As I have been reading various articles about “Plamegate” in the past few days, I have noted the conditional nature of the claims of lawyers “close to the case” about Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s intentions on indicting White House officials. In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, we learn that he “may be piecing together a case that White House officials conspired to leak various types of classified material” while the New York Times reports that he “may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions” and “Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy.” (Emphasis added in all three quotations.)
Reading these latest articles, only one thing seems clear: while some lawyers close to the case seem eager for Fitzgerald to indict, the special prosecutor himself has not yet made up his mind whether to bring indictments. From what we know, it seems increasingly likely that if Fitzgerald brings any charges, they will not be related to the alleged crime he was hired to investigate, but to how certain White House officials handled the investigation. According to the Times, “Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement – counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions.”
And although Fitzgerald has not yet made up his mind, speculation is rampant (even among conservatives) that indictments are imminent. All this reminds me of a Republican colleague’s convictions back in the early days of President Clinton’s second term. This man strode into work one day, smiling and expressing confidently, “Hillary’s gonna be indicted.” “When?” we asked, eager to see the then-president’s very partisan wife behind bars. “Any day now,” came the reply. He had no doubt his information was accurate and that then-First Lady would soon be indicted. (My colleague repeated his refrain (about the imminence of her indictment) for several weeks.)
Despite our hopes (and her shady activities), Mrs. Clinton was never indicted and has continued to remain a prominent figure in Democratic politics. It seems a similar thing is going on today about Rove for, in many ways, Democrats think of Karl Rove in much the same way as Republicans think of Hillary. To his (or her) adversaries, each embodies corruption, hunger for power and an eagerness to use that power to advance his (or her) ideological ends. Just as we wanted Hillary to be indicted, today’s Democrats want Rove to be indicted. Wishful thinking on both sides.
But, as Tom Maguire, who has covered this scandal more thoroughly than any other blogger (at least that I have read), observed in a post last night:
Subject to the caveat that most of the leaks have come from attorneys sympathetic to various Administration officials, and keeping in mind that Fitzgerald may have a lot of evidence we have not seen, let me say this – Karl Rove’s problems with the Matt Cooper phone call are trivial, and Fitzgerald will only hit Rove with that if he is desperate to charge Rove with something and is prepared to lose at trial.
In short, based on what we know, Rove did nothing wrong. Still, his adversaries are certain he will be indicted. Not based on evidence, mind you, but based on their conviction that because he is a horrrible, no good, very bad man, he has to be guilty of something. Sounds similar to Republican attitudes toward Hillary nearly a decade ago.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com