Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rove, Luskin and a Smoke-Filled Room

I haven't written much about Karl Rove and his attorney, Robert Luskin, because Jane and Redd, Jeralyn and Josh Marshall seem to have it covered. They do a great job with the time lines and who told what to whom and when type of stuff. Something keeps nagging me about all of this, though.

Karl Rove hired Robert Luskin to represent him. That's a fact. This isn't charity on Luskin's part. Why did Rove pick Luskin? I'm sure there are thousands of lawyers to choose from in the D.C. area. What is it about Robert Luskin that made him the perfect choice for Karl Rove?

To start, Luskin has his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University. He was a Rhodes Scholar. This means he's smart. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and he was a speech writer for Geraldine Ferraro. This means he knows how to write and probably that he knows something about swaying public opinion. He is a professor and lecturer at various universities. Finally, he's a lawyer who has successfully handled several high-profile cases. I'm not sure that any of this is why Karl Rove hired Robert Luskin. I think it goes deeper than that.

At in their Law stars Hall of Fame Luskin gives this quote about the Rove case which I find very revealing.

"But this is something of a magnitude that's more intense than anything I've seen before," he said of the investigation. "Most criminal lawyers say 'No comment' or 'I'm not going to talk about it.' And I think that works well. But it does not work well in a high-profile Washington investigation, where your goals are much more ambitious and much broader than just keeping your client out of jail."

What are these ambitious and much broader goals? If he isn't just trying to keep Rove out of jail what is he trying to do? Is he helping Rove cover for someone else? Is he protecting Bush or Cheney? I don't think saving Rove's reputation would qualify as being more ambitious or broader than staying out of jail. Rove is, after all, just a puppeteer for the President. (So, maybe he's the head puppeteer.)

Luskin doesn't clarify the more ambitious and broader goals in the Law Stars article, but his actions give some big clues. One of Luskin's goals, it appears, is to obfuscate the truth. He's playing the old smoke and mirrors game. He doesn't seem to have the facts on his side, so he has to create the appearance of innocence for his client. But is it working?

The longer Fitzgerald draws this investigation out with Karl Rove hanging and dangling in the breeze the harder Luskin and Rove seem to work at tossing decoys to the press, public and special counsel. Luskin works feverishly to try and explain away deficiencies in the truth surrounding Karl Rove's actions in the outing of CIA operative, Valerie Plame.

This is where I think Luskin is making his fatal error. He is assuming that we are all too stupid to see what he is doing. The problem for Luskin is that we aren't stupid. More importantly Patrick Fitzgerald isn't stupid. With all of the Luskin/Rove bobbing and weaving we are all pretty much convinced Rove is guilty. It's just a matter of proving it.

The fact that Luskin sees his role as being much broader than keeping his client out of jail is probably one of the reasons why Rove hired Luskin. Does the fact that Rove chose Luskin mean that he is guilty? No, not at all. Innocent people hire attorneys all the time, but innocent people are usually protected by the facts. It's the guilty who look for loopholes in the law, hide evidence of their guilt or fabricate evidence to prove they are innocent.

So, is Luskin trying to prove Rove's innocence or hide Rove's guilt? It's hard to tell through all of this smoke.


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