The NYT announces today that Karl Rove will not be charged in the Valerie Plame case. I'm still looking for a copy of Luskin's statement, but it includes the following:
On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove.
In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation. We believe that the Special Counsel's decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove's conduct.
Karl Rove won't be frog-marched. But I'm not sure this means the case will end with Libby.
Now I don't want to raise hopes too high. This may well be the fizzle Murray warned of on the Plame panel over the weekend. But here are my thoughts:
When those of us on the Plame panel got to know each other over the weekend, sitting at the pool so Joe Wilson and Larry Johnson could smoke their stogies, someone (it was probably me, but my sleep-deprived memories of this weekend are hazy) asked who thought Karl Rove was cooperating with the investigation. Two and two halves of us raised our hands. (And I'm not sure whether the last member of the panel had shown up yet, so that may well have been half of us.)
I was one of those who raised her hand halfway. My logic is this:
Dick Cheney is dragging down the White House. He is largely responsible for the mess in Iraq. He is trying to sabotage any attempts to negotiate honestly with Iran. And he is exposing everyone in the Administration to some serious legal jeopardy, in the event they ever lose control of courts. At some point, Dick Cheney's authoritarianism will doom Bush's legacy.
But you can't make him quit. His is a Constitutional office, he was elected along with Bush, so you can't make him resign like you can with your Treasury Secretary or your Environmental Secretary. What better way to get rid of him, then, than to expose him to legal proceedings? It gives you the ability (farcical, but no matter) to say that you have severed all ties with his policies and legacies.
Now here are some data points:
- There is clear evidence (for example, in the White House's reluctance to publicly exonerate Libby in Fall 2003) that the White House holds OVP responsible for this mess.
- Patrick Fitzgerald received a large new chunk of evidence recently, a bunch of emails.
- In March leaks suggested that Rove was helping Fitzgerald understand those emails.
- Not long ago, the guy who coordinated the cover-up in Fall 2003 (April 14) and the guy who covered it up with the public (April 20) left the White House.
- In an appearance on April 19 Novak denied taking the Fifth--but he did not deny cooperating with the investigation.
- After Rove's grand jury appearance on April 25, Luskin gave a somewhat tortured denial of Rove's jeopardy.
- Fitzgerald's public comments have recently implicated Cheney more and more, first by revealing that Dick ordered Libby to leak
Plame's identitythe NIE (in late January), then by showing the world Dick's immediate response to Joe Wilson's op-ed (in May).
- Yesterday at Libby's status hearing, Fitzgerald revealed the White House will not block Libby's access to any materials.
- In his statement today, Luskin does not claim the investigation is over--he refers to it as a "pending case" and refuses to make further public statements.
This is an outtamyarse speculation, but I think it is possible that those emails revealed the Fall 2003 cover-up, and that Rove at first tried to bully his way through them (all the while recognizing his legal jeopardy increased). The people who were tangentially involved--Card and Scotty--decided to save their skin. And then Rove and Novak, presumably with Bush's blessing, traded real cooperation in exchange for Cheney's head.
I'm not trying to give people undue hope, or trying to cheer people up. But it has become clear that Cheney was the architect of this smear, from start to finish. It has been clear that Fitzgerald has Dick in his sights. If Fitzgerald got closer to being able to prove that case, I think it possible that the Texas mafia might sacrifice the person who caused all this difficulty (and who had become the White House's anvil dragging it down) in order to save its beloved Turdblossom.
When I introduced myself to Byron York over the weekend, he said something to the effect of "a lot of people here have high hopes that Rove would be indicted." I responded, "but don't all reasonable people have hopes that Rove will be indicted." York didn't respond. But as soon as I walked away, I wished that I had responded, "No Byron, many of us have even higher hopes that Dick Cheney will pay for his obvious involvement in this case." It's worth noting, by the way, that Byron York appears to have been one of the first, if not the first, to break the news that Rove will not face charges. It's also worth noting that, when we spoke, York tried to make the case that Rove has been cooperating all along. "No Byron," I patiently explained, "I mean Big-C cooperation. The other stuff was just Rove proving his testicular fortitude." York's attempts to downplay the possibility of Rove's cooperation may not mean anything, just 36 hours before he announced that Rove would not face charges. Then again, it might.
This case may be over--at least at the legal level. But until Patrick Fitzgerald reveals that he is done, we won't know what Rove's escape from justice really means.
Update: Here is the most important snippet from the statement Joe Wilson's lawyer sent out this morning:
While it appears that Mr. Rove will not be called to answer in criminal court for his participation in the wrongful disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified employment status at the CIA in retaliation against Joe Wilson for questioning the rationale for war in Iraq, that obviously does not end the matter. The day still may come when Mr. Rove and others are called to account in a court of law for their attacks on the Wilsons.
Update 2: Guys, I guess I need to make this more clear. Christopher Wolf, the guy who would take a lawsuit against Rove if Joe and Valerie were going to sue, just released a statement saying, "The day may still come when Mr. Rove" is called to account.
Update 3: I think it significant that my buddy Byron York, who is the recipient of the most managed press releases in all things Plame, took a rather circumspect tone in his reporting of this.
Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has informed top White House adviser Karl Rove that Rove will not face indictment in the CIA-leak investigation, National Review Online has learned. The word came yesterday, when Fitzgerald told Rove lawyer Robert Luskin that he, Fitzgerald, did not plan to seek charges against Rove. This morning, Luskin released a brief statement:
[snip--York includes the entirety of the Luskin comments that have been released, including "In deference to the pending case, we will not make any further public statements about the subject matter of the investigation. We believe that the Special Counsel’s decision should put an end to the baseless speculation about Mr. Rove’s conduct."]
A decision by Fitzgerald — one way or the other — had been anticipated for months. There was widespread speculation that Rove might face charges for lying to Fitzgerald’s grand jury much like those filed by Fitzgerald last October against Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. Now, it appears that will not happen. And so far, at least, no one has been charged with violating any of the underlying laws in the case — either the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act.
In contrast, Byron's buddy Podhoretz, who just makes shit up and tries to be as incendiary as possible, reverts to the Comstock talking points Byron tried to float last week, with no success:
Karl Rove won't say it, and his lawyer won't say it, but I'll say it: Patrick Fitzgerald's conduct in the Rove matter has been disgraceful. He kept Rove hanging for eight months with his bizarre game of keeping the Rove case "open" even though he claimed he did not expect any more indictments. I'd guess this cost Rove several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees and months of sleepless nights. Nice work, Patrick. You have once again reminded us why the misbegotten term "special prosecutor" should be considered an obscenity.
Um, there's a reason Karl Rove and his lawyer won't say this. They know that Rove, while he doesn't face immediate charges, is still in some jeopardy, and they can't risk fucking with Fitz.
Though I share your concern that Karl Rove had to spend thousands to defend himself, really I do. Now how about the thousands that Valerie Plame lost when Karl ruined her career?