Rove to offer "11th hour" testimony on Plame. Can he save himself?

He'll appear before the grand jury without any assurance that he won't be prosecuted.

Published October 6, 2005 7:27PM (EDT)

Is Patrick Fitzgerald closing in on Karl Rove? A story just published by the Associated Press suggests that may be the case.

Quoting sources familiar with the investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame, the AP says that federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from Rove to testify for a fourth time before Fitzgerald's grand jury. Is Rove's offer of an "11th hour" appearance a sign that he feels the need to extricate himself from an indictment? It sure sounds like it: The AP's sources say that prosecutors have warned Rove that they can't guarantee he won't be charged with a crime.

As the AP explains, the U.S. Attorney's Manual, the Justice Department's guidebook for federal prosecutors, requires that they not bring witnesses before a grand jury if there is a possibility of future criminal charges unless they are notified in advance that their grand jury testimony might be used against them in a later indictment. Fitzgerald hasn't given Rove such a notification before, but he has done so now, the AP's sources say.

As we noted last night, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, has said repeatedly over the last year that Fitzgerald has assured him that his client isn't a target of the investigation. Asked about recent communication with Rove yesterday, Luskin wouldn't say anything at all. But in an interview with the AP today, Luskin said that his client still hasn't received a letter identifying him as a "target." "I can say categorically that Karl has not received a target letter from the special counsel," Luskin said. "The special counsel has confirmed that he has not made any charging decisions in respect to Karl."

Translated: Rove hasn't received a letter identifying him that he's a target, but he has apparently been warned that he might be.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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