One of the themes of the Republican “counterattack” against Pat Fitzgerald’s investigation is that he began with a mandate to determine whether the Bush Administration revealed Valerie Wilson’s covert status. Now, it appears that the investigation may’ve diverged into a search for violations of perjury laws. To conservatives like John Tierney and Kay Bailey Hutchison, Fitzgerald is violating his mandate from the attorney general. Today’s Times pretty much stops this approach dead in its tracks:
As early as February 2004, two months after he was appointed, Mr. Fitzgerald obtained a specific written authorization from James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general who appointed him, permitting him to investigate efforts to mislead the inquiry.
Too bad, all you Republican hatchet-persons out there. You’ll have to go back to the drawing board for a more persuasive smear against Fitzgerald’s work.
Does anyone want to speculate who is the Times’ inside source for these stories (“Lawyers in the C.I.A. leak case said Thursday…”). Everyone says Fitzgerald’s running a tight ship so it seems unlikely the spill is coming from that direction. But what other lawyers might have access to this information? Ones working in the Justice Department? Why would they be willing to talk to the Times? It could be Libby or Rove’s attorneys though I’m not sure I see any benefit to them from this.
Howard Kurtz has an interesting column on this question at the Post.