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By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer 5 minutes agoWASHINGTON - Top White House aide Karl Rove has been told by prosecutors he won't be charged with any crimes in the investigation into leak of aCIA officer's identity, his lawyer said Tuesday, lifting a heavy burden from one ofPresident Bush's most trusted advisers.ADVERTISEMENTAttorney Robert Luskin said that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald informed him of the decision on Monday, ending months of speculation about the fate of Rove, the architect of Bush's 2004 re-election now focused on stopping Democrats from capturing the House or Senate in this November's elections.Fitzgerald has already secured a criminal indictment against Vice PresidentDick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.Rove testified five times before a grand jury, most recently in April.Fitzgerald called Luskin late Monday afternoon to tell him he would not be seeking charges against Rove. Rove had just gotten on a plane, so his lawyer and spokesman did not reach him until he had landed in Manchester, N.H., where he was to give a speech to state GOP officials.Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said the White House official "is elated" and said that "we're done.""In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation," Luskin said. "We believe the special counsel's decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove's conduct."Fitzgerald has been investigating whether senior administration officials intentionally leaked the identity of CIA undercover operativeValerie Plame in retribution because her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, sharply criticized the administration's pursuit of war inIraq.Rove, who most recently appeared before a grand jury in April, has admitted he spoke with columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper in the days before they published Plame's name in July 2003.Rove, however, did not originally tell prosecutors about his conversation with Cooper, only revealing it after his lawyer discovered a White House e-mail that referred to it.Fitzgerald was investigating whether Rove lied or obstructed justice in failing to initially disclose the conversation. The presidential aide blamed a faulty memory and sought to testify before the grand jury after finding the e-mail to correct his testimony.The threat of indictment had hung over Rove, even as Rove was focusing on the arduous task of halting Bush's popularity spiral and keeping Democrats from capturing the House or Senate in November elections.Fitzgerald's investigation has been under way since the start of the 2004 election, and the decision not to indict Rove is certain to cheer Republicans concerned about Bush's low approval ratings and the prospects of a difficult 2006 congressional election."The fact is this, I thought it was wrong when you had people likeHoward Dean and (Sen.) Harry Reid presuming that he was guilty," Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman told Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" show Tuesday morning.Democrats, on the other hand, had no reason to cheer the development."He doesn't belong in the White House. If the president valued America more than he valued his connection to Karl Rove, Karl Rove would have been fired a long time ago," said Dean, the Democratic Party chairman, speaking Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show. "So I think this is probably good news for the White House, but it's not very good news for America."Rove has been at Bush's sides since his days as Texas governor and was the architect of Bush's two presidential election victory. A political strategist, Rove assumed new policy responsibilities inside the White House in 2005 as deputy chief of staff.However, as part of the shake-up brought by new White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten, Rove shed those policymaking duties earlier this year to return to full time politics.Fitzgerald's case against Libby is moving toward trial, as the two sides work through pretrial issues such as access to classified documents.Libby, 55, was charged last October with lying to theFBI and a federal grand jury about how he learned and when he subsequently told three reporters about CIA officer Valerie Plame. He faces five counts of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice.Plame's identity was exposed eight days after her husband, Bush administration critic and former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, alleged that the U.S. government had manipulated prewar intelligence to exaggerate an Iraqi nuclear threat.With Rove's fate now decided, other unfinished business in Fitzgerald's probe focuses on the source who provided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodwind information about Plame.Woodwind says his source, who he has not publicly identified, provided the information about Wilson's wife, several weeks before Novak learned of Plame's identity. The Post reporter, who never wrote a story, was interviewed by Fitzgerald late last year.___Associated Press reporter Toni Locy contributed to this report.
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