For reasons detailed in the post on the economy below, I want the president-elect to succeed in conveying confidence and energy as he assumes office. I don’t want him enmeshed in a scandal that draws in his close associates and key advisors. I want him to focus on the war and get that right, on the economy and get that right, and rethink disastrous ideas on health care etc.
I want him, in other words, to grow in office into a centrist figure who will recognize that his allies on the left genuinely don’t have a clue about wars are won or economies grown. President-elect Obama is a smart guy. It could happen.
But he also has to figure out you cannot game a nasty bit of business like Blagojevich, or Chief of Staff-designate Emanuel’s calls to Balgoland. Put everything out early, answer every question now, and toss everyone from the bus immediately if necessary. I got many e-mails after yesterday’s show pointing out how extraordinary it is for the president-elect and two key staffers to be interviewed in a massive criminal investigation into corrutpiton and not to have had the interviews announced for many days or basic follow-up questions asked and answered. This attempt to massage the story might work in illinois or during a presidential campaign when the MSM is blocking for you, but it won’t work over a four year term when careers have to made and remade by media climbers. There’s always a young Woodward who will go where there’s a story. President-elect Obama would do himself and the country a lot of good by abandoning the tactics of the last two weeks and start to live by the openness and transparency he promised.
From an Assistant United States Attorney:
Caught some of the show yesterday after the release of the Obama internal report.
I know you’re off the air for a couple weeks, but I thought I’d mention a couple of things:
First, the “false statement” statute is 18 USC Sec. 1001 (not 2001).
Second, neither the FBI nor US Attorney’s Office puts witnesses under oath when they are interviewed. The oath is only administered before testimony before a GJ. Agents are not authorized to administer an oath, nor are prosecutors.
Nevertheless, the existence of the 1001 statute has the same
functional effect. Any intentional misstatement or omission of a
material fact when being questioned by a federal law enforcement agent about a matter under investigation is a felony, oath or no oath. That’s why LIbby was charged both with perjury before the GJ and making false statements to the FBI during his earlier interviews.
As for the order of the witness interviews, its really only
speculation, and witness availability has a lot to do with it, but in
my experience having done a few wiretap cases involving drugs back in California, you start with the recorded conversations as your basic record. I would then pull the telephone tolls of every person who was recorded, and I would want to know who they spoke to on the phone immediately before and immediately after each recorded conversation. So, if Emanuel is recorded at 12:00 noon talking to Harris about appointing Jarrett, and at 12:15 there is a telephone toll showing a call to Obama, I would want to ask Obama about the contents of that phone call. If there was a call at 12:20 from Emanuel to Jarrett, I would want to ask Jarrett about that phone call — keeping in mind that I know what it is Emanuel and Harris talked about because they are recorded. So, it’s sometimes easy to pick-up on prevarications and inconsistencies when you start getting explanations that don’t sound right. Once you have the interviews done of the people who were contacted around the same time as key recorded conversations you go
back to the person who was recorded and ask him about the unrecorded conversations that came before and after the recorded conversations.
This is really where the current environment — the same as the
environment Libby found himself in — borders on the unfair.
Fitzgerald knows — as any good prosecutor would know and take
advantage of — that the people he wants to talk to cannot assert
their Fifth Amendment rights for political reasons. If I was
Emanuel’s lawyer, it would be my advice that he not be interviewed – he has only his best recollection of what he has been recorded as saying, and he doesn’t get to listen to his conversations prior to answering questions about them. Second, he has no idea what the other people being interviewed are saying about unrecorded conversations they had with him.
For a prosecutor this is the equivalent of “broken field running” —
you’re through the line or scrimmage and behind the linebackers, and everyone else is trying to catch-up to where you are. Fitzgerald has probably 3-4 guys/gals working on this full time — meaning they spend all day comparing transcripts, subpoenaed documents, and interview notes looking for opportunities to lay traps for people about to be interviewed. That was the undoing of Libby and almost Rove. When the prosecutor calls you back to the GJ for the 3rd and 4th time, its not because he’s still genuinely unsure about your testimony. He’s asking you to navigate the minefield of the record that has been created to that point under oath. Your missteps are going to become his indictment. No normal person would go back to the GJ time after time,
but Fitzgerald knows that he’s going to get whatever he asks for
because doing otherwise would make it look like Obama’s people have something to hide.
The report comes out late in the day on Tuesday, Dec. 23. They know that most folks like yourself are going to be off the air on Wed, or they are going to have holiday themed shows. Thurs, is obviously not a news day, and Fri is likely going to be the same. Next you have the dead week between Christmas and New Years.
Obama is in Hawaii until Jan. 2 with no public events planned where he might be asked questions. Emanuel is in Africa where he is out of contact on a long planned family vacation.
Consider that again — the incoming WH Chief of Staff, in a “change of parties” transition from one Presidency to the next which is less than 4 weeks away — and he’s in Africa??????
And they want the press to have nothing on this story other than their self-serving exoneration of all key staffers.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.