Indictments and Rumors of Indictments

The New York Times is reporting that Patrick Fitzgerald intends to indict Scooter Libby for making false statements to his grand jury. The Times says that Fitzgerald will not indict Karl Rove, but will keep that part of the investigation open. Great: maybe Fitzgerald can keep this going for another couple of years.

If the Times’ sources are correct, it will be a major disappointment for the Democrats. What seems most notable is that there apparently will be no indictment on the original “offense,” the supposed “outing” of Valerie Plame. I have said for a long time that this was a bogus allegation, and it will be an embarrassment to the left if, after two years of huffing and puffing, the Plame angle goes up in smoke. (Of course, if the Times is correct, there may still be an ongoing investigation of Karl Rove that potentially could go back to the original allegation.)

If Libby or anyone else is indicted for perjury [Update: Or, as Glenn Reynolds notes, violation of the False Statements Act; at this point, it isn’t clear when or to whom the purportedly false statements were made], that would be, in my view, a much more serious charge than the original theory, but one that has little significance to the administration. It is hard to believe that either Libby or Rove would be dumb enough to lie to the grand jury, but then, things that are hard to believe happen in Washington pretty often. It sounds as though the issue would come down to whether Libby’s failure to disclose a particular conversation to the grand jury was deliberate or inadvertent. This would be a question of great moment to the defendant, but, most likely, one of little political consequence. And, at least as described by the Times, it is questionable how strong any case against Libby will be.

So, if the Times is right, it’s good news for the administration and a disappointment for the Democrats, who have staked so much on Fitzgerald’s investigation. Then again, the Times could be enirely wrong. We’ll know, one way or the other, very soon.


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