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Rove makes 4th, final grand jury appearance in CIA leak inquiry

By Associated Press
Published October 15, 2005

WASHINGTON - Karl Rove testified to a grand jury for the fourth and final time Friday, smiling as he emerged from hours of questioning about his possible role in the leak of a covert CIA officer's identity.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said statements in the summer that Rove retained the president's confidence remained true.

Prosecutors told Rove before his latest grand jury appearance that there was no guarantee he would not be indicted. The grand jury's term is due to expire Oct. 28.

"Karl continues to do his duties as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to the president," McClellan said. "What I said previously still stands."

Rove spent more than four hours inside the federal courthouse, and left without commenting to reporters.

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "has not advised Mr. Rove that he is a target of the investigation and affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges," said Rove's attorney, Robert D. Luskin. "The special counsel has indicated that he does not anticipate the need for Mr. Rove's further cooperation."

Fitzgerald has a variety of options as he weighs whether anyone broke a law that bars the intentional unmasking of a covert CIA officer. Fitzgerald could pursue charges such as false statements, obstruction of justice or mishandling of classified information.

Until three months ago, the White House had denied that Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were involved in leaking the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame in 2003.

The White House denials gave way to "no comments" after revelations in July that Rove and Libby had been sources for Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper in a story that identified Plame, the wife of Bush administration critic and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller testified twice in recent days about three conversations she had with Libby in June and July 2003 regarding Wilson and Plame.

Cheney on Friday was asked about Libby's earlier grand jury testimony and conversations with Miller.

"I'm simply not at liberty to discuss the issue. I understand you've got to ask those questions, but it is an ongoing investigation and we're under instructions not to discuss the matter," Cheney said during an interview on Fox News Channel.

McClellan told reporters, "The president made it very clear, we're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation. We're aware of all those things. But we've got a lot of work to do and that's where we're focused."

The exposure of Plame's name came after Wilson said the administration twisted prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Eight days after Wilson made his allegations, columnist Robert Novak identified Wilson's wife as a CIA operative, saying she had suggested her husband for a mission to Africa for the agency.

Wilson's trip on behalf of the CIA led ultimately to his conclusion that the administration had manipulated intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

[Last modified October 15, 2005, 01:16:10]

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