Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Department of wonderfully fortuitous note-keeping ...

New York Times reporter Judith Miller discovered notes from an earlier conversation she had with Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and turned them over the prosecutor investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's identity, legal sources said on Friday.

Judy, Judy, Judy ...

Question: Anyone willing to lay down odds on whether Harriet Miers will ever be seated on the Supreme Court?

And as long as we're at it, which senator is going to stand up and demand to receive the secret Dobson Briefing?

Late Update: More here from The Hotline on the Dobson Briefing.

More crackerjack reporting from the Washington Times.

Today's Times runs a piece with the headline "DeLay accuses Earle of taking corporate funds."

The relevant passage reads ...

Rep. Tom DeLay said District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is prosecuting him for trying to involve corporate money in Texas politics, has taken such contributions himself.

"It's real interesting he has this crusade against corporate funds. He took corporate funds, and he's taken union funds, for his own re-election. That's against the law," Mr. DeLay told The Washington Times yesterday.

A review of Mr. Earle's campaign-finance filings in Texas shows that he has received contributions from the AFL-CIO, including a $250 donation on Aug. 29, 2000. He also has received contributions listed on the disclosure forms only as coming from the name of an incorporated entity, often a law firm.

Mr. Earle has said repeatedly that state law bars corporate and union contributions. Attempts to reach Mr. Earle yesterday for comment, including a phone message left on his assistant's voice mail detailing Mr. DeLay's charge, were unsuccessful.

The story seems like it has real punch until you realize that the Times decides not to tell its readers that the statute doesn't cover law firms.

The law (see page 24) says ...

§ 253.091. Corporations Covered This subchapter applies only to corporations that are organized under the Texas Business Corporation Act, the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, federal law, or law of another state or nation.

Texas law firms are incorporated under the Texas Professional Corporation Act.

A bit further down in the statute they make it even more clear ...

(a) For purposes of this subchapter, the following associations, whether incorporated or not, are considered to be corporations covered by this subchapter: banks, trust companies, savings and loan associations or companies, insurance companies, reciprocal or interinsurance exchanges, railroad companies, cemetery companies, government-regulated cooperatives, stock companies, and abstract and title insurance companies.

And if that <$Ad$> weren't enough the friends of the Times and DeLay at this Texas anti-trial lawyer site say it explicitly: "These corporations are restricted from contributing directly to candidates. Law firms, however, do not have the same impediments to contributions, leaving trial lawyer firms free to contribute as much as possible to their favorite candidates."

I don't know whether the claim about union contributions is equally silly (Late Update: Yep, turns out it is. See here.) I'll leave that to folks in Texas who know the statute better. But what does seem pretty clear is that Mr. DeLay made an intentionally misleading accusation. And the good folks at the Times just decided to go along for the ride.

Shocking, just shocking ...

Late Update: It seems I didn't fully plumb the depths of the dishonesty of DeLay and his enablers at the Times. Stakeholder has more.

I know everyone is atwitter at the moment over today's events and poring over the just-published pieces in the Times (an outfit still in denial about its institutional guilt) and the Post about the Rove-Fitzgerald developments. But I would like to take a moment to remind everyone of the severe health risks associated with schadenfreude toxicity (ST), in both its chronic and acute forms. It doesn't take a lifetime of exposure to guilty pleasure at the suffering of others. In rare cases, even a few hours of euphoria watching poetic justice being meted out to evil-doers can prove fatal. Today walking down Sixth Avenue, in fact, I saw several apparently healthy and able-bodied Democrats just go poof! into thin air. Even a few Republicans who just believed in good government were taken ill. It can happen that quick.

A longtime reader gently, or not so gently, puts me in my place ...

Don't be a lawyer! This is simple. The manual is not law, it is a manual. Prosecutors need to avoid being accused of abuse of grand jury process. Rove has testified so often to this grand jury they must be bored with him. There's no chance of abuse. So why is he testifying again? Because the case has gotten refined. Now it is about conspiracy. It is about the cover up not the crime. I assume. So he's come in to explain what he knew, when he knew it, how he didn't really cover up. Grand jurors will ask him q's. So will prosecutor. Record will be made. Then they can indict him if they want. Simple.

'nuff said.

More on the topic of the day: 'target letters'.

Like many other bloggers and reporters, I've spent a good bit of time this afternoon reading over the section of the US Attorney's Manual that deals with grand juries.

I had read over 9-11.153 earlier today, in addition to a bunch of other sections. But I don't think I caught its significance on the first run through.

A source, who is an attorney with relevant knowledge, tells me that there are many cases where a target letter simply isn't required. And this person points to 9-11.153, which does seem to say pretty clearly that Rove's is one of those cases. I quote (emphasis added) ...

9-11.153 Notification of Targets

When a target is not called to testify pursuant to USAM 9-11.150, and does not request to testify on his or her own motion (see USAM 9-11.152), the prosecutor, in appropriate cases, is encouraged to notify such person a reasonable time before seeking an indictment in order to afford him or her an opportunity to testify before the grand jury, subject to the conditions set forth in USAM 9-11.152. Notification would not be appropriate in routine clear cases or when such action might jeopardize the investigation or prosecution because of the likelihood of flight, destruction or fabrication of evidence, endangerment of other witnesses, undue delay or otherwise would be inconsistent with the ends of justice.

Add here the standard preface that I'm not a lawyer. And many errors are possible when a layman cherry-picks portions of a legal code or manual without reading the thing in its entirety. But this seems to be the portion of the manual which outlines cases where a 'target letter' is called for. And if I'm not mistaken, Rove has already testified three times.

So are we even sure Fitzgerald is under any obligation at all to send one to Karl?

Roll Call (sub. req.): On October 18th, the Senate Judiciary Committee wil hold hearings on Deputy Attorney General nominee Timothy Flanigan's ties to Jack Abramoff. Flanigan will attend and Roll Call reports that Tyco has waived the attorney-client privilege Flanigan invoked to avoid answering Abramoff questions in his September 29th appearance.