Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers involved in case said on Sunday.The NY Times:
Top administration officials are expected to learn from Fitzgerald as early as Monday whether they will face charges as the prosecutor winds up his nearly two-year investigation, the lawyers said.
Fitzgerald could convene the grand jury as early as Tuesday to lay out a final summary of the case and ask for approval of possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury hearing the CIA leak case normally meets on Wednesdays and is scheduled to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.
With a decision expected this week on possible indictments in the C.I.A. leak case, allies of the White House suggested Sunday that they intended to pursue a strategy of attacking any criminal charges as a disagreement over legal technicalities or the product of an overzealous prosecutor.WaPo:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, is expected to announce by the end of the week whether he will seek indictments against White House officials in a decision that is likely to be a defining moment of President Bush's second term. The case has put many in the White House on edge.
Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., who is Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, have been advised that they are in serious legal jeopardy. Other officials could also face charges in connection with the disclosure of the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer in 2003.
Fitzgerald's most difficult and contentious choices -- whether to seek criminal charges -- remain to be announced, possibly this week. Yet in a case with huge political stakes for the White House, a portrait is emerging of a special counsel with no discernible political bent who prepared the ground with painstaking sleuthing and cold-eyed lawyering.What I’m not seeing is Cheney’s name anymore. Whether that means the media has just backed off the veep, or that the highest indictments we can likely expect are Rove and Libby, I don’t know. Got any thoughts?
A critical early success for Fitzgerald was winning the cooperation of Robert D. Novak, the Chicago Sun-Times columnist who named Plame in a July 2003 story and attributed key information to "two senior administration officials." Legal sources said Novak avoided a fight and quietly helped the special counsel's inquiry, although neither the columnist nor his attorney have said so publicly.