"Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft continued to oversee the Valerie Plame-CIA leak probe for more than two months in late 2003 after he learned in extensive briefings that FBI agents suspected White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of trying to mislead the FBI to conceal their roles in the leak, according to government records and interviews. Despite these briefings, which took place between October and December 2003, and despite the fact that senior White House aides might become central to the leak case, Ashcroft did not recuse himself from the matter until December 30, when he allowed the appointment of a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to take over the investigation.hmmm - did we know that the FBI had Libby's notes so early? (Waas appears to get the details mixed up)
Officials also told Ashcroft that investigators did not believe Libby's account, according to sources knowledgeable about the briefings, and that Libby might have lied to the FBI to defend other -- more senior -- administration officials.
In November 2003, the FBI interviewed Libby a second time, and information derived from that briefing was also passed on to Ashcroft, sources said.
Around this same time, FBI agents had obtained Libby's own notes stating that Cheney, not Russert, was the person who told Libby about Plame's CIA connection. Also by then, investigators had obtained other government records and the accounts of other witnesses indicating that Wilson's Niger mission and Plame's possible role in sending her husband to Africa were major preoccupations for the vice president.
As the leak probe progressed through the fall of 2003, Rove's past work as a political adviser to Ashcroft in three of his political campaigns was not the only concern for career Justice Department officials, sources said. Also not lost to some career prosecutors was the fact that a number of Ashcroft's top aides at Justice had come from the Republican National Committee.
During the initial stages of the Plame investigation, the RNC was at the forefront of the Bush administration's effort to stymie demands for the appointment of a special prosecutor and to continue the campaign to discredit Wilson. To some career investigators, the RNC appeared to be acting as a proxy for the White House in attempting to thwart the naming of a special prosecutor."
" I wonder whether Fitz still isn't looking for evidence (or a confirming witness) to show Cheney's involvement was not limited to instructing others to attack Wilson's statements on uranium, WMD's and Iraq but that he also instructed aides to attack Wilson personally and tell reporters his wife worked for the CIA and the trip was nepotism.
I suspect he has Rove's cooperation. Will Stephen Hadley or someone else supply the final nail in the Cheney coffin? Or does Fitz need Libby -- which would mean he has to wait until either Libby is convicted and his appeals are over, pardoned or acquitted in order to force him to testify? (Those are the events which would cause him to no longer have a 5th Amendment privilege since nothing he said afterwards could be used to incriminate him.)"