leak Counsel Won't Charge Rove, Lawyer Announces
      By DAVID JOHNSTON

      WASHINGTON, June 13 — The prosecutor in the C.I.A.
      leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior
      White House adviser, that he would not be charged with
      any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly
      three-year criminal investigation that had at times
      focused intensely on Mr. Rove.

      The decision by the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald,
      announced in a letter to Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D.
      Luskin, lifted a pall that had hung over Mr. Rove who
      testified on five occasions to a federal grand jury
      about his involvement in the disclosure of an
      intelligence officer's identity.

      In a statement, Mr. Luskin said, "On June 12, 2006,
      Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us
      that he does not anticipate seeking charges against
      Karl Rove."

      Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, said he
      would not comment on Mr. Rove's status.

      For months Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation appeared to
      threaten Mr. Rove's standing as Mr. Bush's closest
      political adviser as the prosecutor riveted his focus
      on whether Mr. Rove tried to intentionally conceal a
      conversation he had with a Time magazine reporter in
      the week before the name of intelligence officer,
      Valerie Plame Wilson, became public.

      The decision not to pursue any charges removes a
      potential political stumbling block for a White House
      that is heading into a long and difficult election
      season for Republicans in Congress.

      Mr. Fitzgerald's decision should help the White House
      in what has been an unsuccessful effort to put the
      leak case behind it. Still ahead, however, is the
      trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of
      staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., on charges for perjury and
      obstruction of justice, and the prospect that Mr.
      Cheney could be called to testify in that case.

      In his statement Mr. Luskin said he would not address
      other legal questions surrounding Mr. Fitzgerald's
      decision. He added, "In deference to the pending case,
      we will not make any further public statements about
      the subject matter of the investigation. We believe
      that the Special Counsel's decision should put an end
      to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove's conduct."

      But it was evident that Mr. Fitzgerald's decision
      followed an exhaustive inquiry into Mr. Rove's
      activities that had brought the political strategist
      dangerously close to possible charges. In October,
      when Mr. Libby was indicted, people close to Mr. Rove
      had suggested that his involvement in the case would
      soon be over; speculation about Mr. Rove's legal
      situation flared again in April when he made his fifth
      appearance before the grand jury.

      A series of meetings between Mr. Luskin and Mr.
      Fitzgerald and his team proved pivotal in dissuading
      the prosecutor from bringing charges. On one occasion
      Mr. Luskin himself became a witness in the case,
      giving sworn testimony that was beneficial to Mr.
      Rove.

      As the case stands now, Mr. Fitzgerald has brought
      only one indictment against Mr. Libby. The prosecutor
      accused Mr. Libby of telling the grand jury that he
      learned of Ms. Wilson from reporters, when in reality,
      the prosecutor said he was told about her by Mr.
      Cheney and others in the government. Mr. Libby has
      pleaded not guilty in the case, which is scheduled to
      begin trial early next year.

      Ms. Wilson is married to Joseph C. Wilson IV, the
      former ambassador who wrote in an Op-Ed column in the
      New York Times on July 6, 2003 that White House
      officials, including Mr. Bush, had exaggerated
      assertions that Iraq had sought to purchase nuclear
      fuel from Africa. Mr. Wilson wrote that such claims
      were "highly dubious."

      He said his conclusions were based on a trip he had
      made in early 2002 to Niger, a fact-finding mission
      that he said had been "instigated" by Mr. Cheney's
      office.

      It is now known that the column upset Mr. Cheney and
      that within his office it was viewed as an attack on
      the Vice President's credibility, according to legal
      briefs filed in the Libby case by Mr. Fitzgerald. In
      his filings, Mr. Fitzgerald depicts Mr. Cheney as
      actively engaged in an effort with Mr. Libby to rebut
      Mr. Wilson's assertions.

      After the Wilson column was published, Mr. Cheney
      wrote notes on a copy asking whether Ms. Wilson played
      a role in sending her husband to Africa and whether
      the trip was a "junket." At the same time, Mr.
      Fitzgerald has said, the vice president dispatched Mr.
      Libby to challenge Mr. Wilson in conversations with
      reporters.

      It was during that effort, Mr. Fitzgerald has alleged,
      that Mr. Libby disclosed Ms. Wilson's employment at
      the C.I.A. along with the possibility that it was she
      who sent him to Niger.

      In Mr. Rove's case, Mr. Fitzgerald centered his
      inquiry on why Mr. Rove did not admit early in the
      investigation that he had a conversation with Time
      magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about Ms. Wilson and
      whether Mr. Rove was forthcoming about the later
      discovery of an internal e-mail message that confirmed
      his conversation with Mr. Cooper, to whom Mr. Rove had
      mentioned the existence of the C.I.A. officer.

      Mr. Rove told the grand jury that he forgot the
      conversation with Mr. Cooper and volunteered it to Mr.
      Fitzgerald as soon as he recalled it, when his memory
      was jogged by the e-mail to Stephen J. Hadley, then
      deputy national security adviser, in which Mr. Rove
      referred to his discussion with Mr. Cooper.

      At the center of the inquiry involving Mr. Rove are
      the circumstances surrounding a July 11, 2003,
      telephone conversation between Mr. Rove and Mr.
      Cooper, who turned the interview to questions about
      the trip to Africa by Mr. Wilson.

      In his testimony to the grand jury in February 2004,
      Mr. Rove did not disclose the conversation with Mr.
      Cooper, saying later that he had forgotten it among
      the hundreds of calls he received on a daily basis.
      But there was a record of the call in the form of Mr.
      Rove's message to Mr. Hadley, the deputy national
      security adviser, which confirmed the conversation.

      One lawyer with a client in the case said Mr.
      Fitzgerald was skeptical of Mr. Rove's account because
      the message was not discovered until the fall of 2004
      — a year after Mr. Rove first talked to investigators.
      It was at about the same time that Mr. Fitzgerald had
      begun to compel reporters to cooperate with his
      inquiry, among them Mr. Cooper. The prosecutors legal
      thrust at reporters, in effect, put White House aides
      like Mr. Rove on notice that any conversations might
      become known.

      Associates of Mr. Rove said the e-mail message was
      turned over immediately after it was found at the
      White House. They said Mr. Rove never intended to
      withhold details of a conversation with a reporter
      from Mr. Fitzgerald, noting that Mr. Rove had signed a
      legal waiver to allow reporters to reveal to
      prosecutors their discussions with confidential
      sources. In addition, they said, Mr. Rove testified
      about his conversation with Mr. Cooper — long before
      Mr. Cooper did — acknowledging that it was possible
      that the subject of Mr. Wilson's trip had come up.

      It is now known that Mr. Fitzgerald and the grand jury
      have questioned Mr. Rove about two conversations with
      reporters. The first, which he admitted to
      investigators from the outset, took place on July 9,
      2003, in a telephone call initiated by Robert D.
      Novak, the syndicated columnist. In a column about Mr.
      Wilson's trip four days after the call to Mr. Rove,
      Mr. Novak disclosed the identity of Ms. Wilson, who
      was said by Mr. Novak to have had a role in arranging
      her husband's trip. Mr. Novak identified her as
      Valerie Plame, Ms. Wilson's maiden name.
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