Don't Go There, Democrats Warn Republicans

Susan Jones | Senior Editor | Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Don't Go There, Democrats Warn Republicans

( - With a Friday deadline looming for Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to bring charges in the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity, newspapers are full of stories about a "public relations blitz" at the White House.

The Boston Globe reported that the "outlines" of that PR blitz emerged Sunday, when Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) told NBC's "Meet the Press" she hoped the indictments -- if there are any -- would not be based on "technicalities."

"I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment...that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars," Hutchison said.

Whoa, say Democrats: When Bill Clinton was president, Republicans treated perjury and obstruction of justice as serious crimes. (The House of Representatives impeached Clinton on perjury and obstruction of justice charges on Dec. 19, 1998.)

A message on the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's website reminds GOP senators of their past comments on perjury and obstruction.

\ldblquote\kerning0 When a Democrat was in the White House just a few short years ago, the seriousness of perjury and obstruction was pretty much all Republicans would talk about," said the message from the DSCC's Phil Singer.
\kerning0 The website quotes nine Republicans who strongly condemned perjury and obstruction as high crimes and misdemeanors "a few short years ago."

One of the Republicans quoted is Sen. Hutchison, who said in February 1999 that the reason she voted to remove President Clinton from office "is because I think the overridding issue here is that truth will remain the standard for perjury and obstruction of justice in our criminal justice system and it must not be gray. It must not be muddy."


In a Tuesday morning interview with Fox Friends, Sen. Hutchison clarified her comments on "Meet the Press."

"I was sort of misconstrued the other day," the senator said. "I certainly think if someone has lied to an investigator, of course that is a crime, it is a terrible crime. But let's wait and see."

Sen. Hutchison also called it "very unfortunate" that leaks are happening in a "leak case."

"This is a case that is trying to decide if there has been a crime committed for leaks -- and we are seeing leaks. I do not think it is right to parade all of this information out in the public arena, in the New York Times, and have us speculate about it."
Cheney factor

What might happen at the conclusion of the federal grand jury probe has been the focus of press speculation for weeks.

Some Democratic websites aren't waiting for the results of the probe, however. The DSCC website features a photo of Dick Cheney in its "Hall of Shame."

"You don't have to look any further than this week's headlines to see why Vice President Cheney deserves a spot in our Hall of Shame," the text says. The DSCC points to a recent Washington Post report saying that Cheney's office is a focus in the leak case, and a New York Daily News report saying that Cheney may be a target of the probe.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Vice President Dick Cheney discussed Valerie Plame with his Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby weeks before the public disclosure of who Plame was.

But Libby supposedly told a federal grand jury that he first learned about Plame from journalists. The article suggests that Libby may have been trying to protect his boss, the vice president, who -- it was leaked -- learned about Valerie Plame from then-CIA Director George Tenet.

The New York Times report said there's no indication that either Cheney or Libby knew about Plame's undercover status or that her identity was classified.

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