WASHINGTON -- Top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis ''Scooter" Libby discussed their contacts with reporters about an undercover CIA officer in the days before her identity was published, the first known intersection between two central figures in the criminal leak investigation.
Rove told grand jurors that it was possible that he first heard in the White House that Valerie Plame, wife of Bush administration critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked for the CIA from Libby's recounting of a conversation with a journalist, according to people familiar with his testimony.
They said Rove testified that his discussions with Libby, before Plame's CIA cover was blown, were limited to information reporters had passed to them. Some evidence that prosecutors have gathered conflicts with Libby's account.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald must determine whether the contacts between Rove and Libby concerning Plame's CIA work were part of an effort to undercut her husband's criticism of the Iraq war or simply the trading of information and rumors. The prosecutor also is examining whether any witnesses gave false testimony or withheld information from the investigation. His spokesman, Randall Samborn, declined to comment yesterday.
The Rove-Libby contacts were confirmed to the Associated Press by people directly familiar with testimony that the two witnesses gave before the grand jury. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the proceedings.