Crossposted on Dailykos:
Yesterday's Los Angeles Times featured an article on possible Obsruction of Justice and Witness Tampering Charges against Karl Rove.
WASHINGTON -- The special prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation has shifted his focus from determining whether White House officials violated a law against exposing undercover agents to determining whether evidence exists to bring perjury or obstruction of justice charges, according to people briefed in recent days on the inquiry's status.
Differences have arisen in witnesses' statements to federal agents and a grand jury about how the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, was leaked to the press two years ago.
In the end it may not be whether or not Valeria Plame was technically an active undercover operative within the last five years or not, and it may not be not even matter whether or not the information being released about her had originated from a classified State Dept Document. What may ultimately take down Rove and CO, is the Collateral Damage from their own actions.
This thought originally occured to me after both Bill Bennett and Michael Isikoff appeared on Hannity and Colmes last week.
It was Isikoff who pointed out that often investigations of this type won't hit the original target, but will ultimately have a major impact via "Collateral Damage". However, it it was Bennett who unwittingly made it clear what that damage would be.
Bennet has been a respected politician for some time, and I was somewhat disheartened by his performance on Hannity as he continued to generate excuse after excuse for Rove's behavior in revealing Plame's identify to Matt Cooper -- but he went further and ranted about how "President Clinton had commited dozens of crimes before the [Ken Starr] Grand Jury" - which is patently, not true. Rove is looking quite seriously at a criminal indictment, while Clinton was not charged with any crimes by a court of law.
Let's just take a little stroll through down Grand Jury Memory Lane:
Ken Starr's investigation exonerated the Clinton's of any crimnal involvement with Whitewater, they were exonerated in involvement with the suicide of Vincent Foster, and also exonerated in the File-Gate allegations (which claimed that they had illegally attempted to obtain FBI Background files in order to attack their political opponents with personal and secret information).
Even if you look closely at Clinton's infamous "Is is" statment - it becomes clear that he was admitting that his attorney might have been stating something falsely depending on weather "IS" was in the present tense, or the past tense when he said "There IS no relationship between Monica Lewinsky and the President".
Leaving all that aside, there were articles of Impeachment drawn up as a result of Starr's investigation - but the most damaging portion of those articles wasn't about what hair-splitting neo-truths that Clinton said during either the Paula Jones deposition or to the Grand Jury.
It's was about the things he said to his own aides Sydney Blumenthal and others that were flat-out lies. Such as "There was no sex of any kind" and "I heard that Monica was a stalker".
Starr Allegation #9
The President improperly tampered with a potential witness by attempting to corruptly influence the testimony of his personal secretary, Betty Currie, in the days after his civil deposition.
President Clinton endeavored to obstruct justice during the grand jury investigation by refusing to testify for seven months and lying to senior White House aides with knowledge that they would relay the President's false statements to the grand jury -- and did thereby deceive, obstruct, and impede the grand jury.
Clinton's Attorney's pointed out in rebuttal that at that particular point in time, none of the people Clinton made these statements too were included on a grand jury witness list, and hence - weren't "Witnesses" in the literal sense.
But the U.S. Codes for Witness Tampering doesn't make such a distinction:
A prosecution under this section or section 1503 may be brought in the district in which the official proceeding (whether or not pending or about to be instituted) was intended to be affected or in the district in which the conduct constituting the alleged offense occurred.
Moving back to the present, it seems to me that all Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has to do is look at the statements made months ago by Scott McClellan that "I talked personally to Karl Rove, and Mr. Libby, and they assured me they are not involved [in the leaking of Valeria Plame's identify]" and point out that this deliberate spreading of a LIE through proxy agents such as McClennal is in fact Witness Tampering and Obstruction of Justice, even though McClellan himself had not yet appeared on any witness list at that time.
If so, that's Game, Set and Match folks -- and just may indicate the real reason that McClellan suddenly refused to provide any further information on his previous answers all last week. If he'd continued to try and answer the questions, he could have put ROve, Libby and himself in even greater legal jeopardy.