Forgive me for quoting myself, but it’s time to reprint Lest We Forget: Gonzales Appeared to Obstruct Justice in the Plame Affair, with a little extra commentary. First, the rerun:
Do not forget that Gonzales — nominated to be the nation’s top cop — is the guy who when the Plame investigation was bearing down on the White House ensured that the guilty parties had all the time they could want to shred everything incriminating:
Senator Harkin, quoted in the “Congressional Record” (emphasis added):
Let me give a quick recap of the timeline. It started with the President’s deception in his State of the Union Address in January. In his remarks, Mr. Bush stated Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. A few months later, in July, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s op-ed appears in the New York Times, questioning the President’s assertion.
Then in order to discredit Wilson and “seek revenge” on Wilson, senior administration officials leaked to the press the identity of Wilson’s wife and the fact she was a CIA operative, thereby undercutting our national security and clearly violating Federal law.
This happened in early July. Let’s see what happened since.
On July 24, Senator Schumer calls on the FBI Director to open a criminal investigation into the leak of a CIA operative based on that column.
In late July, the FBI notified Senator Schumer that they had done an inquiry into the CIA.
Then it appears nothing happened for 2 months.
On September 23, the Attorney General says he and CIA Director Tenet sent a memo to the FBI requesting an investigation.
On September 26, the Department of Justice officially launches its investigation.
Interestingly, it took 4 days after that “official” launch for the Justice Department to call White House Counsel Gonzales and notify him of the official investigation. Gonzalez then asked for an extra day before the Justice Department gave the White House the official notice, which means all documents and records must be preserved.
A recent letter was sent to the President from Senators Daschle, Schumer, Levin, and Biden which also expresses concern about this break from regular procedure.
Every former prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that the first step in such an investigation would be to ensure all potentially relevant evidence is preserved, yet the Justice Department waited four days before making a formal request for documents.
Interestingly, the letter goes on:
When the Justice Department finally asked the White House to order employees to preserve documents, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales asked for permission to delay transmitting the order to preserve evidence until morning. The request for a delay was granted. Again, every former prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that such a delay is a significant departure from standard practice.
That is what has been happening–departure from standard practice.
I am also troubled that the White House Counsel’s Office is serving
as “gatekeeper'” for all the documents the Justice Department has requested from the White House. Mr. Gonzales’ office said he would not rule out seeking to withhold documents under a claim of executive privilege or national security.
What kind of a zoo is this outfit?
What’s new is the fevered speculation about Rove either being indicted, or becoming a cooperating witness. The blogs are atwitter with the idea that this could be bad for Cheney, and I suppose in the highly unlikely event that Rove sings, this might be true.
But I can’t help but wonder if a good prosecutor like Fitzgerald might not have had his eye drawn to the chronology above, which certainly suggests the possibility of obstruction of justice. Enabled — intentionally? — by the now-Attorney General of the United States, our nation’s top law enforcement officer.