Waiting on Fitzgerald -- and wondering why he might need office space

One report says an announcement will come Friday. Have indictments already been handed down?

Published October 27, 2005 12:33PM (EDT)

As War Room began its day this morning, we flipped on the television that's usually tuned to CNN and saw a pack of police officers frog-marching a bare-chested man out of his house in the middle of the night. "Could it be," we began to think, then just as quickly remembered that we'd been watching the World Series on Fox the night before.

This was a reality TV rerun, not reality itself.

In the real world, we wait.

When will we hear? The Washington Post says that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald summarized his case for the grand jury Wednesday and is expected to announce his decision Friday.

Has anyone been indicted yet? Some "lawyers close to the case" tell the Los Angeles Times that it's possible that Fitzgerald has obtained one or more indictments but is holding them under seal. The New York Times says that Fitzgerald's three-hour meeting with the grand jury, coupled with a private session with Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, has "ratcheted up" exactly that fear at the White House. On the other hand, the Times says that maybe Fitzgerald was just requesting an extension from Hogan -- something CBS News says he didn't do and a prospect the L.A. Times calls doubtful.

So what's really happening? No one knows for sure, but everyone has a theory. On "Hardball" last night, Time's Mike Allen floated the idea that Fitzgerald may already have obtained indictments and is using them to persuade his targets to plead guilty to the charges set forth in them or risk having him return to the grand jury Friday for more. That theory dovetails, more or less, with the Post's report that Karl Rove's legal team is still engaged in a "furious" effort to avoid a perjury charge related to whatever he told the grand jury about his discussion with Time's Matthew Cooper. The Post says that one of Fitzgerald's prosecutors was in touch as late as Tuesday with former White House communications aide Adam Levine, asking him questions about Rove. Meanwhile, most press accounts seem to assume -- some, like the Wall Street Journal, more explicitly than others -- that Scooter Libby will be indicted if he hasn't been already.

Any other clues worth noticing? Yep. As the grand jurors left the federal courthouse Wednesday, the L.A. Times heard one of them tell another, "See you Friday," suggesting that the grand jury will meet again as its term expires. But the biggest clue as to what the future may hold comes from blogger Steve Clemons, who reports that, in addition to his new Web site, Patrick Fitzgerald is getting new office space in Washington. If Clemons is right, it would seem that the prosecutor from Chicago plans to spend some time in the nation's capital beyond, say, Friday.

Is the wait taking its toll? On refresh buttons around America, yes, but also on the White House. The White House isn't happy about sitting in this state of suspended animation, but this is a case in which the waiting might not be the hardest part. While most press accounts have focused on the practical, who-will-replace-Rove aspects of potential indictments, the Journal explains today that the political fallout could be much greater than that. Because of the high-profile nature of the case and the fact that Fitzgerald will want to explain, right out of the box, why he's bringing charges if he does, the Journal says that indictments will likely be "very detailed and discuss the involvement of other White House officials who aren't being charged." David Pitofsky, a former New York prosecutor, tells the Journal: "In this case, an indictment could cause serious reputational damage to unindicted officials by describing their roles, criminal or not, in what appears to have been an orchestrated effort to unfairly discredit [Joseph] Wilson in order to clear the way for an increasingly unpopular war."

How 'bout them White Sox, Mr. President?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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