Rove to give additional testimony without guarantee he won’t be indicted |

Rove to give additional testimony without guarantee he won’t be indicted

WASHINGTON – Presidential confidant Karl Rove will testify for a fourth time before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer’s identity even though prosecutors have warned they can no longer guarantee he will escape indictment, lawyers said Thursday.Rove’s offer was accepted by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the last week as the grand jury’s wraps up its work and decides whether Rove, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby or any other presidential aides should face criminal charges.Rove’s lawyer said Thursday that Fitzgerald has assured him that he has made no decisions yet on charges and that his client has not received a so-called target letter, usually the last step before a grand jury indictment.”I can say categorically that Karl has not received a target letter from the special counsel,” attorney Robert Luskin said. “The special counsel has confirmed that he has not made any charging decisions in respect to Karl.”Luskin said that Rove “continues to be cooperative voluntarily” with the investigation but that he could not further discuss his dealings with Fitzgerald’s office.However, several people directly familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that Fitzgerald sent a letter accepting Rove’s offer to testify but warning prosecutors could no longer guarantee the presidential aide wouldn’t be indicted.Rove offered in July to return to the grand jury, and Fitzgerald accepted that offer last Friday after taking grand jury testimony from the formerly jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller, the people said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy.The U.S. attorney’s manual doesn’t allow prosecutors to bring witnesses before a grand jury if there is a possibility of future criminal charges unless the witnesses are notified in advance that their testimony can be used against them in a later indictment.The prosecutor did not give Rove similar warnings before Rove’s three earlier grand jury appearances.Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, said that it was unusual for a witness to be called back to the grand jury four times and that the prosecutor’s legally required warning to Rove before this next appearance is “an ominous sign” for the presidential adviser.”It suggests Fitzgerald has learned new information that is tightening the noose,” Gillers said. “It shows Fitzgerald now, perhaps after Miller’s testimony, suspects Rove may be in some way implicated in the revelation of Plame’s identity or that Fitzgerald is investigating various people for obstruction of justice, false statements or perjury. That is the menu of risk for Rove.”Leaking the identity of a covert agent can be a crime, but it must be done knowingly and the legal threshold for proving such a crime is high. Fitzgerald could also seek charges against anyone he thinks lied to investigators or tried to obstruct the case.For almost two years, Fitzgerald has been investigating whether someone in the Bush administration leaked the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA officer for political reasons. Dozens of government officials were interviewed and boxloads of documents collected.Reporters, including Miller and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper, have been called before a grand jury to testify about their conversations with Rove and Libby.Miller served 85 days in jail for refusing to testify, then went before the grand jury last Friday after having a private conversation with Libby that she says freed her from her original promise to provide him confidentiality.In a letter in September to Libby’s lawyer, Fitzgerald wrote that he wanted to be sure Miller was not in jail because of a “misunderstanding.””I had assumed that Mr. Libby had simply decided that encouraging Ms. Miller to testify was not in his best interest,” Fitzgerald wrote.Three days later, Libby wrote Miller, expressing surprise that her lawyers had recently asked him to repeat a waiver of confidentiality Libby had given Miller’s lawyer more than a year earlier.The leak investigation stems from a July 2003 syndicated column by Robert Novak identifying Plame as a CIA operative. Plame is married to former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who says his wife’s identity was disclosed to discredit his assertions that the Bush administration exaggerated Iraq’s nuclear capabilities to build the case for war.Rove, Bush’s top adviser on political strategy and policy, has known the president for three decades. He worked for Bush as far back as 1978, when Bush unsuccessfully ran for Congress. Rove orchestrated Bush’s campaigns for Texas governor and president, then brought his political skills into the White House.A former federal prosecutor called the development “a classic example of what happens when there’s a large political overlay to a criminal investigation.””Each time you testify, there’s an increasingly larger risk,” said E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., a partner at the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker.”In a normal criminal investigation, most defense lawyers are extremely cautious about their clients testifying even once before a grand jury and are generally loathe to let them testify more than once because of the false statement statute, the control that a prosecutor has over a grand jury and because the witness’s lawyer cannot be in the grand jury room,” Barcella said.Vail, Colorado

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