President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, apparently will not be charged with a crime in connection with the leaking of a covert CIA officer's name three years ago. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, said he was informed of the decision by the special prosecutor in the case on Monday.
Attorney Robert Luskin says special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has formally given notice that Karl Rove will not be indicted in connection with the investigation into who leaked the identity of former covert CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Fitzgerald is probing whether Bush administration officials leaked her identity as part of a campaign of retribution against Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who accused the administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's mass weapons capability before the U.S.-led invasion.
Former vice presidential aide Lewis Scooter Libby has been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the CIA leak probe. He has denied misleading investigators and will go on trial early next year.
The White House said President Bush was informed about the Rove development as he was on his way to a surprise visit to Baghdad.
A White House official described Rove as elated by the news. Rove's attorney said the decision puts an end to what he called baseless speculation about his client's conduct. There was no comment from special prosecutor Fitzgerald.
Republicans seized on the Rove decision as a positive political development.
This is former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
"It is very good news for Karl Rove and for his family, who have been under this cloud for two years. It also serves to totally discredit the various liberal Democrats who have said vicious and totally inaccurate things about Karl Rove," he says.
Republicans had worried that a Rove indictment would help Democrats pick up seats in the November congressional elections.
Opposition Democrats expressed some disappointment about the prosecutor's decision on Rove. Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean appeared on NBC's Today program.
"He does not belong in the White House," Dean says. "If the president valued America more than he valued his connection to Karl Rove, Karl Rove would have been fired a long time ago. So, I think this is probably good news for the White House, but it is not very good news for America."
The news about Karl Rove came on the same day as the president's surprise trip to Baghdad and only days after U.S. forces killed the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Washington-based analyst Stuart Rothenberg says Republicans may have some reason to be a little more optimistic about their political fortunes.
"Well, it certainly removes a cloud from over Rove and therefore over the Republican Party and over the White House," Rothenberg says. "It is another bit of good news for a White House that has been getting a little good news, finally, after many months."
Rove testified five times before the grand jury investigating the CIA leak case. Prosecutors had focused on Rove's failure to initially disclose a conversation he had with a reporter about Valerie Plame.