Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Karl Rove Will Not Face Criminal Charges

(Cross-posted at Blanton's and Ashton's.)

Karl Rove is off the hook:

The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case on Monday advised Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, that he would not be charged with any wrongdoing, effectively ending the nearly three-year criminal investigation that had at times focused intensely on Mr. Rove.

The decision by the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, announced in a letter to Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, lifted a pall that had hung over Mr. Rove who testified on five occasions to a federal grand jury about his involvement in the disclosure of an intelligence officer's identity.

In a statement, Mr. Luskin said, "On June 12, 2006, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald formally advised us that he does not anticipate seeking charges against Karl Rove."

I have not been following this story as closely as some others, but I gather from those who have that, although Karl Rove almost certainly behaved unethically and quite likely committed chargeable offenses, in the end Fitzgerald felt he did not have enough to win a conviction.

Christy Hardin Smith:

Patrick Fitzgerald and his team are career professionals. You do not charge someone with a criminal indictment merely because they are scum. You have to have the evidence to back up any charges -- not just that may indicate that something may have happened, but you must have evidence that criminal conduct occurred and that you can prove it. You charge the evidence you have, you try the case you can make, and you don't go down a road that will ultimately be a waste of the public's money and time once you have ascertained that the case is simply not there. It doesn't mean that you don't think the SOB that you can't charge isn't a weasel or guilty as hell, it just means that you can't prove it. (And, fwiw, those times are the worst of your career, because you truly hate to let someone go when you know in your gut they've done something wrong.)

Steve Benin:
In terms of quick reactions, here are a few points to consider: a) resist the temptation to believe dubious reports from Truthout; b) Scooter Libby's trial may still turn out to be an embarrassing debacle for the Bush White House; c) Rove may get out of this mess without an indictment, but that doesn't mean he didn't do anything wrong; and d) if you really want to make Rove's professional life tough, help elect a Democratic Congress in five months.

Oh, and e) if Rove is in the clear, maybe now the White House can comment on exactly what top presidential aides did to leak the identity of an undercover CIA agent to spite her husband?

Andrew Sullivan:

Here's a confession: I trust Patrick Fitzgeral's integrity to believe him when he finally states that there is insufficient evidence to indict Karl Rove in the Plame affair. (If I had to trust Patrick Fitzgerald or John Podhoretz for fair treatment, let's just say I'd go with Fitzgerald.) I also think it was a close call. But close calls are still calls, and Rove deserves at this point the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous Liberal, quoted in full:

The big news this morning is that Karl Rove's attorney has received a letter indicating that Patrick Fitzgerald has decided not to indict Rove. I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed. Rove has single-handedly done more to cheapen and polarize American politics than perhaps anyone else in modern times. But alas, that alone is not a crime.

Patrick Fitzgerald, whom I have enormous respect for as an attorney, has evidently decided that Rove's conduct either 1) did not rise to the level of warranting criminal charges or 2) did warrant charges, but would be too difficult to prove. Given the length of this investigation, I highly suspect it's the latter, though the beauty of our grand jury system is that we'll probably never know. And that's the way it should be. People who are not criminally charged should not have to live under the burden of unproven or unprovable official accusations.

That said, it's unfortunate that the specter of a criminal indictment has obscured the fact that Rove's acknowledged conduct in this matter is more than enough to warrant immediate dismissal from his job. It is undisputed that Rove was centrally involved in the events leading to the outing of Valerie Plame. He disclosed classified information (even if it was unknowingly) to at least two reporters, both of whom published it. And whether or not Rove intentionally misled investigators and a federal grand jury (and I strongly suspect he did), he clearly misled Scott McClellan, causing him to make public statements that Rove knew to be untrue. If that's not a fireable offense, then what is?

And finally, I want to address this assertion, by John Podhoretz at the Corner:

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.

What rubbish. Rove is no victim here. He brought all of this on himself. He would not have had to testify five times had he been more forthcoming to the grand jury. And Fitzgerald's conduct demonstrates restraint and discretion, not overzealousness. I'm sure Fitzgerald could have secured an indictment of Rove if he wanted to, and he likely would have had a decent circumstantial case. But, after a thorough investigation, Fitzgerald ultimately decided that the case wasn't worth bringing. That's admirable, not disgraceful conduct.

Plus, I suspect Rove's freedom from charges is conditioned on his continued cooperation with the prosecutor's office, i.e., being willing to testify truthfully on behalf of the prosecution whenever called upon to do so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

rove cooperating?