CBSN

Rove Goes Before Grand Jury, Again

White House aide Karl Rove arrives at federal court in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2006. Rove prepared to testify for a fifth time before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA officer's identity, two people familiar with the case said. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Karl Rove is talking to a federal grand jury again.

President Bush's deputy chief of staff is testifying for the fifth time before the panel investigating the leak of a CIA officer's identity. A source says Rove is prepared to answer questions about evidence that has surfaced since he last appeared before the grand jury in the fall.

That new evidence includes information that emerged late last year that Rove's attorney had conversations with Time magazine reporter Viveca Novak during a critical time in the case.

The White House has declined to comment on Rove's situation.

"This administration remains focused on the priorities of the American people," spokesman Scott McClellan said.

But Rove is focused Wednesday on the investigation that has already seen the indictment of former White House aide I. Lewis Libby, CBS Radio News correspondent Peter Maer reports.

But there's no indication that Rove faces imminent indictment in the case.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury Wednesday.

Among other things, he is investigating why Rove originally failed to disclose to prosecutors that he had talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about the outed CIA operative, Valerie Plame, back in 2003.

It is believed that this is Fitzgerald's second talk with the panel.

Rove consulted with his private lawyers before a scheduled afternoon court appearance and was prepared to answer questions about evidence that emerged since his last grand jury appearance last fall, the person said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy rules.

But still, testifying is a risk for Rove, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen said.

"Each time you go before a grand jury as a target or a subject or a person of interest — or anyone else other than a plain old witness — you put yourself in legal jeopardy," Cohen said. "And now Rove will have done that five times. So today is not a good day for him no matter what his lawyers eventually decide to say about it."

Months before Rove acknowledged speaking to Cooper about the CIA status of Plame, Novak told Rove's lawyer the White House aide might have disclosed Plame's CIA work to Cooper.

Wednesday's session is believed to be only the second time the prosecutor has met with the grand jury which is examining questions left unanswered in the Plame affair. The only other time Fitzgerald was seen going before the new panel was Dec. 7.

An earlier grand jury expired Oct. 28, the day it handed up an indictment against Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. Libby is scheduled to go on trial next January.

Rove's legal problems stem from the fact that it was not until more than a year into Fitzgerald's criminal investigation that the White House adviser told the prosecutor about his contact with Cooper about Plame.

Rove says he had forgotten the Cooper conversation, which occurred several days before Plame's identity was revealed in a column by Robert Novak.

Rove and Novak, who is not related to Viveca Novak, also had discussed the CIA status of Wilson's wife.

Other unfinished business in the probe focuses on the source who provided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward information about Plame, whose CIA identity was leaked to Novak in July 2003.

Plame's identity was exposed eight days after her husband, Bush administration critic and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, alleged that the U.S. government had manipulated prewar intelligence to exaggerate an Iraqi nuclear threat.

Woodward says his source, who he has not publicly identified, provided the information about Wilson's wife, several weeks before Novak learned of Plame's identity.

The Post reporter, who never wrote a story, was interviewed by Fitzgerald late last year.