June 13, 2006

Rove faces no charges over CIA leak

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House aide Karl Rove will not
be charged in the CIA leak case, his lawyer said on Tuesday,
providing a much-needed boost for President George W. Bush, who
has been battered by bad news ahead of November's congressional

As Bush's top political adviser, Rove is out from under the
cloud of possible perjury charges and is now free to
concentrate on helping Republicans keep control of Congress in
what looks like a hard fought campaign.

"On June 12, 2006, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald
formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges
against Karl Rove," Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said in a

Fitzgerald has already secured an indictment from a federal
grand jury against another senior White House aide, Vice
President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter"

In October, Libby was charged with obstruction of justice
and lying to FBI agents and a grand jury during the
investigation. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go
to trial in January.

That prompted speculation that Rove, too, could face
charges since he had also spoken to reporters in the case.

"We believe the special counsel's decision should put an
end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove's conduct,"
Luskin said.

On Air Force One flying back from a surprise trip to Iraq,
Bush said of the decision: "It's a chapter that has ended.
Fitzgerald is a very thorough person. I think he's conducted
his investigation in a dignified way. And he's ended his

Rove had no comment but was expected to immerse himself in
the election campaign. He gave a taste of what was to come in a
speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Monday night when he
attacked Democrats over the Iraq war.

"When it gets tough, they fall back on that party's old
platform of cutting and running," he said. "They may be with
you for the first few bullets but they won't be there for the
last tough battles."


But Democrats were not about to let the issue die. National
Chairman Howard Dean said the fact that Rove will not face
indictment "does not excuse his real sin, which is leaking the
name of an intelligence operative during a time of war. He
doesn't belong in the White House."

Fitzgerald's investigation centers on who blew the cover of
CIA officer Valerie Plame after her husband, former diplomat
Joseph Wilson, criticized the Bush administration for
manipulating intelligence in the lead-up to the March 2003
invasion of Iraq.

Libby and Rove spoke to reporters about Plame before her
identity was made public by newspaper columnist Robert Novak in
July 2003.

Fitzgerald spokesman Randall Samborn said he had no comment
and did not confirm or deny that Rove would not be charged.

Christopher Wolf, a lawyer for Wilson and Plame, hinted
there may be more legal action in the future. "The day still
may come when Mr. Rove and others are called to account in a
court of law for their attacks on the Wilsons," he said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, urged
Fitzgerald to issue a report explaining his decisions when he
finishes his investigation. "Karl Rove, I don't think he
conducted himself honorably or well here," Schumer said.

For months Bush's popularity has taken a beating, mostly
because of the Iraq war and his poll approval ratings plummeted
to record lows. They have improved recently and the death of
top al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and news about Rove
were welcomed by administration officials.

"The president is looking a little better, a little
stronger," former Republican House of Representatives Speaker
Newt Gingrich told Fox News. "Certainly for the White House and
for Karl Rove this is a very important morning and a very
positive one."