There is a lot to be said about Ronnie Earle’s indictment yesterday of Tom DeLay–and, by the way, a corrupt DA like Earle can procure an indictment of pretty much anyone he chooses, so I refuse to give Earle cover by attributing the indictment to the grand jury–but the most interesting question to me is, why did he do it?
To help the Democratic Party, obviously; but I mean the question more specifically. Earle has been conducting this “investigation” for three years. He indicted three of DeLay’s aides a year ago. If he thought he could get away with indicting DeLay, why didn’t he do it then, shortly before the 2004 election?
Earle has said more than once, including as recently as two weeks ago, that DeLay was not a target of his “investigation.” So, what changed? One possibility is that, after three years, Earle suddenly found some evidence against DeLay. That’s possible, I suppose, but certainly unlikely. Based on the indictment, which we linked to yesterday, it doesn’t appear that Earle has any evidence at all. In all probability, the DeLay indictment will be thrown out at some point, and Earle will look like a fool, just as he did when he indicted Kay Hutchison shortly after she was elected to the Senate.
A year ago, and apparently as recently as two weeks ago, Earle did not choose to take that risk. So–once again–what changed? My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that it has to do with the impending battle over the Supreme Court. It appears that the Democrats have decided, barring the extremely unlikely possibility that President Bush nominates a Democrat, to filibuster the next nominee, whoever he or she may be. Such a move would be unprecedented in American history, and carries considerable political risk.
I believe that the Democrats think they can get away with a filibuster because they have the Republicans on the run–nothing but bad news from Iraq (untrue, but that’s the impression you get from the media), the fiasco of Hurricane Katrina (also untrue, as we’re learning), Bush’s sagging poll numbers, etc. In order to lay the groundwork for their filibuster, the Democrats are doing everything they can to create an anti-Republican frenzy in the press. My guess is that the DeLay indictment is part of that effort.
It would be interesting to subpoena Ronnie Earle’s telephone records and see what Democratic Senators or representatives of the Democratic National Committee he has been talking to over the past couple of weeks.
UPDATE: Some goofball on a left-wing site attacked this post earlier today, claiming that I was criticizing Earle’s indictment for not reciting the evidence against DeLay. I doubt that this guy bothered to read yesterday’s post, which I referred to above, where I said:
You can read the indictment here. It is pathetic. The only time it mentions DeLay’s name is when it alleges that he agreed to toll the statute of limitations! The indictment contains no suggestion of what he supposedly did that was illegal.
This lefty apparently is ignorant of the elementary difference between alleging what the defendant did that was illegal, which is normally done, and pleading the evidence you will offer to prove that he did it, which is normally not done. My criticism of Earle’s indictment was not that he didn’t plead his evidence, but that he didn’t specify what, exactly, DeLay supposedly did. (The indictment does, in contrast, recite specific acts that were allegedly perfomed by the other defendants.)
This is a complaint that DeLay has repeatedly made about the indictment. Article 21.11 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure says, in part:
An indictment shall be deemed sufficient which charges the commission of the offense in ordinary and concise language in such a manner as to enable a person of common understanding to know what is meant, and with that degree of certainty that will give the defendant notice of the particular offense with which he is charged…
I assume that the indictment will be deemed barely sufficient to survive a motion for dismissal, but the fact that Earle has been unable or unwilling to specify what, exactly, DeLay did that was illegal, both in his indictment and when pressed for more information in his press conference, is one of a number of factors that, taken together, suggest to me that Earle has little or no evidence that DeLay did anything illegal.
Could I be wrong? Sure. That’s why I called it a “guess.” Time will tell whether Earle really has anything substantial to work with, or whether this indictment is just another attempt to grab headlines, like his indictment of Kay Hutchison.