Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What Exactly Is a Crime?

In connection with the ongoing investigation of the leak of Valerie Plame's role as a CIA agent, President Bush said that anyone on the White House staff who "committed a crime" related to the leak would be fired.  Did the President mean a conviction, indictment, or just being named a "target" of the investigation?  Not much clarification came from White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, but the following interchange at the daily press briefing (here) does highlight one potential role the President could play as Investigator-in-Chief:

Q What is his problem? Two years, and he can't call Rove in and find out what the hell is going on? I mean, why is it so difficult to find out the facts? It costs thousands, millions of dollars, two years, it tied up how many lawyers? All he's got to do is call him in.

MR. McCLELLAN: You just heard from the President. He said he doesn't know all the facts. I don't know all the facts.

Q Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: We want to know what the facts are. Because --

Q Why doesn't he ask him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll tell you why, because there's an investigation that is continuing at this point, and the appropriate people to handle these issues are the ones who are overseeing that investigation. There is a special prosecutor that has been appointed. And it's important that we let all the facts come out. And then at that point, we'll be glad to talk about it, but we shouldn't be getting into --

Q You talked about it to reporters.

MR. McCLELLAN: We shouldn't be getting into prejudging the outcome.

Would lying to the President be grounds for a Sec. 1001 false statement charge? (ph)

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