WASHINGTON - Karl Rove won't be indicted Friday as prosecutors and his lawyers try to resolve questions in the CIA leak investigation, two people close to Rove told The Associated Press.
The White House still braced for an indictment against another top aide.
In discussions Thursday, Rove's lawyer was told by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's office that investigators had not completed their investigation into Rove's conduct in the case and they would continue investigating, the people said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy.
Rove's lawyers were told there still were matters to resolve before the prosecutor "decides what he is going to do, so Mr. Rove will not be indicted today," one of the people said.
Fitzgerald scheduled a 2 p.m. EDT news conference in Washington, along with an FBI investigator in the case.
The decision means Rove is not out of legal jeopardy but will continue working at the White House and cooperating with prosecutors. He has already testified four times before the grand jury investigating who leaked Valerie Plame's CIA identity.
The news wasn't expected to be as favorable for Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. White House colleagues expected an indictment charging Libby with false statements in the probe.
After weeks of hand-wringing about possible indictments in the CIA leak investigation, President Bush and his advisers put on a brave face Friday. Bush smiled and joked as he left to make a speech on terrorism in Norfolk, Va.
Bush left for Virginia at 8:44 a.m. Minutes later, news broke that Rove, his top political adviser, would not be indicted Friday.
Before he left, Bush chatted with Cheney and Rove in the Oval Office before walking across the South Lawn to Marine One. Dan Bartlett, communications director, and Andy Card, White House chief of staff, also were in the Oval Office where they smiled and conversed.
Reporters called out to Bush as he walked toward his waiting helicopter, and the president playfully pivoted as if walking toward them. But he quickly turned away, ignoring a question about whether he planned to make a public statement about his failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers.
Some lawyers have raised the specter of broader conspiracy charges as well.
When the investigation began two years ago, a White House spokesman checked with Rove and Libby, then assured the public that neither was involved in leaking Plame's identity.
In the past month, it was revealed that Libby spoke to New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who says their conversations included Plame's CIA status.
Rove's legal problems stem in part from the fact that he failed initially to disclose to prosecutors a conversation in which he told Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper that Plame worked for the CIA. The president's top political adviser says the conversation slipped his mind.
Columnist Robert Novak revealed Plame's name and her CIA status on July 14, 2003. That was five days after Novak talked to Rove and eight days after Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, published an opinion article in the Times accusing the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.
Wilson and his supporters have contended that the leak of Plame's name, which ended her ability to work undercover for the CIA, was designed to discredit him and punish him for his criticism and to intimidate others inside the government critical of Bush's Iraq policies.