In December, Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the Justice Department's investigation. Fitzgerald's showdown with two journalists who had refused to give up their sources now came to a head: Judith Miller of The New York Times
, who had printed numerous stories leading up to the invasion conveying Bush administration message points supporting its stance, and Time
magazine's Matt Cooper. Both reporters' appeals were denied in June 2005; they both now risked jail.
In the end, of the two, only Miller saw the inside of a jail cell. Sentenced for six months for contempt of court, the reporter swallowed her pride rather than spill the beans on her source, ultimately revealed to have been Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Irve Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
On September 29, 2005, Judith Miller was released temporarily, and she agreed to testify before the grand jury. Before the grand jury, though, she revealed that she remembered very little. She didn't want to reveal Libby as the source unless she spoke with him firsthand.
Libby later wrote to her while she was in jail, and urged her to testify, believing it would clear him. She spent a total of 85 days in jail. After a phone call from Libby, she testified again, in October, about her meeting with Libby and turned over her notebook, which showed that she had written "Valerie Flame" in the margins during her conversation with Libby.