Loose Lipped Luskin and the Sinking Ship Rove
In at least one Washington law firm this July, the summer associates are earning their keep. Their boss is one of the lawyers involved with the Rove-Plame scandal, and he's keeping them busy with a surprisingly thorny task: Tracking the public comments of Robert Luskin, Karl Rove's attorney. Over the last two weeks, Luskin has flummoxed Washington's Fourth Estate with spin and legalisms. He has embarrassed reporters who ran with the cleverly worded denials he dished out. He has contradicted himself, sometimes within the same news article. He may have accidentally paved the way for Matt Cooper's Wednesday grand jury testimony about Rove. In short, he has made life difficult for those summer associates. "Every day," says the lawyer involved in the case, "I have my associates put together a chronology of the things Luskin is saying about Karl Rove. He's just all over the place. Even in the last few days, they are not consistent."
Luskin has represented Bush's strategist for months, but it was only in July, when the extent of Rove's role in the Plame case emerged, that the lawyer became a Beltway star. Previous legal celebrities, such as Ginsburg, became famous for their addiction to the cameras. Luskin has become famous for his word games. It is no surprise when a lawyer resorts to technicalities and evasions to defend his client. What sounds like an absurd defense and bad politics in the public arena may make perfect sense inside the courtroom. But Luskin's comments seem to be legally inept as well.
The Harvard alum and Rhodes scholar first started getting chatty with reporters back in December. He told the Chicago Tribune that the only way for the prosecutor in the case, Patrick Fitzgerald, to establish a pattern of wrongdoing by the Bushies was for him to drag reporters into the grand jury. "I don't see how you can conduct a leak investigation in a sensitive way," he said, sounding oddly detached from the case for someone whose client's fate was at stake. "You have to talk to everybody." Perhaps he was just sucking up to the prosecutor, but it seemed bizarre for Rove's attorney to publicly endorse a prosecutorial strategy that was tightening the noose around his client's throat.