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Rove to testify again before CIA leak grand jury

No indication an indictment is imminent, his attorney says

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has appeared before the grand jury three times.


White House
Dick Cheney
Karl Rove

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Presidential adviser Karl Rove will give additional testimony to the grand jury hearing evidence in an investigation of the 2003 disclosure of a CIA agent's identity, his lawyer said Thursday.

Attorney Robert Luskin said special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald asked Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and President Bush's top political strategist, to appear before the grand jury for a fourth time. Luskin said Fitzgerald gave no indication that an indictment of his client was imminent. (Watch CNN's Toobin on the leak investigation -- 3:21)

He did not disclose a date for Rove's testimony.

The Associated Press reported that federal prosecutors have warned they cannot guarantee Rove won't be indicted.

The U.S. attorney's manual requires prosecutors to notify witnesses in advance of their testimony that what they say may be used against them if there is a possibility of an indictment.

According to the AP, the prosecutor did not give Rove similar warnings before his earlier grand jury appearances.

Asked whether any of Bush's aides have been notified that they are a subject of the probe, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "I'm not aware of any new developments."

Valerie Plame's identity

Fitzgerald is trying to determine whether any crimes were committed when Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative was exposed in a July 2003 piece by syndicated columnist and longtime CNN contributor Robert Novak.

Knowingly identifying a covert agent is a felony under federal law punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Novak cited two "senior administration officials" for the disclosure. He has refused to say publicly who his sources were, and what cooperation he may have given Fitzgerald, if any, remains unclear.

The Justice Department opened a criminal probe in September 2003 at the request of the CIA. Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, was named a special prosecutor at the end of the year after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the probe.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, who called for a special prosecutor to be appointed when the case was opened, said Rove's latest appearance "is good evidence that Mr. Fitzgerald is, indeed, following this investigation to its logical conclusion, even if it reaches the highest levels of our government."

"However this turns out, I would simply urge all Americans, from President Bush on down, to have faith in Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation and to abide by his findings once they are made public," Schumer said.

Joseph Wilson's column

The disclosure about Plame came a week after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson, wrote an opinion column in The New York Times challenging one of the pillars of the Bush administration's case for the invasion of Iraq: that then-President Saddam Hussein was attempting to obtain uranium from Africa to restart Iraq's dormant nuclear weapons program.

Wilson wrote that he had been sent to Niger, in central Africa, to investigate the claim about Iraq in February 2002 and found no evidence that such a transaction occurred and that it was unlikely it could have.

"I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat," Wilson wrote.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, also had cast doubts on the British report, telling the U.N. Security Council in March 2003 that it was based on forged documents.

Days after Wilson's article appeared, CIA Director George Tenet acknowledged the claim should not have been included in Bush's address.

Journalists called to testify

As part of his probe, Fitzgerald subpoenaed a number of journalists to testify about their sources.

Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper told the grand jury in July that Rove, whom Bush has dubbed "the architect" of his two presidential campaigns, told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent, though he did not use her name.

Cooper said Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, confirmed the information.

The White House had previously denied that either man was involved in the exposure of Plame's identity.

Cooper and New York Times reporter Judith Miller had resisted testifying in the case, citing an obligation to protect the confidentiality of their sources.

Facing jail for contempt, Cooper obtained permission from his sources to testify; Miller served 85 days in a Virginia jail before obtaining a waiver from her source, which the Times identified as Libby.

Miller appeared before Fitzgerald's grand jury last week and told CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" that she doesn't know where Fitzgerald is steering his probe. She did not disclose any details of her testimony.

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