The Washington Post checks in on the Karl Rove indictment watch this morning, and Jim VandeHei's report will be familiar reading to anyone who's been paying attention: Patrick Fitzgerald is studying transcripts of Rove's five grand jury appearances, he's likely to make a decision on charges soon, and the central question before him is whether Rove intentionally misled FBI investigators and the grand jury when he failed to mention that he had leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Time's Matthew Cooper.
VandeHei does offer a new understanding, however, of the degree to which Rove was involved in pushing back against the criticisms Joseph Wilson leveled at the president. The facts are, again, familiar: Rove leaked Plame's identity to two journalists, Cooper and Robert Novak, and he reported back to two White House officials, Stephen Hadley and Scooter Libby, after his contacts with them. VandeHei suggests that the leaks and the reporting back were consistent with Rove's worrying that questions about the use of prewar intelligence would hurt the president's hopes for reelection. Relying on the word of a "former aide," VandeHei says that Rove "was intimately involved in the prewar intelligence fight and discussed various components of the plan at senior staff meetings and one-on-one strategy conversations." The aide characterized Rove's message this way: "If there are no WMDs and some blame us, it will not be a pleasant election year."
Rove's lawyer says the former aide's comments don't prove anything: "Just because Rove was involved in the defense of the White House Iraq policy, it does not follow that he was necessarily involved in some effort to discredit Wilson personally," Robert Luskin tells VandeHei. "Nor does it prove that there even was an effort to disclose Plame's identity in order to punish Wilson."