The Village Voice reports that the Justice Department has expanded the Valerie Plame investigation to include the post-Novak attempts by the White House and the RNC to spread the story.
[Makes you wonder whether there’s a cause-and-effect relationship between the decision to expand the investigation and the decision to limit the number of people with access to the files. [*]
The Voice story is sourced to “Administration officials,” and the sources told the reporter they think the investigators are just using the post-Novak material as a clue to whoever did the pre-Novak leaking. Perhaps so.
Or perhaps the folks at Justice read the Espionage Act the same way I do.
The Voice story makes it clear what Team Bush thinks the stakes are in the argument over appointing a special counsel:
Particularly distressing to the White House have been reports that senior FBI and Justice Department officials privately encouraged Ashcroft to at least recuse himself or perhaps appoint a special counsel. But stopping the appointment of a special counsel is exactly the focus of Bush and RNC officials.
“An investigation by a special counsel would go on and on,” said one official. “It would go on into the election year. And it would keep this in the news forever.”
But I’m not so sure that keeping it in-house will turn out to be any better. The FBI and the Criminal Division have a great deal of face to lose by coming up dry. And if they don’t come up dry — if they identify the sources of the information — then a failure to prosecute is almost unthinkable. I’m betting that this does “go on into the election year,” and that it will be in the news “forever,” if “forever” is defined as “through Election Day.”
The story quotes Charles Schumer as saying that several of his Republican colleagues told him privately that he was right to be pushing for a special counsel. If true, that’s not good news for Bush.