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AMERICAN MORNING

Indictment Expected for Cheney Aide Libby in CIA Leak Probe; Seeking a Nominee; Teen Murder Suspect

Aired October 28, 2005 - 8:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A major story developing in Washington as the president's closest adviser, sounding upbeat, appears to have escaped an indictment, for now. However, the vice president's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, may not be so lucky. It is gut check time as the grand jury in the CIA leak probe meets right now on this AMERICAN MORNING.
ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the morning to you. I'm Zain Verjee, in for Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien.

We have some pictures of Patrick Fitzgerald heading into the district courthouse in Washington, D.C. He's the special prosecutor for the past 22 months, has been trying to uncover whether there was any wrongdoing when CIA operative, undercover agent Valerie Plame was outed. Her identity made public in a syndicated column by Robert Novak back in July of 2003.

VERJEE: He's viewed very much as nonpartisan apolitical. He has been on this for the past 22 months, and later today we expect an official announcement from him at a press conference and exactly what the charges will be.

O'BRIEN: And we are getting a drib and drab of information in advance of all of this. Bob Franken is outside the courthouse and will fill us in on what we know so far.

Good morning, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Your drib and drab correspondent here.

The arrival of Patrick Fitzgerald literally happened within the last two minutes. He is coming to meet with his grand jury for what could well be the last time, what will probably be, because the term of the grand jury, which has already been extended once, runs out today.

Fitzgerald is expected to announce later today what actions he has taken thus far. And the reason I say that is that a number of sources have told CNN that in the case of Karl Rove, who is the president's chief political adviser and has been -- is now the deputy White House chief of staff, the investigation will consider -- will continue a little longer.

Sources are telling us that certain inconsistencies in Rove's testimony before the grand jury, his lawyers argue, were unintentional. And Fitzgerald wants to continue to investigate that.

We are also told by sources that there is a real possibility Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, could face indictments, that his lawyer had been informed that that possibility is a strong one. This is all, of course, the investigation into the disclosure and uncovering of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA agent. That occurred in July of 2003.

The investigation followed to see if there was a violation of laws that can make that illegal, but it has expanded, according to many sources, into questions about whether inconsistencies before the grand jury might have been part of an alleged illegal cover-up. That is much of the area that has been explored by this special prosecutor, according to many sources. And there's also a possibility of some conspiracy indictments.

All of these possibilities that will probably be revealed as the day goes on. As I said, we're expecting an announcement later in the day from Fitzgerald. But of course, he has just arrived to face the grand jury -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Long day ahead for Bob Franken. He'll keep us posted. Thank you -- Zain.

VERJEE: He will. And, you know, Miles, the grand jury very much a prosecutor's tool. The grand jury doesn't actually decide on guilt or innocence. This is the last day that they're going to meet. And while the White House awaits that decision from the grand jury, President Bush is promising to move fast in selecting a Supreme Court nominee to replace Harriet Miers.

Dana Bash is live for us at the White House -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Zain.

And that is definitely true. But before I get to that, I would just like to add on some of what Bob was talking about with regard to what everybody is waiting for, which is, when it comes to Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, the possibility, associates believe, probability that he will be indicted, I can tell you this morning that there have been some -- a flurry of meetings going on, particularly inside the vice president's office with some of his top staff. And we understand as of maybe about 10 minutes ago that Scooter Libby, who is here at the White House, was actually in a meeting with the vice president.

Now, he is his chief of staff. It's not unusual for him to meet with the vice president. But given the circumstances and given what people expect if Scooter Libby is indicted, and that is that he would resign, certainly that is something that we are going to be waiting for here at the White House, in addition to what we are waiting for in terms of news at the grand jury. Now, you mentioned, of course, Harriet Miers. Interestingly, Scooter Libby has been one of a many -- or I should say a very few top Bush staffers who has been involved in the process of picking all of the president's Supreme Court nominees.

Harriet Miers is now going to be leading the charge to find her replacement. And the White House says that that is going to happen quite soon. They really haven't decided on the exact timing. The president is trying to make up his mind.

They already have had a short list, but they certainly have a lot of lessons that they can learn from, what they admit was a nomination that was pretty much bungled from the start -- Zain.

VERJEE: Dana Bash, covering an anxious White House, bracing itself for the rest of the day. Thank you.

In less than an hour, President Bush will be speaking in Norfolk, Virginia, about the war on terror. CNN will bring you live coverage at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

O'BRIEN: Let's go to the West Coast now. California police have a second suspect in the killing of a high-profile attorney's wife as their investigation moves to events following the crime.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice over): Police in California arrested Esther Fielding, the mother of 16-year-old murder suspect Scott Dyleski. She is accused of being an accessory to the crime.

Authorities say Dyleski killed 52-year-old Pamela Vitale, the wife of prominent attorney Daniel Horowitz. On the night of the crime, Esther Fielding allegedly warned her son there were police roadblocks in the area and told him to stay at his girlfriend's house. According to court documents, Dyleski claims he was at his girlfriend's house the evening of the murder.

The girlfriend's attorney is Gloria Allred.

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: My client is a potential witness in this case, and I don't think at this time it would be appropriate to say for whom...

O'BRIEN: Court documents also say investigators found clothing and a glove with traces of blood in a duffel bag inside a van parked at Dyleski's home.

Scott Dyleski did not enter a plea at his arraignment Thursday. He simply nodded as the judge formally charged him with first-degree murder.

Dyleski was this couple's babysitter as recently as a few weeks ago. They, like so many here, are stunned.

MITCH HOUSE, KNEW DYLESKI: He's broken a lot of hearts, you know. Even people that cared about him like me, but didn't love him like family or anything. I mean, it broke my heart.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: All right. Here's the plan as of now.

Dyleski will be tried as an adult, he'll be back in court November 9. His mother is currently being held on $500,000 bail.

Let's check some other headlines. Carol's back.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Miles.

Good morning to all of you.

Rosa Parks may become the first person to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington. The Senate approved a resolution Thursday that would allow the distinction for the civil rights pioneer. The House is expected to pass the measure today. Parks would lie in honor Sunday and Monday so that people can pay their respects. Her funeral and other services will take place in Detroit.

You are paying record prices at the pump. I don't have to tell you that. Well, record profits for oil companies, that's what that means.

ExxonMobil is showing third quarter earnings of nearly $10 billion. It also became the first company to post quarterly sales over $100 billion.

Other companies also reported large earnings this week, prompting lawmakers to call on companies to, like, you know, help their customers maybe by reducing prices or by creating an emergency reserve.

Good news for some French tourists thought to have contracted the bird flu. The French government told Thailand that tests indicate the three tourists do not have the deadly H5N1 virus. Rather, they're sick with the strain more commonly known as the human flu. And that was the other thing, was the bird flu.

The men developed symptoms after visiting a bird farm in Thailand. That's why they were so concerned.

Tropical Storm Beta is on the verge of becoming Hurricane Beta. Beta's top wind speeds are nearing hurricane intensity, and forecasters say it's likely to strengthen before making landfall in Central America as early as today. Beta could drop as much as 20 inches of rain in some remote areas. The storm surge could go as high as 7 feet.

It is not expected to be a threat to the United States. But boy, it may be a threat to others.

Let's go to the forecast center to find out more on Beta. Good morning, Bonnie.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Carol.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much. Bonnie Schneider.

SCHNEIDER: Sure.

VERJEE: Still to come, more on the Harriet Miers fallout. We've heard from Republicans this morning. What did the Democrats want to see in this nomination?

O'BRIEN: And later, you could call it the honeymoon from hell. One couple tells us what it was like to spend the first days of wedded bliss in a Mexican hurricane shelter.

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: From counsel to nominee, now back to White House counsel, the three week and three day run of Harriet Miers as a nominee for the Supreme Court now over. So, what next?

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy joins us now to weigh in.

Senator, good to have you with us this morning.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Nice to be with you. Thank you.

O'BRIEN: All right, you've got to admit, secretly, Democrats were enjoying watching the Republicans act like Democrats.

LEAHY: Well, it was interesting that not a single Democrat raised a word of criticism about Harriet Miers.

O'BRIEN: They didn't have to, did they?

LEAHY: And all the criticism came from the right. But you know what it exposed? The right -- right wing has always said we shouldn't have a litmus test for a judge. Here, of course, they had litmus tests.

They said we shouldn't ask questions of their philosophy. Here, of course, they said we should be asking questions. And they said we shouldn't have activist judges. But here, of course, they said we want to have an activist judge.

It was a very, very interesting thing. All of the things that they said they didn't want they demanded and said they had to have with Harriet Miers.

I think it was unfortunate. I think we should have had the hearing and made up our mind after the hearing.

O'BRIEN: So was the process not well served in the fact that it didn't get to the hearing?

LEAHY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: And do you feel like this was a mistake for her to drop out, in other words.

LEAHY: Well, of course that's a decision she had to make. And there was so much political pressure from the ultra right on President Bush that I think they all down at the White House said you've got to withdraw. I think it would have been far more fair to have the hearing.

Made up your mind, let's see how she did in the hearing. Give her a chance to have her day before the hearing.

I certainly -- I urged all the Democrats, don't make up your minds until after the hearings, the same thing I told Democrats during the Roberts hearing. Make up your mind afterward.

As you know, after the Roberts hearing, I think half or more of the Democratic senators, myself included, voted for John Roberts for -- for chief justice.

O'BRIEN: Senator Leahy, you, as much as anybody, had a preview of what you might have heard from Harriet Miers had she gotten to those hearings. You saw that questionnaire which many people said was inadequate in many ways -- I believe you were among those people. And you had a chance to talk to her and got a sense of whether she really was fully conversive in constitutional law, which is not the kind of thing you sort of cram for.

Do you think it would have been an embarrassing hearing?

LEAHY: Well, I think there was time to prepare. The first questionnaire I think they sent it up far too soon. It was incomplete. The questionnaire was more complete.

There is time to prepare. We -- I think Senator Specter, the chairman of the committee, asked her if she could be ready on November 7. She assured him she would. There was time to prepare for the -- for the hearings.

This was, of course, an entirely different type of person than John Roberts.

O'BRIEN: Just got a little piece of news in my ear while I was talking to you, Senator. I just want to get this in.

A 2:00 p.m. news conference from Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor. We are shifting gears here slightly on the CIA leak case. presumably at which time we'll have specific information about the possibility of indictments.

Let's get back to Harriet Miers and Senator Leahy, though.

Senator, let's talk about what's next for the president. We had Ann Coulter on here just a little while ago, a leading conservative voice. I was asking her about whether the president is sort of obliged to go and pick a very conservative choice.

Let's listen for a moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANN COULTER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: We have a big farm team of qualified right wing or conservative...

O'BRIEN: But potential filibuster. It could happen.

COULTER: I wish them luck. They filibuster, we win in 2006.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: All right. First of all, the notion of a filibuster is that likely, if in fact somebody conservative would be distasteful to the likes of you, Judge Brown, for example, and in that case, is that a political problem for the Democrats if they do that?

LEAHY: Actually, it probably will be a political plus for the Democrats if there was somebody that -- that bad, because I think the American people would want them. They know that the Supreme Court is supposed to be for all American, all 280 million of us, and not just for the small faction of the right wing.

You have to have -- the Supreme Court should balance the rights of everybody, not just those on the far right. But the thing is it's always interesting. The same commentators say, oh, there may be a filibuster of John Roberts, that would be terrible. It was only the Republicans who talked about a filibuster, just like it was only the Republicans who trashed President Bush on his choice of Harriet Miers.

The Democrats said let's go ahead with the hearings, let's have votes. In Roberts case, of course, he had 70-some od votes, way more than you need to be back at filibuster.

I think most people feel in this country, if you're going to go on the Supreme Court, representing all of us, you ought to be worth more than 60 votes to get there. And -- so that's not even the issue.

The issue is, will the president now reward this right wing faction that humiliated him by making him withdraw the Harriet Miers nomination? If he's going reward them by setting up one of theirs, I think that would be a classic mistake.

Here's a time for the president to do what he has promised the country. He said he wants to be a uniter and not a divider. There are an awful lot of nominees he could send up, all Republicans, all of whom would get 95 to 100 votes in the 100-member Senate.

Why not do that? That would send a signal to the country that the Supreme Court is there for all Americans and not there just for some small faction of the Republican Party.

O'BRIEN: Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. We've got to cut it short, I'm sorry. We've got a little bit of breaking news. I'm sorry, but I thank you for your insights this morning. Thanks for dropping by.

Let's get to David Ensor in Washington. He's got some more news for us. We just heard a 2:00 p.m. news conference. Patrick Fitzgerald will make an announcement after this 22-month-long investigation into the CIA leak case. He's got a little bit of news to share with us right now.

David, good morning.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, as you say, Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, will give a news conference, we're told, at 2:00. It would be very unusual for him to have scheduled that, for a prosecutor to schedule such a public news conference if he doesn't have something to announce. And nine times out of 10, if not more, that is at least one indictment.

Now, in addition to that, CNN has heard from a lawyer close to the case that Lewis Libby, Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff, will be indicted today by the grand jury. Or at least what I should say is that the prosecutor is recommending to the grand jury the indictment of Scooter Libby, and the grand jury will be considering that today.

We should have word before the day is out -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right, David Ensor. I'd say that's must-see TV, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Patrick Fitzgerald will finally lay it all out before us in what are the fruits of his 22-month-long investigation. And as we've been telling you all morning, very likely it is focused on Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff of the vice president.

Karl Rove, the political operative in the White House, the chief political operative there, apparently avoiding an indictment at this time. But the investigation, we are told, will continue.

All of that will become crystal clear, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Watch it here right on CNN.

Back with more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Our weekly "Extra Effort" segment pays tribute to those going the extra mile to help others. Now, this morning it's 10-year- old Talia Leman from Iowa. She basically got a jump on Halloween with a trick-or-treat fund-raiser for Katrina victims. In fact, UNICEF has named her its national youth ambassador for 2005. And she is our guest this morning.

Wow! That's pretty good. Are you excited? TALIA LEMAN, UNICEF NATIONAL YOUTH AMBASSADOR: Yes.

VERJEE: That's amazing. How did you come up with this idea?

LEMAN: Well, I really wanted to help out. And, well, I figured if I didn't do it, well, how do you know that someone else is going do it?

So -- well, my soccer coach, he said that you can't really wait for the ball to come to you. You have to go after the ball. And you have to fight for it. So basically we're fighting for them.

VERJEE: So how did you raise the money? You've raised like a half a million dollars.

LEMAN: Yes.

VERJEE: That's pretty amazing. How did you do it?

LEMAN: Well, a lot of schools have been just bringing in money because they really want to help out. And a lot of kids get really excited about it because they want to do it, but they don't know exactly how to do it.

VERJEE: Did you think for a minute that you'd be able to raise this much money?

LEMAN: Well, I really wanted to raise this much money.

VERJEE: Yes.

LEMAN: And I think we'll be able to do it.

VERJEE: Are your friends involved in all of this?

LEMAN: Yes.

VERJEE: Yes?

LEMAN: My school wrote letters to the people in Baton Rouge. And my mom's friends...

VERJEE: Go on -- yes.

LEMAN: ... volunteered. She brought the letters down, and they wrote back to us. And so that was really exciting when we got to read them.

VERJEE: And you showed me this box a little bit earlier. Why don't you tell everyone what this is, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.

LEMAN: It's a UNICEF box, and you can trick-or-treat with it. And you put your coins in here, and then when you bring it back to High V (ph), High V (ph) will cash it...

VERJEE: That's the grocery -- the grocery store. LEMAN: Yes.

VERJEE: Tell us about how they got involved in this.

LEMAN: Well, when we decided to do it, High V (ph) jumped onboard, and they said, well, we're going to make 25 million trick-or- treat bags.

VERJEE: Yes.

LEMAN: And we're like, wow, oh my gosh. And so they're in the stores. I don't know if there's a High V (ph) in New York or not, but -- and then when they bring their money in, High V (ph) will cash it. And -- but I think right now people are just giving it to their schools, because it's not Halloween yet and...

VERJEE: So you don't want any candy for Halloween? No? Your brother is quite mad about this, I understand. What did he say?

LEMAN: He's opposed to it.

VERJEE: He's opposed to it? That's well put.

You have a Web site.

LEMAN: Yes.

VERJEE: What is it?

LEMAN: Well, our Web site is www.halloweenhelpers.blogspot.com. And there's also a UNICEF Web site, but I'm not sure what that is.

VERJEE: OK. We'll find out.

Last question. In all of this, what have you learned the most out of this entire process, of being involved with UNICEF, meeting people, really caring to help? What did you get out of it the most?

LEMAN: Probably just to help people. Like, you should -- you have to care about more than just yourself. You have to care about everybody. And you can be more than just one person, also. I learned how to work with people, and it was really, really fun.

VERJEE: Talia Leman, UNICEF's national youth ambassador.

It's a pretty good title for being 10 years old. Thank you so much.

LEMAN: Thank you.

VERJEE: Great to see you. You look lovely.

LEMAN: Thank you.

VERJEE: Miles.

O'BRIEN: She is something. We're going to be keeping our eye on you, Talia. Definitely headed for big places.

All right. Coming up, more on the breaking news coming out of Washington. As we've told you, Patrick Fitzgerald has called a news conference at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. He's the special prosecutor that's been looking into that CIA case. Just the fact that he's calling a news conference tips the hand a little bit. The possibility of an indictment aimed at the chief of staff for the vice president of the United States.

We'll have full details on this after a break.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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