Sunday, May 14, 2006

Act II set to begin, Shoe II set to drop

Some of the netizens of the blogosphere have been weighing in over the weekend with what's likely to be -- will almost certainly be -- Bigass News next week: The hammer may be about to come down, in fact may have already landed, on the head of Karl Rove, the Architect, special counselor to President Bush and Democratic bete noire. The hammer blow was/will be delivered courtesy of one Patrick Fitzgerald, Special Prosecutor.

The blog Truthout, is partly directed by Jason Leopold, a journalist with two years as Los Angeles bureau chief at Dow Jones Newswires under his belt. We can't be sure yet, but the blog seemed to state the situation plainly on May 13:

"Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

"During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

"Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney, did not return a call for comment. Sources said Fitzgerald was in Washington, DC, Friday and met with Luskin for about 15 hours to go over the charges against Rove, which include perjury and lying to investigators about how and when Rove discovered that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative and whether he shared that information with reporters, sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

"It was still unknown Saturday whether Fitzgerald charged Rove with a more serious obstruction of justice charge. Sources close to the case said Friday that it appeared very likely that an obstruction charge against Rove would be included with charges of perjury and lying to investigators.

"An announcement by Fitzgerald is expected to come [next] week, sources close to the case said."

Truthout had been staking out the story even before then. On Friday, the Weblog reported the following:

"Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources."

Setting aside all the partisan recriminations that Truthout's report will create, the reflexive howls from the conservatives that the Truthout story is a tissue of bullshit, there's no escaping the steady, unemotional approach to the way the story was told. No leaps of logic, no moralistic striving to parse What It All Means. There's a doggedly procedural march to the endgame, a connecting of the dots that just makes sense, given how this whole story has played itself out over the last two years.

David Shuster, Washington correspondent for MSNBC's "Hardball" and as avid a student of the CIA leak scandal as any journalist in D.C., came to much the same conclusion earlier this month, breaking it down logically and categorically on the airt:

"Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why.

"First of all, you don't put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple, a week and a half ago, unless you feel that's your only chance of avoiding indictment. So in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges.

"Secondly, it's now been 13 days since Rove testified. After testifying for three and a half hours, prosecutors refused to give him any indication that he was clear. He has not gotten any indication since then. And the lawyers that I've spoken with outside of this case say that if Rove had gotten himself out of the jam, he would have heard something by now.

"And then the third issue is something we've talked about before. And that is, in the Scooter Libby indictment, Karl Rove was identified as 'Official A.' It's the term that prosecutors use when they try to get around restrictions on naming somebody in an indictment.

"We've looked through the records of Patrick Fitzgerald from when he was prosecuting cases in New York and from when he's been US attorney in Chicago. And in every single investigation, whenever Fitzgerald has identified somebody as Official A, that person eventually gets indicted themselves, in every single investigation."

While Shuster's "third issue" may be nothing at all, and it's true that past performance is no guarantee of future results, it shows that Fitzgerald has been nothing if not a stickler for consistency and relentless pursuit of the facts.

So the outcome, if it comes as expected, will probably turn out to be as welcome by conservatives as by liberals, given Bush's dead stick at the controls of his own administration. Right now, for better or worse, George Bush is increasingly seen as damaged goods, a president at the mercy of a debacle of his own creation, an initiative that both renders the national treasure subject to unending hemorrhage, alienates our oldest allies, and further divides an already polarized nation.

Pending what Fitzgerald decides -- and that's hardly a slam dunk -- it's perhaps fitting that Karl Rove, the symbol behind the symbol, the Architect, be the first pillar of the administration subject to collapse.
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Image credit: Rove & Bushies: Joyce N. Boghosian (U.S. Government, public domain); Fitzgerald: Justice Department (Public domain)

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