WASHINGTON -- The special prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation has shifted his focus from whether White House officials violated a law against exposing undercover agents to determining whether evidence exists to bring perjury or obstruction of justice charges, according to people briefed in recent days on the inquiry's status, the Los Angeles Times reports Saturday, RAW STORY has learned.
The stories have now been posted, but RAW STORY has included key excerpts from both stories here, so as to provide relevant content in one story. Read the full LA Timeshere and the Washington Post story here.
The LA Times piece is titled: "CIA Probe Moves from Leak Source to Perjury, Obstruction." The Post title is more muted: "Testimony By Rove And Libby Examined."
From the Washington Post's lede: "Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has been reviewing over the past several months discrepancies and gaps in witness testimony in his investigation of the unmasking of CIA operative Valerie Plame, according to lawyers in the case and witness statements."
Excerpts from the LA Times' story follows, followed by the Post's.
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, and his team have made no decision on whether to seek indictments, and there could be benign explanations for differences that have arisen in witnesses' statements to federal agents and a grand jury about how the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent who had worked undercover, was leaked to the media two years ago.
According to lawyers familiar with the case, investigators are comparing statements to federal authorities by two top White House aides, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, with testimony from reporters who have acknowledged talking to the officials.
The sources also said prosecutors are comparing the various statements to the FBI and the grand jury by Rove, who is a White House deputy chief of staff and President Bush's chief political strategist. Rove in his first interview with the FBI did not mention a conversation he had with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, according to lawyers involved in the case. The White House aide has been interviewed twice by the FBI and made three appearances before the grand jury, they said.While no one has suggested that the investigation into who leaked Plame's name has been shelved, the intensity of the inquiry into possible perjury charges has increased, according to one lawyer familiar with events, , who spoke on condition that he not be identified because he did not want to anger Fitzgerald.
The investigation's change in emphasis comes amid indications that Fitzgerald's inquiry has gone well beyond scrutinizing the actions of top White House officials, such as Rove and Libby, who is chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, to searching for the potential source of the leak in other parts of the White House and other executive branch agencies.
MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST:
Fitzgerald has long been interested in a Time magazine article co-written by Cooper shortly after Novak's column was published on July 14, 2003. In the article, Cooper and two colleagues wrote about the administration's efforts to discredit Wilson and noted that some government sources had revealed that Plame worked for the CIA.
Lawyers involved in the case said there are now indications that Fitzgerald either did not initially know or suspect that Rove was Cooper's primary source for the reporter's information about Plame. That raises questions about how much Rove disclosed when first questioned in the inquiry or how closely he was initially queried about his contacts with reporters. Rove has testified before a grand jury and been questioned by FBI agents on at least five occasions over the past two years.
Two lawyers involved in the case say that although Fitzgerald used phone logs to determine some contacts between officials and reporters, they believe there is no phone record of Cooper's now-famous call to Rove in the days before Novak's column appeared in July 2003. That is because Cooper called the White House switchboard and was reconnected to Rove's office, sources said.
Initially, Fitzgerald appeared focused on the theory that Libby had leaked Plame's identity, according to lawyers involved in the case. He had interviewed three other reporters about their conversations with Libby, but all three indicated he either did not discuss Plame or did not reveal her identity.