Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 24, 2007

VP vs. P

Is Libby, with Cheney's backing, fighting to kick Karl Rove out of the White House? Is this a proxy-fight for the big one? Cheney versus Bush? VP vs. P? Who will win?

To follow the story Murray Waas, firedoglake, Isikoff at Newsweek seem to be good sources.

Isikoff writes:

.. defense lawyer Ted Wells shocked the courtroom and all but tossed the “pardon strategy” out the window. Seeking to rebut Fitzgerald’s contention that Libby had lied about his knowledge of Plame’s CIA employment in order to save his job with Cheney, Wells shot back: “Mr. Libby was not concerned about losing his job in the Bush administration. He was concerned about being set up, he was concerned about being made the scapegoat.”

According to Wells, the chief culprit, or at least the beneficiary of the plot was Rove, described by the defense lawyer as “the president’s right hand man,” whose survival was essential for the president’s re-election. As related by Wells, his client was so worried that Rove’s fate was taking priority over his that Libby went to his boss, Cheney, in October 2003 and complained: “I think people in the White House are trying to set me up. People in the White House are trying to protect Karl Rove.”

Well’s argument was both brilliant and complex-and perhaps difficult for non-news hounds on the jury to follow. But it raised the prospect that the Libby trial will now turn into a horror show for the White House, forcing current and former top aides to testify against each other and revealing an administration that has been in turmoil over the Iraq war for more than three years.


While this is going to be a major theme of the defense in the case, and might seem contrived at first glance, Cheney's note was written contemporaneous to the events and apparrently reflected an inherent division-- which I have written about in various National Journal stories-- between the OVP and the White House staff.

There is lots of room for speculation why Libby is not going for a pardon, but for a full assault on the men and women next to the president. I can not believe he does this without Cheney's agreement.

But will Bush give up on Rove without hitting back? That sounds unlikely to me. The Libby trial will now be used to publicly wash a lot of dirty laundry. Maybe this will keep the administration busy enough to stop them from working on other projects. But it could also be possible that other projects will be launched to deflect attention away from the trial.

Anyway, we are up for interesting times.

So what are the (constitutional) consequences of a fight Cheney versus Bush? Is there any precedence? Could you please pass the popcorn?

Posted by b on January 24, 2007 at 13:34 UTC | Permalink


Christy and Marcy have a nice video wrap-up on Crooks and Liars

Posted by: doug r | Jan 24 2007 14:43 utc | 1

a commenter (@127) at FDL has an interesting take on this point:

want to make a point I think everyone is missing with “throwing rove under the bus”

if libby were really throwing rove under the bus the trial would be over, libby would have a deal, rove would be on trial

this is a tactic, rove isn’t on trial here and can’t be convicted, nor will fitz get another prosecution in this matter if libby is vindicated

this is a no loose strategy for rove and libby

libby gets a scapehoat at no cost to the scapegoat, if it works, rove denies it

I am willing to bet rove came up with this strategy and there is no real “throwing of anyone under bus”

Live debate on Iraq war and senate resolutions now on C-Span 3

Sen Kerry speaking now.

Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 24 2007 15:36 utc | 2

Skull and Bones has gave him his orders. John Kerry has announced that he will not run in 2008.

Posted by: R.L. | Jan 24 2007 19:43 utc | 3

The Good News: "After six years, most Americans have figured out that they are effectively ruled by a homicidal, sociopathic, constitution-breaking, ignorant and arrogant version of The Simpsons, which will literally do anything to stay in power and force their violent and narrow interpretation of American power on the rest of the world."

The Bad News: "If it took most Americans six years to figure that they are ruled by idiots, what does this make most Americans?"

Posted by: Chris Marlowe | Jan 24 2007 23:24 utc | 4

With an empty shell as President, how can there be a VP vs. P?
Bush handed over to Cheney the powers of the presidency from the beginning (who was in charge on 9/11?), he could take them back at any time by dismantling the OVP staff, firing Cheney's boys in the bureaucracy and removing (by executive order) Cheney's power to classify and declassify information.
Then Cheney could return to the constitutionally mandated powers of the vice-presidency:
1. Presiding over the Senate.
2. Waiting for Bush to die in office.
3. Picking lint from his naval.
Also, every time the media starts talking about Cheney's removal, he goes out and does an interview where he makes clear, again, that he is in charge.
Rove is in charge of making Bush look and sound presidential (as much as possible, anyway), that's pretty much where his mandate ends. I don't think Cheney wants that job.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Jan 24 2007 23:31 utc | 5

Marlowe, I am really, really, really offended that you would insult The Simpsons in that way.

Posted by: fauxreal | Jan 25 2007 3:27 utc | 6

Moyers: The Secret Government ... The Constitution in Crisis

FOR TOO LONG the full length 90 min. version of this documentary has been unavailable. Only a 20 minute version has been circulating. Here ... all » now as of January 10, 2007 this failure of access ends. Bill Moyers, the respected TV journalist, analyzes the threats to constitutional government posed by an illegitimate network operating from within the government but using secrecy to set itself up outside of the government / peoples oversight. All this back in 1987. This documentary gives a fascinating overview of what has actually happened in the last 50 years regarding the CIA and the Cold War (including Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Vietnam and Chile). The foundation for the massive push towards greater secrecy in government going on today.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 25 2007 5:38 utc | 7

""The Bad News: "If it took most Americans six years to figure that they are ruled by idiots, what does this make most Americans?""

Not only that but they happily allow their tax dollars to be spent on bombs and bullets and profits for the ruthless marketeers instead of education, health care and social security.

Posted by: pb | Jan 25 2007 6:24 utc | 8

I tend to think that the fight, should it occur, would be between Cheney and the Republican elders. Only they have the juice to force Cheney out, by making it clear that they will support whatever means are necessary to remove him. A la Nixon. Can they? Sure. Will they? I doubt it, although Warner's maneuvering lately has made him look to me like a Veep-in-waiting, and he is the logical choice. In any event, Bush would find out about it only after the outcome is decided; it is too serious a fight for either side to let him screw up.

Posted by: YouFascinateMe | Jan 25 2007 18:42 utc | 9

Late addition: Swopa at Needlenose has been an acute reader of the Plame tea leaves from the start. I'd recommend> Needlenose as one of the best sites for analysis of the Libby trial. Swopa seems to be crossposting Plame analysis at FDL now, but I like cutting to the quick, sharp jabs at the source.

On the defense strategem of implying WH scapegoated Libby to protect Rove,>Swopa speculates:

Hmm, laying it on a little thick there, aren't we, Ted [Wells, Defense atty]? The melodrama of Wells' remarks produced a consensus reaction -- "Libby is throwing Rove under the bus" -- that I think may be unwarranted. When you look closely, it doesn't seem like Wells actually accused Rove of doing anything in particular... and I doubt that we'll hear any claims from Team Scooter that Turdblossom had any direct role in the Plame leak besides the conversations we already know about (with Bob Novak and Matt Cooper).

So why the big fuss about Rove? Part of it may be simply creating a distraction -- with Fitz taking dead aim at Dick Cheney in his own opening argument, Libby's side had to do something dramatic to keep Big Dick from being the center of media coverage. But I also think there's an alternate-reality version of the Plame outing that Scooter's legal team is trying to create, to deflect not only the current charges but the correct impression that Libby was the mastermind at the center of the leak scheme.

And Swopa>warns, as the trial unfolds, to regard the courtroom and the press as a single theater for scripted legal strategies.

Don't always take what you read at face value. Always ask yourself why you're hearing a particular piece of information at this particular moment, and remember that even an eyewitness may not have seen everything he or she thinks they saw.

Posted by: small coke | Jan 29 2007 0:52 utc | 10

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