Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice'
Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent.
Those close to the investigation said Rove was offered a deal Tuesday to plead guilty to perjury for a reduced charge. Rove’s lawyer was told that Fitzgerald would drop an obstruction of justice charge if his client agreed not to contest allegations of perjury, they said.
Rove declined to plead guilty to the reduced charge, the sources said, indicating through his attorney Robert Luskin that he intended to fight the charges. A call placed to Luskin was not returned.
Two other officials, who are not employees in the White House, are also expected to face indictments, the lawyers said.
The lawyers said Fitzgerald needed more evidence to convince the grand jury that Plame was in fact an undercover agent. On Monday, he sent FBI agents to her residential neighborhood to obtain testimony from neighbors that they were unaware of Plame’s employment prior to her outing.
Evidence collected in these inquiries was aimed at convincing the jury that she was covert, the lawyers said. A Reuters story indicated that Plame’s neighbors were not aware that she was working at the agency.