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Lawyer says Rove spoke to reporter, did not out Plame

LOS ANGELES TIMES | July 5, 2005
BY RICHARD B. SCHMITT

WASHINGTON - Karl Rove, one of President George W. Bush's closest advisers, spoke with a Time magazine reporter days before the name of a CIA operative surfaced in the media, but he did not leak the confidential information, a lawyer for Rove said.

Rove spoke to Time reporter Matthew Cooper in July 2003 during the week before published reports revealed the identity of operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Bush administration critic and former U.S. envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV.

Cooper is one of two reporters who has been held in contempt of court for not cooperating with a federal investigation into who revealed Plame's identity. Although Wilson once said he suspected Rove played a role in destroying his wife's CIA cover, the White House has dismissed questions about Rove's actions as "totally ridiculous."

In confirming the conversation between Rove and Cooper, Rove attorney Robert Luskin stressed this weekend that the presidential adviser did not reveal any secrets. Still, the disclosure raised new questions about Rove and the precise role of the White House as Cooper and another reporter, Judith Miller of The New York Times, faced imminent jail terms.

Time Inc., under pressure from a federal judge and over Cooper's objections, turned over e-mail records and other internal documents to a special prosecutor Friday, identifying sources Cooper used to report and write on the politically charged case. A Time spokeswoman declined to say whether Rove was among the sources who were revealed.

Cooper and Miller could be jailed as soon as tomorrow for refusing to cooperate in the investigation. Time, which was separately held in contempt in the case, has said it hopes its cooperation will mean Cooper will not be incarcerated.

Rove, Bush's deputy chief of staff and longtime political strategist, has testified before a grand jury investigating the Plame case on three occasions. His latest appearance was in October 2004, which is about the same time the prosecutor investigating the case has said his investigation was complete with the exception of the testimony of Cooper and Miller.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating the alleged outing of Plame by syndicated columnist Robert Novak on July 14, 2003.

Fitzgerald has interviewed many other White House officials and journalists, including Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Luskin said Rove had been assured by prosecutors that he was not a target of the investigation.

 

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