Rove won’t be indicted today

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On Thursday, Rove attended the daily meeting of the senior staff and met with the president late in the evening, at the end of a day in which the White House dealt with the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Libby was said to have passed up the staff meeting to attend a security briefing.

Presidential confidant Karl Rove has been told he will not be indicted Friday but remains under investigation in the case over who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, sources close to the inquiry told NBC News.

The New York Times, meanwhile, cited sources as saying that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was likely to extend the grand jury investigating the exposure beyond Friday, when its two-year term expires.

The Times also cited lawyers involved in the case as saying they expected Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter� Libby, would be indicted on charges of making false statements to the grand jury.

Cheney arrived at the White House Friday at 6:25 a.m., more than an hour earlier than usual. Libby was seen leaving home about 6:15 a.m., his normal commuting time.

For now, business as usual
On Thursday, Rove attended the daily meeting of the senior staff and met with the president late in the evening, at the end of a day in which the White House dealt with the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Libby was said to have passed up the staff meeting to attend a security briefing.

Possible charges are obstruction of justice or perjury, along with possible violations of a law barring disclosure of the identity of a covert intelligence agent.

Some lawyers have raised the specter of broader conspiracy charges as well.

When the investigation began two years ago, a White House spokesman checked with Rove and Libby, then assured the public that neither was involved in leaking Plame’s identity.

In the past month, it was revealed that Libby spoke to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who says their conversations included Plame’s CIA status.

Rove’s legal problems stem in part from the fact that he failed initially to disclose to prosecutors a conversation in which he told Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper that Plame worked for the CIA. The president’s top political adviser says the conversation slipped his mind.

Columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame’s name and her CIA status on July 14, 2003. That was five days after Novak talked to Rove and eight days after Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, published an opinion article in the Times accusing the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.

Wilson and his supporters have charged the leak of Plame’s name, which ended her ability to work undercover for the CIA, was designed to discredit him and punish him for his criticism and intimidate others inside the government critical of Bush’s Iraq policies.

Uranium yellowcake
Also in the backdrop of Fitzgerald’s investigation is a set of forged documents that stated Iraq was acquiring uranium yellowcake from the African nation of Niger. Wilson had been sent by the CIA to Africa to investigate such reports, later used by Bush to help justify the war in Iraq.

On Thursday, the White House disputed an Italian news report relating to those forgeries, which the FBI is continuing to investigate.

The news report and speculation on Internet blogs have said that National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley may have received bogus information three years ago from an Italian intelligence chief about Iraq’s nuclear ambitions.

National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said Hadley met briefly on Sept. 9, 2002, with Nicolo Pollari, the head of Italian military intelligence, but the subject of Iraq’s supposed uranium deal with Niger is not believed to have come up.

The meeting occurred a month before documents, later determined to be forgeries, surfaced in Italy claiming to show Saddam Hussein’s regime had an agreement to buy 500 tons of uranium from Niger. After his trip to Niger, Wilson reported he could not substantiate any uranium sales to Iraq.

The Hadley-Pollari meeting was a courtesy call that lasted fewer than 15 minutes and “no one present has any recollection of yellowcake being discussed or documents being provided,� Jones said.

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