(photo credit: AP)
US President George W. Bush issued a terse response to Friday's indictment of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Libby's resignation as the chief of the vice president's staff.
Bush praised Libby for his service to the American people and stood by the fact that according to law, Libby was presumed innocent until proven guilty. Bush chose not to expand on the issue and not to answer any questions from reporters, stating that he "had a job to do."
Libby, the official accused of blowing CIA agent Valerie Plame's cover, submitted a letter of resignation Friday shortly before the indictment that had been looming over him became a fact.
He was indicted Friday on one count of obstructing justice, two counts of committing perjury, and two counts of making false statements under testimony in the investigation into the leak of Plame's name to reporters.
If convicted, Libby could face a fine of $1 million and up to 30 years in prison.
Following a press conference in which prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald briefed the press on grand jury activity in the CIA leak probe, former ambassador Joe Wilson's attorney, Christopher Wolf, read a statement in Wilson's name.
Wilson's statement called the day an indictment is delivered against White House officials "a sad day for America," and said that the indictment "defiled" the government.
Wilson also appealed to the press to respect the privacy of his wife, Valerie Plame, and their family. "They didn't choose to be under the glare of the cameras," Wilson argued.
The statement reiterated Wilson's belief that Plame's identity as a CIA agent was divulged in order to harm him; Wilson called it a "punishment" for his expressing his views on a US invasion of Iraq.
In discussions Thursday, top presidential advisor Karl Rove's lawyer was told by prosecutor Fitzgerald's office that investigators had not completed their investigation into Rove's conduct in the case and they would continue investigating, the people said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy.
Rove's lawyers were told there still were matters to resolve before the prosecutor "decides what he is going to do," one of the people said.
The decision means Rove is not out of legal jeopardy but will continue working at the White House and cooperating with prosecutors. He has already testified four times before the grand jury investigating who leaked Valerie Plame's CIA identity.
White House colleagues expected an indictment charging Libby with false statements in the probe.
After weeks of hand-wringing about possible indictments in the CIA leak investigation, President George W. Bush and his advisers put on a brave face Friday at the end of a week in which fatalities in Iraq reached 2,000 and Bush's latest Supreme Court nominee was forced to withdraw. Bush smiled and joked as he left to make a speech on terrorism in southern Virginia.
Before he left, Bush chatted with Cheney and Rove in the Oval Office before walking across the lawn to his helicopter. Dan Bartlett, communications director, and Andy Card, White House chief of staff, also were in the Oval Office where they smiled and conversed.
Reporters called out to Bush as he walked toward his waiting helicopter, and the president playfully pivoted as if walking toward them. But he quickly turned away, ignoring a question about whether he planned to make a public statement about his failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.
Some lawyers have raised the specter of broader conspiracy charges as well.
Send us your comments >>
Lior A., San Diego, CA
: It's a sad day for America when conservatives blame such a serious indictment on liberals and democrats. Are we suppose to believe that the Libby, Rove, DeLay and Frist investigations are all part of a democrat conspiracy. Bottom line, the republicans had too much power and abused our trust.
Joel, Long Island and Ashdod
: Andre, you have it all wrong. What kind of public official endangers an intelligence agent (and by extension the agents she ran) for political gain. This is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. This is treason and should be dealt with as such.
Andres Markovits, Valparaiso, Chile
: Great bore coming from AP as usual. MSM and Bush-hating news agencies salivating about on a non- story gossip "he said, no, she said, I said etc." which may inflate the ego of the prosecutor and keep salivating the liberals for a while. A case not even worth for a law court. In the meantime deafening silence on the epoch-making Iraq referendum, on the most shameful scandal in modern time (oil for bribery) just under their nose.
: Great article!