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INSIDE POLITICS
On The Scene

King: Possible indictment a 'traumatic event' for White House

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CNN's John King and Candy Crowley

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On the Scene
White House
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The special prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation was expected to ask the grand jury to indict Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, according to a lawyer involved in the case.

The president's top political strategist, Karl Rove, will not be indicted Friday, but the matter will remain under investigation, according to sources.

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer spoke Friday with chief national correspondent John King and senior political correspondent Candy Crowley about the implications for the Bush administration.

BLITZER: For the president on this day, it's very important that he project business as usual.

KING: It is important for him to project business as usual, but it is not business as usual. And the president knows that, as well as everyone around him, and certainly the American people, if they've been following this story, know that, because the president is giving a speech on the War on Terror.

The war in Iraq right now is quite unpopular in this country. It is one of the factors in the president's dragging, declining approval ratings, and yet the president knows full well, as he gives this speech -- which he believes is important -- that it won't get much coverage today because it is likely, we are told, that one of his top advisers in the White House, Scooter Libby, will face indictment by a special counsel.

That is a dramatic, traumatic event for a White House to deal with.

BLITZER: Now, John, tell our viewers why that's so important. Government officials occasionally do get indicted. Scooter Libby -- Lewis Scooter Libby -- why is he so important? What does he do?

KING: I think it's interesting. Most people know Karl Rove, because he has been the president's top adviser going back years -- political adviser.

Well, Scooter Libby is to Dick Cheney as Karl Rove is to George W. Bush. Scooter Libby has been with Dick Cheney back to his days as defense secretary in the first Bush administration. And he serves a very unique role.

He is not only the vice president's chief of staff, he is the vice president's national security adviser. He is involved in every major decision, whether it is making the case to go to war in Iraq -- Scooter Libby was a proponent, with the vice president, of going to war in Iraq, a key architect of that policy -- or whether it is picking somebody for a Supreme Court vacancy. Scooter Libby is in the room for those meetings as well.

He is much less known than Karl Rove and other senior officials at the White House, but he is critically important and he has been the right-hand man for this vice president for years.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley, you've known Karl Rove, you've covered him for many years. He seemed in a pretty good mood this morning when he was leaving his house, and reporters were watching him, staking him out. He smiled, he thought he was going to have a good day and a good weekend. He's not, though, by all accounts, necessarily completely out of some problems.

CROWLEY: Well, right. I mean, if what we believe to be true turns out to be true -- and that is that Rove will not be indicted, but that there will be a continuing investigation, which is where sources from a variety of places have told us we're going -- then what that means, the good news for the White House is that the bad news could have been worse. It could have been Karl Rove as well as Scooter Libby, again assuming that what we hear about Scooter Libby is true.

But the bad news is, if it continues, it continues. ... It's still there; it's still a distraction. You still don't know, the uncertainty still is going to beat at them.

You say, well, what's the mood in the White House, Scott [McClellan] -- talking to the press spokesman. What's going on? How does the president feel? It still brings this blanket over it, that makes it very tough for the president to pivot, which they want to do, and move on to the nation's business, as they call it.

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