Thursday, April 20, 2006

So Why Was Rove's Policy Portfolio Taken From Him?

There's lots of speculation about deputy chief of staff Karl Rove's demotion in the White House yesterday. Rove, who used to be deputy chief of staff for both policy and political strategy, had his policy portfolio stripped from him by new White House chief of staff Josh Bolten. The official White House spin for the move has been this (courtesy of Dan Balz in the Washington Post):

Longtime Bush confidant Karl Rove -- who had hoped to use his position of deputy chief of staff to usher in an expansive conservative agenda -- was relieved of his policy portfolio to concentrate on long-term strategy and planning for a November midterm election that looks increasingly bleak for Republicans.

Rove probably will remain one of the most influential voices in the White House, but his shift in responsibilities suggests that new White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten intends to operate a different White House than his predecessor, Andrew H. Card Jr., who resigned after more than five years at the helm.


Rove's return to a role that closely mirrors that which he played in Bush's first term demonstrates how much this White House has now shifted to survival mode -- and how far events have pushed the president from the grand ambitions with which he opened his second term just 15 months ago.

Then, with Rove as the animating force, the president sought to engineer Republican political dominance by remaking government with such far-reaching initiatives as his plan to remake the Social Security program. Today, Social Security stands as Exhibit A of what went wrong domestically in 2005.

Public disillusionment over Bush's policies in Iraq have left the country in a sour mood and Bush's presidency at low ebb, threatening the entire Bush-Rove project to create a durable Republican majority. While that goal remains central to those closest to Bush, the focus at the White House for the foreseeable future will be trying to revitalize this presidency quickly enough to avoid crippling GOP losses in November that could thrust Bush into instant lame-duck status.

Realigning the White House staff and bringing in new faces appear central to that effort.
So that's the official reason for why Rove was demoted yesterday. But many on the blogosphere, including yours truly, have been speculating that there may be another reason for Rove's demotion - such as his fat, corrupt ass is about to indicted in the CIA leak case. While another Washington Post article by Baker and VandeHei published today says "A Republican close to Rove said the change was unrelated to the CIA leak case," Jason Leopold at Truthout reports this today:

Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.

The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove.

In an interview Wednesday, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove remains a "subject" of Fitzgerald's two-year-old probe.

"Mr. Rove is still a subject of the investigation," Luskin said. In a previous interview, Luskin asserted that Rove would not be indicted by Fitzgerald, but he was unwilling to make that prediction again Wednesday.

"Mr. Fitzgerald hasn't made any decision on the charges and I can't speculate what the outcome will be," Luskin said. "Mr. Rove has cooperated completely with the investigation."

Fitzgerald is said to have introduced more evidence Wednesday alleging Rove lied to FBI investigators and the grand jury when he was questioned about how he found out that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA and whether he shared that information with the media, attorneys close to the case said.

Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.

Additionally, an FBI investigator reread to jurors testimony from other witnesses in the case that purportedly implicates Rove in playing a role in the leak and the campaign to discredit Plame Wilson's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose criticism of the Bush administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence lead to his wife being unmasked as a covert CIA operative.


Luskin wouldn't comment on whether the investigation of Rove continues to center on alleged misleading statements to which Rove testified regarding a July 2003 conversation he had about Plame Wilson with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

Sources close to the investigation, however, confirmed that is exactly what Fitzgerald has continued to focus on and what he discussed with the grand jury Wednesday.

So which is it? Was Rove demoted in order to free him up to focus on the November midterm elections, was he demoted in order to scapegoat him for the second term failures (e.g., Social Security, Katrina etc.) or was he demoted because the White House knows a criminal indictment is coming down for Rove in the CIA leak case? Or is it a combination of all three?

Hard to say yet. But I hope somewhere in the equation is a multi-count indictment for Mr. Rove in the CIA leak case.

Let's face it, a multi-count indictment couldn't happen to a more deserving guy than Rove.

It’s fascinating watching from the sidelines. The issue of the FBI’s ability to seek prosecution for lying to investigators has been a real eye opener.
Apparently there has been a reluctance to use it in the past, but its becoming more common. Fitzgerald has already shown his willingness to use the mechanism, and Libby’s lawyers are suggesting Rove lied to investigators.
Perhaps this ‘least worst’ charge is enough threat to convince the powers that Rove is now a very real liability.
I have to say that if there's one guy I want to see go to jail, it's Rove. it would be even better if Fitz indicted him in the next month or so because that would putting Dear Karl out of commission for the November midterms, which would mean the GOP dirty tricks quotient would fall exponentially.

And that would be a good thing for everybody.
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