The prosecutor investigating the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson has secured at least one indictment in the case from a majority of the 23 grand jurors, lawyers and intelligence officials close to the case said Wednesday.
The final outcome of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's 22-month federal probe is expected to end Friday with indictments of White House officials. The situation remains fluid, however, and several new scenarios have developed over the past 48 hours that could delay an announcement, lawyers close to the probe said late Wednesday.
Rumors swirled Wednesday afternoon that Fitzgerald was going to seek an extension of the grand jury, which expires Friday. That scenario now seems highly unlikely, sources close to the case said.
However, intelligence officials and those familiar with the case have indicated that Fitzgerald could convene a new grand jury to investigate forged documents used by the Bush Administration that purported to show Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from Niger.
The Chicago-based prosecutor has obtained new information from officials targeted in the leak probe, who are now interested in entering into plea discussions, they added.
Fitzgerald intended to announce that he had secured indictments against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, Wednesday afternoon as well as two people who work outside of the administration, those close to the case said.
But his office was contacted late Tuesday by attorneys representing figures outside the White House, lawyers said, who expressed interest in entering into plea talks with the prosecutor. Several have agreed to enter into last-minute plea negotiations with Fitzgerald in exchange for providing testimony that could result in criminal charges being brought against additional officials inside the White House, they added.
Rove was offered a deal when his lawyer met with Fitzgerald Tuesday, but did not accept, the sources said. Fitzgerald has sought indictments to charge Rove with perjury and obstruction of justice, they asserted.
An eleventh-hour deal could help Fitzgerald "build a strong case against some very senior officials in the office of the vice president," one attorney said.
"Mr. Fitzgerald is extremely thorough," the lawyer remarked. "He had advised Judge [Thomas F.] Hogan more than two weeks ago that there was a strong possibility that some defendants may be inclined to cooperate at the last minute."
Fitzgerald's spokesman, Randall Samborn, told RAW STORY he could not comment on the latest news because it has not been made public.
"I'm sorry," Samborn said. "I cannot offer you any guidance on this."
The sources would not identify the names or the number of people now considering providing Fitzgerald with testimony against other individuals targeted in the probe.
The Washington Note has retracted a report that Fitzgerald had leased additional office space.
Originally published on Thursday October 27, 2005.