"and bring indictments as early as next week, the lawyers said. "
Rove spends hours
before grand jury
Fri Oct 14, 2005 3:48 PM ET
By Adam Entous
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, testified at length on Friday for a fourth time before the grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity, as prosecutors neared a decision on whether to bring charges.
Rove would not comment after spending 4 1/2 hours at the federal courthouse, but his attorney, Robert Luskin, said special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not told Rove he is a target of the investigation. Legal sources said that could soon change.
Friday's testimony appeared to be Rove's last opportunity to convince grand jurors that he did nothing illegal following the disclosure that he had spoken to two reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, despite earlier White House denials.
Prosecutors told Rove before he testified they could not guarantee that he would not be indicted over the leak. Plame's husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson, says administration officials outed his wife, damaging her ability to work undercover, to discredit him for criticizing Bush's Iraq policy in a New York Times opinion piece on July 6, 2003.
People close to the case said Rove's unusually lengthy grand jury appearance on Friday suggested prosecutors closely scrutinized his earlier testimony, asked him to explain any inconsistencies and may have confronted him with additional information.
"Being in there that long after testifying three times before can't be viewed as a particularly positive sign," said a legal source in the case.
But Zachary Carter, a former U.S. attorney in New York, cautioned against reading too much into the length of his appearance alone.
"We're not talking about a neutral witness. We're talking about someone who is under investigation," Carter said.
While Fitzgerald could bring charges against officials for the crime of knowingly revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative, several lawyers in the case said he was more likely to bring a broad conspiracy charge or easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements and perjury.
Fitzgerald could send out letters to senior administration officials advising them they are targets of his probe, and bring indictments as early as next week, the lawyers said.