The vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., was indicted today on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements in the CIA leak investigation, a politically charged case that will throw a spotlight on President Bush's push to war.
Libby, 55, resigned and left the White House.
Karl Rove, Bush's closest adviser, escaped indictment today but remained under investigation, his legal status casting a dark cloud over a White House already in trouble. The U.S. military death toll in Iraq exceeded 2,000 this week, and the president's approval ratings are at the lowest point since he took office in 2001.
Today's charges stemmed from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators.
The grand jury indictment charged Libby with one count of obstruction of justice, two of perjury and two false statement counts. If convicted on all five, he could face as much as 30 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.
Vice President Dick Cheney was mentioned by name in the 22-page indictment and several officials were identified by title, but no one besides Libby was charged.
For more reaction, you can click on just about every blog link under the sun. I'll give the last word here to Barbara Radnofsky:
Texas Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Barbara Ann Radnofsky called on her Republican opponent to renounce perjury now that I. Lewis Libby has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Kay Bailey Hutchison called perjury a technicality on “Meet the Press.” On Monday, her spokesman said, “Senator Hutchison was not commenting on any specific investigation. She was expressing her general concern that perjury traps have become too common when investigators are unable to indict on any underlying crime.”
Her spokesman followed that pronouncement with a letter to the Houston Chronicle on October 26, claiming that prosecutions based on “finding any shred of inconsistency” do not constitute perjury.
Radnofsky insists, “Lying to a grand jury is a crime.”
“Now we have a sitting U.S. Senator saying that perjury is a technicality, then through her spokesman dismissing perjury,” says Radnofsky. “No elected official should tolerate or excuse perjury. I call on Kay Bailey Hutchison to renounce perjury. She should resign if she tolerates it,” Radnofsky said.