WASHINGTON – President Bush (search), 3,000 miles away from Washington on Friday, was able to at least put some geographic distance between himself and the two biggest burning questions in the nation's capital.
The answer to one — if Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (search) will indict top Bush administration officials in the apparent leak of a CIA operative's identity — is going to have to wait at least through the weekend.
The other question is the fate of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers (search). Miers has faced withering criticism, most recently from the leaders of the committee that will first consider her nomination in early November.
Click on the video box at right to see a report by FOX News' Carl Cameron on the investigation.
For nearly two years, Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, has been investigating whether any crime was committed when the apparently covert identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame (search) was given to reporters in 2003 and appeared in a syndicated newspaper column. The investigation has embroiled top U.S. officials and put the White House on the defensive.
Fitzgerald's focus has settled on Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (search), and Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove (search). But their role in the leak, and whether they tried to obscure facts related to the case, remains unclear.
Fitzgerald's deputies on Friday left the federal courthouse after a morning work session with the grand jury. Authoritative government and legal sources say the prosecutor plans to decide next week whether to indict any Bush administration officials in the Plame case.
One indication that charges might loom is a new Web site from Fitzgerald's office that holds some documents related to the investigation.
News reports have speculated that the charges could be related to either false information or to an illegal identification of Plame, although the illegal identification charge requires a fairly involved set of precursors.
Libby did not at first tell the FBI or the grand jury about conversations with New York Times reporter Judith Miller (search), in which he discussed Plame, though not by name. Libby later explained the omission under oath, saying he forgot.
Likewise, Rove at first did not tell the FBI about his conversations with Time magazine's Matt Cooper. Rove, too, testified that he forgot.
In the meantime, the Miers nomination continues to face criticism, but Republicans are running to her side in defense of recent reports that she is avoiding meetings with senators.
Sen. John Cornyn (search), R-Texas, in response to a report in the Washington Times, said during a press conference Friday that Miers has not been canceling appointments because of her alleged inability to impress lawmakers.
"She is continuing her visits with any senators who want to see her. You know, to me, this has been part of this myth that some have propagated about this nominee that somehow she needs to take time off to cram," Cornyn said.
The White House, though, admits she will need time to study more complex constitutional issues, and they are steering her visits toward friendly GOP senators.