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Lawyer disputes claim Powell aide focus of CIA leak probe; New indication focus is on coverup, not leak

John Byrne
Published: Friday May 19, 2006

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No new indications on Rove

A claim by former National Security director Bobby Ray Inman that a senior Powell aide was a target in the investigation into the outing of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson drew a firestorm of response from individuals close to the case, RAW STORY can report.

A post yesterday by Steve Clemons, editor of the popular foreign relations-focused blog, The Washington Note, noted that the former NSA chief was privately telling associates that Powell's Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage was a focus of the CIA leak investigation.

Late yesterday, Clemons received a barrage of responses from others closer to the case, including a lawyer to one who has testified, Clemons told me. These individuals vehemently disputed claims that Armitage was in legal jeopardy, saying that the erstwhile Powell aide had been nothing but cooperative in his appearances before the grand jury.

According to Clemons' latest, Armitage testified three times before the grand jury. Those familiar with his testimony say he was "a complete straight-shooter" and "honest about his role and mistakes."

"That said," he adds, "I have learned from several other sources that Richard Armitage was neck deep in the Valerie Plame story. According to several insiders, as soon as Armitage realized mistakes he had made, he marched into Colin Powell and laid out 'everything' in full detail."

Clemons' reporting on the CIA leak investigation has been relatively solid, though one allegation that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was expanding his offices didn't play out. Clemons quickly corrected the claim.

Perhaps the most interesting element to Clemons' post Friday is a claim by one individual close to the case -- which jibes with the legal action in the investigation to date -- that the focus of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's inquiry has shifted away from the actual outing towards those who were dishonest in their testimony and interviews. This, of course, would raise the stakes for senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, who seems to have lied to FBI investigators about his role in Plame's outing.

"Another person with deep knowledge about this investigation called to say that Fitzgerald seems to have abandoned any interest in securing indictments regarding the "outing" of Plame and has invested his efforts in challenging the "white collar cover-ups" involved," Clemons writes. "According to this source, the information provided by Richard Armitage is -- more than any other information -- what has put Karl Rove at major risk of indictment."

Speaking to RAW STORY, however, Clemons said he'd heard nothing new on Rove. There are no indications that Rove will be hear of a change in his legal status today.