Sunday, May 21, 2006

the waiting game

things seem to be getting out of hand.

still no rove indictment. one journalist's already checkered career may be irreparably damaged. his sponsor's reputation sways in the wind. prosecutor fitzgerald remains silent. has something gone horribly wrong in the plame investigation?

one would certainly thinks so from the ballooning body of speculation overtaking the blogosphere. could all this be msnbc reporter david shuster's fault?

the ball got rolling with shuster's breathless but compelling argument made on msnbc countdown with keith olbermann on may 8:

olbermann: what are you gathering on these two main points? is the decision by mr. fitzgerald coming soon? would it be an indictment?

shuster: 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 one 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 u.s. 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.

will karl rove defy history in this particular case? i suppose anything is possible when you're dealing with a white house official. but the lawyers that i've been speaking with, who know this stuff, say, don't bet on karl rove getting out of this.

that report gave an outside deadline of two weeks (may 22) for an indictment to appear. leopold's explosive story, coming just four days after shuster's report, became irresistible to many because it fit the schedule.

but once the deadline passed, speculation took off faster than exxon's profits — something's gone horribly wrong, right?

strangely, no one's really questioned the integrity of the two week deadline itself. the only person who could have lent credibility to the deadline was fitzgerald. but it was never put forth or confirmed by fitzgerald. the two week deadline put forth by schuster came from rove's team:

well, karl rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks.

rove may have floated the deadline for his own purposes, in order to sow the speculation, confusion and disappointment that's now descended on everyone following the case.

if so, it is ultimately just a delaying tactic, since any indictment that's finally handed down will be national front page news, and any confusion will be then dispelled. in the meantime, fitzgerald may in fact be working right on schedule all along — his schedule — which, like everything else he's handling in this case, he obviously prefers to keep to himself.

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