“White House officials are privately bracing for the possibility that Rove or other officials could be indicted in the next two weeks,” Jim VandeHei and Peter Baker report in Friday’s Washington Post — the same paper in which liberal columnist Richard Cohen on Thursday urged special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to close up shop and go back to Chicago and, if I may capture Cohen’s essential point, put an end to the chronic criminalization of politics in Washington.
How do VandeHei and Baker know about this fear of a Rove indictment? Apparently from “two Republicans close to the White House,” who told them “officials are nervous.” Who might these two Republicans be? Elsewhere in the story, which touches on other aspects of “scandals” currently affecting Bush’s second term, Republicans Mitch Daniels, Leonard Leo, Joseph diGenova, Charlie Black and Vin Weber, among others, are quoted in other contexts. Of these, only lobbyist and former congressman Weber is specifically identified as having “close ties to the White House.” Leo, meanwhile, who is on leave from the Federalist Society to help push the Miers nomination, is quoted under the category of “Other White House advisers [who] see politics behind the recent spurt of investigations” — which presumably means his pro-Miers works makes him a White House adviser. Unfortunately, no one other than Leo is quoted as one of these “other” advisers, unless it would be former Bush budget director and current Indiana governor Daniels, who, before he’s quoted a paragraph earlier, falls under the category of “Some administration allies” — though here too no one else is cited who might fit that description.
Presumably, then, those “two Republicans” purportedly telling the Post that White House “officials” (which officials? Rove himself — thereby confirming his own worries?) are “nervous” about indictments are none other than Weber and Leo. But it’s up to us to guess whether they’re really in the know, or merely engaging in the same gossip everyone else in Washington has been sharing this past week.
That’s no skin of the Post‘s nose, in any case. What matters is that the paper has pressed all the right buttons to “advance” a story that contains no more substance than any other rumor currently orbiting the nation’s capital.