Rove Facing Charges in Plame Case

After years of investigation, it is starting to look like Karl Rove may actually be charged with something in the Valerie Plame CIA leak case.

Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case, is expected to decide in the next two to three weeks whether to bring perjury charges against Karl Rove, the powerful adviser to President Bush, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday. With the completion of Mr. Rove’s fifth appearance before the grand jury on Wednesday, Mr. Fitzgerald is now believed to have assembled all of the facts necessary to determine whether to seek an indictment of Mr. Rove or drop the case.


Mr. Fitzgerald must specifically decide whether Mr. Rove misled the grand jury in testimony he gave in 2004 about his conversations with reporters about Valerie Wilson, the intelligence officer at the heart of the C.I.A. leak case. In his February 2004 testimony, Mr. Rove acknowledged talking to the columnist Robert D. Novak about Ms. Wilson, but he did not tell the grand jury about a second conversation he had about her with Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine reporter. Mr. Novak revealed her name and C.I.A. employment in a column on July 14, 2003.


Mr. Rove later voluntarily told the grand jury about the conversation with Mr. Cooper, and said that he had forgotten about it in the rush of his daily business. But Mr. Fitzgerald has long been skeptical of Mr. Rove’s account of his forgetfulness, lawyers in the case say. On Wednesday Mr. Fitzgerald questioned Mr. Rove about how he came to remember his conversation with Mr. Cooper.

Robert D. Luskin, Mr. Rove’s lawyer, issued a statement on Wednesday declaring that Mr. Rove had testified “voluntarily and unconditionally” about a matter that had arisen since Mr. Rove’s last grand jury appearance, in October 2005. Mr. Luskin was evidently referring to the testimony of Viveca Novak, a former reporter at Time magazine, who has said that she told Mr. Rove’s lawyer in early 2004 that she believed that Mr. Rove had been a source for Mr. Cooper.

Mr. Rove admitted from the outset to investigators that he spoke to Mr. Novak on July 9, 2003, about Ms. Wilson. It was in that conversation that Mr. Rove first learned the name of Ms. Wilson from Mr. Novak, lawyers in the case said.

The irony is that the investigation over the leak has dragged on for years with no charges related to the leak coming out but several charges related to the investigation itelf. One wonders why anyone who is questioned by authorities, let alone brought before a grand jury, ever testifies. Even if one has not committed a crime, one could stumble into criminal charges by giving conflicting statements years apart.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Alan says:

    Libby and Rove could have taken the 5th, and then suffered the political consequences of doing so. Instead, they lied to investigators and the Grand Jury. Now they’ll pay the criminal consequences of that.

  2. Steven Plunk says:

    Could the first poster please provide facts that Libby and Rove lied?

  3. MrGone says:

    Facts, or “alleged” facts may be found at

  4. Michael says:

    Not that I’m suggesting tit for tat, but I have two words:

    Ken. Starr.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Michael: I had misgivings about the whole Ken Starr thing but, at the end of the day, he was supposed to investigate perjury charges that predated the investigation into the perjury charges.

    That he was initially tasked to handle Whitewater and then had his portfolio expanded is an argument against Special Prosecutors–which I happen to think rightfully ended as a practice.

  6. Tano says:

    “one could stumble into criminal charges by giving conflicting statements years apart.”


    What an elegant way of saying “one can face criminal charges for lying, and then trying to squirm out it”.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Tano: That can certainly happen. But one’s recollection changes over time as exposed to other information. I just don’t understand why anyone would cooperate knowing they could potentially be the victim of a witch hunt. That’s especially true in cases like this, where the prosecutor “has” to get someone after so much investment.

  8. SgtFluffy says:

    Steal top secret documents from the National Archives- Fine $50,000 ?

    Leak sensitive material crucial to the war on terror to the press- Fired from Job, Whistleblower status

    Leak information to the Press about a secret sattelite program ultimately killing it- No investigation, keep seats in Senate

    Leak Info to the Washington Times about foreign spy program, possibly causing the death of a few-lose seat in comittee, get another one.

    Charged with a crime not pertaining to the investigation of the crime that apparently isn’t a crime, but since you are a Republican or associated with a Republican- Gas Chamber.

  9. Alan says:

    Sgt. Fluffy – don’t worry, because they are Republican, they will be pardoned.

  10. Roger says:

    Steven, unless Scott McClellan lied, both told him they weren’t involved in the leak. That’s one lie. Libby told Fitz he learned of Plame from a reporter. We now know he was involved in a concerted effort initiated from the admin. That’s another lie. Rove told Fitz the Plame case was mentioned “in passing” in a conversation with Cooper. Cooper says that the Plame topic was what the entire conversation was about. Cooper’s version has been confirmed by his notes and another reporter–name escapes me currently. Rove lied again here. Rove now claims that in his early testimony to the Grand Jury he forgot about talking with Cooper and so didn’t tell Fitz. Problem is, 7 months before the testimony in question, he and his lawyer had located the e-mail they now claim “refreshed” Rove’s memory. The timeline doesn’t work and this is another lie. This is the one that will get Rove indicted as the duplicity is hard to deny and easily understandable by the Grand Jury.

  11. SgtFluffy says:

    Lets not forget The Pardon Frenzy of 2000. As long as you had the money to play.

  12. Roger says:

    Interesting, though, SgtFluffy, how Bush pardons tend to help cover up serious admin crimes while Clinton’s pardons did not. The two don’t seem comparable. Of course, no one in the Clinton admin was culpable in serious crimes, so I guess that undermines my point a bit.

  13. SgtFluffy says:

    Its a no win situation huh Roger….

  14. Roger says:

    I’ll take the lesser of two evils every time, and accept that as a win.