A perjury charge for Rove? All in good time

Sources say Fitzgerald will make a decision within weeks.

By Tim Grieve
April 28, 2006 4:50PM (UTC)
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Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury is meeting again today, but don't expect any indictment news just yet. While Fitzgerald is apparently thinking hard about perjury charges against the president's top political advisor, both the New York Times and Bloomberg News are suggesting that a decision could still be a couple of weeks away.

Lawyers involved in the case tell the Times that Fitzgerald will be doing what a careful prosecutor should: Reviewing the transcript of Rove's appearance before the grand jury this week, then comparing it with the testimony Rove gave in his four prior grand jury appearances, a sworn statement he gave in an interview with Fitzgerald, and whatever he told FBI investigators back in 2003. What Fitzgerald won't be doing, apparently: collecting any more evidence. At least as to Rove, the Times says, the prosecutor has got what he needs to make a decision about charges.


Former federal prosecutor Lawrence Barcella tells Bloomberg that it doesn't look good for Rove. Barcella says a return engagement with a grand jury is "rarely a good thing,'' which must make four return trips something of a pretty bad thing. "Every time you go in there, you raise the possibility that you answer a question differently than you did before,'' Barcella says. "It's not something you want your client having to do.''

In Rove's case, there's more than a "possibility" that he's answered differently. In his FBI interview in 2003 and his initial grand jury appearance in 2004, he didn't let on that he'd leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Time's Matthew Cooper. He told the grand jury of the Cooper leak during a subsequent appearance in 2004, and he's been trying to explain away the change ever since. Although Rove seems to acknowledge now that he leaked to Cooper -- Cooper says he did, and an e-mail message from Rove to Stephen Hadley confirms at the least that Rove and Cooper talked -- Bloomberg says Rove is still insisting that he doesn't actually remember the conversation.

As we noted Thursday, Rove is said to have been rattled by the length and the intensity of his grand jury appearance Wednesday and is reportedly more worried than before that he's going to be indicted. But in a statement issued Thursday, a spokesman for Rove's legal team insisted that all is well in Roveland. "We're confident at the end of this that Mr. Fitzgerald is going to find that Karl has been totally truthful and not only has done nothing wrong but has done everything right," Rove spokesman Mark Corallo said.


Update: Corallo told Salon's Michael Scherer this morning that Rove actually felt "very good" coming out of his grand jury appearance Wednesday. Corallo confirmed that the grand jury is meeting again today, but he said Rove won't be there. Neither, it seems, will Fitzgerald: He's back in Chicago today.

Tim Grieve

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

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