Magazine article Newsweek

Leak Investigation: For Libby and Rove, Legal Woes-And Bills

Magazine article Newsweek

Leak Investigation: For Libby and Rove, Legal Woes-And Bills

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Isikoff and Holly Bailey

As special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald continues his probe into the CIA leak affair, the probe is taking an escalating financial toll. I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the indicted former vice presidential chief of staff, has set up a legal defense fund to pay the bills of his high-priced lawyers. In an effort to raise $5 million, the trust has assembled a board of major Republican fund-raisers, lobbyists and prominent neoconservatives. The chair: Melvin Sembler, a wealthy Florida real-estate developer and ex GOP finance chief who, ironically, was President George W. Bush's ambassador to Italy when the embassy in Rome first got the forged yellowcake documents that helped trigger the affair. Others include ex CIA director (and outspoken Iraq-war supporter) James Woolsey, ex GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes, former senator Fred Thompson, ex U.N. ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and lobbyists Bill Paxon and Wayne Berman (whose wife is the White House social secretary). During a conference call last week, Libby thanked the participants. "The money is pouring in," said Barbara Comstock, a spokeswoman for the group. But because it was set up after Libby left the White House, the fund is private--and donors won't be disclosed.

Libby may not be the only one with pressing financial needs. Deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove recently took out a $100,000 line of credit from Wells Fargo Bank, according to real-estate records obtained by NEWSWEEK. …

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