An Indictment and Resignation

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Libby walks out of the West Wing of the White House yesterday

I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements by a federal grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of a covert CIA operative. Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who heads the two-year-old investigation, believes that Libby lied about how he learned—then shared with reporters—the identity of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative who is married to Joseph Wilson, a former diplomat who has been fiercely critical of the Bush Administration's claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story," Fitzgerald said in a press conference. But that story "was not true. It was false ... and he lied about it afterwards, under oath and repeatedly."

Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's senior advisor and deputy chief of staff, was not indicted, but in a sign that Fitzgerald's two-year investigation is not yet over, Rove has been told that he remains under investigation. Libby submitted his resignation shortly after the indictment was announced, in accordance with a plan agreed to by Bush Administration officials weeks ago.


• An Indictment and Resignation
Lewis Libby is charged with obstruction and perjury and has resigned from his position as Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Where does the CIA leak investigation go from here?

• Timeline: How the Tale Unfolds
A chronological look at the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame

From the TIME Archive

• A War on Wilson?
Inside the Bush Administration's feud with the diplomat who poured cold water on the Iraq-uranium connection [7/17/2003]

• Let's Make a Deal
After 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal a source, a reporter walks and talks. But it remains unclear exactly what's at stake in this case [10/10/2005]

• A Contingency Plan

• Rove Redux

• "What I Told the Grand Jury"
EXCLUSIVE Matthew Cooper reveals exactly what Karl Rove told him--and what the special counsel zeroed in on [7/25/2005]

• Archive Collection: The CIA Leak Investigation
Read complete coverage of the CIA leak investigation
The indictment contains five counts against Libby—two for perjury, for allegedly lying in his testimony to the grand jury; two for making false statements to FBI investigators; and one for obstruction of justice, for allegedly impeding the grand jury’s investigation. If found guilty, Libby could face 30 years in prison and a fine of $1.25 million.

The indictment alleges that Libby made a "false, fictitious and fraudulent statement" when he was questioned by the FBI. It also says that he lied in his testimony to the grand jury. Specifically, he misrepresented his conversations with NBC's Tim Russert, TIME's Matt Cooper, and Judith Miller of the New York Times. He told the grand jury that Russert had asked him whether he knew Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and that he was surprised to learn this from Russert. According to the indictment, Libby did not in fact discuss this with Russert, and he already knew about the identity of Wilson's wife. The indictment also alleges that Libby lied in testifying that he told both Cooper and Miller that he had learned about Wilson's wife from other reporters. Miller served 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal her source, and, earlier this month, testified to the grand jury about her conversations with Libby only after he granted her a personal waiver.

Tensions between the Administration and the CIA grew in mid-2003 along with doubts over the Adminstration's claims that Iraq was seeking nuclear weapons. Wilson went public with the news that, more than a year earlier, he had privately refuted, on behalf of the CIA, claims about an African connection to Saddam Hussein's alleged WMD arsenal. Wilson suggested that Cheney must have known before the war that the claims were bogus. People who worked with Libby tell TIME that he regarded Wilson's criticisms as part of a wider effort by the CIA to shift blame to the White House for the faulty pre-war claims about Iraq's WMD.

A graduate of Yale and Columbia, Libby, 55, is an old Washington hand. During the Reagan Administration, he served in the State Department, then worked under Dick Cheney at Defense during the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Known within this Bush Administration as "Cheney’s Cheney," he served as the right-hand man to one of the most powerful Vice Presidents in U.S. history.

For the moment, Libby, a man who prefers to work behind the scenes, has been thrust squarely, singularly and uncomfortably into the spotlight. In that glare, prosecutors hope to find answers—and quickly. "As soon as we can get it done, we will," said Fitzgerald. "We need to know the truth."— With reporting by Matthew Cooper/ Washington