A Roving Ashcroft

Murray Waas, the investigative tsunami powering the (now) Rove/Ashcroft scandal, powers the story just a little bit further with his latest piece in the Village Voice.

In it he reveals that then-Attorney General Ashcroft recused himself from the case -- months after the investigation began -- because it looked very, very bad for Ashcroft to be overseeing a case against his close friend and, well, sometime employee, Karl Rove. Rove, it turns out, was a consultant in three of Ashcroft's campaigns to the tune of $746,000 (for that much money and with Rove's sleaze-machine behind him you'd of thought Ashcroft just couldn't lose to a dead man... but you'd be wrong).

The Justice Dept. didn't say that was the reason of course, but they did drop this ominous clue: "If you were to speculate in print or in the media about particular people, I think that would be unfair to them.”

And then: "We also don't want people that we might be interested in to know we're interested in them."

Waas also writes that Fitzgerald was appointed as a special prosecutor because Justice Dept employees began to doubt that Rove's testimony was on the up and up. Or, to put it another way: the truth.

On his blog Waas takes the story just a little bit further, writing that the reason the prosecutor smelled BS on Rove's breath was the fact that his initial testimony conveniently omitted his conversation with Time's Matt Cooper (on July 11, the day before Novak published his infamous column outing Plame).

Increasing the stench of Rove's BS, he couldn't remember any details about the reporter who, he claimed, was behind the leak. Waas writes: "but he also claimed to remember virtually nothing about the circumstances of the purported conversation. He could not even recall whether the conversation took place on the phone or in person."

Which is interesting in light of another article in yesterday's LA Times regarding the use of perjury by the prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Apparently Fitzgerald who "hates to be lied to," has mastered the art of calling witnesses to testify before the Grand Jury long before other prosecutors tend to. It's understood that he uses it as a tactic not only get major players to talk long before they've had a chance to tailor their testimony to the advanced situation but also to increase the chances of convicting important defendants of perjury should their alibis, stonewalls and strategies prove insufficient for other convictions.

Or, as a former opponent of Fitzgerald's put it: "[it's] like using tax prosecutions for Al Capone."

BONUS! For the ultra-wonky who walk among us there's also this findlaw article explaining how the Espionage Act (currently getting a workout in the AIPAC scandal) may be used to prosecute Rove et al even if the Intelligence Identities Protection Act is a bit too stingy.

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