Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Leopold Sticking By Rove Indictment Story

Jason Leopold of Truthout.org isn't budging from his original report 4 weeks ago that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had obtained a sealed indictment of Karl Rove in connection with the Valerie Plame/CIA leak investigation--not even in the face of reports today from Rove's attorney Robert Luskin that Rove had been cleared of all charges. According to Luskin, Fitzgerald telephoned him late Monday to inform him that no criminal charges would be brought against Rove. Fitzgerald's spokesman, however, declined to comment on the matter.

Speaking today on the talk radio "Ed Schultz Show", Leopold asked that Luskin produce a letter from Fitzgerald confirming that no charges would be brought against him. Leopold insists that sources close to the investigation asserted that the grand jury handed up an indictment against Rove which was sealed. Leopold even offers the name of the sealed indictment, Sealed v. Sealed, and its case number, "06 cr 128." Explaining in more detail on Truthout's website, Leopold writes:

Still, legal experts watching the Plame-Wilson investigation have been paying particularly close attention to Sealed vs. Sealed since the Karl Rove indictment story was published.

The legal scholars have said that a federal prosecutor can keep an indictment under seal for weeks or months - something that is commonplace in high-profile criminal cases - especially if an investigation, such as the CIA leak probe, is ongoing.

When told about the Sealed vs. Sealed indictment filed in US District Court, the legal experts became intrigued about the case because they say that most federal criminal indictments are filed under US vs. Sealed and that they rarely come across federal criminal indictments titled Sealed vs. Sealed, which to them suggests the prosecutor felt it necessary to add an extra layer of secrecy to an indictment to keep it out of public view.

"The question here is that nobody who I have spoken to - top criminal attorneys, law professors, etc. - is aware of the left part of the case title having been sealed," said one former federal criminal attorney. "That the right-hand side is sealed is almost pro-forma. But, what is not known is whether the US Attorney can seal the left hand part of the case title on his own."

The fact that the indictment has been under seal for more than a month also suggests that it involves a high-profile investigation, he said.

Additionally, it's entirely plausible for a federal prosecutor to obtain permission from a federal magistrate or a judge, have an indictment unsealed for the limited purpose of having parts of it read to a defendant and his or her attorneys in an attempt to have the defendant cooperate with an investigation to avoid facing further charges, legal experts said.
Leopold and his editors have been in recent communication with the sources, who stand by their original account according to Leopold. Asked by Shultz if he would disclose who his sources were, Leopold responded, "In a word, no."

Schultz pressed Leopold on his original report. Either you were set up by your sources, or something big changed after your original report Schultz suggested. Leopold suggested to Schultz that only some last-minute, behind-the-scenes cooperation by Rove with Fitzgerald could have saved Rove from being criminally prosecuted.

Leopold's past reporting has not been in the least bit suspect. He has been excoriated by Rove supporters for falsely reporting the indictment. It would seem more likely that Fitzgerald used the sealed indictment, if it does in fact exist, as leverage against Rove to provide information or testimony against Scooter Libby or someone else--perhaps even Vice President Cheney. It is curious that Fitzgerald's office is not commenting on Luskin's claim that Rove has been cleared.


Doug said...

I can't recall specifics at the moment, but it seems that when Luskin first got involved with this case, he shot his mouth off in ways that ended up looking stupid -- or at least in ways that indicated he was disingenuous. So, if Luskin wasn't being entirely truthful this time, I wouldn't be shocked. With Luskin's statement that Rove is completely off the hook, I'd guess that Rove's chances of indictment are down to about 30% or so.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Doug--you're correct about that. He made himself a witness to the proceeding by having lunch with a friend/reporter for Time who told him that Matt Cooper had a recollection that was different from Rove's as far as how he found out about Valerie Plame. Rove had originally denied talking to Cooper about it, then he revised his story substantially during subsequent grand jury appearances after Luskin spoke to the friend/reporter. Cooper's colleague, in effect, gave that big gift to Luskin to help save his client.