The Note: The Raptor and the Three-legged Rabbits

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24

NEWS SUMMARY

There are only five ways to cover this story now:

1. Assign couriers to follow Patrick Fitzgerald and John Solomon. LINK

2. Root through the trash cans at the offices of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and the Wall Street Journal ed board.

3. Hire scientific experts and voodoo artists to do content and voice analysis of the outputs of "Bush associates" to get a sense of their level of strain.

4. Practice in front of the mirror 10 times a day: "An indictment is not a conviction."

5. Click and refresh obsessively:

The Fitzgerald site: LINK

(already the top Google result for "patrick-fitzgerald," as opposed to #4 LINK)

abcnews.com: LINK

Drudge Report: LINK

nytimes.com: LINK

washingtonpost.com: LINK

Start your day fresh with a pair of New York Times must-read stories on the leak investigation.

Stevenson and Johnston look at one possible emerging Republican strategy: LINK

"With a decision expected this week on possible indictments in the C.I.A. leak case, allies of the White House suggested Sunday that they intended to pursue a strategy of attacking any criminal charges as a disagreement over legal technicalities or the product of an overzealous prosecutor."

One Republican familiar with possible messaging strategies tells The Note that party officials are gaming out multiple scenarios and certainly one where there are no charges related to the incident that launched the investigation invites such a line of defense.

And from Elisabeth Bumiller's White House Letter (which includes the use of "compartmentalization" as a Rove character trait) on the mood inside: "'The general mood is one of grim determination to conduct business as usual, even though it's clearly not possible,' said a Republican close to Mr. Rove who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to antagonize the White House by talking about internal thinking. 'It colors the mood, it colors everything that people do, say and think about.'" LINK

Then move on to these two New York Daily News stories, both with the DeFrank Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval:

Citing Bush associates, the paper reports the President is frustrated, angry, and increasingly bitter, resorting to outbursts at both senior-- and junior-level staffers – including some even aimed at the Vice President. LINK

"'[T]he only person escaping blame is the President himself,' said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration 'illogical.'"

The President's supporters have launched a "not-so-subtle campaign" against Patrick Fitzgerald, with one White House ally telling the paper the special prosecutor is "a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things." LINK

The grand jury is not scheduled to meet today. It is unclear if special prosecutor Fitzgerald is conducting any last-minute interviews today. The grand jury, which normally meets Wednesdays and Fridays, could meet Tuesday, which COULD mean that if evidence intended to lead to indictments is going to be presented to the grand jury tomorrow, those targeted might be informed today. Which means everyone needs to be ready.

President Bush holds a 10:00 am ET meeting with his Cabinet at the White House. There will be pool coverage at the bottom of the meeting.

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