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Cheney reportedly interviewed in leak of CIA name { June 5 2004 }

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   http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/05/politics/05LEAK.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/05/politics/05LEAK.html

June 5, 2004
Cheney Reportedly Interviewed in Leak of C.I.A. Officer's Name
By DAVID JOHNSTON

WASHINGTON, June 4 Vice President Dick Cheney was recently interviewed by federal prosecutors who asked whether he knew of anyone at the White House who had improperly disclosed the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer, people who have been involved in official discussions about the case said on Friday.

Mr. Cheney was also asked about conversations with senior aides, including his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, according to people officially informed about the case. In addition, those people said, Mr. Cheney was asked whether he knew of any concerted effort by White House aides to name the officer. It was not clear how Mr. Cheney responded to the prosecutors' questions.

The interview of the vice president was part of a grand jury investigation into whether anyone at the White House violated a federal law that makes it a crime to divulge the name of an undercover officer intentionally.

Mr. Cheney is not thought to be a focus of the inquiry, which Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago, heads. Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed by the Justice Department as a special counsel in the case.

White House officials have denied that any senior aides to President Bush disclosed the name of the officer, Valerie Plame, to Robert Novak, who wrote in his syndicated column in July 2003 that Ms. Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, was an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It is not clear when or where Mr. Cheney was interviewed, but he was not questioned under oath and he has not been asked to appear before the grand jury, people officially informed about the case said. His willingness to answer questions was voluntary and apparently followed Mr. Bush's repeated instructions to aides to cooperate with the investigation.

On Friday, a spokesman for Mr. Cheney declined to comment on the case. The spokesman, Kevin Kellems, referred questions about the vice president to Mr. Fitzgerald, whose office has declined to comment on the investigation. A telephone call to Terrence O'Donnell, the vice president's private lawyer, was not returned.

Mr. Bush has acknowledged that he had met with a Washington criminal lawyer, Jim Sharp, about the possibility that prosecutors might want to interview him about the case. So far, the White House has made no mention of Mr. Cheney's interview or whether it influenced the president's decision to meet with Mr. Sharp.

Mr. Bush is not thought to be a focus of the grand jury inquiry. On Thursday, Mr. Bush said he did not object to the prosecutors' inquiry.

"I've told our administration that we'll fully cooperate with their investigation," Mr. Bush said in response to a question about the case during a news conference about the Australian contribution to the war in Iraq. "I want to know the truth, and I'm willing to cooperate myself. And you need to refer your questions to them.

"In terms of whether or not I need advice from my counsel, this is a criminal matter, it's a serious matter, I have met with an attorney to determine whether or not I need his advice. And if I deem I need his advice, I'll probably hire him."

The decision by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney to seek private legal counsel is routine for high-level officials when they become involved, even tangentially, in legal issues unrelated to their official duties.



Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


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