As Bush Slides To 37%, Rove Now Concerned He May Face Charges
On a day when Bush’s approval rating hit a new low of 37% in a CBS News poll, with 59% now wanting our troops out of Iraq immediately, the New York Times is reporting in its Friday edition that Patrick Fitzgerald wants to re-interview several White House officials as well as Judy Kneepads to help him determine where to drop the hammer.
And to make matters worse, confirming what blogger Mark Kleiman said weeks ago, Fitzgerald is not just looking at perjury or obstruction charges. He’s going for the grand slam:
Mr. Fitzgerald has focused on whether there was a deliberate effort to retaliate against Mr. Wilson for his column and its criticism of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Recently lawyers said that they believed the prosecutor may be applying new legal theories to bring charges in the case.
One new approach appears to involve the possible use of Chapter 37 of the federal espionage and censorship law, which makes it a crime for anyone who "willfully communicates, delivers, transfers or causes to be communicated" to someone "not entitled to receive it" classified information relating the national defense matters.
Under this broad statute, a government official or a private citizen who passed classified information to anyone else in or outside the government could potentially be charged with a felony, if they transferred the information to someone without a security clearance to receive it.
At this point, I will defer to others whether or not Fitzgerald has enough to make an espionage charge stick against anyone. But it is clear that he is attempting to scare selected White House staffers and members of the media into thinking he might be able to, in the hope of getting several to roll over on bigger fish. And it just may work. The Post says tomorrow that unlike the confidence that Rove and his attorney had expressed just a week ago that he was now in the clear, they're now concerned that he'll face charges.