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After a three year investigation and several appearances before the federal grand jury, White House adviser Karl Rove was told Tuesday that he would not face any criminal charges stemming from the leak of former covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Two former U.S. attorneys discuss the investigation.
A nearly three-year criminal investigation linking Karl Rove, the president's closest political adviser, to the disclosure of a CIA operative's name effectively came to an end last night when Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, was told his client would not be charged with any wrongdoing.
Luskin said special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald notified him, quote, "that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove."
Rove had been a central focus of the probe into whether any administration officials knowingly disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame in an effort to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Wilson, sent by the CIA in February 2002 to investigate whether Iraq had sought nuclear weapons materials from the African nation of Niger, found no evidence of the claim. Still, President Bush went ahead and asserted the charge in his 2003 State of the Union address.
That summer, Wilson went public with his information, and, soon afterwards, the name of Valerie Plame was revealed in a Washington Post column by Robert Novak. That triggered the criminal investigation.
Fitzgerald focused on whether Rove had leaked the name to another reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, and whether he lied about having talked to Cooper in grand jury testimony. Rove later told Fitzgerald that he failed to disclose his conversation with Cooper during that earlier testimony because it had slipped his mind.
Uncertainty over Rove's fate had been hanging over the White House for months, and Fitzgerald's decision not to pursue charges was seen as welcome news for the administration. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), Former Speaker of the House: This is the president's closest adviser, a man who's been remarkably successful, and allowing him to now go back with new energy and new zest, I think, will be part of revitalizing the White House in a big way.
Still looming is the trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, now the only accused person in the case, battling perjury and obstruction of justice charges. New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), New York: It's prosecutor Fitzgerald's decision only to prosecute if the criminal standard is met, but that doesn't absolve the White House or the leaker of culpability, and there ought to be punishment for them, as well, and appropriate punishment, even if it's not a criminal punishment and a trial.
Prosecutor Fitzgerald has raised the prospect that Mr. Cheney could be called to testify in the Libby case.
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