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May 17, 2007


Seems like Prisoner's Dilemna to me:

All of Rove's people get their own individual maximum outcome by coordinating and stonewalling with the same story.

However, as each one lawyers up, he or she makes an individual choice on how to avoid jail time.

It makes me wonder if they are worrying that Monica is not on the team, or if there is some early rumor mill running that she is going to name Rove.

You know, stories like this make me sad that mob lynchings are so out of style.

Albert -- after reading this, I'm wondering if Sampson already named Rove on a specific point and a second corroborating bit is being sought from either Goodling or Ralston.

Ralston is already on the hook because of the Abramoff scandal, having deliberately used non-White House email to conduct White House business during pre-election period, and having provided assistance to bypass ethics rules on reporting requirements. There's probably more than Hatch Act content here, too, given the pre-election timing. Rove knew she was on the hook, or she wouldn't have been moved down the hall and then out of the White House after the Abramoff emails were released by Waxman. But Waxman as ranking minority member of Oversight at the time the Abramoff emails were release, could likely do nothing to force the issue at the time, and has waited to use it as leverage.

There could be far more damaging content uncovered during the original Abramoff investigation of which Ralston is aware but we are not; she may be pleading immunity not because she's afraid of being forced to squeal, but because she's already in legal jeopardy. She may not have lawyered up and asked for immunity until now, because doing so before the issue was forced would have reflected poorly on Rove and the White House, and hurt the election outcomes if she'd done it last year.

IMO, Novak's tipping off Rove, but only part of it is about Davis.

In the Libby trial, Novak testified that "Rove was a very good source" or some such thing. Can't Novak just pick up the phone and call Rove? Does Novak communicate with everyone in DC by writing columns about them?

And I'm just crying a river for these poor Republicans who are just horrified by the constitutional obligation of oversight! Did anyone catch Turley last night on Olberman, he said before the Dems took control that he had to meet John Conyers in the basement to talk b/c they wouldn't let Conyers have a conference room?!

I think your Sampson theory is a good one. I remember during his testimony in the Senate that there were a whole raft of questions he was supposed to follow up on--since we haven't seen any angry letters from Leahy reprimanding him, I have assumed that he was cooperating. What is more interesting is that he has not plead the 5th, nor has he been granted immunity. Which would lead one to believe that he was in a position to finger-point, and would (at this point, after seeing how Rove treats those who are no longer useful) not have anything to gain by refusing to cooperate with Congress--and a lot to loose, personally, if he didn't. That is, if he wants to stick to his story that he was just a well-meaning little worker bee.

As for Ralston--one wonders if at this point she would love to get this over with and move on. The Abramoff thing has been hanging over her head for like years now.

As for Novak--I think that he just can't stand the idea that he has become such a parody of himself, which was a parody in the 1st place. And is desperately trying to maintain his sense of his own importance in his own mind.

If one assumes Novak to be a shameless conduit of manipulation and disinformation, one will hardly ever be wrong. He's been an egg-sucking weasel for 5 decades and your suspicion is well founded, EW. Although his disappointment with this WH may be genuine, his back-door compliment to Waxman does not include his admiration for the LEGAL activities necessary to stop the 'scofflaws' he prefers.

you're not stumped! you are always onto it, nancy drew!
novak is a bloviated fool (i think of toad, in wind in the willows), and he's ready to make a big, big
slip of his forked-tongue.
you go, girl.
for all us.

I'd go with the obvious--she needs immunity for her role in the Abramoff scandal(s). Abramoff is clearly singing like a canary to try to get his jail time reduced. And Ralston worked for Abramoff before she worked for Rove. She's in a bit of a tight spot right now--she has to be worried that Abramoff will offer up Rove in exchange for less jail time, and she's a no-brainer witness to anything that happened between the two of them. I don't think she's in any direct danger of being charged, but if Abramoff and Rove end up in some sort of Godzilla vs Mothra showdown, Ralston is going to be the first person to get squashed. An immunity deal would be a prudent move for her right now.


i'm with you,

but a point of clarification.

are you talking about a mob of the citizenry hanging just one miscreant?

or a mob hanging a mob of bush mobsters?

i'd opt for the second, more sweeping, action.

and i'd throw novak in to boot.

Marci; What you recognize here is a veritable conspiracy between many of the players you talk about in "Anatomy of Deceit."

While Rove's cover may be thinning faster than his hair, there's no doubt they (the many minions of the DC cocktail-weenie power circuit) are protecting him, many of them ILLEGALLY, at every juncture...
from today's WaPo; http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/16/AR2007051602443.html
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a senior Justice official said the department scoured (there's an ambiguous word, I BET they scoured their computers, as in "cleaned thoroughly") its computers in response to a subpoena and found just the single e-mail chain written earlier this year. It already had been released publicly. The possibility that Rove had a role in the removal of the U.S. attorneys has become a central issue in Congress's investigation. (...does anyone doubt this is just more obvious proof of Rove's minions' latest anti-truth syndrome, habitual deletion disorder...)

Doesn't Novak see the irony in his own report.

"His committee has aimed at the General Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, constraints on global-warming scientists, the misrepresentations of Cpl. Pat Tillman's death in Afghanistan, private contractors in Iraq and the Plame leak, among other things."

Shouldn't the Press be investigating these issues too?


Yes, it may well be Abramoff. But on that point, I'd suggest three things:

  • She may be in a good deal more stew than you make out--even the emails already released show that she was conspiring to get Abramoff access
  • She may well have already gotten immunity in the legal investigations (would we know?)
  • The warning to Rove may simply be that this is coming public--as opposed to Rove's slow implication in Abramoff that we currently have

Not sure if any of that is true. But Abramoff ties Rove in. Even if she's just talking about Abramoff, it may lead to Rove.

I'm with Frank on Ralston being squeezed between Abramoff and Rove...she was undoubtedly in the thick of everything.

Novak is always sending messages. I agree with EW it is probably to tip off Rove that his involvement is coming public soon.

Interesting post as usual. What does this mean?

"If I were Waxman, I'd paint this column purple and put it on the door to the Committee staff office; it seems the only appropriate way to treat it."

Purple? hang it on the door?

"...you are always onto it, nancy drew!"

Nancy Drew, I like that. You're the best EW. Good idea to invite all to give it a close read... good ideas come from many places.

I'd say it was an attempt to play to Waxman's ego, to dissuade him from actually giving Ralston immunity, all the while laundering a leak, from Davis and others, to warn Rove of Ralston's appearance. Stealing Waxman's thunder on Ralston's testimony, all the while raising the stakes for her appearance. All signed with a cute note to Rove: Republicans on the Hill are willing to protect you in this way, but stop with the public attacks.

The play to his ego insures the article will come to his attention so that it can be effective in the other intended ways. I don't see how it might dissuade Waxman from giving Ralston immunity... unless her immunity raises the stakes for a revealing questioning and then her testimony flops like Gonzalez' testimony. If you are right, Waxman doesn't know what Ralston would say with immunity.

Why would Novak need a column to get a warmomg to Rove? Won't Rove take his phone calls? Blackberry messages? I lean more to the theory that it is Novak puffing himself up. This is not to say that Rove may be in some danger, however, gods willing.

Ralston is really in a bind, I would think. During the Abramoff shenannigans, none of them thought they would ever get caught, because they were ensuring the triumph of the 1000 year GOP reign, and they must have bene pretty sloppy. She can't serve two masters, and has to think about her own personal future. Sampson is a more interesting figure in many ways. More than a little blinded by the light, but not stupid.

High hopes as usual.

I would only caution that any attorney worth his salt will be telling his clients to get immunity because of the Libby case's demonstration of the effects of conflicting testimony, well meaning or not.

And if the person has actually worked for or with a convicted person who had/has real charges against them, as opposed to the current NO CHARGES AT ALL situations as regards emails, USAs, then it is all the more imperative.

What many bloggers don't seem to realize is that a lot of these smaller people are frightened and dismayed at the power arrayed against them. They see the political pressure to find anyone, anyone at all to hang.

They see Libby.

Welcome to the post Wilson-Plame-Rove world.

a reader

Only because doing both would give it the proper false gravitas and amused celebration that Novak deserves. As if to say, "look at me, Novak called me the Grand INquisitor!"

Jodi, far off in another orbit as usual. Hello, Susan Ralston connected to Abramoff (convict).

I don't really know about these things, but is it possible that Ralston, with lots of legal advice, repeatedly took the 5th when she was deposed, and that's why they're talking about immunity now?

Well, I tried to post a comment earlier, but Typepad's captcha system thinks I'm a robot. Anybody got one of those things from BladeRunner to prove I'm human?

This column is Rove leaking the information about Ralston's immunity request in a friendly forum so that he can prove he's not scared about it. If it came out in a McClatchy newspaper, there would be an entirely different spin to the whole thing. Rove can't afford to have people think he's in danger. The minute people stop fearing him, he's toast and he knows it. Which leads me to think that he really is worried about Ralston's testimony. Lawyers don't recommend their clients ask for immunity unless there's something to worry about. If Ralston's lawyers are worried, then Rove should be too.

Libby one of the "small people" !!!

That has got to be one of the funniest things I have heard all day!

I think William Ockham's take is interesting because I don't really buy that Rove and Novak communicate via his columns. I suspect that they chat on the phone quite frequently. Rove has been identified by Novak as a frequent source. And like Mr. Ockham, I didn't know whether to take this thing seriously b/c of the source it was coming from--so in a sense, Novak writing this, did send me a message that Rove wasn't in danger from Ralston.

I hope to hell that he is...

Question: Do we know if Ms. Ralston's appearance will be public or behind closed doors?

Idjo: The list of people who could almost certainly bring down Karl Rove is massive, and it only takes one: Abramoff, Ralston, Goodling, Sampson, Gonzales, Libby, Sara Taylor, DeLay, Scott Jennings ... each one is a boiling kettle with a clattering, hissing lid that Karl has to keep securely in place. Rove is like Caesar - omnipotent until someone plunges in the first dagger.

WO 13:29 -- I see your point, but let's try the flipside of that argument. Would McClatchy carry Novak? Would we think it was less spin and more news if it came from Novak in any other outlet? Would we think it was Rove's ghost writing through Novak, no matter which paper carried him? Nah, I guess I don't buy it, I think it's other entities foreshadowing back to Rove.

Mimikatz 12:42 -- Don't you think that Rove would be avoiding direct contact with Novak or vice versa, if the Plame investigation is inactive but not closed? I know if I were either of them, I would. And certainly no emails between them; they could be used in a test of document production if there was a subpoena to produce all correspondence between them in the future. On the other hand, Rove was fired once before in his lifetime for leaks to Novak; maybe he still hasn't learned since it takes dogs at least 4 attempts to learn a trick.


Perhaps I wasn't clear. When the word of Ralston's immunity plea started going around Washington (as usual, long before it became public), the first thing that would cross everybody's mind would be "This could be the thing that does Rove in". Rove can not have people in D.C. thinking that way. He's escaped the hangman's noose (metaphorically speaking) every time, but everybody knows that when the dam breaks on his lawlessness, there will be a lot of collateral damage. There are countless people who, every day, must reassess the political and moral calculus of staying in Rove's camp versus turning State's evidence. They don't want to be left behind in the rush to courthouse for immunity. Rove had to deliver this message to the "right" people and the only messenger for that is Novak. I probably should have used Isikoff as my counterexample.

"I would only caution that any attorney worth his salt will be telling his clients to get immunity because of the Libby case's demonstration of the effects of conflicting testimony, well meaning or not.

Bold is mine.

Tokyo Jodi, not all attorneys are men.

"And if the person has actually worked for or with a convicted person"


Suddenly, Tokyo Jodi you're using language appropriate to two genders and you're "worried" about the dearth of jobs for ex-cons, as long as they are rich neocons.

"who had/has real charges against them,"

Shorter TJ, it's ok if you're a Republican to lie under oath and obstruct justice, when it concerns 3,500 dead US soldiers. When Clinton does the same about a blow job between consulting adults, than those identical charges are "real" charges.

"as opposed to the current NO CHARGES AT ALL situations as regards emails, USAs, then it is all the more imperative."

TJ, I guess you never watch the Sopranos. They routinely go to great lengths to dismember and bury the bodies of the people they murder. It's called destruction of evidence, so the proper authorities cannot file CHARGES agaisnt them.

"What many bloggers don't seem to realize"

TJ, please apologize to emptywheel for this rank insult. You're taking up space on her "blog" with your insipid and vacuous sniping.

Tokyo Jodi, if I don't see a crystal clear apology on this thread, I'll start asking about your "Hero," "the King of his gender," every time I see one of your worthless comments.

"is that a lot of these smaller people are frightened and dismayed at the power arrayed against them."

Yep, it's a shame they were too stupid and greedy to see it before we invaded/occupied Iraq. Iraq is the prime example of what you so casually referred to, the "smaller people are frightened and dismayed at the power arrayed against them."

"They see the political pressure to find anyone, anyone at all to hang. They see Libby.

Tokyo Jodi, one of the traits you have that makes it so easy to dislike your comments, is your massive ignorance of history. In this example wrt the word, "hang." African Americans have known for centuries, via lynchings, that "political pressure" could get them literally "hung," not the figurative kind you so mistakenly refer to. Also when African Americans were lynched, by design, the neck was not broken. Every attempt was made to torture them while they died. Usually this meant strangulation. Then their body was displayed prominently, "hung," as a sign to other African Americans not to be "uppity."

I'd invite you to consider using some other term besides "hung," because Scooter has not even spent a night in jail yet.

"Welcome to the post Wilson-Plame-Rove world."

Hooray, someone let Tokyo Jodi out of the Garden of Eden. She's discovered that the world is neither safe nor just. The problem is she missed the totality of human history and just figured it out after poor Scooter got held accountable for his malevolent and manifestly illegal actions, that killed hundreds of thousands of human beings.

Ralston was requested to give a deposition to the Oversight Committee staff on April 5th. Do we know if she showed up, or if instead she got Berenson to start discussions? Is it the kind of thing that the committee would confirm if contacted about it?

WO 14:13 -- heh. Yeah, I got you...but surely Rove would be quite stupid not to think that Waxman didn't learn anything from Lawrence Walsh's final summary of Iran-Contra, or that many of us haven't already sent messages to the Judiciary Committees and the Oversight Committee asking them to be extremely judicious, sparing and narrow with any grants of immunity, leaving little room for play. Or that Waxman and staff aren't smart enough to see through such transparent manipulations.

ps in nc: I read that she'd already been "deposed" (wish we could say that about bush & cheney) - that was probably the april 5th session.


read the 3rd paragraph of my 12:42


of course.


in this climate, there is something to worry about.

Woohall Hollow,

read the 12:42 more closely please.
I specifically said "They see Libby."
I didn't say he was small.


you name clouds your judgment.

John Casper,

when you get carried away on a familiar aphorism like ~find someone to hang~ and carry on about slavery, I realize that there is nothing much more to say to you.
(I started to say ~when you get hung up on a familar aphorism~ but realized I should't try to antagonize you.)

"confused, disorganized; in over their heads; incompetent; bush didn't mean to; was loyal to a fault"--these will become the new memes that other republicans will be able to use to distance themselves from bush. novak is setting the stage, at rove's request, too.

Novakula says Susan Ralston's got nothing ???

when has Novakula ever been right ???

I think this is a really good sign

if Novakula thinks he can "Play" Henry Waxman, I take that to mean that the repuglicans are undersetimating their problems

all Novakula can do is offer reasurances to the freepi, like our resident troll, tokyo jodi the worm tongue

did anybody think it was a coincidence that tokyo jodi crawled out from under her bridge to comment on this thread ???

Tokyo Jodi, I don't want you responding to me, I'm waiting for a very sincere, very clear apology to emptywheel.

TJ, lmao, an aphorism is a "phrase," Aphorism.

Here's an "aphorism," TJ, but I don't want you to get "all carried away" on it: "Why buy the cow, when the milk is free?"

TJ, evidently, you haven't had any ancestors who were "hung" by a lynch mob. If you had, you wouldn't apply it to a "white collar" thug, such as Scooter, who will largely escape the consequences of his massive and serial felonies.

Jodi, nice try--acting all obtuse. So let me spell out your logic for you. You say that the "smaller people" (how small they really are is a matter for debate, but I will let it go) are afraid, due to the lessons from the Libby trial. But as you admit, Libby was not "little" -- so the comparison falls apart.

But, if they really are small, then they should've known that it is stupid to try to defy those with REAL power, ie, those who have been invested by the constitution to oversee the smaller and not so small people in govt so as they don't abuse their power and positions of trust. What Ralston, Goodling et al forgot is that their employer was not the RNC or even Bush, but the American taxpayer.

I hope they are afraid. They should be--and it is too bad that they had so little fear over the past 6 years.

Stagemom, I think you have it right here. Rove is meme shopping to the rump of loyal and frightened GOPpers through his old reliable Mouth of Sauron guy, Novak.

As well, he is speaking to a select audience of insiders through this "medium" (egg sucking weasel, yeah, that's sound about right), to those who might be laboring under the opinion that they might want to go into the opposition themselves at some point. Let's parse a bit:

"According to her friends, she has nothing to say that would cause problems for Rove. Her request for immunity, they explained, resulted from caution by her attorneys."
Let me deconstruct:

According to her friends (read, me, Rove, aka da Man, says);

she has nothing to say that would cause problems for Rove (and you sagging suits better not either, chumpos);

Her request for immunity, they explained, resulted from caution by her attorneys. (If I were you - and I'm not and never will be anything like lesser mortals like you - I'd be bidding on the available legal talent, as you might expect the price to be rising steeply her real soon.)

There is enough on Ralston already to hurt her; therefore, there is absolutely no reason to even discuss immunity with her unless she is serving up Rove and the Whitehouse. Note that the info sought from Ralston may not necessarily be of the first instance, it may be corroboration of Abhramoff info so as to have a very solid case before going forward.

Ew as to your question on whether Ralston could have had immunity for a while and us not know it. Sure. In fact, in any normal federal investigation and/or prosecution, you would not know. I kind of doubt it here, however, because it would be far more difficult for it not to be known in the setting of a Congressional Committee. Not impossible though.

Lastly, what the hell is up with Brad Berenson? How many conflicts of interest is that little geek-a-con going to accumulate before someone calls him on it? Crikey!

OT - Does anyone have link to Marcy's Guardian piece? (tried their -- usually good -- search engine, without success) Ta! Thanks.

Those poor victims in the Bush administration. How like Novacula to invert his crosses, and suggest that Bush's is rightside up.

His suggestion that the Bush team would be competent and apolitical, but for Mr. Waxman's partisan criticism and incessant demands for documents, is a work of art. Like blaming Brownie's Katrina woes on the press, instead of incompetence. I especially like his implication that focusing on Rove's activities as possibly illegal and corrupt is partisan wishful thinking, rather than a belated exercise in common sense.

I suspect Mr. Waxman is simply running through his list of what his committee should have been doing the last six years instead of giving Mr. Bush a free pass. Perhaps Mr. Novak should do the same, and start reporting on what he's missed all that time. I suggest he start with illegal intelligence gathering programs.

desertwind -- here it is, Marcy's commentary on Guardian.

Rayne--thanks for the link. EW--will you be doing other stuff for the Guardian? As I much as I relish your blogosphere commentary, I love the idea of your thinking being available to a wider audience.

No confidence vote coming on Gonzales...

I think the comments are correct, that Rove is trying to reassure his local supporters that it would still be foolish to cross him and open up to what we used to call the Feds. (Not sure where the real cops will come from now.)

Rove sees more than most. Perhaps he sees a sea change. He knows he can rely on a few billionaire zealots to keep him and his clients busy and compensated. But I think he expected to build an empire after Shrub retired, and that dream may be in jeopardy. But he would not go quietly or simply, and he may have enough dirt on so many people that he won't "go" at all.

yo, emptywheel, there is a front page post at DKOS that seems to be about the Wilson's civil suit against dead eye dick, scooter, et al

have you seen it ???

is that really cheney's defense ???

has dick ever heard of the US Code ???

IANAL, but I could prosecute THAT case

just put dead eye dick on the stand, and let him explain his extraordinary powers to a jury

should take a jury about 45 minutes to find against him, and that includes lunch

I would say that dead eye dick met his Waterloo, but Waterloo was a close battle, and this is gonna be a slaughter

Jodi -- your comment is (unfortunately) a standard RW line, and, as many are, it's full of air.

I can puncture it with a simple sentence:

A grant of immunity does not protect the witness from perjury.

Therefore, Libby's experiences have nothing to do with this. At all.

Ralston must be fearful of criminal charges relating to something she's done, not something she's going to say.

(Free tip: next time you are enthralled with a RW and/or GOP talking point, examine it for logic before you repeat it).

"TJ, please apologize to emptywheel for this rank insult. You're taking up space on her "blog" with your insipid and vacuous sniping."

Yes, indeedy. I have been banned by trollops for far less.


I started to get scacastic, but then I would fit right in.


By design or not, wouldn't immunity (or the threat of it) for Ralston put enormous pressure on Goodling when she testifies?

Goodling was the link between DOJ and Rove. Ralston and Goodling would have been on opposite ends of the same line of communication.

If they both have immunity, but they don't know what the other has/will say, they really are in a prisoners dilemma. Since Goodling will be testifying first, what does she do?

If she can't remember/fails to remember/mis-remembers things Ralston "may" testify to, she is up a creek. Immunity for Ralston increases the pressure on Goodling to lay everything out to protect her own immunity.

TNDem - you make good points.

I'm tired of the constant banter about perjury traps, a concept which seems to have surfaced with the Goodling refusal to testify.

All testimony by anyone in any forum (sworn statements, answers to interrogatories, affidavits, depositions and court appearances) is by design a 'perjury trap.'

Courts exist to determine the truth. Determining the truth is not always easy. That's why court procedures are called trials. If you tell the truth you shouldn't have a perjury problem.

Only liars are concerned (and properly so) about perjury traps.

Since Ralston was called before Waxman in early April, the same time things appeared to be heating up in the Abramoff investigations with the indictment of Dep. Sec. Griles and the targeting of CREA ED Italia Federici and Abramoff-associate Kevin Ring, I'd be willing to say this is Abramoff-related as much as Rove-related (though the two are hard to separate, really.) Sue Ralston was Jack Abramoff's righthand (wo)man for many years, and ran the governmental affairs shop at Preston Gates. She was the gatekeeper, a position she transferred with her to Rove's office. Of course, her contact with Abramoff never stopped, and there are over 400 admitted contacts between Ralston and Abramoff from 2001 until 2004. She used to clear Rove's appointments with Norquist.

However, Ralston, like Goodling and Federici, isn't some brainless, two-bit player. She handled much of the influence peddling and money laundering for Abramoff in the '90s, and helped make the K-Street Project was it came to be.

Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what's going on with the Abramoff case, as clearly the recent spurt of activity is indicative of something. We all know Jack's singing like a canary. And now PIS can't drag its feet with a Democratic Congress watching. I wonder how much of it is Chertoff's trying to make sure his people in DoJ outlast the Gonzales crew.

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