The headline on Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing blog this afternoon is "Rove's Last Campaign."
Dan asks: "Will Karl Rove, architect of President Bush's political career, snatch one last victory from the jaws of defeat? (Or at least avoid getting indicted?)"
He raises a very interesting issue: If Rove is indicted by the federal grand jury, he will hardly be your ordinary defendant. It is not just that he is the chief political advisor to the President of the United States. Rather, I am referring to the fact that he would be a defendant who is skilled and versed as few others in public relations, polling, and damage control. He is, also, a political genius-- albeit an evil genius to those of you of the opposite political persuasion.
Unlike most of us, he also can hire the best and most expensive of legal talent: in this case, Robert Luskin, and Patton, Bogg, et al. (If I or many of my friends were in legal jeopardy, we might be lucky to retain Hyatt Legal Services.) But aside from such legal resources at his disposal, Rove is a political strategist. And he will mount a defense that is likely to be every much a political campaign as legal campaign. To not do so would be in variance with his innate nature.
Obviously, Rove must have long ago given this some thought. There are attorneys who believe that you litigate and defend clients in the courtroom. David Kendall, the Clintons' attorney for Whitewater case and impeachment saga, was of that variety. Bob Bennett, who defended Clinton in the Paula Jones, was the exact opposite: an attorney who enjoys the limelight, the company of reporters, and considers the court of public opinion to be essential to making the case in a court of law.
(To learn more about this, I recommend you read my forthcomming book about the Clinton impeachment saga... I know that that was shameless self promotion, but what else is the purpose of blogging except for self promotion? BTW, I am going to have a regular feature on this blog mocking the top ten Washington/New York/politics/media world bloggs devoted to self promotion.... all right... apologies once again for my discursive nature. Now where was I?....)
To consider how Rove and Libby might defend against potential criminal charges, one can contrast their retainers' contrasting legal styles. Joseph A. Tate is a guy who likes to work behind the scenes, only talks to reporters of the credulous and compliant type (think of the equivalent of Susan Schmidts for defense attorneys), and likes to mostly engage within the four corners of a courtroom.
Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, is also considered by most of his peers as an able and capable white collar defense attorney. As a former federal prosecutor, he is known for counseling clients under investigation,and negotiating with the government, before their client is ever charged. (I know less about his court room skills, either good or bad, so for now I say nothing on that subject.) The secretive, furtive Libby probably hired the right guy when he hired the publicly reticent Tate. But Luskin, unlike Tate, is one not afraid of the public arena. And "client" Karl Rove is not one likely to leave all his fighting to the court room.
I am going to have a lot more to say about this in later postings.