Friday, October 28, 2005

Fitzmas Morning Rumors: Libby Indicted, Rove Still In "Legal Jeopardy"

Karl Rove's PR and legal teams were in heavy spin mode last night, weaving tales for the NY Times, the Associated Press, and the Wall Street Journal. The gist is that Vice Preznit Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, is going to be indicted today in the CIA leak case while Karl Rove remains in "jeopardy".

Here's the Journal account on the case:

With Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald poised to bring charges today against at least one Bush administration official in the CIA-leak investigation, White House officials were told the probe may not be over.

Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser and deputy White House chief of staff, was informed yesterday evening that he may not be charged today but remains in legal jeopardy, according to a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Fitzgerald, who meets with jurors this morning, has zeroed in on potential wrongdoing by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and is likely to charge Mr. Libby at least with making false statements. The testimony of reporters who have been witnesses in the case has contradicted Mr. Libby's public statements.

Mr. Fitzgerald appeared still to be pondering whether to charge Mr. Rove and has notified the political strategist that he remains under investigation.

A spokesman for the White House referred calls to Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, who declined to comment. Mr. Libby's lawyer, Joseph Tate, didn't return messages seeking comment.


Mr. Rove, who testified four times before the grand jury in this case, had faced possible charges for perjury or false statements for differences between his testimony and that of Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, lawyers have said. Mr. Rove's lawyer has tried in recent weeks to persuade Mr. Fitzgerald not to charge his client, and met with the prosecutor as recently as Tuesday to discuss the case.

The potential indictment of Mr. Rove has been considered a nightmare scenario by members of the Republican party, for while he is best known for being a superb political strategist, Mr. Rove has also become the connective tissue between politics and the policies of the administration, frequently serving as Mr. Bush's voice in legislative negotiations in Congress. Some Republicans even link the administration's recent setbacks on Hurricane Katrina and Ms. Miers to Mr. Rove's legal distractions.

It is possible that others in the administration could face indictment as well, including whoever originally leaked the name of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak, the first to publish it in July 2003.

Mr. Fitzgerald had been hoping to wrap up his case today, which is when the grand jury expires, although it is possible that he could seek a brief extension. Alternatively, Mr. Fitzgerald could present the continuing portion of the case to a new grand jury. The investigation has enmeshed more than two dozen Bush administration officials, with a number of top officials, including Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, being quizzed by prosecutors.

Not sure how to read any of this. These leaks are coming from Rove's side, not from Fitzgerald, so all we can be sure about is that Dear Karl wanted these stories in the papers this morning. Which makes me wonder about the veracity of them.

We should finally find out today, one way or the other.

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