Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who spent years investigating the 2003 leak of a CIA operative’s identity, told lawmakers Wednesday that he could offer little help during congressional hearings on the leak.
Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asked Fitzgerald last week to meet with members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which will hold hearings on the Bush administration’s handling of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s classified employment status.
Plame’s identity was leaked to reporters after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, began criticizing the Bush administration’s prewar intelligence on Iraq.
In a letter to Waxman, Fitzgerald did not refuse to cooperate with the congressional probe but made it clear he had little to say.
“I do not believe it would be appropriate for me to offer opinions, as your letter suggests the committee may seek, about the ultimate responsibility of senior White House officials for the disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s identity,” Fitzgerald wrote.
As part of his investigation, Fitzgerald questioned President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and several journalists and senior White House aides. No one was charged with the leak, but Fitzgerald successfully prosecuted former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby for perjury and obstruction.
Fitzgerald said he was prohibited from discussing grand jury testimony and evidence that did not come out at Libby’s trial, and he referred Waxman to the volumes of evidence made public during the monthlong trial.
“I appreciate the committee’s important oversight interests but also trust that you will appreciate my position in the matter,” Fitzgerald wrote.
A committee official said the Waxman still hopes to meet with Fitzgerald.
Plame is scheduled to testify before the committee. It would be the first time she has publicly answered questions about the case.
Unlike earlier independent counsels appointed under a now-expired law, Fitzgerald is not required to submit investigative reports to Congress.
Speaking briefly to reporters following Libby’s conviction, Fitzgerald said no more charges would be filed, the case was complete and he was going back to his job as U.S. attorney in Chicago. He has not spoken publicly since about the case and has refused all interview requests.
“I think we should conduct this like any other criminal investigation: charge someone or be quiet,” Fitzgerald said when he announced Libby’s indictment.