Obstruction of justice by Ashcroft?

What did Ashcroft tell Rove about the Plame investigation. Inquiring minds (and, let’s hope, inquiring prosecutors) want to know.

So John Ashcroft, as Attorney General, insisted on being personally briefed on the Valerie Plame investigation as it developed. Once it became clear that Ashcroft’s old campaign consultant, Karl Rove, was a likely target — having been less than frank with investigators in his initial interviews — Ashcroft was forced to recuse himself.*

But before he recused himself was he sharing information provided to him by the the investigators with Rove? An excellent question, and I hope it’s one to which Mr. Fitzgerald is demanding answers.

If there was obstruction of justice by the Attorney General, we’re back in Watergate/Iran-Contra territory. So far, it looks as if Ashcroft — if he was in fact trying to obstruct justice, which we certainly don’t know yet — wasn’t as good at obstructing justice as Ed Meese was.

*I try to resist the temptation to brag, but I got this one right eighteen months ago: The only plausible explanation for Ashcroft’s decision to recuse himself but not the Justice Department as an institution was that Rove was a suspect.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com