It's the holiday season, and prosecutors and judges do not clog up court dockets lightly this time of year, mindful of the pressing shopping and family needs of staffs, jurors and others around the courthouse. It's a fact that the schedules are traditionally lighter this time of year (well, except for commercial attorneys who are all scrambling around trying to close matters for clients prior to the end of the tax year, but that is a whole 'nother matter entirely), other than criminal matters like shoplifting, DUIs and domestic batteries and assaults which all rise from Halloween through the New Year.
This tended to be when I scheduled a lot of plea hearings and other housekeeping issues, but we tried to keep trials off the docket if at all possible, for the practical fact that summoning a full compliment of jurors can be tough this time of year. (And as a personal plea, please take your summons for jury duty seriously. Having thoughtful, dedicated people on a jury can make a world of difference.)
That Pat Fitzgerald chose this point in time to go back to the Grand Jury with further information says a number of things to me. But most of all, it says that he has a heckuva lot more than any of us know about publicly -- and that he's very serious about bringing charges against someone (or someoneS).
And I'm not the only one who thinks so:
Randall D. Eliason, who headed public corruption prosecutions in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, said Fitzgerald would not go through the trouble of repeating information to a new grand jury unless he is considering criminal charges or there are significant, potentially criminal matters he wants to resolve.It also says to me that perhaps Mr. Fitzgerald has been given some additional information from a recently interviewed source. Booby? Vivaka? Some other cooperating witness? No idea -- but that pause that Rover was given? Might just be that indictment interruptus is back on the front burner.
"The fact that Fitzgerald is going through the effort to re-present is certainly a sign that the investigation is active," Eliason said.
One interesting tidbit in the WaPo story today:
The source, whose identity has not been revealed, had testified much earlier in Fitzgerald's investigation but did not mention the conversation, said two sources familiar with the investigation.Well, that's certainly not good news for Woody's source. But it could explain why he has been so fervent in his characterization of the conversation as "gossip" -- protecting your access by covering the ass of your source is one way to *cough* practice journalism *cough* I suppose. But, unfortunately for Booby and his source, it is not a defense to an Espionage Act charge.
Vivak is scheduled to testify today via sworn deposition. There has been a lot of talk in the comments regarding her hiring an attorney well-versed in criminal prosecutions. I think it was a smart move on her part, actually. Anyone facing a prosecutor who is obviously so intent on his case would be wise to hire counsel who can guide them through the intricacies of criminal law -- and protect interests during any deposition.
Any time you give sworn testimony, you are at risk for charges if you speak out of turn, and Vivak is smart enough to understand that she needs legal counsel to prevent that from happening to the extent that is possible. I do not think that she is in any substantial legal jeopardy -- this is likely a protective action on her part -- but it certainly is a smart move. And one that likely made Luskin's spin job a bit more difficult as well.
One other tidbit that was brought to my attention by our wonderful reader Grampa, the Phillipine News online has a correction story up regarding Susan Ralston. It seems that the WH Media Relations staff took the time to phone the PN to let them know that Ralston is still at her desk working for the Preznit and Rove. Note that this was worded in the present tense and that the Commerce Dept. refused to comment, but still, at least Ralston is still in the WH at the moment.
That the WH felt the need to publicly comment on the disposition of a staffer is a bit odd. But perhaps Ralston, who has been at the epicenter of both Abramoff's and Rove's office machinations over the last few years needs to be treated like an upper level staffer in terms of protection. Or maybe it was the glare from yesterday's Froomkin column that pushed the matter into the open.
Jeralyn adds to the speculation on what Fitz may be up to with the latest G/J maneuvers. Her point on Luskin's non-statement statement is well taken -- no change in Rove's status really means not a whole lot of good news for Karl. Darn. (Can you hear the sarcasm in my typing?)
As for my predictions? I think Fitz is cooking up something big. He doesn't seem like the sort of guy who is wasteful of resources or the time of his staff or jurors. And pulling everyone back in to bring the G/J up to speed, to take new testimony via depositions or otherwise, and to put on a full court press in the middle of December -- well, that says more indictments to me. And it says that a whole lot of people in DC are in perpetual pucker mode.
Your move, Mr. Fitzgerald.