Fitzgerald's Not Finished
Now that Scooter's been indicted for lying to the grand jury and covering up what was going on in the White House as it prepared for war, you don't have to look very far to find disappointment that Karl Rove wasn't somehow involved in today's activities, as well. While we can't know what might be coming down the pike, it's far too early to start feeling whatever final emotion we'll get out of this. In case it isn't yet obvious, Patrick Fitzgerald holds his cards extremely close to the chest, and nobody's identified any obvious tells. But if he were finished, he'd've told us he was finished. We're back to speculation for anybody other than Scooter, but I think it's fair to assume that everything that was once on the table is still on the table. Common sense suggests that he's made some plea agreements, and we'll probably find out about a few of them in the days ahead. Any lawyers out there can clarify this point, but I wonder if formal indictments are necessary in such cases. Fitzgerald said that there are ongoing investigations, so we don't know who else remains in (or will soon enter) his cross hairs.
In bringing indictments and closing this grand jury, Fitzgerald has established that he's running a serious investigation here. Anyone who was hoping the whole thing might blow over now knows that it won't. Judy Miller can tell us how prison or the threat of prison might clarify one's thinking, but Scooter Libby (as well as a number of others, I have no doubt) now has the opportunity to discover that on his own. What deals might he soon be willing to make? What information might he now be happy to provide?
The big announcement today also potentially takes the spotlight off this investigation, and the shadows is where Fitzgerald seems to like to operate. Until recently, Fitzgerald has kept a very low profile, and that's in keeping with how he's been working in Chicago. Via AMERICAblog, ArchPundit provides some examples of the kind of press coverage he's gotten here as he's investigated government corruption and issued indictments. In going after former Illinois governor George Ryan, he moved very, very slowly, putting pieces together, leaning on smaller fish to roll over on larger fish, and building his case. The assumption locally was that Ryan would skate--surely he'd insulated himself, a case would be too hard to make, a trial wouldn't be viable. If Fitzgerald had anything substantial, the thinking went, why hadn't he already indicted Ryan? Although Ryan's reputation was ruined, no one expected Ryan to be drawn into the legal proceedings--at least, not until Fitzgerald announced his indictment. He's currently on trial for racketeering and fraud.
Fitzgerald isn't a guy who provides extravagant warnings about what he's going to do--he just goes ahead and does it. That's what he's going to do now that he's made his announcement and the grand jury has packed up and gone home. He'll return to slowly, methodically building whatever cases he's working on, and when he's ready he'll let us know.