WASHINGTON, Oct. 14
Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl C. Rove arrived this morning at the federal courthouse around 8:45 am ET, walking through the Third Street entrance to appear before the grand jury working with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to determine if any laws were broken in conjunction with the disclosure of CIA employee Valerie Wilson's name. He apparently arrived in a tan Toyota Camry.
There is no indication at this hour of how long he will stay in there (but we expect at least a couple of hours) or if he will talk (Hillary Clinton-style) on departure.
Flashback to October 15, 2004 (exactly one day short of a year), when Rove made an earlier appearance before this grand jury, as reported that day by ABC News' Jason Ryan:
"Rove declined to answer reporters' questions as he departed the federal courthouse and set off in a non-descript bronze colored midsize car. Rove was escorted out of the courthouse by two US Marshals and an unidentified man who could have been his attorney. Rove took a seat in the back seat of the car and immediately began making a phone call on his cell phone. Two other news organizations were present but no cameras were there."
You should know that more than three news organizations (and many cameras) were camped out at the courthouse for today's arrival. And there was a fair amount of press at the Rove home this morning too, from which Rove departed at approximately 6:30 am ET.
ABC News' Zach Wolf reports that three uniformed Secret Service agents asked reporters to clear the street in front of the home about 10 minutes before he departed. The agents went on to explain that they had received complaints from residents in the neighborhood.
Some reporters were surprised that residents would think to call the Secret Service, but one of the agents explained that the residents are aware that the USSS is responsible for Rove's house. Before the reporters moved, Rove emerged from his home, entered his Jaguar, and drove away.
The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker set the stage for Rove's appearance before the grand jury with a front-page story looking at the ways in which controversies and scandals have taken a toll on Bush's second term. LINK
"'The Rove thing has gotten to be enormously distracting,' said one outside adviser to the White House. 'Knowing the way the White House works, being under subpoena like this, your mind is not on your work, it's on that.'"
"Beyond the short-term problems, Republicans are particularly anxious about the sprawling investigations of conservative lobbyist Jack Abramoff . . ."
The Washington Post duo resurrects a quote from Bush's first presidential run that we think might make its way into DNC memos:
"'In my Administration,' Bush told voters in Pittsburgh in October 2000, 'we will ask not only what is legal but what is right, not what the lawyers allow but what the public deserves.'"
Also in must-read fashion, the New York Times' Richard Stevenson (with a classy Doug Mills contribution) describes the mood within the White House while everyone awaits the next shoe to drop. LINK
"The result, say administration officials and friends and allies on the outside who speak regularly with them, is a mood of intense uncertainty in the White House that veers in some cases into fear of the personal and political consequences and anger at having been caught in the snare of a special prosecutor. And given how badly things have been going for Mr. Bush and his team on other fronts - a poll released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center put his approval rating at 38 percent, a new low - they hardly have deep reserves of internal enthusiasm or external good will to draw on."
And be sure to Note a sympathetic sounding Lanny Davis.
As we have made clear over the last few weeks, we agree with Mary Matalin: nobody outside the prosecutor's office, even including those "lawyers familiar with the investigation," really know what is going on.
From our e-mails, phone calls, and book party chatter, we realize that Note readers are extraordinarily interested in this case, so while we wait to see what we can see from today's appearance, here are some Frequently Asked Questions about the case:
Q.: Must Patrick Fitzgerald file a report on his investigation if he brings no indictments?
Q. Can Fitzgerald file a report if he brings no indictments?
A. It's unclear, but probably not.
Q. How much legal and proper coordination has there been involving the lawyers of Administration witnesses before the grand jury over the course of the investigation?
A. We have no clue.
Q. How much not-so-proper coordination has there been?
A. None, we are sure.
Q. Has the White House counsel's office been involved in any aspect of this beyond subpoena response?
A. We don't know.
Q. What facial expression does Ari Fleischer make when he gets a legal bill?
A. We don't know.
Q. How much time has President Bush and Vice President Cheney spent thinking about what Fitzgerald might do and the implications it could have?
A. We don't know.
Q: Is there any chance that either President Bush or Vice President Cheney could be in Fitzgerald's sights?
A: We don't know about Fitzgerald, but the blogs have targeted Cheney.
Q: Do we know most of what Fitzgerald knows -- an investigation largely focused on Karl and Scooter -- or do we know next to nothing about what he is focused on?
A: We don't know.
Q: What was so serious about the evidence that Fitzgerald presented in his court filings that every judge who has viewed it has sided with him against the rights of the press?
A: We don't know.
Q. Who are Bloomberg's Dick Keil's sources on this story?
A. We don't know.
Q. Which political and investigative reporters know the names of the FBI agents assigned to the case?
A. The smart ones.
Q. What does Joseph Tate's assistant do with all those phone messages from reporters?
A. We don't know.
Q. Has the White House planned for a post-indictment world?
A. We don't know.
Q. If they have, who has been in the meetings?
A. We don't know.
Q. Have Democrats planned for a post-indictment world?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. Who has been in those meetings?
A. John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri, the Ferdinand and Isabella of Democratic politics.
Q. How many members of the Gang of 500 think any indicted White House official would have to resign by the close of business the day of indictment?
A. 448. (And half of the fifty-two holdouts are leaning "yes.")
Q: How many members of the Gang of 500 think if there are indictments, there will also be pardons?
A: 210. Some are angry about this. Some are praying for it.
Q. Is Time's Mike Allen right that we are going to hear a "blame the media" pushback if a White House official is indicted?
A. We don't know.
Q: What is the "White House business" vs. "legal preparation" ratio in Karl Rove's workflow?
A: We don't know.
Q. Can Judy Miller go off the record with Don Van Atta?
A. Not if we know Don.
Q. Speaking of the New York Times, does Jill Abramson know that tomorrow is Rick Berke's birthday?
A. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! She has a big surprise party in the works!!!!
Q: Will Judy Miller write a first person account of any of this for the New York Times?
A: We don't know.
Q: Who will be the first New York Times columnist to finally write about this case?
A: We don't know, but we'd bet on Frank Rich.
Q: Will the long awaited New York Times piece become another Jayson Blair they-still-don't-get-it problem? Or will they tell all?
A: We don't know.
Q: How will Arianna fill the Huffington Post when this case is closed?
A: She'll think of something.
Q. Who is Bob Novak's "original" "source"?
A. How can you be sure he had one?
Q. Could there be an indictment today?
A. Don't bet on it, but don't rule it out.
Q: Could there be a plea agreement today?
A: Don't bet on it, but don't rule it out.
You can hear Vice President Cheney on these topics and more when his interview with Fox News Channel airs on Brit Hume's "Special Report" this evening. It is pre-taped and might not air until around 6:20 pm ET. LINK
But/and if you thought the current climate would keep the White House from tending to politics, think again.
On Saturday at 7:30 am ET, Rove might attend a closed press fundraiser for the Fairfax Republican Party in Fairfax, VA. Jerry Kilgore, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, is slated to attend the event.
For instance: First Lady Laura Bush delivers an 11:30 am ET speech at a Doug Forrester for New Jersey Governor event in Newark, NJ.
President Bush will sign a condolence book at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC at 10:45 am ET. Earlier in the day, he was scheduled to participate in a 9:00 am ET Oval Office photo op with recipients of the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.
ABC News' Arnall reports on the federal government's report this morning that "consumer prices are up 1.2 percent. This is the largest one-month increase in consumer prices in more than 25 years and is larger than the anticipated 0.9 percent."
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) attends a 9:00 am ET "meet and greet" breakfast organized by Jan Bauer, the chair of the Story County Democratic Party, in Ames, IA. Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) wraps up his three day visit to Des Moines, IA today. He has been attending the NGA's Healthy America Forum and the World Food Festival.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) holds a 6:30 pm ET campaign event at California Republican Party Headquarters in Orange, CA.
SEIU of Illinois will be holding a 9:30 am ET panel discussion on "Fighting the 'Wal-Marting' of American Jobs: What's Our Strategy?" at the UNITE Hall in Chicago, IL. The panel will be followed by a communications workshop with Tracy Sefl, the communications director of Wal-Mart Watch.
Former President Bill Clinton raises money for the Arkansas Democratic Party today.
The National Commission on the Voting Rights Act holds a 10:00 am ET hearing to document discrimination in voting and the effect of the Voting Rights Act nationally at the Washington, DC offices of Arnold & Porter.
Sen. George Allen (R-VA) visits New Hampshire tomorrow.
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) delivers the ACLU of Ohio's Ed Likover Memorial Lecture at Cleveland State University on Sunday.
Be sure to tune into "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday. One day after the people of Iraq vote on the new constitution, George will interview Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Ambassador to Iraq. He'll get Democratic reaction from Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who just completed his sixth trip to Iraq.
Harriet Miers for Associated Justice:
Putting the Miers nomination battle in its political context as only he can. . .
Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) gives Bloomberg's Robert Schmidt the money quote. LINK
"The party's schism over the nomination threatens the Republicans' control of Congress, said former Senator Alan Simpson."
"'This will be the demise of the majority, sadly enough,' Simpson, a Wyoming Republican, said in an interview. 'Once they start giving each other the saliva test of purity, they lose.'"
As if on cue: the Senate's number three Republican in the leadership, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), had this to say on Miers, according to the Chambersburg Public Opinion: "But I am concerned President Bush nominated someone who is a blank slate. I'm disappointed he wanted to nominate someone like that instead of someone with a record." LINK
Richard Stevenson of the New York Times wraps Scott McClellan's "heated exchange" with reporters yesterday over the Miers nomination and writes, "There are few signs that the Bush administration has been able to shore up support for Ms. Miers, especially on the right, where a perception that her conservative credentials are not sufficiently strong has sapped enthusiasm for her nomination and put deep cracks in Mr. Bush's political base." LINK
(The wise Mr. Stevenson also Notes the different posture the White House seems to be taking on the relationship this nominee has with the Federalist Society as contrasted to the way the White House depicted its last Supreme Court nominee's relationship with the group.)
Former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully offers a somewhat strange defense of Harriet Miers on the New York Times op-ed page citing her attention to detail and sweetness as incredibly important attributes for the Supreme Court. LINK
More and perhaps better reinforcements can be expected next week, as the Miers offense/defense team begins to flood the zone with surrogates who know her well and can testify to her credentials. That operation, which perhaps should have geared up earlier, is getting ready to kick in, with a big hand from those who can speak authoritatively about her and are not necessarily named "Hecht." Look for a lot of activity, including perhaps some presidential-level attention.
Following up on the Union Leader's work, Ian Bishop and Geoff Earle report in the New York Post that the White House is asking Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire to pressure Senators who visit those states to support Harriet Miers' nomination. LINK
The Washington Times' Charlie Hurt has a Federalist Society member calling the Miers pick a "stupid, stupid mistake." LINK
Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society leader who took a leave from the conservative group to help the White House get judicial nominees confirmed, pins at least part of the blame on the Senate leadership's failure to achieve "filibuster reform."
"If I'm the president," Leo said, "I wouldn't have a high level of confidence that my boys in the Senate can get the job done."
(Paging Dr./Sen./Leader Frist: what do you think of that analysis?)
Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference, tells the San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead that "the calls to withdraw are serious, and they're going to increase" regarding Harriett Miers. LINK
The Los Angeles Times explores Miers' defense of trial lawyers when she was head of the Texas State Bar Association, and hints she might have been too liberal for some. LINK
An item in Thursday's Note referred to "staffers" of the Federalist Society. We meant leading members and activists, not staffers. We regret the error.
The Los Angeles Times' (and other print organizations) coverage of the (shocking!) White House choreography is uniformly more muted than the television coverage that has so peeved the Administration. LINK
The headline in the Nation's Newspaper: "President speaks to U.S. troops via staged teleconference." LINK
The word "staged" gets the kicker, not the header, in the Washington Post. LINK
Bill Frist tells Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times that "he does not know whether an immigration bill can pass this year because of a heavy workload, but the Senate will pass a bill before adjourning next year." LINK
In the form of a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Walter Cronkite offers up some advice to Democrats and urges them to hold a midterm convention to highlight their agenda before the American people. LINK
(Yes, that Walter Cronkite, the guy who preceded Dan Rather.)
The Houston Chronicle writes of reports saying DeLay's PAC was cited by the FEC for overspending. Also, prosecutors are subpoenaing DeLay's telephone records from 2002. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood reports that "vulnerable" Republican Rep. Wilson of New Mexico has returned a $10,000 donation from DeLay's political committee.
The politics of Katrina:
Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times highlights some of the obstacles the Administration faces in trying to get evacuees into more stable housing. LINK
"Among the pressing issues: a shortage of housing that evacuees can afford, a widely scattered population that is difficult to track, local opposition to establishing trailer-park communities and a mismatch between the needs of the evacuees and the location and condition of potential housing."
The Los Angeles Times' Curtius looks at the three different Katrina investigations that are currently being conducted in Washington. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood keys off the WSJ/NBC poll to report that Katrina has faded as a public concern. "Just 13% call rebuilding damaged areas America's top priority . . . down from 33% last month."
The nation's post-Katrina war on poverty is over, writes the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne in a column that pins part of the blame on Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the Republican Study Committee, and other conservatives for switching the discussion from poverty to how various reconstruction plans might increase the deficit that "their own tax-cutting policies helped create." LINK
The Wall Street Journal's ed board is pleased to see that Sens. Ted Kennedy and Mary Landrieu are softening their opposition to letting education funding follow student evacuees "wherever they are enrolled." But they don't think it should have taken a hurricane and they are not pleased that Mr. Kennedy still wants the money "routed through the local public school system."
The politics of Iraq:
"Iraqi security forces are growing steadily more capable, a Pentagon report made public on Thursday said. But senior American officers say the Iraqis remain at least a year away from being able to take over primary responsibility from American troops for fighting the insurgency," reports the New York Times. LINK
The politics of national security:
The New York Times' Jehl explores the new intelligence coordination position at CIA and reports (to Sen. Roberts' apparent disappointment) it has rather limited authority. LINK
According to the new American edition of a book by British professor and lawyer Philippe Sands, American allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were discussed in January 2003 by President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair as countries that may pose potential problems in dealing with "the spread of illicit weapons," reports the New York Times' Douglas Jehl. The White House declined to comment on the report. LINK
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Treasury Department has a new strategy for lessening America's trade frictions with China: "Get Chinese consumers to save less and spend more."
Sen. Sam Brownback gets a New York Times story with a Manchester, NH dateline, an encouraging Paul Wyerich quote, and a meta-favorable comparison to previous presidential hopefuls Pat Robertson and John Ashcroft. LINK
"He came here to assess the potential for a Republican presidential primary campaign centered on opposition to abortion and support for God in public life, while back in Washington his current role as the Republican most publicly questioning the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers is becoming the first big test of his long-shot campaign," writes Timesman David Kirkpatrick who also Notes not too distant shifts in Brownback's stance on abortion.
Brownback is expected to attend a statehouse rally in Ohio today focused at rallying "politically minded Christian conservatives." LINK
Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register reports that Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) told him that he believes "all those things going on give people more of a concern and have them looking beyond Washington" for the next President during his fifth trip to the state since July. LINK
The Boston Globe reports that Gov. Romney is exploring Massachusetts's readiness if avian bird flu were to hit the region. LINK
The Boston Herald adds that Gov. Romney is encouraging residents to buy extra food over the next month just in case there is an emergency. LINK
Chasing Gabriel Snyder's tail, Ian Bishop reports in the New York Post that Hillary Clinton delivered a Yom Kippur sermon at a Beverly Hills synagogue yesterday and will attend a series of re-election campaign fundraisers in Los Angeles today and tomorrow. LINK
Bicoastal Josh Gerstein reports in the New York Sun that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) called a controversial California ballot initiative -- the so-called paycheck protection initiative -- "part of an ongoing effort by the Republican Party to create an unfair playing field to change the balance of democracy in America," during an appearance in Los Angeles yesterday. LINK
The Los Angeles Times' Jordan Rau writes up John Kerry's opposition to Prop 75, the Schwarzenegger backed ballot measure aimed at requiring unions to get members' permission to use dues for political purposes. LINK
On a visit to California yesterday, Sen. Kerry publicly opposed the Schwarzenegger-backed Prop. 75, calling it "a national issue" reports the San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Martin. Of the four ballot measures Schwarzenegger is supporting in California's upcoming election, Prop. 75 is the only one that may be successful according to current polls. LINK
Tim Higgins of the Des Moines Register reports that yesterday Sen. Bayh (D-IN) spoke about wanting to unify the country and to be "Bayh-partisan". LINK
Gov. Richardson (D-NM) is heading to North Korea this weekend – with the blessing of the Bush Administration, but without official envoy status – "for talks aimed at persuading the North to give up its nuclear arms program," reports the New York Times' Weisman. LINK
Former Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards joined New-York based Fortress Investment Group, a private equity firm, as a senior advisor, said a spokesman for Edwards yesterday, reports the Triangle Business Journal. LINK
Lee Bandy of The State writes that as Democrats look for another possible primary state, South Carolina could be high up in the running. LINK
Gov. Tom Vilsack and Gov. Mike Huckabee toured a middle school in Des Moines yesterday, promoting the role of schools in fighting childhood obesity reports Dan Gearino of the Sioux City Journal. LINK
In case you thought a 28 point lead in the polls would halt any and all opposition research on Ferrer from appearing in the papers, you would have thought incorrectly. The New York Post's Campanile writes of a "scandal-scarred Bronx school-board member" for whom Ferrer requested a judgeship. LINK
Imagine how much oppo will be left on the shelves if the polls continue to show wide gaps. And imagine who has better files on Ferrer: himself or Bloomberg (read: "Sheekey").
Frank Lombardi reports in the New York Daily News that Margarita Lopez, an openly lesbian New York City councilwoman who has both praised and criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg, endorsed him yesterday. LINK
The New York Times' Lueck leads his story about Councilwoman Lopez' endorsement of Bloomberg with Fernando Ferrer's announcement that he is expecting former President Bill Clinton to join him on the campaign trail soon. LINK
Per the Washington Post, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine (D) held a conference call with reporters to pushback at what he sees as inaccurate Kilgore campaign ads concerning Kaine's stance on the death penalty. LINK
Jeanine Pirro's campaign included the endorsements of two upstate county chairmen on its website despite the fact that neither of them endorsed her, reports the New York Times' Hernandez, which leads him to write these two concluding paragraphs: LINK
"Whether the Pirro campaign will be able to gain traction politically remains an open question. Her supporters have been counting on a public endorsement from Gov. George E. Pataki, the state's top Republican, for weeks now. But that has not come."
"And Ms. Pirro's rivals in both parties are eagerly waiting for her to release her fund-raising totals for the three-month period ended Sept. 30, mindful that these figures are a good measure of a campaign's strength. The disclosure report is to be released Friday, but Ms. Pirro and her advisers are trying to dampen expectations."
Bono, U2, and DATA all made clear yesterday that if politicians choose to use U2 concert tickets as fundraising opportunities, it in no way indicates cooperation or an endorsement from any member of the group, reports the New York Times' Pat Healy – who is sometimes confused for an Irish rock star himself. LINK
Kathy Kiely looks at the "strange alliances" that have grown out of the nation's deep political divide for USA Today. The "unexpected alliances" pictured are: Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK); Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Walter Jones (R-NC); Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Tim Johnson (D-SD); Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Reps. Butch Otter (R-ID) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT); and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). LINK
The Republican National Committee will launch a Web TV show today called "In the Know." The "news" show is geared toward updating people on the President's agenda, the Republican Party, and current issues and is being billed as "interactive."