Water Man Spouts

Monday, March 27, 2006

Karl Rove & the missing e-mails

{1} "He gave me a little lecture about breaking a conspiracy like Watergate. 'You build convincingly from the outer edges in, you get ten times the evidence you need against the Hunts and Liddys. They feel hopelessly finished -- they may not talk right away, but the grip is on them. Then you move up and do the same thing at the next level. If you shoot too high and miss, then everyone feels more secure. Lawyers work this way. I'm sure smart reporters must too.' I recall he gave me a look as if to sayI did not belong in the category of smart reporters. 'You put the investigation back months. It puts everyone on the defensive -- editors, FBI agents, everybody has to go into a crouch after this'."
-- Bob Woodward; The Secret Man; 2005; page 91.
This description Mark Felt telling Bob Woodward how an error he and Carl Bernstein made in reporting on Bob Haldeman had hurt the Watergate investigation might help us process a report from RawStory today. Journalist Larisa Alexandrovna provided readers with information that indicates that Karl Rove is cooperating with Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of the Plame scandal.
Most of the responses that I read on sites such as the Democratic Underground and Daily Kos were positive. The majority of those participating in discussions on the report were obviously well-informed. Many of these people asked intelligent, insightful questions. I thought it might be fun to review some of the information reported from the time of Scooter Libby's indictment through the past week, to see if it fits with what Ms. Alexandrovna reported today.
Readers may recall in late October, '05, the New York Times carried an article by Richard Stevenson and Anne Kornblut, "Leak Counsel Is Said to Press on Rove's Role." It was accompanied by two photos: one of a grinning Karl Rove driving his car; the other of a grim Scooter Libby in the back seat of a car.
After Libby was indicted, a good deal of attention was focused on Rove's attorney having convinced Fitzgerald to conduct a further investigation of Karl's reported "forgetting" his conversation with Matt Cooper. The NY Daily News had a full-page article titled "Rove not out of trouble as new grand jury may convene," (10-29-05; page 5) But attention was soon shifted by a report that none other than Bob Woodward had played a role in the Plame scandal.
But by November 28, attention was back on Karl Rove. The MSNBC blog's Hardball section carried a report, "Rove still in danger of indictment." The article noted that "..today, new clues suggest the investigation is still focused on Rove. Legal experts say the development means prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is still considering obstruction of justice or perjury charges against Bush's top advisor. Time Magazine reporter Vivica Novak -- no relation to Bob Novak -- has agreed to testify about a series of discussions with Rove's lawyer Bob Luskin that began in May 2004."
On December 15, Tucker Carlson interviewed David Schuster on "The Situation" on MSNBC. In his introduction, Carlson noted, "It also looks like an indictment decision on advisor Karl Rove could come at any minute. People in Washington are talking, really, about nothing else." He tells David that he has had "four phone calls today from friends in Washington informing me that Karl Rove is about to be indicted .... Is there any truth to it?"
Schuster answered, " "Yes, I do believe he's going to be indicted. I'm not sure whether it's going to happen soon .... there are two clues that perhaps Fitzgerald is actually moving to an indictment. First of all, it was a week ago today when he impaneled a new grand jury, presented new information, and again, prosecutors don't use new grand juries unless they want the panel to consider possible charges.
"And the other thing that was so intriguing is that Vivica Novak .... when she first talked to prosecutor Fitzgerald, at the urging of Bob Luskin, Karl's lawyer, she talked ... on an informal basis .... After that, at a certain point, the prosecutor said, 'You know what? I want your testimony on the record, under oath.' And you don't put somebody's testimony under oath unless you expect that they may be used in a criminal trial in the future."
{2} "Apparently, according to two journalist sources of mine, when Rove learned that he might have violated the law, he turned on Cheney and Libby and made it clear that he held them responsible for the problem they had created for the administration."
-- Joseph Wilson; The Politics of Truth; 2004; page 444.
Team Libby is comprised of four of the most capable attorneys in the country. Theodore Wells, Jr., Joseph Tate, William Jeffress, Jr., and John Cline could accurately be called a "dream team." In reading through several of their discovery motions, it is clear that these men are looking to represent Scooter Libby to the best of their ability. That does not include putting the needs of any other person involved in the Plame scandal before Libby's.
Thus, as detailed in several previous essays, Team Libby has filed motions requesting documents from the Office of the Vice President, and from the Central Intelligence Agency. In fact, there is an overlap, as some of the disputed documents are the President's Daily Briefings; the PDBs in question were also reviewed by VP Cheney and Scooter Libby.
The dispute between Team Libby and Fitzgerald and the CIA has been reviewed by Judge Reggie Walton. There has been a lot of back-and-forth, with Judge Walton suggesting some limits on what the defense may be entitled. Team Libby noted in a March 7 response to the CIA that they would be willing to "withdraw our request for the items in category (3) -- the materials provided only to Mr. Libby. Thus, the CIA need only produce the Vice President's morning briefing notebook for the dates at issue..." (pages 5-6)
Last Friday, March 24, Judge Walton filed a "Proposed Consent Order," (Doc. 70), that appears to outline common ground agreed to by Team Libby and Patrick Fitzgerald. While it is obvious that Mr. Fitzgerald is extremely well-prepared to try and convict Mr. Libby, I would suggest that Team Libby is looking to focus attention on the Vice President. Readers may recall a month ago, when the media reported that Team Libby has suggested that the VP told Mr. Libby to share information from a classified National Intelligence Estimate with reporters. Libby shared this with Judith Miller and Bob Woodward; Karl Rove spoke to Time's Matt Cooper in general terms about it.
Karl Rove and his attorney have been in communication with Mr. Fitzgerald between last December, when Vivica Novak gave her statement, and this past week. Fitzgerald has not simply dropped his investigation's focus on Rove's role.
On February 15, 2006, Jason Leopold reported on TruthOut that "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had not turned over emails to the special prosecutor's office..." In a January 23 motion, Fitzgerald had informed Judge Walton that he was told that some White House e-mails had been lost. Leopold reported that Gonzales cited executive privilege and national security concerns for withholding others.
Nine days later, Leopold reported that the White House had "discovered" 250 e-mails that were believed to be lost. Ms. Alexandrovna's article today, which states that Karl Rove helped identify where "lost e-mails" might be found, makes sense in this context. While many of the motions and court orders in the Libby case are sealed, it seems likely that those lost e-mails are discussed in them, as well.


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