Familiar Ring to it

From the AP August 27, 2003, Wednesday, BC cycle

When asked, Fitzgerald would not comment on whether “Official A” was Ryan.

From the Chicago Daily Herald April 3, 2002, Wednesday All

But despite branding two of Ryan’s former top aides and his campaign committee as corrupt, Fitzgerald would not say if the investigation will eventually reach Ryan. The vast majority of the corruption uncovered so far happened under his watch when he was secretary of state from 1990 until 1998. The governor has not been accused by prosecutors of any wrongdoing in the past, and Tuesday’s indictments did not include him.

“I cannot answer that question,” Fitzgerald said when asked about any Ryan involvement. “We cannot discuss people not charged in the indictment.”

Sun Times June 20, 2002

Stewart would send bills to Stanley and Doyle for bogus legal work Stewart never performed. Stanley and Doyle would “pay” for the work, when in fact they were passing along bribes through Stewart to Udstuen.

Stanley also allegedly passed bribes to Udstuen through another person, dubbed “Individual A” in the indictment, in a similar scheme. Individual A was a close friend of Udstuen’s and a social acquaintance of Stanley’s.

Points from the Press Conference

Fitzgerald from Drum

“Mr. Libby’s story that he was at the end of a chain of phone calls was not true. It was false. He was at the beginning of a chain of phone calls” that disclosed Plame’s identity. He lied repeatedly about this under oath.

Question: Will there be any more charges. Fitzgerald: “Substantial bulk of the work is completed.” This is followed by an extended baseball analogy that amounts to: Why did Libby do what he did? We needed to find out.

Question: Any evidence that Dick Cheney encouraged Libby? Fitzgerald: There are no allegations against anyone else, so we have no comment about that. That’s standard practice.

Question: So who leaked Plame’s name to Robert Novak? Fitzgerald: Sorry, we’re not going to tell you. That’s just the way it goes. If we don’t bring charges, we don’t say anything.

Question: What about Karl Rove? Fitzgerald: “We either charge someone or we don’t talk about them.” Sorry.

Question: Was it worth it to put Judith Miller in jail for 85 days? Fitzgerald: We didn’t want a fight with the New York Times. But we showed our evidence to a judge, and the judge agreed. The appellate court agreed. Can’t charge someone with perjury regarding a conversation without finding out from the witnesses involved whether the alleged conversation actually took place. If you don’t talk to the eyewitnesses, that’s “reckless.” Miller and Cooper could have exonerated Libby, after all.

Question: Did Libby know that Plame was covert? Fitzgerald: He’s not saying whether Plame was covert. Only saying that her association with the CIA was classified. Not saying anything about whether Libby leaked the name of a covert agent.

Just a Beginning

Having read the indictments and the press release–available here,

This is a side case, not the central point.

Official A (sound familiar Illinois readers) is cited as having a discussion with Libby about Official A talking to Novak about Wilson’s wife.

Fitzgerald is squeezing Libby and nailing him for clear obstruction of justice. This is textbook Patrick Fitzgerald. The indictment reads like a road map to the rest of the investigation pointing out the danger of leaking classified information and essentially laying out the case that such information was clearly leaked. It then criticizes Libby for obstructing those efforts–hence why it takes so long to put such a case together.

I’m pretty sure I’m missing something that Fitzgerald has up his sleeve, but the basic strategy is clear from the document. Unfortunately, the document won’t actually be referred to by pundits, just as “the plot against wilson” was largely ignored.

Can We Drop the Bit about Valerie Wilson not being covert now?

From the indictments:

Prior to the July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson?s employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. Disclosure of classified information about an individual?s employment by the CIA has the potential to damage the national security in ways that range from preventing that individual?s future use in a covert capacity to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who deal with them.

Corrections from those peddling this crap?

The Attacks Commence

Luntz says

However, Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and strategist. said: “If [Fitzgerald] indicts, they [the White House] will have no choice but to attempt to demonise him. I think that is going to be really, really tough.”

Hannity obliges

No transcript, but Hannity also claimed that in going after Illinois REPUBLICAN Governor George Ryan there were complaints about his tactics.

I only know of few people who have complained of Fitzgerald’s tactics in the License for Bribes scandal and other than Scott Fawell, George Ryan and their lawyers, only Jeralynn Merritt of Talk Left has complained of his tactics.

So Illinois Republicans? Going to stand for this tarring of Patrick Fitzgerald by Sean Hannity?

Alderman Joe Moore, State Senator Iris Martinez, and State Senator Carol Ronen pointed out that Illinois Republicans are in an especially important position having watched and praised Patrick Fitzgerald over the last few years:

?We are calling on Judy Baar Topinka, Ron Gidwitz, Jim Oberweis, Steve Rauschenberger, Joe Birkett, Bill Brady and others who are considering a run for the highest office in Illinois to adhere to the highest standards of right and wrong and call for the President to fire Karl Rove,? said Moore.

So which of you is going on Hannity and Colmes to defend Fitz?

The Zogby On-Line Poll

Before coming down with the ear infection, I’d gotten a lot of feedback on the Zogby poll I had posted.

First, it is an online poll and thus, it’s methodology is uncertain, but if one compares it to relatively recent, but traditional polls, the numbers were similar. What I’ve noticed in following the WSJ poll is that further out, it matches well with polling, but like most of Zogby’s stuff in the last two cycles, doesn’t effectively figure out who the likely voters are closer to the election so with a lot of caveats, I think it’s a reasonable poll to pay attention to, but not hold it up as perfect.

I mentioned that Steve Rauschenberger would take his results and crow about them and use them to fundraise and raise his profile–he did–I mean what candidate wouldn’t. There were some legitimate concerns about those names not released from that report–it was unclear to some whether the field was included or not and what it meant either way.

I can report the field was included and here are the results percentage points

Source: Zogby Interactive survey of 1099 likely voters statewide, conducted Sept. 16-21, 2005. MOE +/- 3.0

Governor
Rauschenberger (R) 41%
Blagojevich* (D) 40%

Governor
Blagojevich* (D) 42%
Brady (R) 38%

Governor
Blagojevich* (D) 42%
Martin (R) 34%

Governor
Blagojevich* (D) 42%
Gidwitz (R) 35%

Governor
Blagojevich* (D) 42%
Birkett (R) 39%

Governor
Blagojevich* (D) 38%
Baar Topinka (R) 38%

Governor
Blagojevich* (D) 44%
Overweis (R) 40%

Governor
Blagojevich* (D) 42%
McCracken (R) 34%

Governor
Edgar (R) 48%
Blagojevich* (D) 36%

of the serious contenders, everyone is pretty bunched together with interesting results being Topinka increases the undecideds, but still would face a tough race as of today. Oberweis makes Blagojevich look better than anyone else.

Gidwitz does one point better than gadfly Andy Martin. More importantly, Gidwitz is keeping political operatives well fed. Someone’s got to do it (actually they don’t, but what the hell).

I think other campaigns might dispute specific ordering of the serious candidates in the match-ups, but they are all within the margin of error anyway so while I take their points well, it’s just not that big of a deal. There is also the big matchup between the Republicans, but I don’t have those numbers.

Zogby’s in the field as it is right now for the next round and everyone’s included with the exception of Edgar who has been removed. There is a list of Republicans to choose from as well for the primary as well so I’d expect the results around the 1st.

Two Bits that Suggest Fitzgerald is Working an Angle Beyond just one-shot indictments

Over at Think Progress there are two bits. One is from Steve Clemons report that the Special Prosecutor’s Office has rented some space, and second is that Rove’s legal team is furiously trying to avoid a perjury charge.

Expecting this to be a longer process fits with building a case through lower indictments as is rattling Rove to get him to cooperate….

I’m just saying. The guy is a lot smarter than I am so I could be missing three of four layers here, but I think there’s a lot more than what we are going to hear about today.

It’s not just that half aren’t implemented

It’s the type of issues not implemented:

Lack of Documentation in contract files

Use of Contractor work in developing RFP specifications

For a start—more tomorrow, but this should send the Audit Committee into orbit. Lack of documentation? WTF? How hard is basic document control and procedural standard practice?

This reads like a dysfunctional city agency that doesn’t have the capacity or expertise to perform basic accounting practices. Except, wait, this is Central Management Services that is supposed to be leading the way the Administration Changes Business As Usual (TM). CMS is supposed to show the other agencies how it is done….

From my background, I’m waiting to hear that the files are annotated with my favorite accounting practice–post it notes on the inside cover!

46% of Recommendations Not Implemented

Makes a goo-goo twitch:

SYNOPSIS

The FY04 Report contained 24 findings and recommendations. We determined, as of September 16, 2005, that the Department had:

? Implemented 6 (25%) of the recommendations;

? Partially implemented 4 (17%) of the recommendations;

? Not implemented 11 (46%) of the recommendations; and

? Due to the nature and timing of the required tests, the status of the remaining 3 (12%) recommendations could not be determined at this time. The status of those findings will be reported in the Department’s Financial Audit and Compliance Examination for the year ended June 30, 2005.

Specific matters noted by the auditors are detailed on the following pages.

On the good side, no one’s going to be attacking Holland anytime soon.

When a Perjury Charge isn’t just a Perjury Charge

Murray Waas discusses the possibility that Patrick Fitzgerald may request to extend or empanel a new grand jury and yet bring indictments.

Having observed Fitzgerald over the last few years, I find this to be the most likely scenario.

In his high profiles cases that I’ve followed, Fitzgerald is not the kind of guy to shoot all of his ammunition at once. He’s strategic in what he brings at any given time with the seeming strategy to leverage current indictments to move up the food chain.

In the case of the License for Bribes scandal centering on fundraising in the Illinois Secretary of State’s office under George Ryan the initial indictments built up from the front line employees (and this started under Fitzgerald’s predecessor Scott Lasser). Those front line employees were then flipped to report on the low level political employees who flipped on mid and high level political people until it reached Scott Fawell and others like Roger “The Hog” Stanley. In the case of Ryan, it seems that Fitzgerald had more than one strategy to get to Ryan. The first was threatening Ryan’s daughter and indicting the campaign itself. The second, and the one that appears to have borne fruit, was to target Scott Fawell. Neither worked at first in terms of getting to Ryan, so Fitzgerald kept at it until he identified Fawell’s weakness: his fiancee Alexandra “Andrea” Coutretsis.

Fawell too, is claiming his trial is the criminalization of politics. He just doesn’t have an army of pundits get on Fox News and repeat it ad nauseum.

Coutretsis was squeezed on a lying to the grand jury charge. Fitzgerald then gave Fawell a choice–testify and cooperate against Ryan or Coutretsis goes to jail. Testify, she gets probation. Fitzgerald found the weakness and Fawell has been on the stand testifying against his old boss. It’s important to note that Fawell probably only felt a greater sense of obligation to one person other than Ryan and that was to Coutretsis.

In the Chicago investigations that revolve around the Daley administration, he’s used the same tactics. He started low, and built up to the high level political people with Daley’s current patronage chief, Sorich, under indictment as well as former patronage head Victor Reyes who now heads the Hispanic Democratic Organization (HDO). To get to that spot, Fitzgerald went after Daniel Katalinic. The Tribune describes the situation:

Katalinic, a former deputy commissioner in the Department of Streets and Sanitation, has been cooperating for months with federal authorities investigating a massive City Hall hiring scheme stretching back to 1993.

His lawyer, Jeffrey Steinback, told U.S. District Judge David Coar that he expected Katalinic to change his plea to guilty within the next three to four weeks. Katalinic’s next court date was set for Nov. 15.

“Mr. Katalinic will plead guilty,” Steinback said outside the courtroom. “He has cooperated with the government, and he will continue to cooperate with the government.”

Katalinic, 54, has provided evidence against others and has secretly recorded conversations. He was indicted last month along with Robert Sorich, Daley’s longtime patronage chief; Timothy McCarthy, a former Sorich aide; John Sullivan, a managing deputy commissioner in Streets and Sanitation; and Patrick Slattery, an ex-Streets and Sanitation official.

Mayor Daley is probably hoping Reyes or Sorich don’t have a fiancee to be gone after. Seriously, I don’t know if Daley will ever be reached or that he did much more than tolerate the atmosphere, but I’m convinced that if he was involved, one guy can demonstrate that and his name Patrick Fitzgerald.

In a very different case, Fitzgerald and many others saw Matt Hale as a domestic terrorist and so he developed an informer in the Hale organization who flipped on Hale and led to Hale’s imprisonment for plotting to kill Judge Lefkow. He started lower when he had evidence of a problem, and methodically developed a case against the eventual target.

In the Lee Daniels case, it’s been pretty clear that the lower level fruit were a stepping stone to get Mike Tristano, Daniels’ former Chief of Staff. Back when Daniels was Minority Leader in the Illinois House, Rich Miller, amongst others, started to break a whole bunch of confidential sources that told of doing political work on state time. The low level fruit were gone after by Fitzgerald who then built up to an indictment against Tristano. Tristano, until recently, was considered a stumbling block because whatever Daniels knew, Tristano was probably the only guy who could tell the whole story–he was the buffer between Daniels and the rest of the House Republican campaign operation (and probably kept Saviano from kicking Daniels’ ass in caucus meetings).

Most think a recent court appearance in which the Federal Prosecutors indicated that Tristano probably would not stand trial means Tristano flipped and in some way will testify against Daniels.

The last U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois was a guy named Scott Lasser who was generally seen as an honest guy, but most of his public corruption trials involved alderman and other assorted small fry. Lasser always seemed to be complaining behind the scenes that he couldn’t get anyone to talk. The reason is obvious from the outside, Lasser looked to build a case and do it at one time. He never exhibited a pattern of building cases slowly and then moving up the food chain. He wasn’t corrupt by any account, but perhaps not very imaginative.

Peter Fitzgerald brought in a Patrick Fitzgerald to change that sense of helplessness. Fitzgerald had worked a number of different kind of cases, but the big ones were two terrorism cases involving the first World Trade Center bombing and the African Embassy Bombings. What isn’t mentioned as much, but is probably as critical to how he tries white collar crime, is he participated in several mafia related prosecutions including one of the Gambino trials.

What does all this mean assuming indictments come down tomorrow? It means that most likely, they won’t be the last and the purpose of them may not be simply to bring justice and an end to the investigation. If Fitzgerald thinks he needs to crack someone to get the top banana, he’ll use all the pressure he has available to get Libby or Rove or someone else to flip if that is where he feels the law will take him.

More importantly, it may not be readily apparent to those of us watching the indictments come down what his strategy is. Is a perjury charge against Karl Rove just a perjury charge? Maybe, but I doubt it. Don’t get me wrong, I doubt he’s after Bush himself, but the Vice President is certainly a real possibility and I don’t think it’s beyond comprehension that if Rove thought it would help George Bush, he’d throw Cheney under a bus–and if I can figure that out, so can Patrick Fitzgerald.

We’ll hear some people try and defend the Administration by attacking Fitzgerald. Some attempts like Hutchison’s hystrically and hypocritically critizicizing perjury charges won’t work because of their audacity. Others may make some headway, but that’s the thing–attacking him for ‘just’ a perjury charge, misses that he uses such charges as a stepping stone, not just to put a notch in his belt. It may well be that the person with the perjury charge is the person with the least to worry about.

Busy Until Later, but Two Things

It’s going to be a hard task for Republicans and Democrats to try and complain about Fitzgerald while praising him….

Let’s remember an essential fact in relation to what is going to happen with Fitzgerald’s investigation:

It is important for Luskin to get his defense started now because he knows that what one appeals court judge in the case called “the plot against Wilson” is going to become public when the prosecutor reveals everything he has already revealed only to the judges.

For some reason the press is skipping over the most telling evidence that is public–actual court documents.

In one sense, this case shows the greatest weakness of the two sides tell a story coverage too many in the media have argued is just balance. In this case, every sign is pointing towards a plot to discredit a man and one that used his wife’s covert status as a weapon. The surprise, given the one bit of information that can be gleaned from Fitzgerald, would be if a conspiracy indictment isn’t a part of what he hands down.