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Special Report buries Rove scandal in legalese

Reported by Chrish - July 19, 2005

The focus on the legality of what Karl Rove has done is intended to obscure the politcal chicanery and immorality of what led him to do it. Brit Hume had Jonathan Turley of George Washington U. on Special Report 7/18/05 to make the case that Rove is not guilty - of one particularly difficult-to-prove crime. Note how tightly Brit controls the conversation.

The segment begins with video of Bush saying "I would like this to end as quickly as possible (Comment: I bet!) so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration."

Brit Hume announces that Bush is of course talking about "the CIA leak case, blowing the cover of an undercover CIA operative is a crime under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act" of 1982, and the assumption has been that a violation of that law is what the Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating. But is it? For answers we turn to our favorite law professor Jonathan Turley...."

Hume: So the Intelligence Identities Protection Act is the one we all thought he was looking at. But others are saying, many are saying that that doesn't fit very well. Why?

Turley: Well first of all this is a terrible federal law to prosecute anyone under. It's a badly written law. It's only actually been used once, because you have to prove so many things: you have to prove that someone was a covert officer, you have to prove there was an intent to disclose that fact. These are things that are very, very hard, in any federal case...

Hume: Let me stop you on the covert part of it. What is, under this law, what do you have to be, what do you have to have done or be doing to be identifiable under this law as a covert operative?

Turley: Well it's actually very ambiguous as to how you define covert. It's supposed to be something formal. It's supposed to be you are supposed to be in a covert status. You are using another name, or your association with the CIA is not disclosed.

Hume, interrupting: there's one more thing as well, isn't there, that has to do with where you are...

Turley : Yea, it tends to be an overseas assignment, yeah.

Hume; And so you have to have been, or have been within the past five years, on such an assignment, correct, (Turley nods, "right") to be pro...for your identity to be subject to the possible prosecution of this act.

Turley: Right, and Wilson's wife does not seem to fit that classic definition.

Hume: And, if, unless it could be established that someone, whoever did this, learned from classified information that this person was covert, and, and, and, and revealed the information with the intent of undermining US intelligence, you wouldn't have a successful prosecution...

Turley: Yes, if you prosecuted under Section A of this law, that's exactly what you have to show. But the important thing for this investigation is that that was the means by which the criminal investigation began. They had enough to use that. But in this town, usually you don't get nailed by what causes a controversey, you get nailed by your response to it. If you go back and you look at all of the federal investigations, you often see that people are prosecuted for what are called collateral crimes: obstruction of justice; perjury; or lying to a federal investigator.

Hume: In other words, attempted cover-ups of one kind or another...
Turley: Yeah, but you...
Hume: ...or malfeasance during the investigation of the original malfeasance...
Turley; Yeah, and a lot of...
Hume: ...so give me some idea of what some statues could be in play in that realm.

Turley: Well the first statute that comes in is 18 USC 1001 and this is a statute that says you can't lie to a federal investigator. You can't give them false documents. So when someone comes...

Hume: False documents or information, right...

Turley: Right, false information. So when someone comes to the White House and says I wanna ask you about whether you talked to Bob Novak, or someone else...

Hume: And this is an informal chat, by an investigator just getting started on the case...
Turley: Yeah, and you say something...
Hume: ...and you say something, (waving his hand in circles in the air) based on your most casual not well thought out memory, which you later change, you could be in trouble?

Turley: You could be in trouble. And what happens, is in this town, it's very interesting how many really seasoned people do these informal interviews and don't realize that they can be criminally charged if anything they say is later proven to be false. Now what the next step...

Hume: Well don't you have to prove you knew it was false, and you intentionally misled the investigator?

Turley: You do. There's an intent standard, but you have to be able to say in defense 'at the time I believed this was true', and that goes to a jury. So, once you do that initial interview...

Hume: So if the jury doesn't like you they may find you had the intent whether you had it or not.

Turley: Right. And juries tend to be really suspicious of power brokers and people in powerful places. (Brit goes "aaahhh" off screen.) So after you do the interview///

Hume: And there's also the perjury statutes, right...
Turley: right, then you can...
Hume: ...so if you get the grand jury, under oath, same thing happens...
Turley: Yeah, and the grand jury, a lot of defense attorneys do not have their clients go into the grand jury...
Hume: Why?
Turley: ...because the prosecutor can ask you about anything. He can ask you if you talked to Bob Novak, or he can ask you if you had a ham sandwich for lunch or if you paid your taxes last year. And you're there for hours, and you don't have a defense attorney in there. You can leave, and go outside and speak to a defense attorney, but that takes a lot of intestinal fortitude. And most people don't do that; they try to get through it on their own. But what happens here...
Hume: to prove to the grand jury that they're on the up and up and they've got nothing to hide and all that...

Turley: Oh, everyone I've ever represented thought they could convince the grand jury. They thought they could just look them in the eyes, they'll know I'm innocent. But the fact is a lot of grand juries will as they say indict a ham sandwich...

Hume: So, let's just pick Karl Rove, assuming he's a focus here. He testified, we know more than once to the grand jury, some say three times! Were you his lawyer, would you recommend he not do so, and could he, or did he have a choice the president having urged everyone to cooperate?

Turley: It would have been dynamite for Rove to decline to testify or to take the fifth. If he took the fifth his career would be over. Rove's in this impossible position. The first problem for Rove is he's Rove. And he is now a political icon...

Hume: Biggest fish in town.
Turley: Oh, man....
Hume: (catching himself)...except for the president.
Turley: It's hard to see where he ends and the president begins, and that's a dangerous position...

Hume: Because it makes such an inviting target for a prosecutor. Now let me ask you this question, His lawyer has said repeatedly, and let's assume for the sake of this question that it's true, that he's not a target of this investigation. Does that really tell us anything about whether he's going to be OK in this or not?

Turley: No, it doesn't. It generally means that he was not and is not a target under the Identity statute, but it doesn't mean that he didn't hit a trip wire (Comment: Tripp wire? ;-) ) on perjury or obstruction...

Hume: Is the prosecutor obliged to tell you if you have and tell you you're now a target?

Turley: Usually the prosecutors will indicate to you that this person is now a target or facing a possible charge...

Music

Hume thanks Turley and says we have to take a break to hear from our sponsors, which includes the horrid
promo
for Bernie Goldberg's appearance on O'Reilly later tonight.

Comment: Fox and other Bush supporters are trying to turn this scandal into a big case of legal semantics in the hopes of turning the discussion away from the real effects of Rove's treachery. Rove (among others) is responsible for the ruination of Plame's career and the destruction of her long-standing operation, and it has left a hole in American wmd intelligence gathering at a crucial time.

Under Executive Order 12958, Bush is required to punish Rove by either removing him from his position or revoking his security clearance because he has admitted and Matt Cooper has confirmed that he "acted negligently in disclosing or confirming information about (Ms. Wilson's) identity."

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