Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

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.

A bit more parsing of Ronald "GB" Luskin's remarks on whether Karl Rove is a 'target' of the Fitzgerald investigation -- under the known bamboozler's standard of 'strict scrutiny' (KB-triple-S) noted below.

First off, is it a legal requirement that you get a 'target letter' before you get indicted? Many press outlets are claiming that it is. For instance, CNN says, "Rove would first have to receive what is known as a target letter if he is about to be indicted."

As near as I can tell, though, that is simply false. There's no legal requirement that you get a letter before you get indicted. Standard procedure, yes. A requirement, no.

As for parsing of Luskin's remarks and the significance of a letter (see below), several sources confirm that for a known bamboozler like Luskin, his statements are basically meaningless. Notification that you're a target can be oral. And the letter probably wouldn't be sent to Rove himself but rather to Luskin. So even if Fitzgerald sent a letter Karl Rove wouldn't have received it. Suffice it say that Luskin's statement gives him plenty of wiggle room.

As for what this all means, basically what we have here is Rove's attempt to go in and make his own case directly to the grand jury, going over Fitzgerald's head, as it were. My sources tell me that such a strategy is the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, the sort of choice that only makes sense as one source told me, in situations "where the indictment is as bad as the conviction" -- something that certainly applies to Rove.

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."