The special prosecutor who has spent nearly two years investigating the leak of a CIA operative's identity met with a federal grand jury Wednesday in the final week of his probe, but did not release any new information to the public.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (search), the U.S. attorney appointed to investigate the leak, met with the grand jury around 9 a.m. EDT to make his final presentation about the case. The jury adjourned several hours later and Fitzgerald left the U.S. District Courthouse shortly after 1 p.m. Their term expires on Friday.
Fitzgerald also reportedly had a private meeting with the presiding judge, Thomas Hogan, on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. The AP's source did not say what was discussed.
Meanwhile, the White House went about its normal business, albeit under a very dark cloud: two top aides, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (search) and Karl Rove (search), are at the center of the probe, and on Tuesday lawyers involved in the case revealed Vice President Dick Cheney may have tipped off Libby, his chief of staff, to the agent's identity.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan again refused to comment on how the administration was preparing for possible indictments.
"The president is continuing to focus on what the American people most care about. Those are the things we can do something about," McClellan said Wednesday afternoon.
The president was also asked about the possible indictments after a meeting in the Oval Office with the prime minister of Macedonia. Bush did not respond to the question.
When the grand jury and Fitzgerald decide to announce their findings is entirely at their discretion. Fitzgerald also has the option to ask a judge to extend the grand jury's term.
Earlier this week, investigators interviewed neighbors of the woman at the heart of the case, Valerie Plame (search). Marc Lefkowitz, who lives across the street from Plame, was interviewed by two FBI agents who arrived at his house without notice, his wife told FOX News. Lefkowitz was asked if he knew that Plame worked for the CIA before her name appeared in a July 14, 2003, column by syndicated journalist Robert Novak (search).
Lefkowitz's wife said she and her husband believed Plame was "some kind of consultant," and did not know she worked for the CIA.
The endgame of Fitzgerald's probe is to determine whether Plame's identity was leaked to the press in an effort to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson (search), a former ambassador and outspoken critic of the Iraq war. It is a crime to knowingly blow the cover of a U.S. agent.
Sources close to the investigation said the FBI agents were merely fact-checking their evidence.
This past July, another neighbor said he had no clue who Plame really worked for. Washington attorney Christopher Wolf wrote in USA Today that he knew his neighbor only as a "devoted mother of 5-year-old twins, a volunteer for charities, a woman active in her church, and a caring person."
Defenders of the administration and critics of the probe have aired doubts about how undercover Plame's status was. According to a Vanity Fair profile with which her husband, family and friends cooperated, at the time of the leak her status was nonofficial cover — meaning, she was working for the CIA under a false cover and had no diplomatic immunity.
If indicted, Rove and Libby would be the latest additions to a roster of top-dog Republicans suspected of malfeasance, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who has been indicted in Texas, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, whose stock sales are under scrutiny. But aside from raising questions of criminal wrongdoing, the leak investigation has revived a debate about the Iraq war among Bush critics.
Following an op-ed Wilson wrote in the New York Times, the Bush administration admitted that the evidence Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger was spotty, and retracted 16 words from the 2003 State of the Union address in which Bush described the Iraq-Niger tie.
In a speech at Georgetown University on Wednesday, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search) articulated the reasons so many of the war's critics are interested in the outcome of the leak case.
"We don't know yet whether this will prove to be an indictable offense in a court of law, but for it, and for misleading a nation into war, [the Bush administration] will be indicted in the high court of history. History will judge the invasion of Iraq one of the greatest foreign policy misadventures of all time," said Kerry.
While any evidence pointing to indictable offenses remain a mystery, what is known about Fitzgerald's investigation has been enough to set the Bush administration on edge. Both Rove and Libby discussed Plame with at least six reporters, one of whom, Judith Miller (search) of the New York Times, went to jail for nearly three months rather than reveal Libby as her source.
It is not clear at what point President Bush knew Libby and Rove had discussed Plame with reporters. Some recently published accounts indicate Rove came clean with an angry Bush around the time the story broke. Two years ago, McClellan told reporters that Libby and Rove denied to him personally they were behind the leaks.
"That's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved. I had no doubt of that in the beginning, but I like to check my information to make sure it's accurate before I report back to you, and that's exactly what I did," McClellan said in an Oct. 7, 2003 press briefing.
According to sources close the investigation, Rove and Libby also discussed Plame with each other, and Libby discussed Plame with Cheney. Many legal observers have said that if Fitzgerald had enough to charge for violation of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, he would have done so by now. But White House officials reportedly believe at least one indictment for obstruction of justice or conspiracy is likely.
Senior White House officials met on Tuesday to map out a game plan in the event of any indictments, sources told FOX News. The sources said the meeting was held without any knowledge of Fitzgerald's findings, but was a cautionary measure to prevent disruption of White House operations.
FOX News' Carl Cameron contributed to this report.