Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 – The special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case has summoned Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, to return next week to testify to a federal grand jury in a step that could mean charges will be filed in the case, lawyers in the case said Thursday.

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In recent days, Mr. Rove has been less visible than usual at the White House, fueling speculation that he is distancing himself from Mr. Bush or has been sidelined. But according to a senior administration official, Mr. Rove and his wife are on a long-planned trip visiting colleges with their teenage son. Several lawyers who have been involved in the case expressed surprise and concern over the recent turn of events and are increasingly convinced that Mr. Fitzgerald could be poised to charge someone with a crime for discussing with journalists the identity of a C.I.A. officer.