After testifying five times about his involvement in the 'outing' of CIA operative Valerie Plame, Senior Whitehouse Advisor Karl Rove was finally notified this week that he would not face charges for his role in leaking her identity to the press. His attorney commented:
“We believe the special counsel's decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr Rove's conduct.”
Others were far less pleased. Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean commented:
“He does not belong in the White House. If the president valued America more than he valued his connection to Karl Rove, Karl Rove would have been fired a long time ago. So, I think this is probably good news for the White House, but it is not very good news for America.”
The final word on the subject went to President Bush at his press conference on Wednesday morning, where he said:
“I appreciate the job that the prosecutor did. I thought he conducted himself well in this investigation. He took a very thorough, long look at allegations and rumors. And I, obviously, along with others in the White House, took a sigh of relief when he made the decision he made. And now we're going to move forward. And I trust Karl Rove, and he's an integral part of my team.”
As the news of his emergence from the shadow of prosecution was spreading, Rove was already out in public, apparently having dropped some weight and looking fitter and more energetic than he has in years, defending the President and promoting his policies in a series of public appearances and speeches.
Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the ormer Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney still faces charges for perjury and obstruction of justice. The main difference between Libby and Rove appears to be that Rove cooperated with the investigation and Libby did not. As in the Clinton impeachment, the main issue here was not the actions of the principles involved, but their attempts to cover them up by lying to the grand jury.
What seems quite clear in this case is that ignorance is to some degree a defense in the eyes of the law, because Rove's main argument was that he didn't realize that Plame still had a covert identity because she was not actively working undercover and her role with the CIA was so widely known in Washington. That argument likely also clears anyone else at the Whitehouse who critics might have hoped would eventually be indicted.
In the end, despite a personna which will likely always be controversial, Karl Rove wins another victory and the President continues to stand by him.