WASHINGTON, Oct. 28
If you were the wagering type, you would bet that by the time the sun sets tonight over the Potomac River:
Scooter Libby will have been indicted; Karl Rove's future will seem at once more secure and less so; the world will finally know what Patrick Fitzgerald's voice sounds like; a new or extended grand jury of an indeterminate life span will be a very big Gang of 500 preoccupation; discussions of the pros, cons, and possibilities of a plea deal will have filled hours and hours of cable news time and many blog column inches; a fresh batch of pieces about the nature of second-term slides will be sketched out and assigned; Trent Lott's prediction about how long it will have taken people to forget Harriet Miers will turn out to have been understated; and at least one office in Northwest Washington will have been cleaned out.
Stuff not clear enough at this writing to bet on: will there be other X Factor indictments announced today; how politically combustible will the narrative of any indictments be; when will the next POTUS/VPOTUS joint appearance be, and what tone will the White House strike regarding Rove?
ABC News' Teddy Davis reports that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald will hold a 2:00 pm ET press conference at the Department of Justice to discuss the status of his ongoing criminal investigation. An "information release" will take place at noon ET also at the Department of Justice.
ABC News' Karen Travers reports that President has departed the White House for his event in Virginia. Before leaving, he was seen in the Oval Office talking with Vice President Cheney, Andy Card, Karl Rove, and Dan Bartlett.
More from Travers: "The President was definitely in a good mood -- he came out and did a quick head fake (basketball player like move -- very Allen Iverson head fake especially for someone with a bum knee) as if he would come talk to us and then went the other way and started smiling and sort of laughing. He then pretended not to hear us shouting (Reagan ear cup thing)."
ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports "Rove has been told that although he is not to be indicted today, the investigation continues. He is not out of the woods yet."
Rove left his home at 7:45 am ET. When Rove left his house and got in his car, a reporter yelled: "Are you in good spirits. Are you in a good mood?"
Rove replied: "A very good mood today. I'm going to have a very good day."
And then he smiled and waved.
Then a reporter yelled: "Have you heard from Fitzgerald? Will you be indicted?"
Rove said nothing.
Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald arrived at his temporary office in Washington, DC at 8:30 am ET and made no comment to the reporters gathered there. He then left at about 8:50 am ET by car, making no comment, again. At just before 9 am ET, Fitzgerald ran the media scrum at the courthouse and entered -- without comment.
ABC News' Jason Ryan reports that Fitzgerald then went into the grand jury room, to meet with Grand Jury 03-3. The grand jury, which was empanelled on October 31, 2003 has already been extended once, so it is unclear according to the rules of federal criminal procedure, if it can be extended again.
President Bush makes 10:00 am ET remarks on the War on Terror in Norfolk, VA. Mr. Bush returns to the White House and addresses the President's Commission on White House Fellowships in the East Room at 2:40 pm ET. The President and first lady depart the White House at 3:50 pm ET for Camp David.
Vice President Cheney arrived at work today more than an hour early. His seven-car, nine-motorcycle motorcade pulled into the White House at 6:30 am ET. He is heading to the Peach State later today where he will deliver remarks and participate in a rally with the troops at Robins Air Force Base. He also has two political events on his schedule: he speaks at a Savannah, GA luncheon for former Congressman Max Burns at 12:30 pm ET. He also speaks at a 6:00 pm ET reception in Perry, GA for former Congressman Mac Collins. As is often the case when the VP travels for political stuff, his chief of staff, Mr. Libby, does not plan to accompany him on the trip.
The New York Times' powerful Johnston/Stevenson double byline was ahead of the pack last night when the story hit the web reporting what it is expected to take place today. LINK
"Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday that they expected I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, to be indicted on Friday, charged with making false statements to the grand jury."
"Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, will not be charged on Friday, but will remain under investigation, people briefed officially about the case said. As a result, they said, the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, was likely to extend the term of the federal grand jury beyond its scheduled expiration on Friday."
(Note how the story is made all the more powerful by the arty Doug Mills who may have been closer to Karl Rove than he appeared.)
Three nut graphs: "The apparent delay in a decision about whether to charge Mr. Rove, and the continuation of the criminal inquiry, is a mixed outcome for the administration. It leaves open the possibility that Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's closest and most trusted adviser, could avoid indictment altogether, an outcome that would be not just a legal victory but also the best political outcome the White House could hope for under the circumstances."
"Yet, in apparently leaving Mr. Rove in legal limbo for now, Mr. Fitzgerald has left him and Mr. Bush to twist in the uncertainty of a case that has delved deep into the innermost workings of the White House and provided Democrats an opportunity to attack the administration's honesty and the way it justified the war to the American people."
"Mr. Rove has had to step back from many of his public duties, including appearing at fund-raisers, and he is likely to have to keep a low profile as long as the investigation continues. It could also leave him distracted, depriving the White House of his full attention at a time when Mr. Bush is struggling to regain his political footing after months in which the bloody insurgency in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers have left the administration stumbling."
We wonder what are some of the ramifications will be of an unindicted Rove who is still twisting in the wind a bit under investigation? "Some" will surely say he should resign anyway to remove the "background noise" from the White House, allowing the President to clear the decks and retool.
Other news organizations followed the Times with similar reporting:
From the Wall Street Journal: "Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political adviser and deputy White House chief of staff, was informed yesterday evening that he may not be charged today but remains in legal jeopardy, according to a person briefed on the matter. Mr. Fitzgerald, who meets with jurors this morning, has zeroed in on potential wrongdoing by I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and is likely to charge Mr. Libby at least with making false statements."
The Associated Press includes a late evening meeting between Karl Rove and President Bush in its report: LINK
But the pros are also focused on this must-read Wall Street Journal story by Jay Solomon (so key we are giving you the free link and daring Dow Jones to sue us). LINK
Quick!!! Before any Fitzgerald announcement or leak, read all about how current and former CIA agents are psyched beyond belief that the White House is in trouble over the leak investigation, which the spooks see as just desserts for dissing the Agency and allegedly pressuring analysts to reach political conclusions. Note the on-the-record quotes of crowing.
Elsewhere in politics today, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in California's Central Valley today: he has a 2:00 pm ET campaign event and a 9:00 pm ET town hall meeting at KFSN TV.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean appears at an 8:00 pm ET SEIU rally with striking health care workers in San Francisco, CA.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) makes an initial foray into Granite State politics today from the Bay State side of the border when she raises money for New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch at a 4 pm ET fundraiser at the Harvard Club in Boston, MA. While in Boston, Clinton also participates in a 7:00 pm ET "Women Senate 2006" fundraiser with Sens. Stabenow, Cantwell, and Feinstein at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Earlier in the day, she attends a 1:15 pm ET luncheon for Maine Gov. John Baldacci in Portland, ME.
Sen. Stabenow delivers a public address to Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore will be conspicuously absent from the President's side today. Kilgore, the state's former attorney general, will be in Richmond, VA addressing the NAACP's state convention. See Bloomberg News for more on that: LINK
Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the Democrat running for governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, meets with Emporia supporters at 8:15 am ET, Suffolk supporters at 10:30 am ET and Danville supporters at 4:45 pm ET. He then holds a 7:00 pm ET rally at Radford University.
GDP numbers for the third quarter come out at 8:30 am ET and the Senate meets at 10:00 am ET to consider appropriations bills.
The George Washington University Law School holds a symposium on the "Legacy of the Rehnquist Court" all day. At 1:30 pm ET, Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times, Tony Mauro of Legal Times, David Savage of the Los Angeles Times and Pete Williams of NBC News participate in the "Media Panel."
The American Enterprise Institute holds a book discussion at 12:00 pm ET with John Yoo, author of "The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs After 9/11" in Washington, DC.
Cindy Sheehan holds a 9:00 am ET press conference on the 2,000 milestone reached this week at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
On Saturday, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) delivers the keynote address at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. See our 2008 section below for some speech excerpts.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) headlines a Scott County GOP hog roast in Davenport, IA and a Dallas County GOP steak fry and pie auction in Waukee, IA.
On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Hagel visits Iowa while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Fernando Ferrer face off in their first televised general election debate.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will be campaigning for the Republican gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia this weekend.
The Fitzgerald investigation:
The Los Angeles Times' Richard Schmitt reports on the deafening silence in Washington D.C. (Patrick Fitzgerald was only spotting in public getting his shoes shined) as the city stands poised for Friday indictments. LINK
The Washington Post's VandeHei and Leonnig breathlessly report that the grand jury is unlikely to be extended, Libby is looking for a new lawyer, the courthouse is preparing to make copies, and the ever-resourceful Andy Card is preparing for anything. LINK
The Washington Post's Al Kamen tries to buck up anyone who gets indicted today by Noting that many of the senior administration officials indicted by independent counsels since Watergate have never seen the inside of the Allenwood federal penitentiary. LINK
In summing up the elements of the leak investigation, Michael Kinsley hits many original Notes. A near must-read if you get to it before any news breaks. LINK
The O'Connor seat: the short list(s):
Does the President want a huge ideological fight to rally his base or not? If you can answer that question, you can probably do some narrowing of the short lists provided below:
Washington Post: Alito, Brown, Callahan, Clement, Cornyn, Luttig, McConnell, Owen, Sykes, Thompson, Williams
Associated Press: Alito, Batchelder, Cornyn, Corrigan, Luttig, Mahoney, Owen, Thompson, Wilkinson, Williams
The New York Times: Alito, Luttig, Mahoney, Owen, Sykes, Wilkinson LINK
USA Today: Alito, Brown, Corrigan, Gonzales, Jones, Luttig, McConell, Owen, Wiliams
Wall Street Journal: Alito, Brown, Cornyn, Corrigan, Luttig, Owen, Williams
Wall Street Journal editorial board: Alito, Brown, Jones, Luttig, McConnell, Owen, Wilkinson
Los Angeles Times: Alito, Batchelder, Clement, Jones, Luttig, McConnell, Owen, Sykes, Thompson, Williams
LA Times editorial board: Maureen Mahoney
Boston Globe: Alito, Batchelder, Gonzales, Jones, Luttig, Mahoney, McConnell, Rogers Brown, Thompson, Wilkinson, Williams
Chicago Tribune: Alito, Luttig, Owen, Wilkinson, Williams
In a look at the "unraveling" of the Miers nomination, the Washington Post's Baker and Goldstein report that Miers's murder boards were so underwhelming that her confirmation managers decided not to open up the sessions to friendly outside lawyers. The Washington Post duo also have a GOP strategist working for Miers saying that it was the decision on the part of Sens. Sam Brownback and Lindsey Graham to join Democrats in demanding that the White House turn over papers from her work there that doomed Miers. "'That was the day things really went down,' said the GOP strategist working for Miers." LINK
Connecting the Miers story to the leak story, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank has this from the former Senate Majority Leader: "'Karl Rove can't do it all by himself,. (Sen. Trent) Lott (R-MS) said. Then a mischievous grin crossed the senator's face, and, alluding to the CIA leak case, he added: 'And he may not be there.' Theatrically, Lott brushed his hands as if wiping off dust." LINK
Hugh Hewitt offers a must-read New York Times op-ed on how conservatives who pushed for Miers' withdrawal have perhaps jeopardized the key Republican talking point on judges -- that each of President Bush's nominees deserves an up or down vote on the Senate floor. LINK
(Note Note: We found it particularly odd on Wednesday when we were put on hold by Concerned Women for America -- as the group was announcing its call for Miers to withdraw -- and we heard a recording urging supporters to call their Senators and demand that all judicial nominees receive an up or down vote on the Senate floor.)
The New York Times overview: LINK
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz credits Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Bill Kristol, Laura Ingraham and their conservative colleagues with framing the debate and providing the passion that undermined Miers's nomination. LINK
Judy Keen of USA Today writes in her analysis on Miers' withdrawal that President Bush gets a do over, "Bush with a chance to correct a political misstep. He has a chance to start over with a new nominee and to heal a rift in the Republican Party." LINK
Miers withdraws: tick-tocks:
The New York Times: LINK
The Boston Globe: LINK
The Los Angeles Times: LINK
Bush agenda: news analysis:
In his news analysis, the Washington Post's Dan Balz and Amy Goldstein write that President Bush's failure to anticipate the backlash that Miers would cause with his own conservative base was "more than a humiliation"; it was an episode that seemed "wholly out of character." LINK
The Los Angeles Times Ronald Brownstein Notes the Sisyphean impediments -- illuminated by the Harriet Miers withdrawal -- that seem to be overwhelming Bush Term II -- and feels the President needs to start fighting his fights with winning tactics. LINK
Todd Purdum of the New York Times writes, "The biggest question for Mr. Bush now is what he can make of the 39 months remaining in his presidency. For this horrible week has been months - even years - in the making. The 2,000th American fatality in Iraq was just the latest daunting milestone in a war that will soon be three years old. The C.I.A. leak investigation that threatens to indict a top White House aide or two on Friday grew out of the fierce debates over the flawed intelligence that led to that war." LINK
"And Harriet E. Miers's withdrawal of her nomination to the Supreme Court is the bitter fruit of Mr. Bush's own frailty in the wake of all those storms - and Hurricane Katrina - and of his miscalculations about how her appointment would be received."
Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune writes in his news analysis that the Miers withdrawal is "an uncharacteristic moment of weakness and surrender" for President Bush. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire touts Brownback as a winner and Frist as a loser of the Miers episode.
The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont writes that -- while traversing through Iowa on Thursday -- Gov. George Pataki gave an it's-all-good to the Harriet Miers withdrawal and also stated that, this time around, nothing but another John Roberts will do. LINK
From Glen Johnson of the Associated Press: "Approaching a self-imposed deadline for making a decision about his political future, Gov. Mitt Romney has been pursuing a busy legislative agenda that could be aimed at sealing his legacy ahead of an expected run for the White House." LINK
"In recent weeks, Romney has huddled with aides, devising plans to win legislative passage of a job stimulus bill and a health care package."
According to excerpts of remarks prepared for delivery and obtained by The Note, Sen. Bayh say, "So, as tempted as I am to spend the next half hour telling you how angry I am about the failings of this administration - the incompetence, the misplaced priorities, the needless polarization - that would not be enough. Instead, I want to have a conversation about our future, what comes next, and the leadership we need to forge a better and more secure tomorrow. We have the opportunity - and the responsibility - to be the generation that Restores the Promise of America."
More prepared remarks: "But our success in Indiana by embracing Unity, Opportunity, Security, and Accountability is a path to meeting the challenges of our time, restoring the Promise of America's and building the majority we need to govern."
One Granite State insider tells us that 60 members of Sen. Bayh's national finance committee are expected to attend the dinner.
Bayh spokesman Dan Pfeiffer says: "The All America PAC periodically has meetings around the country and this one is being held in New Hampshire, since it provided an opportunity for the leadership to see the Senator speak at a Democratic Party event."
More troubling poll numbers for Fernando Ferrer, courtesy of the New York Times: LINK
The New York Post endorsed Michael Bloomberg for mayor. LINK
David Seifman reports in the New York Post that Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office has released smiling pictures of the mayor chatting with former president Bill Clinton, who endorsed Fernando Ferrer last week, at a luncheon yesterday for the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation. LINK
Carl Campanile reports that Fernando Ferrer's campaign has released a new ad which tries to depict Michael Bloomberg as an out-of-touch globetrotter. LINK
The New Jersey Attorney General "announced on Thursday that it would not prosecute Douglas R. Forrester, the Republican candidate for governor, on charges that he had made hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to other Republicans," reports the New York Times. LINK