Pat Fitzgerald Chose Not to Consult with Margolis on Rove Indictment

I recognize that at some point I’m going to have to read Karl Rove’s book propaganda. But until I find it lying around somewhere for almost-free right next to at least a six-pack of equally almost-free beer, I’m going to let Main Justice read it so I don’t have to. They’ve got a fairly detailed post of Rove’s spin on his interactions with Fitz–one of the most interesting tidbits of which (given recent events) is that Rove’s lawyer Robert Luskin tried to get Fitz to allow David Margolis to review his decision to indict Rove, but he chose not to do that.

After the October [2005] grand jury testimony, Fitzgerald called Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, and said they were leaning towards an indictment, Rove wrote. Luskin arranged to fly to Chicago to talk with Fitzgerald about the case and urged the prosecutor to consult with others in the Justice Department. In particular, Luskin recommended Fitzgerald talk to David Margolis, the DOJ’s highest-ranking career official and a 45-year veteran of the department. Fitzgerald eventually decided against contacting Margolis, Rove wrote, but agreed to bring in two other lawyers in the Chicago U.S. attorney’s office who had previously been uninvolved with the case to re-examine his thinking.

In an epic five-hour meeting, Luskin and Fitzgerald hashed out the various aspects of the case against the White House adviser. At the meeting, Fitzgerald said he was bothered by Rove’s non-recollection of the conversation with Cooper. If Rove did not remember the conversation with Cooper, Fitzgerald asked, why did he ask his aides in January 2004 to go through his phone records and notes to find any evidence of contact with Cooper? Luskin had the surprising answer, Rove wrote. The lawyer had learned from a friend who worked at Time that Cooper told colleagues he had spoken with Rove about Plame.

The tidbit is interesting not just because Fitz chose not to let DOJ’s fixer decide whether or not Karl would get indicted, but also for what that suggests about how much oversight Margolis had over Fitz’s decisions more generally. And remember, Margolis would have just barely taken over from Comey (who left DOJ in August 2005) as Fitz’s direct supervisor on this case in fall 2005.

Oh–and as I said probably 4 years ago–it was a journalist who helped Rove avoid any consequences for his role in leaking Plame’s identity.

Go figure.

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104 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Nice connection: Rove feeling so confident in Margolis’ “judgment” that he wanted him to oversee Fitz’s decision regarding charging Rove. No recommendation from Rove would have yielded disinterested oversight. So his recommendation of Margolis is fulsome praise, indeed.

  2. orionATL says:

    what has begun to fascinate me here at emptywheel’s torture salons is how many names from the valerie plame saga have begun surfacing again.

    it is as if the plame saga and the torture saga were merely different sectors (in a geometrical sense) of a spinning vortex.

    • posaune says:

      uh, before it’s all over, we’re gonna have to buy EW a mega-warehouse with a zillion sf of interior partitions to fit THE TIMELINE OF ALL TIMELINES! And when EW is done, we’ll have the Rise & Fall of the Bush Reich. Really.

  3. qweryous says:

    This little bit from Main Justice link above: http://www.mainjustice.com/2010/03/09/rove-recounts-tussles-with-special-prosecutor-patrick-fitzgerald/

    Made me wonder..

    “In an epic five-hour meeting, Luskin and Fitzgerald hashed out the various aspects of the case against the White House adviser. At the meeting, Fitzgerald said he was bothered by Rove’s non-recollection of the conversation with Cooper. If Rove did not remember the conversation with Cooper, Fitzgerald asked, why did he ask his aides in January 2004 to go through his phone records and notes to find any evidence of contact with Cooper? Luskin had the surprising answer, Rove wrote. The lawyer had learned from a friend who worked at Time that Cooper told colleagues he had spoken with Rove about Plame. Luskin then asked Rove to find any records that might confirm the conversation took place.

    “Luskin’s revelation stunned Fitzgerald,” Rove wrote. “‘You rocked my world,’ Fitzgerald told Luskin. The special prosecutor’s intention going into the meeting had been to indict me. Now he didn’t know what he would do.”

    Days later, Fitzgerald called Luskin to say he would not indict Rove. When his lawyer called with the news, Rove said he was both relieved and angry.”
    End of excerpt from Main Justice.

    Question:
    Who was the friend at Time?

    Was it Adam G. Ciongoli?

    H/T to Main Justice above.

    Full disclosure:You could have heard Rove discuss this on Rush’s show today. I heard the “You rocked my world” anecdote- But can’t remember all that was said- and will leave it to someone else to look for a clip or a transcript. It might be productive- but I’m not going to do it.

    • emptywheel says:

      No, it was Viveca Novak. My take has always been that Luskin had moles in each of the outlets he knew were of concern, and prodded them for information on whether the journalists were leaking.

        • qweryous says:

          And through further checking is found “Frog Viveca-section” by emptywheel
          http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2005/11/frog_vivecasect.html

          Also found this:http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/006133.php which had an excerpt from a Raw story report:

          “…Rove’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston — who was also a special assistant to President Bush — testified in August about why Cooper’s call to Rove was not logged. Ralston said it occurred because Cooper had phoned in through the White House switchboard and was then transferred to Rove’s office as opposed to calling Rove’s office directly. As Rove’s assistant, Ralston screened Rove’s calls.

          But those close to the probe tell RAW STORY that Fitzgerald obtained documentary evidence showing that other unrelated calls transferred to Rove’s office by the switchboard were logged. He then called Ralston back to testify.

          Earlier this month, attorneys say Fitzgerald received additional testimony from Ralston — who said that Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003.

          Ralston also provided Fitzgerald with more information and “clarification” about several telephone calls Rove allegedly made to a few reporters, including syndicated columnist Robert Novak, the lawyers said.”

          End of excerpt from “Raw Story”report by Jason Leopold and Larisa Alexandrovna. Link to Raw story cited above:
          http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Testimony_from_Roves_former_assistant_may_1128.html

          The Left Coaster had this to say about the above excerpt:

          “There is one element of the reporting in this story that makes me doubt it — that Rove would have directly asked his aide to not log a phone call. This is a dangerous thing to do unless this is something that he and others in the White House have done on other occassions. On the other hand, at the time Rove allegedly asked his aide to not log the call, he was not aware that he was likely to be investigated for possible criminal action – so who knows. Anyway, if this story is true, Susan Ralston, who was once Jack Abramoff’s personal secretary, has come a long way.”

          In the context of what has been mislaid, lost, destroyed, and otherwise done to obscure who did what when etc…that is interesting.

          • PJEvans says:

            My usually-unreliable source says that all calls to the WH go through the switchboard. Since this is someone who has been fairly seriously wrong on more than one occasion, I won’t say that it’s true, but I’d be surprised if it was easy to get a direct line into even the COS’s office.

  4. orionATL says:

    “you rocked my world…”

    i cannot imagine fitzgerald talking like that.

    i’d guess it was more propaganda from the republican party’s most competent propagandist.

    keep in mind that karl rove lies as easily as he breaths.

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      I can’t imagine Fitz talking like that either. This is a guy who says things like “I was buying a pig in a poke.” How do you get from that to “you rocked my world”?

      Speaking of books of dubious distinction, did Fitz ever make good on his promise to sue HarperCollins for the Triple Cross book?

  5. rosalind says:

    forgive the early OT: a heads up that the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) receive the Congressional Gold Medal tomorrow. These are the fabulous women who flew every plane there was during WWII. It is to Hollywood’s continuing shame that their story has not made it to the (modern) big screen.

    Here’s nice write-up on a local Flygirl (if you click through, be sure to check out the photos)

  6. SaltinWound says:

    Just following the logic, what bothered Fitzgerald was that Rove searched the records, given that he said he did not recall. If he had not heard from Time, he might not have searched, and Fitzgerald would not have been bothered by the contradiction. Am I missing something? I have no reason to make a case for Novak, but it seems like the same result either way.

  7. JasonLeopold says:

    Obviously, I’m opening myself up to criticism for weighing in on Rove given my reporting on his indictment, which I did report happened and which obviously did not. I haven’t read the book, but the implication from the story is that shortly after the October 05 testimony Fitzgerald decided not to indict. If that is the case, I am wondering why Fitzgerald sent Luskin a letter eight months later indicating that. And I’m still wondering what was in that letter. Perhaps it’s nothing at all. But despite my dozen attempts, literally, to obtain it from Luskin I have had no luck.

    Was the letter just a case closed letter perhaps? Meaning the entire case? Unclear about the timing of when Fitzgerald, at least according to the MJ story, told Luskin Rove wouldn’t be indicted.

    • JasonLeopold says:

      I should add that it is the way in which I read the MJ story that after the Oct 05 GJ testimony Fitzgerald told Luskin he wouldn’t be indicted. I interpreted that as immediately after as opposed to eight months after

    • Leen says:

      Luskin had a five hour meeting with Fitzgerald? Is that legally kosher during an investigation?

      Why is it that Viveca Novak was never prosecuted with actively undermining a federal investigation of that magnitude? So Novak basically helped those who undermined U.S. national security by tipping the traitors off? So why did she get away with that?

      Ed Schult brought up the Plame outing last night in reference to Rove saying that his family should be “off limits” because of family values or some other hooey. Ed went off on Rove and how he had been part of the team to out Plame because of Wilson’s op-ed. Unable to find that clip.

      Ed went off on Rove and how his claims about “family values’ is a bunch of bullshit

        • Leen says:

          Hey your the lawyer.

          I thought all of these things were supposed to take place out in the open Just seems like a lot of hanky panky could take place. Are there witnesses to these types of meetings? Records of what was said?

            • Leen says:

              No records, no witnesses to these types of meetings. Terrifying. Sounds like lots of hanky panky could and probably does go on.

              Obviously I do not trust our alleged justice system. Not one bit. Just like the rest of the peasants out here. No trust

              • Mary says:

                Lawyers meet to try to hash out settlements all the time – if they don’t, a Judge will get pretty pissed and even order them to meet.

  8. bobschacht says:

    OrionATL @ 7:
    “you rocked my world…”
    i cannot imagine fitzgerald talking like that.
    ==============================================

    Me neither. I’d like to know what Jason Leopold thinks about this info. He knows more than most people do about this.

    Bob in AZ

  9. bobschacht says:

    Oops, I should have refreshed before writing. Thanks, Jason. I wonder if Luskin would be willing to release that letter, now that Rove has written his book? If not, it must mean that there’s something in it that differs significantly from what Rove wrote. Making it all the more important to see what that letter said.

    Or maybe now that Rove has written, PatFitz is free to disclose the letter himself?

    Bob in AZ

    • JasonLeopold says:

      Fitzgerald won’t release anything. And Waxman supposedly has all this info and won’t release it either. I’m actually pretty curious about the timeframe in which Fitzgerald told this to Luskin about Rove not being indicted as I reported this in May 06 and then the Rove indictment story shortly afterwards.

      I suppose it means I will have to go look at that god forsaken book.

      I should say this about the indictment story btw, and I believe I have already said this publicly elsewhere. When I reported that story after speaking with my sources it never occurred to me that there was a possibility that it was not going to happen. The only thing I could think about when I received the news was how many hours before the NYT and WaPo come out with their versions. I just did not doubt the veracity of it. So I was caught up in the frenzy of what I thought was a major scoop and that’s putting it mildly. And that was a hard lesson and I will pay for that for quite some time.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I just did not doubt the veracity of it. So I was caught up in the frenzy of what I thought was a major scoop and that’s putting it mildly. And that was a hard lesson and I will pay for that for quite some time.

        Forgive yourself, and stay on the case.

        I’m with those who can’t quite picture Fitz saying that Luskin “rocked his world”.

        And FWIW, Jason, I’ve always thought that given Rove’s ego, if that letter had anything that publicly released him from suspicion, he’d have laminated it and nailed copies to the WH front gates, if only to taunt his detractors. He’s a vindictive son of a bitch, so it’s out of character for him to keep the letter secret if in fact it actually absolves him. Something there doesn’t add up, IMVHO.

        Also, and I realize this sounds totally bizarre, but I wouldn’t put it past someone in Rove’s circle to have tracked down who at TIME “might” have known about Rove’s contacts with Cooper, and then set that person up to inadvertently spill the beans to Ruskin in order to make it ‘appear’ all legalish and accidental. After all, some of these people were willing to torture, to perpetrate false yellowcake documents, and to spy on their own Sec of State diplomats.

        But was Viveca really ignorant of what she was doing? Is it plausible that she was simply ‘innocently’ blabbing to Rove’s attorney, providing info that could get Rove’s sorry ass off the hook, yet she just didn’t realize how ‘valuable’ that information was for the WH…? Color me skeptical. (And that’s putting it mildly.)

    • Leen says:

      Why does it have to be released by Luskin? Don’t they have a copy of it at the J Prettyman Courthouse? What are the rules about releasing such a document?

  10. orionATL says:

    posaune @11

    i could not agree with you more.

    but then again, yes i could.

    with respect to your comments about the role (which i take to be exceptionally damaging) of right-wing catholics in american politics.

    this is a tough and touchy issue to tackle, but it needs to be tackled head-on and you made a good start at doing so in previous comments here.

    what i’ve learned from years of commenting in the weblog world is that one should never, ever believe that lack of immediate feedback is a measure of the value to others, or the relevance, of one’s strongly felt, intellectualyt honest comments.

    • posaune says:

      Thanks, orion for your comments.

      It’s really creepy how the RC (read that, Irish American) Church has been hijacked.
      Just like the US govt. And what was it that Robert Hansen (FBI) was doing at the DC Opus Dei parish (St. Catherine of Siena) with the likes of Scalia, Freeh, and Roberts way back when??

  11. pdaly says:

    Speaking of David Margolis, has anyone noticed how difficult is it to locate a photo of him on the web?

    I spotted one with a google results page at TPM Muckraker in an article (Despite Harsh Criticism of Torture Memos Report, Holder Has ‘Utmost Confidence’ in DOJ Ethics Office) by Justin Elliott Feb 24, 2010 6:55pm. The article has a split image with a Holder photo on the left and with a Margolis photo on the right), but when I click on the photo or the article, the webpage refreshes to a different Justin Elliott article and the photo changes to John Yoo (Feb 19, 2010 5:28pm).
    update: Finally got the page at this address:
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/02/holder_has_utmost_confidence_in_division_that_doj.php

    It appears David Margolis has preferred to remain out of public view from early days:

    I looked through The Harvard Law School Yearbook 1964. His photo is missing.
    His name appears on page 103 in the list of students under the heading “Not pictured” Class of 1964.

    Each Harvard Law School yearbook routinely includes the names and photos of the classmates in the levels below the graduating class. David Margolis’ name appears in the list “Not pictured” Class of 1964 in every one of those yearbooks, too:

    The Harvard Law School Yearbook 1962, page 144 “Not pictured” Class of 1964 Margolis, David, Hartford, Conn

    The Harvard Law School Yearbook 1963, page 119 “Not pictured” Class of 1964 Margolis, David, Hartford, Conn

    I scanned the names listed under the photos of Harvard Law School student groups in all three yearbooks (1962, 1963, 1964) and could not find a single ‘Margolis.’ He’s a ghost! or very camera shy.

    The 1965 Harvard Law School Alumni Directory lists as Margolis’ most recent forwarding address an address and street in Hartford, CT. I wonder if Harvard had that bit of information on Margolis only because he had to supply an address with his original law school application.

    I didn’t check a more recent directory to see whether Margolis updates his information to his current work address.

    • bobschacht says:

      You have provided an important insight. It may be that it is no accident at all that there is no entry for him in the wikipedia, and that if Jeff Kaye or anyone else tried to post one, he would have it taken down asap.

      Bob in AZ

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      That is very interesting. It is also impossible to find some kind of formal or semi-formal biography of Mr. Margolis online, not even a Wikipedia entry, as Bob mentioned.

      What strikes me about this story is its lede: that Luskin told Fitzgerald to talk with Margolis. The fact Fitzgerald apparently did not is perhaps interesting in and of itself, but perhaps he didn’t need to, i.e., the message had been given by simply making the suggestion.

      Luskin was not only Rove’s attorney, but a man with a history in DoJ itself. He was a key figure in the Abscam work, and certainly was in DoJ during a time when Margolis’s influence was growing. If Margolis came to be the fixer early on — and as I’ve documented, Margolis is even accused of disappearing documents on a key hi-profile investigation/abuse case (of the NASA contractors) — then simply telling Fitz to talk with Margolis was Luskin’s way of saying the fix is in. Or perhaps, Margolis was simply a friend of Luskin’s (or Rove?).

      Now, and this is pure speculation, Fitz may have chosen to ignore Luskin’s implicit threat (if referencing Margolis was in the nature of some kind of threat), and that’s when Luskin pulled V. Novak out of his pocket. Rove made sure he had more than one alibi.

      Forgive the speculation, but jeez, Margolis just keeps popping up, doesn’t he?

      • Citizen92 says:

        Abscam. Luskin. Margolis. Interesting. I don’t know enough about Abscam to make an informed comment, yet, other than to reiterate what I said in this comment upthread, a snippet from a news story back in the day.

        Circa 1982 (Congressional Abscam) — David Margolis, chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Justice Department, takes an opposing stance. He notes that the willingness of many of the Congressmen to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, to attend nighttime meetings held in hotel rooms with people they believed to represent foreign powers was in itself suspicious behavior. ”It’s one thing for me to meet a defense lawyer to discuss a case right here in my office,” Mr. Margolis observes. ”It would be different for me to meet him in a hotel room. People would have a right to wonder what I was up to.”

        Sounds like, at least in ’82, Margolis was saying the right things. How was Luskin involved?

        • Jeff Kaye says:

          Abscam remains a controversial subject, I think. There were a fair amount of people critical of the government’s entrapment of Congressional figures. According to Luskin’s bio at Patton Boggs (emphasis in original):

          Mr. Luskin has special experience in cases involving allegations of official corruption. While at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), he helped supervise the ABSCAM investigation, which resulted in the conviction of several Members of Congress, and thereafter represented the DOJ in hearings before the Congress concerning the investigation.

    • klynn says:

      I can confirm the same problems trying to find out info and photos. I have been trying to confirm more biographical information too (I have hounded Jeff about this, sorry Jeff.)

      • bmaz says:

        There is a lot about Margolis over the years in the book that either Jeff or Jason provided a Google books excerpt link for a few days ago.

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        If I’d more time, I’d have produced a Margolis article, part two, as I’ve enough material (Siegelman, Canary, Abscam — it may also be worth looking at possible Iran-Contra connections). He is quite the old mole, having buried himself into DoJ. He entered his career during the high reign of Cointelpro, and one wonders just how many skeletons he knows or has buried himself.

        For our more lawyerly types here, would an earlier professional connection between Margolis and Luskin have made anything about Margolis’s position vis-a-vis the Plame case unethical? or Luskin’s suggestion that Fitzgerald speak to his putative boss?

        • Gitcheegumee says:

          Democratic Underground – What is Restricted Access Group One …“Armitage was also a member of the restricted access group known as RAG-1 (Restricted Access Group One) along with Elliott Abrams, Clair George, David Margolis…
          http://www.democraticunderground.com › Discuss – Cached

          This link relates info in regard to events and issues relating to Iran Contra, and beyond.

          • Jeff Kaye says:

            Yes, I’ve seen that, but have been able to find no further confirmation about that. However, it is true that the Kerry committee formally complained and held hearings abt DoJ obstruction of their in investigation into Contras, CIA & drugs. Whether Margolis was involved in the latter, I don’t know. Good material for further research perhaps.

        • klynn says:

          I am glad you used the “m” word irt Margolis. I have thought this for quite a long time.

          Do you know what generation American he happens to be?

          I have done the geneological research on the name in terms of how many Margolis’ entered the US, what year and from what countries. The country list is quite small.

  12. Mauimom says:

    But until I find it lying around somewhere for almost-free right next to at least a six-pack of equally almost-free beer,

    Does your local Barnes and Noble — or any local bookstore — have beer as well? ‘Cause I’m sure folks at the Lake could spring for “beer money,” so you could read that vile Rove tome for free while imbibing at said establishment.

    None of us, however, would donate to anything that made its way back to Rove.

    In DC we have such places.

  13. qweryous says:

    In reply to PJEvans @20 and qweryous @17
    Continuing probably O.T.

    I should have made it clear that I can’t substantiate this reporting of what Ralston’s testimony supposedly was.

    The question I have: can this now be confirmed as true, or false?

    Every time more information and statements come out is an opportunity to recheck previous assumptions.

    Susan Ralston did testify about the use of RNC mail servers by among others Rove in 2007.

    LINK: http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=494

    The Committee offers this summary:

    “…There has been extensive destruction of the e-mails of White House officials by the RNC. Of the 88 White House officials who received RNC e-mail accounts, the RNC has preserved no e-mails for 51 officials. In a deposition, Susan Ralston, Mr. Rove’s former executive assistant, testified that many of the White House officials for whom the RNC has no e-mail records were regular users of their RNC e-mail accounts. Although the RNC has preserved no e-mail records for Ken Mehlman, the former Director of Political Affairs, Ms. Ralston testified that Mr. Mehlman used his account “frequently, daily.” In addition, there are major gaps in the e-mail records of the 37 White House officials for whom the RNC did preserve e-mails. The RNC has preserved only 130 e-mails sent to Mr. Rove during President Bush’s first term and no e-mails sent by Mr. Rove prior to November 2003. For many other White House officials, the RNC has no e-mails from before the fall of 2006.”

    Also:

    “There is evidence that the Office of White House Counsel under Alberto Gonzales may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records. In her deposition, Ms. Ralston testified that she searched Mr. Rove’s RNC e-mail account in response to an Enron-related investigation in 2001 and the investigation of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald later in the Administration. According to Ms. Ralston, the White House Counsel’s office knew about these e-mails because “all of the documents we collected were then turned over to the White House Counsel’s office.” There is no evidence, however, that White House Counsel Gonzales initiated any action to ensure the preservation of the e-mail records that were destroyed by the RNC.”

    It seems that she did not exhibit ‘do not recall remembering’ memory in 2007.

    • bobschacht says:

      Congress has got to revise the statutes regarding White House record-keeping to include a requirement for oversight and responsibility, with significant penalties for failure to comply. Otherwise, the laws on the books are worthless.

      Bob in AZ

      • qweryous says:

        “…the laws on the books are worthless.”

        And it is not more and different laws that are needed to address this problem.

        Politicians and their appointees are active aiders and abettors in this.

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Excellent point Bob.
        Rove Redux
        This post reminds me of a time past, when the artful dodgers (Rove and Luskin) staged their fucking rabbit trick.
        “See how yond justice rails yond simple thief…Change places, and handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?” (Lear to Earl of Gloucester (IV, 6).

  14. orionATL says:

    posaune &22

    .. “just like the u.s. gov’t”…

    exactly.

    there are small, well-funded, ideoligcally-radical groups threatening virtually every major social institution in america.

    i personally regard the federalist society as a fifth-column funded by exceptionally wealthy americans,

    whose “assigned duty” is to weaken the federal judiciary, so that it cannot frustrate the activities of those wealthy folk.

    a less grand example, but very illuminating, was the effort to infiltrate and change the focus if , the sierra club.

    forewarned is forarmed.

  15. Citizen92 says:

    David Margolis through history (by no means all inclusive):

    1995-ish — “David Margolis is one of the Justice Department attorneys who was antagonized by [former Clinton WH Counsel] Bernard Nussbaum two years ago, complaining that he had broken an agreement allowing them access to the documents in Vincent Foster’s office, after Vincent Foster was found dead. Nussbaum, of course, has said that there was no such agreement.”

    1993-ish — “David Margolis, a deputy assistant attorney general, received $5,000 and an “excellence in management” award in recognition of his “extraordinary handling of the Rocky Flats inquiry,” according to the citation accompanying the honor. Margolis represented U.S. Attorney Mike Norton and three other Justice officials last fall during their testimony to a House oversight subcommittee investigating the department’s prosecution of environmental crimes at Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant. The panel later criticized Justice’s handling of the case. Margolis’ legal advice succeeded only in delaying the inquiry, the source said. “Ultimately, his advice did not hold up. He cost everybody a lot of time and money.” Margolis, who is a career civil servant and not a political appointee, referred calls to the department’s press office, where a spokeswoman said she could not discuss his case.

    Circa 1987 — Federal prosecutors in Rhode Island have recommended that the Justice Department seek an indictment against E.F. Hutton & Co. and at least one of its former brokers for allegedly helping organized-crime figures launder hundreds of thousands of dollars, sources familiar with the case said today. Attorneys for the New York-based brokerage house met in Washington Thursday with David Margolis, head of the department’s Organized Crime Strike Force, to argue against any criminal charges in the case, the sources said.

    Circa 1982 (Congressional Abscam) — David Margolis, chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Justice Department, takes an opposing stance. He notes that the willingness of many of the Congressmen to travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, to attend nighttime meetings held in hotel rooms with people they believed to represent foreign powers was in itself suspicious behavior. ”It’s one thing for me to meet a defense lawyer to discuss a case right here in my office,” Mr. Margolis observes. ”It would be different for me to meet him in a hotel room. People would have a right to wonder what I was up to.”

    Circa 1979 — And David Margolis, head of the department’s narcotics and dangerous drugs section, will be named head of its organized crime section. He will replace Kurt Muellenberg, who has been confirmed as inspector general for the General Services Administration. Margolis has served as Muellenberg’s deputy since 1976

  16. orionATL says:

    citizen92 @27

    rocky flats, eh. 1993.

    and then do i recall correctly he was involved in either ruby ridge cover-up (fbi)

    or the waco dravidian cover-up (fbi).

    major question:

    was margolis involved in the cover-up of fbi
    incompetence that resulted in failing to stop the very easily stoppable
    airplane bombing of the world trade center in sept 2001?

  17. FrankProbst says:

    Oh–and as I said probably 4 years ago–it was a journalist who helped Rove avoid any consequences for his role in leaking Plame’s identity.

    Yes and no. I think she (Novak) gets a bad rap for this. Yes, Novak was the story Rove came up with to avoid being indicted. But if Novak had never had drinks with Luskin, I’m fairly sure Rove would have come up with some other excuse to explain his behavior, and he probably still would have skated. There’s no doubt in my mind that he was home free after Armitage remembered his conversation with Woodward, because if Fitz was willing to give Armitage the benefit of the doubt, he was obligated to do the same for Rove.

    • emptywheel says:

      Two things.

      1) Whether or not it’s true that Rove would have found some other excuse, it doesn’t change the fact that Novak broke every single rule of journalism AND was a chump to boot.

      2) I think you’re misstating the importance of Armitage. It’s not a “benefit of teh doubt”–Fitz had allayed most doubts about Armi by then. Rather, unless you can use Armi as a witness for the conversation with Novak, then you can’t hone in on the fact that both Novak and Rove lied about their conversations. So IMO it had more to do with the fact that that made Armi useless as a witness. Which is probably why it came out when it did (that is, long after Armi could have fixed it, rather than before).

      • FrankProbst says:

        1. I totally agree with you that she broke all the rules and was a chump, but the same applies to just about every other reporter involved in this case. She deserves no less scorn–but by the same token, no more–than most of the other foolish reporters involved in this case.

        2. I disagree here. My take on Fitz is that he always plays fair. Even if he thought that Armitage really did forget about betraying Plame’s identity to Woodward, while at the same time believing that Rove was being a lying weasel about betraying her identity to Novak and Cooper, it would be VERY difficult for him to justify different treatment for the two of them. And if he were on the fence, I think the audiotape of Armitage–in which he’s pretty much beating Woodward over the head with Plame’s identity–would have pushed him over to the “don’t indict” side.

        • Leen says:

          Everyone who participated in outing Plame is not only a “weasel” they are traitors. They undermined U.S. National Security. They did not rob a corner drug store (these people do prison time). They outed a CIA undercover agent who had put her own life on the line for her country.

          Lesson for the peasants
          Rob a corner drug store = prison time
          Systematically out a CIA undercover agent = free time, write book time, go on the lecture circuit time

          The Complete Bill Maher interview with Valerie and Joe Plame Wilson

          Bill Maher “do you have trouble with this word treason at all as far as to what happened to you”

          Bill Maher “The penalty for treason is….”

  18. harpie says:

    o/t but interesting:
    Iceland Set to Become Beacon of Press Freedom; Stephen Soldz; 3/8/2010
    http://psychoanalystsopposewar.org/blog/2010/03/08/iceland-set-to-become-beacon-of-press-freedom/

    […] If the IMMI passes, Iceland’s internet servers would become available to reporters and bloggers around the world. These servers could hold documents and reports that governments or corporations are attempting to suppress. […] Attempts to suppress free expression in other countries would then be afoul of Icelandic laws, providing reporters and other information providers with leverage in their own countries.

  19. Mary says:

    I know I’ve beat on this before, but I think this post ties to what were, imo, strange exchanges between Fitgerald and Judge Walton during the oral argument on the post-trial motion to let Libby walk around pending appeal.

    For some reason in the very limited time for the argument on what was going to happen with Libby, Fitzgerald and Walton went on a frolic and detour over whether or not Fitzgerald would have been required to go to Margolis to bring other charges against other people. I thought it sounded very much like it wasn’t the first time they had such an exchange and neither were surprised by it, nor were Libby’s lawyers even though it’s not something they ever briefed.

    Again, it’s an area that I though Congress really needed to look into when they had their so-called investigation, and especially with other in-house investigations in the wings (like Durham’s) And then there was Fitzgerald’s letter – I don’t remember whether it was to Leahy or Waxman or Conyers – where he pretty much spelled out that he operated under an appointment where his mandate could be ended or changed in scope at any time and secretely, without notice to Congress. I thought it pretty much begged for someone in Congress to ask the follow up of, “was it changed” but that never happened.

    I’d still like to get DOJ to provide a complete response to who was supervising Fitzgerald when and whether there were ever changes to his mandate or any decisions were overruled. Then the generic, non-Fitzgerald response to how easily skitzed any of their in-house investigations are based on that ability to secretly change mandates any time and from time to time and never report to Congress about what has been done.

    Inhousing at DOJ should get a huge Congressional smackdown in some way, shape or form. But it won’t – at least not with the ineffective, incompetent Dems running things and if and when Republicans decide to, it will be because they want to have Starr type investigation on sex – not something unimportant like outing covert agents and their families for political benefits.

  20. Mary says:

    BTW – I can imagine most people saying most things during a 5 hour negotiating/interview sessions.

  21. Jeff Kaye says:

    More of interest on Margolis. He was point man in shooting down a renewal of the independent counsel law in 2000, for instance.

    Mr. MARGOLIS. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I will be speaking on behalf of the entire panel and then we will all be available to attempt to answer your questions. I will be brief, because as you indicated, you have our prepared testimony.

    As set forth in our prepared testimony, the Department objects to the proposed legislation which would in effect create a standing independent counsel for the Department of Justice. Our demonstrated record of success in pursuing allegations of internal misconduct establishes that the proposed legislation is neither necessary nor well advised, and represents a solution in search of a problem.

    Cup of irony this morning, anyone?

    • bobschacht says:

      Cup of irony this morning, anyone?

      Excellent quote, Jeff. Your cup runneth over.
      I think maybe that congressional committee needs to review this matter.

      Bob in AZ

  22. SaltinWound says:

    I always thought Goodling cried her eyes out in Margolis’ office because he was a sympathetic shoulder. But maybe she picked him as a fixer, not a confidante.

  23. SaltinWound says:

    Still not understanding this post. If Novak had never tipped off Luskin, Rove would not have searched phone records and Fitzgerald would not have asked why he searched phone records if he could not recall. Without Novak, it would have been a simple case of not recalling. But this post makes it seem like it was the search that set off bells for Fitzgerald. If Rove had not recalled and not searched, would he have been prosecuted? If that is the case, I can see how Novak screwed it up, but that is not really the point this post is making.

    • FrankProbst says:

      I don’t think anyone here believes that Rove “could not recall”. The phone record search was more likely done after Rove realized Cooper was going to testify and knew he was going to be revealed, NOT because of anything Novak said. Rove needed a “reason” for this search in retrospect.

    • emptywheel says:

      Rove didn’t turn over the email with Hadley even though it was clearly responsive.

      But then, in October 2004, he all of a sudden used that email–producing it for the first time–as explanation to change his earlier testimony.

      So the question is why he didn’t find it. The real reason, we know, is bc they had fucked with the email system. (And the fact that, the night that Rove turned over this email, someone spent many hours trying to replicate a search that would find the Hadley side of it, only supports that view.) But Luskin had to come up with a different reason for that. The Novak story doesn’t make sense (and the timing on this version of it is different than in earlier tellings). But it was enough that Fitz couldn’t go after the non-response on the emails in the first place.

    • Mary says:

      Yeah – I don’t think what Rove claims he did or didn’t remember goes to resolving why the email was handed over by Hadley, but not by Rove, given that the email record searches should have been pretty parallel.

      So Rove – who was “not recalling” despite Ralston recalling being told not to log the calls and despite Hadley’s email search finding the email – well, once he knew Fitzgerald had Hadley’s email, he kind of had to have an excuse to go looking “again” himself.

      I’d still like to know if, after Fitzgerald refused to go to Margolis, if someone else from Main Justice came to him.

      I can’t find a link to the letter I’m thinking of, that Fitzgerald sent to Waxman (or Conyers or Leahy – heck if I remember) where he was responding to some questions and laid it out that he was always subect to being overruled by Main Justice at any time.

      Now – given that he was not taking that path with Luskin at the time Luskin was pushing him to go to Margolis and given that he was also telling Walton for no good reason that he (Fitzgerald) did NOT have to go to Margolis to get the authority to charge anyone else – – it’s an interesting evolution to the very deferential position that his letter takes.

        • Mary says:

          Here’s my understanding of what you had.

          Comey delegated to Margolis.

          Fitzgerald has repeatedly agreed that his (Fitzgerald’s) mandate to investigate could be modified or rescinded at any time by his supervisor.

          Also, once McNulty came in as DAG, McNulty could call back the delegation to Margolis at which time McNulty could modifiy or rescind the mandate at any time.

          Modification or recission of the mandate could take any form – it could be a directive that Fitzgerald was no longer authorized to indict without running that by Margolis first; it could be a directive to him to fold his tent and go home; it could be a directive to him to drop any remaining efforts, etc. Pretty much anything.

          There is no mechanism for any modification or recission of the mandate – or any overruling of the inhouse prosecutor by Main Justice – to be reported to Congress. Of course, that doesn’t keep Congress from ASKING if there was ever such a modification, recission or overruling – especially when they are sitting there with a letter from the Spec Pros that provided (as I recollect and I may be wrong on this -I’m not photographic) an almost gratuitous “hey guys – remember that they can yank my mandate anytime and anyway” reminder.

          It may never have happened, but it would have been so damn easy for Waxman, Conyers, Leahy et al to have at least one damn person ask those questions – did the delegation stay with Margolis and is it still with Margolis; if not, to whom was the deledgation transferred; was the mandate ever modified, amended or resinded in any manner other than the Comey confirmation on powers to investigate crimes arising out of fibbiness in the investigation; if there were amendments, modifications, etc. what were they; when a special prosecutor is appointed in house and is not subject to the outside prosecutor regulations (which aren’t great, but would at least require that if the AG overruled the outside prosecutor that Congress had to be notified) what is the procedure for notifying Congress – which had requested the investigation – of the changes to the investigatory mandate (the answer on that would be – NONE) etc. etc. etc.

          You’d PARTICULARLY think that Congress would damn well get its act together on that and get it spelled out and squared away before they’d let the Durham in house investigation get underway.

          They showed ZERO interest in finding out exactly how the process can be manipulated or if it had been manipulated. Maybe it wasn’t, but how damn shoddy is it not to get any of this ever spelled out for years? It seems like its been a couple of years at least that I’ve ground my teeth over it, with broken caps to show for it.

          More recently, not so much teeth grinding bc I’ve realized the Democrats are just as worthless as the REpublicans and it’s pointless to sweat blood over them.

          • bobschacht says:

            The issues you recite are all the more evidence that the Independent Prosecutor statute should be revived. Of course, you also finger Congressional fecklessness, which probably means that the IP statute won’t be revived.

            Since Ken Starr pronounced himself an opponent of executive excess power a few days ago on Olbermann’s show, I still like the idea of naming Starr as Independent Prosecutor to investigate allegations of war crimes, etc.

            The problem is that the DOJ is already supposed to be independent, but it isn’t. And if it decides to cover-up, its up to Congress and the Courts to challenge it. Congress isn’t challenging it, and the Courts act v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

            Bob in AZ

            • Leen says:

              “The problem is that the DOJ is already supposed to be independent, but it isn’t.” This corruption trickles down

          • Leen says:

            Thank you thank you. Learning bits. Thanks for your patience with non law folks.

            “You’d PARTICULARLY think that Congress would damn well get its act together on that and get it spelled out and squared away before they’d let the Durham in house investigation get underway.

            They showed ZERO interest in finding out exactly how the process can be manipulated or if it had been manipulated. Maybe it wasn’t, but how damn shoddy is it not to get any of this ever spelled out for years? It seems like its been a couple of years at least that I’ve ground my teeth over it, with broken caps to show for it. ”

            During the press conference I clearly remember Fitz saying he could only go so far. So did that indicate that Margolis was breathing down his throat?

            I also remember at the press conference after the juries decision in the Libby trial (I attended for at least seven days). Fitz said something like “it is in congress’s corner”

            Too damn bad that outing an undercover agent who has put her own life on the line for her country is not as important as doing deep investigations into blowjobs. Pathetic

          • Leen says:

            So congress could ask how involved Margolis was in Fitz’s investigation. They could still ask these questions?

            Mary “It may never have happened, but it would have been so damn easy for Waxman, Conyers, Leahy et al to have at least one damn person ask those questions – did the delegation stay with Margolis and is it still with Margolis; if not, to whom was the deledgation transferred; was the mandate ever modified, amended or resinded in any manner other than the Comey confirmation on powers to investigate crimes arising out of fibbiness in the investigation; if there were amendments, modifications, etc. what were they; when a special prosecutor is appointed in house and is not subject to the outside prosecutor regulations (which aren’t great, but would at least require that if the AG overruled the outside prosecutor that Congress had to be notified) what is the procedure for notifying Congress – which had requested the investigation – of the changes to the investigatory mandate (the answer on that would be – NONE) etc. etc. etc.”

            Could they ask about that sealed envelope that Jason Leopold wrote about? Could they demand to see what is in it?

        • Mary says:

          That gives me a URL not found message.

          77 – I’ll defer to you on that EW, but my understanding had been that Fitzgerald did have the email before Rove turned it over (not as a discovery response to his first request for discovery, but more likely that it had likely been obtained from Hadley) – with the implication being that Rove then needed to “find” it too, once he thought Fitzgerald had it, so he could turn it over and not be withholding it. If that’s not the scenario and Fitzgerald didn’t have the email before Rove turned it over, then I’ve misunderstood.

                • emptywheel says:

                  No I’m almost certain he did not. Matt Cooper has always been very clear that Fitz had no idea that he had spoken to Rove when he told him in July 2005. Which means, as of that point, he had not seen that email as of July 2005.

                  There was not an obvious time for more email discovery between July and November (though I think there may have been an effort made, working from memory on the WH emails). And, as I said, almost the only explanation for someone screwing with Hadley emails in the middle of the night in the days after Rove turned this over is if they anticipated having to come up with an explanation for why it hadn’t shown up.

                  • Mary says:

                    So there was never any production by Hadley of the email, only by Rove – way epu’d and in the weeds now, but if Hadley never produced his end of the email either, that’s interesting on several different fronts. Oh well, ancient history now.

                  • Mary says:

                    Thanks – that link worked. It’s not the letter/responses I was looking for, though. Now it’s going to bug me – I know I’ve linked to it here before – I’m really thinking it was to a judiciary committee.

                    • Mary says:

                      Thank you – that’s still not the one I’m looking for though. This is going to drive me crazy. I’m pretty sure it was to one of the Judiciary committees (maybe when they were trying for Cheney’s testimony?) and iirc it replicated the questions, then had his answers. I’m now feeling like I’ve gone crazy.

                      @98 – Yes, they could still ask the questions and probably should still ask them, since they’ve deferred on things like the torture video destruction to the same process and they are deferring on the criminal torture referrals to what is, in essence, the same process.

                      They could ask about the sealed envelope (they can ask about anything and even on privileged info it is up to the President to say whether that can or can’t be provided – although somehow we have spent 8 years worth of assertions of privilege that have somehow never involved the President making the assertion) On the envelope, I think if they get told to suck eggs, though, they may not be able to press further.

                      On the process of how the delegation worked, though, I think it would be very difficult for DOJ to credibly refuse to explain to Congress how the delegation worked after it was set up – Congress does have legislative power to do things like legislate the process and they have to know what it is first to do that.

            • Mary says:

              That gives me a 404 page not found message.

              ??

              OTOH, I’m having trouble whenver I hit this site, so maybe things are wonky on my end. If the links work for others then I’ll see if I can access later from a different computer.

      • emptywheel says:

        It’s fairly clear Fitz did NOT get Hadley’s email. Otherwise, why would someone go in the middle of the night and over the weekend and search for it in detail–and do a bunch of odd searches–the night Rove turned it over?

        Given some other details, it seems that it took Fitz about 10 days to ask for more email, so this almost certainly isn’t in response to a Fitz search.

        In other words, they didn’t hand over the email the first time, and may have kluged a search making sure they didn’t find it the second time.

  24. Leen says:

    EW “I recognize that at some point I’m going to have to read Karl Rove’s book propaganda.”

    I am encouraging folks not to put any money in Rove’s bloody pockets. Boycott that pathological man’s book.

    If you must read it just to get your blood boiling reading his re-spin of the spin. Go borrow the book from one of those socialist libraries.

  25. Gitcheegumee says:

    Disappearing White House Emails Timeline | EmptywheelOctober 2, 2003: DOJ requests White House turn over materials relating to …. 2005, unknown date: RNC terminates Rove’s ability to delete his own email. … he may have been able to reconstruct emails that were deleted off the server. …
    emptywheel.firedoglake.com/…/disappearing-white-house-emails-timeline/ – Cached – Similar

  26. Gitcheegumee says:

    Susan Ralston was mentioned upthread. I have always thought that she was the Rosetta stone to much of the Machiavellian machinations of Rove and his confederates.

    I came across ,quite accidentally, an old Washington Monthly “Who’s Who” article , from bnet,dated June 2004.

    In light of the present discussion, this may be of inrterest. Anyone ever heard this before?————–

    “Speaking of phones and doorkeepers, it s widely understood that to have real influence in Washington, one must be on good terms….with White House secretaries–that is, the assistants who sit in the outer offices of the president’s senior advisors. As with much else in this town, uber-lobbyist/anti-tax activist Grover Norquist seems to understand this rule as well as anybody. Norquist had a deal with Susan Ralston, who until recently was the assistant to Karl Rove. An unnamed Republican lobbyist recently told Salon.com: “Susan took a message for Rove, and then called Grover to ask if she should put the caller through to Rove. If Grover didn’t approve, your call didn’t go through.”

    How did Norquist attain such influence over Ralston? The answer, actually, is what the White House ethics lawyers call a “preexisting relationship.” Ralston had formerly worked for lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a close friend of Norquist’s and a top fundraiser for House majority whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

    Link to follow

  27. Mary says:

    Hugely epu’d and only partial success, but I know I’m not nuts now.

    After too much time spent googling (and finding lots of comments I made here on the Margolis supervision thing but no links) I found a comment from MadDog back in 2008 that linked to what I’ve been thinking about:

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2008/05/11/politicizing-show-trials-at-the-same-time-as-politicizing-doj/#comment-68420

    OT – In case folks missed it, here’s a little something from Conyer’s Judiciary Committee:
    USA Patrick Fitzgerald’s Responses to Questions for the Record of the Hearing on 2/26/08

    That last part – the responses – goes to a dead link though. But later in that thread I quote from a part of it

    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2008/05/11/politicizing-show-trials-at-the-same-time-as-politicizing-doj/#comment-68434

    70 – I missed that – thanks. I’m not sure how many times Fitzgerald and the Court can flat out say that his delegation was always subject to being rescinded or modified at any time and at the will and whim of the Acting Attorney General, and that the Acting Attorney General had continuing ability to revise the authority granted (even in secret, like a pixie dust EO revisions) and that the authority delegated “for the purpose of promoting the perception of independence” was “at all time subject to revocation and modification” before someone clears the decks and asks if it ever WAS modified or rescinded, in whole or in part.

    What I put in quotes came from Fitzgerald’s responses. I thought it was really odd that he came out and said that his delegation wasn’t really done in such a way as to make him independent, but rather was done “for the purpose of promoting the perception of independence” I don’t know the guy, but his word choice on “perception” made a bulb start to blink for me.

    . When he then goes on, yet again, to discuss his authority in terms of “perception” of independence and not acutal independence, then on p. 4 says:

    “While these provisions … subject a Special Counsel … to greater ongoing supervision than I was subject to … it must be remembered that it was the Acting Attorney General’s stated intent that the terms of the delegation to me maximize the perception of independent decision making. That said, the terms of the delegation to me as Special Counsel … allowed the delegation to be revoked or modified at will, including by requiring reports or consultations”

    And yet no one ever asks him if that delegation was modified to, for example, include the “just picked out of the air” example he gave of requiring reports or consultations.

    I hope someone can find a working link to those responses, but after 2 years I don’t know what’s available.

    I do feel better about finding the reference, though (and that I thought to quote from it at the time) but I’ve kind of wasted time I should have devoted to real work, so I’ll pay for being so dogged.

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