KARL ROVE'S IMMINENT...

KARL ROVE'S IMMINENT FROG-MARCH? Atrios and Think Progress have both noted that the Plame grand jury met this morning, and a frisson of excitement has rippled through the liberal blogosphere at the prospect that Karl Rove might be indicted. In that regard, a few things are worth keeping in mind:

1) Rove had motive to mislead the grand jury. In the summer of 2003, Rove was petrified that the truth about President Bush's pre-Iraq war deceptions would come to light, and thought that evidence of them could destroy Bush's reelection prospects-- or so Murray Waas has told us. If true, that's a critical piece of this puzzle. As I argued here, it provides a possible motive for misleading the grand jury about Plame. Before, it never quite made sense -- why risk perjury charges to cover up what may not have been a crime to begin with? But now it seems perfectly plausible that Rove worried that if the truth about the administration's role in outing Plame came out, the resulting firestorm would force Congress to undertake a real investigation, rather than the sham overseen by Pat Roberts -- thus unearthing the evidence Rove feared would surface to kill his boss's reelection hopes.

2) Rove had every reason to assume the Plame investigation would fizzle. Leak investigations are notoriously problematic to begin with, and few expected that Fitzgerald would have the cojones to subpoena reporters. Fitzgerald was appointed in December 2003, and Rove testified only a couple months later -- well before anyone, probably Rove included, had a full sense of just how aggressive Fitzgerald would be.

Like everyone else, I don't have a clue as to whether Rove will be indicted. But little by little, the whole story is being woven together into a grand narrative, one strand at a time. Unfortunately, there are only three ways we'll ever hear something approaching the whole story -- a full-bore investigation by the major news orgs; a real probe by Congress; or more indictments from Fitzgerald. For my part, I'm not comfortable with the ongoing deification of Fitzgerald, but right now, at least, it seems our best hope for learning what really happened lie with him -- a fact which doesn't reflect particularly well on the institutions that are supposed to safeguard our discourse and our democracy.

--Greg Sargent

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