WASHINGTON – Presidential confidant Karl Rove testified to a grand jury that he learned the identity of a CIA operative originally from journalists, then informally discussed the information with a Time magazine reporter days before the story broke, according to a person briefed on the testimony.
The person, who works in the legal profession and spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, told the Associated Press that Rove testified last year that he remembers specifically being told by columnist Robert Novak that Valerie Plame, the wife of a harsh Iraq war critic, worked for the CIA.
Rove testified that Novak originally called him the Tuesday before Plame’s identity was revealed in July 2003 to discuss another story. The conversation eventually turned to Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was strongly criticizing the Bush administration’s Iraq war policy and the intelligence it used to justify the war, the source said.
Rove told the grand jury that by the time Novak had called him, he believes he had similar information about Wilson’s wife from another reporter but had no recollection of which reporter had told him about it first, the source said.
Also Thursday, Democrats pressed for a congressional investigation into the case and Karl Rove’s role.
Rep. Rush Holt, of New Jersey, called for a probe that would compel senior administration officials to turn over records relating to the disclosure that Plame was a CIA officer. “This … is about holding the executive branch accountable for a breach of national security.”
Democratic Leader Harry Reid led the effort to push the issue onto the Senate floor, seeking a quick vote on legislation to strip national security clearances from any official who discloses the identity of a covert agent.
And, in an interview on CNN Thursday before the latest revelation, Wilson kept up his criticism of the White House, saying Rove’s conduct was an “outrageous abuse of power … certainly worthy of frog-marching out of the White House.”
But at the same time, Wilson acknowledged his wife was no longer in an undercover job at the time Novak’s column first identified her.
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