Lawrence O'Donnell: Three Questions for Karl Rove's Lawyer

Lawrence O'Donnell
Tue Jul 5, 4:39 PM ET

I have a call in to Bob Luskin, Karl Rove’s lawyer, but I’m not holding my breath for a call back. He knows I know too much, since I broke the story last week that his client is one of the secret sources Matt Cooper has been protecting for the last two years. I have three questions for Luskin:

Q: You’ve said Rove is not a target of the investigation. Is he a subject of the investigation?

Q: Since Time delivered its e-mails to the prosecutor on Friday, have you asked the prosecutor whether Rove’s status has changed? From witness to subject? Or subject to target?

Q: You told Newsweek that your client “never knowingly disclosed classified information.” Did Rove ever unknowingly disclose classified information?

Luskin spent the weekend on the phone with reporters from Newsweek, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times trying to put out the fire I started on Friday. He relied heavily on the claim that the prosecutor had assured him that Rove is not a target of the investigation.

Here is the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual's definition of target: “A ‘target’ is a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant.”

Getting an assurance that you are not a target is pretty easy until the prosecutor really has the goods on you -- “a putative defendant.”

Here’s the Manual’s definition of subject: “A ‘subject’ of an investigation is a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation.” Subjects frequently have their status upgraded to target when prosecutors get new information, like this one did on Friday.

Subject is a scary status. Prosecutors have to attach an "Advice of Rights" form to all grand jury subpoenas served on any "target" or "subject" of an investigation. Here’s what the form says:

* You may refuse to answer any question if a truthful answer to the question would tend to incriminate you. * Anything that you do say may be used against you by the grand jury or in a subsequent legal proceeding.

* If you have retained counsel, the grand jury will permit you a reasonable opportunity to step outside the grand jury room to consult with counsel if you so desire.

Mere witnesses don’t get those forms attached to their subpoenas. Was it attached to any one of the three subpoenas Rove got from the grand jury? Three trips to the same grand jury is frequently an indicator of subject status.

I have no problem with Luskin reading my questions here before he gets on the phone with me or any of the reporters he has already been willing to talk to. These aren’t the kinds of questions you can easily fudge the answers to. I would never waste a lawyers’ time with one of those. All I need is a yes or no. Won’t take a minute.