Could the Perjury Investigation Evolve Into Obstruction of Justice?

Crooks and Liars points us to a March 6, 2004 CNN article reporting that Air Force One records were subpoenaed in the Valerie Plame grand jury investigation, and to America Blog who has a flashback to President Bush's statement of October 6, 2003 in which he told his staff to cooperate with the grand jury investigation.

I'm beginning to wonder, and it's only a musing at this point not an allegation, given all of the Administration officials who were interviewed by the grand jury or who testified before the grand jury, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Colin Powell, Scott McClellan and others, and the reporters other than Miller and Cooper who previously revealed their sources to the grand jury (e.g., Tim Russert and Walter Pincus,) whether there might not be more than one person who perjured themselves, or whether there might have been a plan for the real source to mislead the grand jury - or a coverup designed to protect the real source, which could constitute obstruction of justice.

Here are some some more flashbacks to prior reported information. I'll leave it to readers to connect any dots. All sources are available on Lexis.com:

Chicago Tribune December 8, 2004 Wednesday

True to form, Fitzgerald moved swiftly--at least initially--after he took over the case last Dec. 30. Before summer was half over, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were interviewed. Fitzgerald issued subpoenas for Air Force One phone records and for the working papers of a White House task force on Iraq. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove was called before the grand jury in October.

Facts on File World News Digest October 21, 2004,

Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, October 15 testified for about two hours before the grand jury, according to Robert Luskin, his lawyer.

Rove reportedly had previously testified before the grand jury and had answered questions from federal investigators. Luskin said that Rove had been notified that he was not a "target" of the probe, which meant that charges were not being prepared against him. Investigators had interviewed other high-ranking officials, including President Bush and Cheney.

New York Times 10/16/04

President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, testified on Friday to a federal grand jury investigating whether it was anyone at the White House who had illegally disclosed the name of a C.I.A. undercover officer to a newspaper columnist, a lawyer for Mr. Rove said. ''He answered fully and truthfully every one of their questions,'' the lawyer, Robert Luskin, said. Mr. Luskin added that Mr. Rove, who testified for more than two hours, did not seek to avoid answering any question on legal grounds.

A spokesman for the White House, Scott McClellan, said the testimony demonstrated that Mr. Rove was ''doing his part to cooperate'' in the inquiry, as Mr. Bush has repeatedly instructed his aides.

....Mr. Luskin said Mr. Rove was not discussing his testimony because prosecutors had asked him not to do so. In addition, Mr. Luskin said, Mr. Rove has been notified in writing that he is not a target of the inquiry.

...A target, as the terminology is understood by most prosecutors, refers to someone who may be charged with a crime. In the inquiry into the unauthorized disclosure of Ms. Plame's name, the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has told most of the people who have testified that they are subjects of the investigation. That means that their activities are under scrutiny, but that they may have done nothing wrong.

''He has been cooperating fully from the beginning,'' Mr. Luskin said after the grand jury appearance. Mr. Rove has previously testified to the grand jury, although multiple appearances do not necessarily signify that a witness is suspected of wrongdoing. He was also interviewed at least once by F.B.I. investigators, who last fall conducted a preliminary inquiry in the case.

Moreover, the prosecutor has interviewed high-ranking officials, among them Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzalez Jr.

Mr. Novak's column appeared a week after Ms. Plame's husband, the former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times questioning the intelligence on which Mr. Bush asserted that Iraq had tried to buy uranium ore in Africa. In his column, Mr. Novak cited two unidentified senior administration officials as sources. Mr. Wilson and some Democrats have suggested that Ms. Plame's name was disclosed to discredit him, possibly by linking him to employees of the Central Intelligence Agency who were thought to be skeptical about Iraq's weapons programs.

It was not entirely clear why the prosecutor sought Mr. Rove's testimony. Lawyers who represent people in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald appeared to be seeking additional testimony from White House officials whose actions had been cited by the reporters who had recently been subpoenaed and had agreed to answer the prosecutor's questions.

Mr. Fitzgerald has subpoenaed at least five reporters, and some like Tim Russert of NBC News and Walter Pincus of The Washington Post have cooperated. It is not publicly known whether Mr. Novak has been subpoenaed or whether he has cooperated with the investigation.

Two reporters who have refused to cooperate with the prosecutor have been held in contempt of court by a federal judge in the case. On Wednesday, Judge Thomas F. Hogan of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, held Matthew Cooper, a correspondent for Time Magazine, in contempt....Mr. Cooper had previously agreed to speak with the prosecutor about his conversations with I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Mr. Cheney. A lawyer for Mr. Cooper, Floyd Abrams, said the agreement was based on Mr. Libby's explicit waiver of any confidentiality agreement he had with Mr. Cooper. Mr. Abrams said that Mr. Cooper gave a deposition discussing his conversations with Mr. Libby but that Mr. Cooper did not talk about any matters related to any other official like Mr. Rove.

Guardian October 1, 2003

Reporters at Time magazine and NBC News and a handful of others were also tipped off about Ms Plame, and Democrats claim the source in each case was Mr Rove. According to some accounts, Mr Rove, did not mention Ms Plame by name but referred to "Wilson's wife" being a CIA employee.

At a public meeting in August, Mr Wilson, a staunch Democrat himself, said: "It's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frogmarched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words."

....FBI investigators will also subpoena telephone records from the White House in an attempt to pin down the source of the leak.

UPI October 15, 2004

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, testified Friday before a grand jury investigating White House leaks, Time magazine reported.

The federal grand jury is investigating whether administration officials illegally revealed the name of a CIA covert official, Valerie Plame, to conservative columnist Robert Novak.

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald questioned Rove about his contacts with journalists "in what a source familiar with Rove's situation said was his third appearance before the grand jury," Time said.

"My client appeared voluntarily before the grand jury and has cooperated with the investigation since it began," said Rove's attorney Robert Luskin. "He has been assured in writing as recently as this week that he is not a target of the investigation."

The Entertainment Litigation Reporter September 27, 2004,

In re Special Counsel Investigation

A federal judge has canceled a contempt order against Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper after he agreed to talk to Justice Department prosecutors investigating whether or not the Bush administration illegally leaked the identity of an undercover CIA officer to the media. In re Special Counsel Investigation, No. 04-296, order lifted (D.D.C. Aug).

Cooper agreed to give a deposition after his source, Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, waived a confidentiality agreement he had struck with the reporter, according to a Time statement obtained by the Associated Press.

"The deposition, which took place [Aug. 23] in the Washington, D.C., office of Mr. Cooper's attorney, Floyd Abrams, focused entirely on conversations Mr. Cooper had with Mr. Libby, one of Mr. Cooper's sources for the articles he helped author about the leak in July 2003," the statement read. "Following the deposition, the contempt orders against both Time Inc. and Mr. Cooper were vacated."

In an order released Aug. 9 U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan ruled that both Cooper and NBC's Tim Russert must testify "regarding alleged conversations they had with a specified executive branch official." Prosecutors ended up interviewing Russert under oath as part of an agreement reached with the "Meet the Press" host to avoid a drawn-out legal battle. But Cooper refused to be interviewed, prompting the contempt order.

The investigation concerns a leak made last summer to syndicated columnist Robert Novak of the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, charges that his wife's name was leaked in retribution after he published a newspaper opinion piece criticizing President Bush's 2003 claim that Iraq had sought to obtain uranium from Niger.

As part of the ongoing investigation, federal prosecutors have since questioned several Bush administration officials about the leak, including the president, vice president and Secretary of State Colin Powell. When special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald subpoenaed Cooper and Russert to talk to the grand jury, however, both men initially argued that the subpoenas violated their First Amendment freedom-of-expression privileges.

Judge Hogan disagreed, holding that journalists who are called to testify before a grand jury about confidential information could not invoke First Amendment protection.

"The information requested from Mr. Cooper and Mr. Russert is very limited, all available alternative means of obtaining the information have been exhausted, the testimony sought is necessary for the completion of the investigation and the testimony sought is expected to constitute direct evidence of innocence or guilt," he wrote in his order.

In addition, Judge Hogan said there have been "no allegations whatsoever that this grand jury is acting in bad faith or with the purpose of harassing" Cooper or Russert. Judge Hogan had ordered Cooper "confined to a suitable place" and fined Time $ 1,000 a day. The contempt charge came down July 20 but was not made public until Aug. 9.

The Associated Press August 1, 2004

The U.S. grand jury investigating the leak of an undercover CIA operative's name has interviewed Secretary of State Colin Powell, but he is not a subject of the inquiry, the State Department said Sunday.

Department spokesman Richard Boucher, traveling with Powell on a diplomatic visit to Poland, said Powell appeared on July 16 at the grand jury's invitation. "The secretary is not a subject of inquiry," Boucher said. "He was pleased to cooperate with the grand jury."

Powell is the latest official from the Bush administration to be called before the grand jury in Washington. White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and spokesman Scott McClellan have been summoned, and grand jury investigators have interviewed President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in their offices. Powell's appearance was first reported Sunday by Newsweek.
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    Re: Could the Perjury Investigation Evolve Into Ob (none / 0) (#1)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:49 PM EST
    Pardon Me Boys, Is this the Chattanooga Choo-Choo? Suppose the train wreck goes all the way up to Cheney? Presumably, he (and/or Rove) could receive one of those nice presidential pardons. But what would be the fall-out for the administration -- and the 2006 elections?

    Re: Could the Perjury Investigation Evolve Into Ob (none / 0) (#2)
    by jimcee on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:49 PM EST
    This could prove more interesting than the last President's slap and giggle impeachment. Let the games begin!