Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The crafty ways of our man, Robert "Gold Bars" Luskin, lawyer for tadpole-on-deck Karl Rove.

As we noted a short time ago, the AP is now reporting that Karl Rove has availed himself of a last-minute and seemingly last ditch effort to avoid indictment.

Yesterday Luskin cut some blood loose in the water when he refused to deny that Rove had received a 'target letter'. In the past, Luskin had quite volubly insisted that Patrick Fitzgerald had assured him that Rove was not a target. But no more.

Today he told the AP: "I can say categorically that Karl has not received a target letter from the special counsel. The special counsel has confirmed that he has not made any charging decisions in respect to Karl."

Here Luskin appears to be availing himself of the transitive property of hyper-parsification. To any reasonable person Luskin's statement should settle the matter of whether Rove is a target. But Luskin's own record of slithery parsification forces us to assume that these words are carefully chosen to conceal rather than elucidate. If you come from the con interp world, think of this as the journalists' version of 'strict scrutiny' which is called for in the case of a bamboozler like Luskin.

With that in mind, Luskin's second sentence means nothing. Being a target may mean you're likely to get indicted. But it doesn't mean that the prosecutor has decided that in fact you will be indicted. So that's just a showy statement that means nothing. Then there's the matter of the letter. Karl hasn't gotten one. Luskin earlier approach was to say that Fitzgerald had assured him that Rove was 'not a target'. Now we're hung up on the letter.

Can you be notified that you're a target in any way beside a letter? I really don't know. But it's hard to see where a prosecutor wouldn't cross every t and dot every i in a case of such import.

Karl plays for time. AP: "Federal prosecutors have accepted an offer from presidential adviser Karl Rove to give 11th hour testimony in the case of a CIA officer's leaked identity but have warned they cannot guarantee he won't be indicted, according to people directly familiar with the investigation. The persons, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy, said Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not made any decision yet on whether to file criminal charges against the longtime confidant of President Bush or others."

More Grade A Freeh Bashing: Advance word on Arch-Failure Louis Freeh's new book apparently has Freeh complaining that it was hard for him to get anything done because Bill Clinton, the president and his nominal boss, was such a source of scandal and bad acts.

Drudge quotes him saying: "The problem was with Bill Clinton -- the scandals and the rumored scandals, the incubating ones and the dying ones never ended. Whatever moral compass the president was consulting was leading him in the wrong direction. His closets were full of skeletons just waiting to burst out."

Aren't there some logical problems with this excuse making?

How is it that Bill Clinton was such a bad actor that Freeh couldn't get anything else done because he had to spend so much investigating him and yet Freeh never caught him doing anything? Which of Clinton's associates did Freeh indict?

Think about it. Either Freeh is just as big a buck-passer and liar as we think or he is a self-confessed incompetent. It's genuinely funny.

Even if you want to consider Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky as a legitimate legal bad act, Freeh didn't have anything to do with catching him on that one. Give the credit where it's due: that was the work of Republican political operatives.

Can't Freeh keep himself busy as chief bill collector for the credit card companies?

Reuters: "Top officials who managed U.S. reconstruction projects in Iraq have been hired by some of the same big companies that received those contracts and which are now involved in a rush of deals to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina."

So Arch-Failure Louis Freeh is coming out with a book, apparently aimed largely at attacking Bill Clinton. I assume we're going to get a lot of stories about how Freeh was perhaps the worst manager the FBI ever had? Didn't believe in using computers to aid crime fighting? Was a complete zero in fighting terrorism?

Who cares about Bill Clinton. Let Freeh attack him all he wants. Truly, who cares? But Freeh is a walking glass house. Please everyone collect your rocks.

Andrew Sullivan has the full round-up on last night's Senate vote banning the US military from using torture (torture or quasi-torture, call it what you want) anywhere in the world. Now he's posted the names of the nine senators who weren't willing to vote against torture.

Someone who'd like to testify at Harriet Miers confirmtion hearings?

Late Update: Apologies, the server linked to here seems overwhelmed and for the moment isn't working.

Is RoBold the snitch?

Ever since Travis County DA Ronnie Earle indicted Tom DeLay on the initial charge of conspiracy, and especially since he heaped on two more indictments based on "additional information" he received last weekend, DeLay watchers have been reading the tea leaves trying discern who might have agreed to testify against Mr. Big.

In today's Roll Call, there's an article (sub.req.) by John Bresnahan, devoted almost entirely to the voluble denials from DeLay's alleged co-conspirators Jim Ellis John Colyandro, each insisting that they haven't cut a deal.

But sticking out like a sore thumb in Bresnahan's piece is the second graf which reads ...

A lawyer for a third DeLay associate who also is under indictment in the Texas probe, Warren RoBold, did not return calls seeking comment on whether he is cooperating with Earle’s investigation.

RoBold isn't quite the insider that Ellis and Colyandro are. So perhaps he's decided it's time to cut his losses, turn the tables and nail the hammer?

Not a sexy topic, but way more important than you might think: the decline of Congressional oversight. It's one of Congress's key roles in our system of checks and balances. But it's a role that has largely been abdicated by the Republican Congress. During the 1990s, the sort of meticulous but often unsexy work of oversight of the executive branch departments and agencies was pushed aside to make way for high-octane but mostly nonsensical scandal investigations. Under Bush, it's been shunted aside even more because serious oversight sounds too much like criticism, which must of course be avoided at all costs. The Post has a nice, though too brief, piece on the subject.

There were rumors flying around all day today that Plame prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was about to indict one or more White House officials, perhaps as early as today. The 'today' part obviously didn't pan out. But an article from Reuters, which hit the wires little more than an hour ago, seems to have nailed down some outlines of those rumors. At a minimum they seemed to grab on to the tail of the same animal.

Reuters makes clear that what Fitzgerald is going to do (indict, strike plea bargains, do nothing) isn't clear. But he's expected to do whatever it is he intends to do "within days."

Another tale zipping around email boxes was that Karl Rove had received a "target letter" a standard precursor to an indictment, but one I thought you got more than like a day in advance of the big day.

Here's what Reuters came up with, it seems trying to nail down that part of the story ...

As a first step, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was expected to notify officials by letter if they have become targets, said the lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.


The inquiry has ensnared President George W. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby. The White House had long maintained that Rove and Libby had nothing to do with the leak but reporters have since named them as sources.

Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to say whether his client had been contacted by Fitzgerald. In the past, Luskin has said that Rove was assured that he was not a target.

Libby's lawyer was not immediately available to comment.

As a friend of mine said today, sagely: we'll know soon enough.

Late Update: The fact that the president has decided to schedule a "major speech" on Iraq and terrorism, apropos of more or less nothing, would seem to suggest some bad coming down the pike. On the other hand, he seems to schedule these speeches about twice a month nowadays.