Sunday, October 23, 2005

Fitzmas is Coming

The lawyers involved in the CIA leak case expect indictments as early as Monday or Tuesday. Here's the story from Reuters:

Lawyers see charges this week in CIA-leak case
Sun Oct 23, 2005 4:13 PM ET

By Adam Entous

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers and other sources involved in case said on Sunday.

In a preview of how Republicans would counter charges against top administration officials by Fitzgerald, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas brushed aside an indictment for perjury -- rather than for the underlying crime of outing a covert operative -- as a "technicality."

Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" she suggested Fitzgerald may merely be trying to show that "two years' of investigation was not a waste of time and dollars."

Fitzgerald's investigation has focused largely on Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, and Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and their conversations about CIA operative Valerie Plame with reporters in June and July of 2003.

Fitzgerald is expected to give final notice to officials facing charges as early as Monday and may convene the grand jury on Tuesday, a day earlier than usual, to deliver a summary of the case and ask for approval of the possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury is to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

Fitzgerald could still determine that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges, but the lawyers said that appeared increasingly unlikely.

The White House initially denied that Rove and Libby were involved in any way in the leak.


Asked whether he was taking part in a final round of discussions with the prosecutor's office, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said: "I'm just not going to comment on any possible interactions with Fitzgerald."

Lawyers involved in the case said Fitzgerald has been focusing on whether Rove, Libby and others may have tried to conceal their involvement from investigators.

While Fitzgerald could still charge administration officials with knowingly revealing Plame's identity, the lawyers said he appeared more likely to seek charges for easier-to-prove crimes such as making false statements, obstruction of justice and disclosing classified information. Fitzgerald could also bring a broad conspiracy charge.


Fitzgerald has sent several signals in recent days that he is likely to bring indictments in the case, lawyers say.

One of the first postings on a new official Web site for the investigation was a February 6, 2004, letter giving Fitzgerald explicit authority to investigate and prosecute "federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses." The Web site was available at

Indictments against top officials would be a severe blow to an administration already at a low point in public opinion, and would put a spotlight on aggressive tactics used by the White House to counter critics of its Iraq policy.

Legal sources said Rove could be in legal jeopardy for initially not telling the grand jury he talked to Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper about Plame.

Libby could be open to false statement and obstruction charges because of contradictions between his testimony and that of Miller and other journalists.

Miller has also come under increasingly sharp criticism by editors and reporters in the pages of her own newspaper over her conduct. Times Ombudsman Byron Calame wrote Sunday: "the problems facing her inside and outside the newsroom will make it difficult for her to return to the paper as a reporter."

Much of the news in this case this week seemed to suggest that Scooter Libby was being made the fall guy for the White House. Some people, including Jeralyn Merritt at Talkleft, think Karl Rove is looking to cop a plea to a lesser charge (thus Rove's lawyer refusing to "comment on any interactions with Fitzgerald") or may have already copped a plea. Rumor is still swirling around some lesser names in the vice preznit's office, like John Hannah and David Wurmser (both are rumored to be cooperating with Fitzgerald on the investigation) and the vice preznit's name comes up a lot too.

As for my expectations, I'm hoping Fitzgerald nails both Rove and Libby to the wall. If Cheney is named an unindicted co-conspirator, that would be even better. If they go on the treason charge or the espionage charge, great. If they go on perjury, false statements and/or obstruction charges, that's fine too (no matter what the RNC pushback is, Americans know lying to federal prosecutors in order to cover up a possible crime is a crime.)

My dream Fitzmas present is a big conspiracy charge that takes out Rove, Libby, Cheney et al. But I'm not really expecting that. I think the smart money says Libby definitely, Rove probably, and everything else is up in the air.

Oh boy, I haven't been this excited since I was six years old and asking Santa for the Planet of the Apes Treehouse and new skates

Ahh, memories.

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