NYT: Libby indictment likely, Rove indictment not -- maybe

The special prosecutor in the Plame case is expected to make his decision known Friday.

Published October 28, 2005 3:01AM (EDT)

Patrick Fitzgerald still hasn't made announcements yet, but the New York Times seems to think it has things figured out -- sort of.

In a two-steps-removed-from-firsthand-knowledge lead, the Times says that "lawyers in the case" are saying that "associates" of Scooter Libby "expect" that he'll be indicted on a charge of making false statements to the grand jury. Meanwhile, the Times says, "people briefed officially" on the case are saying that Karl Rove won't be indicted but will continue to be investigated. Fitzgerald, the "people briefed officially" say, likely will seek an extension of the grand jury term.

It all sounds a little speculative, and we haven't even gotten to the Times' disclaimers yet: A "flurry of behind-the-scenes discussions" has "left open the possibility of last-minute surprises," people "involved in the case" won't "rule out the disclosure of previously unknown aspects of the case," and the question of whether anyone other than Libby or Rove might be charged remains an "unresolved mystery." And then there's this: Contrary to the Times' suggestion, the Washington Post quotes "legal sources" who say that Fitzgerald has indicated that he won't be extending his investigation. But then there's this: Contrary to the Post's suggestion, the Associated Press says that a "person outside the legal profession familiar with recent developments in the case" says that Fitzgerald "signaled" Thursday that he'll keep his investigation open -- and that Rove will remain in legal jeopardy even if he isn't indicted Friday.

The Post isn't predicting who will or won't be indicted, only observing that Libby is shopping for a criminal defense attorney -- a move we would have recommended, if he'd asked us, long before today. As for Rove? He already has a criminal defense attorney. But as of Thursday night, "people close to the investigation" tell the Los Angeles Times, Rove hadn't yet received notice that he was going to be indicted. The paper said that Fitzgerald is expected to make his decisions known around midday Friday.

Here's the part of the story the New York Times -- and everyone else -- can be sure is right: If any indictments come down Friday, the Times says, the Bush administration will be keeping "as low a profile as possible." The White House press secretary hasn't scheduled a briefing for Friday, and the president is leaving town early for a weekend at Camp David.

By Tim Grieve

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

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