No Comment — February 26, 2008, 6:05 am

Rove’s Monday Whoppers

He calls himself “Grendel,” “Moby Dick,” and “Lord Voldemort.” He is the man ever behind the scenes, manipulating and driving the events on the surface without being seen. His hand is behind the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys and his manipulations were a conscious effort to put federal prosecutors to work for partisan political purposes. And his involvement is so sensitive that the White House had adopted a scorched earth policy to thwart all Congressional efforts to probe it. Karl Rove won’t appear before Congress, deliver up his documents showing his communications or dealings with Justice Department matters or raise his hand, swear an oath and testify. But he has no compunction about talking about these matters on Fox News, where he knows he’ll get one fluff ball after the next and never be asked for follow-up. Moreover, he knows that Fox will go to the mat, and will dispense falsehoods to protect him, one of their own. Over the weekend, Karl Rove sent his lawyer Robert Luskin and his spokesman (and former Justice Department spokesman) Mark Corallo to lie for him. Today, he enters the lists, bravely lying for himself. Here’s his appearance on Fox News:

Rove states that he’s never met Jill Simpson, then he backtracks on that, owning up that, well, maybe he did. But “I never asked her to do a darn thing.”

Jill Simpson has said the opposite, and she has given much of her account, naming him, under oath and subject to cross examination. My hunch is that Karl Rove will do anything to avoid speaking under oath. Time for a subpoena? Karl Rove has been in a lot of campaigns in Alabama, and sat in a lot of conference rooms in Montgomery and elsewhere strategizing about them. And indeed, there are quite a few people who were present at these meetings.

But note the slithering here. Fox headlines that Rove has never met Simpson, that CBS never called for his comments, and that Simpson has never before made these statements implicating Rove. Each of these statements is untrue. Rove actually doesn’t offer up nearly so clear-cut a denial of having met Simpson–maybe he did, he says. Rove also now admits that he spoke with CBS, contradicting the statements made on his behalf earlier. He says it was “five months ago,” which is imprecise–the CBS interview with Rove occurred four months ago. He says he “will honor” the discussion being off the record, but of course Rove is the one who wanted it kept off the record, so what he really wants is for CBS to keep his interview secret. CBS should in fact now publish that interview, so we know what Rove said. And, on Fox News (of all places), he says that CBS is the National Enquirer of networks. Such are the thin reeds upon which Karl Rove builds his case.

I think we should hear Karl Rove out on this in some detail. He should be sworn in and testify subject to crossexamination. Then let’s see if he says the same thing he offers up to Fox now.

Rove has a long career as a campaign advisor. Simpson’s allegations are credible because they stack up perfectly with Rove’s record. He has long been the master of “opposition research,” who propels campaigns by smears and inuendo, with a real penchant for lurid sexual pieces (think about the whispering campaign he launched questioning the sexuality of Ann Richards, or the smears he directed at John McCain in South Carolina, relating to his adopted South Asian daughter, to cite just two prominent examples.) And he built his career shuttling between Texas and Alabama with an amazing series of coincidences in which federal prosecutors went after the targets of his political campaigns, turning his campaign into a cake walk. James Moore documented his abuse of the criminal justice system to take down the Texas Agriculture Commissioner shortly after he had been tapped by Republican Rick Perry (now the governor of Texas) to manage a campaign for that office. Read my interview with the author of the leading Karl Rove political biography, James Moore, here and focus on the cases of Mike Moeller and Peter McRae. This is very well documented, and it perfectly parallels what Rove is accused of doing in the Siegelman case. The short of it is simple. Simpson is accusing Rove of engaging in tactics, and of involving her in tactics, that are the hallmarks of the Rove campaign playbook. And that playbook also calls for Rove to aggressively deny accusations, always carefully building clever little escape hatches into his denials.

Rove will attempt to make Simpson into some sort of nutcase, of course, or rather he will have his hatchetmen at Fox and in the rest of his menagerie do it. But the road to the truth here still runs through the legal process. We need a prosecutor who will put Rove under oath, issue subpoenas to him and others to get the background documents, and expose the truth about how successfully masterminded a campaign to take a statehouse–by putting a governor in jail.

Rove Holding Banner Calling for Siegelman’s Release
To top off his antics from yesterday, Rove closed the day holding a “Free Don Siegelman” banner in Los Angeles, and giving a brief interview to Alan Breslauer. Here’s the YouTube:

And you can read the interview at the Brad Blog, here.

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In 1973, when Barry Singer was a fifteen-year-old student at New York’s Yeshiva University High School for Boys, the vice principal, Rabbi George Finkelstein, stopped him in a stairwell. Claiming he wanted to check his tzitzit—the strings attached to Singer’s prayer shawl—Finkelstein, Singer says, pushed the boy over the third-floor banister, in full view of his classmates, and reached down his pants. “If he’s not wearing tzitzit,” Finkelstein told the surrounding children, “he’s going over the stairs!”

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