Shuster Blames Sources for Claim Rove Will Be Indicted, Suggests Rove Really Guilty

MSNBC Countdown fill-in host Brian Unger on Tuesday night asked David Shuster about how “your sources seemed to indicate that Karl Rove would be indicted. What happened?" In fact, back on May 8, as recounted in a Tuesday NewsBusters posting, Shuster had gone beyond just citing sources and declared: “I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted.” Responding to Unger, Shuster first blamed his sources: “The defense lawyers who have witnesses in front of that grand jury, sometimes they get it wrong, and that seemed to be the case in this particular case.”

Then Shuster suggested Rove really is guilty, but prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was afraid he’d be embarrassed if he lost such a high-profile case and so pulled back. Shuster contended that with the exception of Rove’s lawyer, “all” of the lawyers involved in the case contend that in “the same circumstances all over again, somebody testifying five times before a grand jury, somebody who had the burden to stop the charges, somebody who had to testify for three and a half hours the last time, and oh, by the way, he had a classification in the Libby case that almost suggested he would certainly be indicted, the lawyers saying they would have reached the same conclusion” that he would be indicted. “The issue, they say, though, is not that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald concluded that the case was unwinnable, rather that it was not a slam dunk.” Unger presumed Fitzgerald let Rove off easy as he cited “straight arrow” Fitzgerald’s “remarkable restraint.” (Full transcript follows)

Back on the May 8 Countdown, Shuster asserted: "Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why...” For the full transcript, as well as a video/audio clip, check this NewsBusters posting by Clay Waters.

The MRC’s Brad Wilmouth took down the exchange on the June 13 Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, but without Olbermann:
Substitute anchor Brian Unger inquired: "David, as you reported, your sources seemed to indicate that Karl Rove would be indicted. What happened?"

David Shuster, from Washington, DC, answered: "Well, sometimes when you're trying to track a secret grand jury investigation, the legal sources, the defense lawyers who have witnesses in front of that grand jury, sometimes they get it wrong, and that seemed to be the case in this particular case. And, of course, we hate it when that happens, but in going back to all of those defense lawyers today with the exception of Karl Rove's lawyer, who said that he would never be charged, all of those lawyers said that if he had the same circumstances all over again, somebody testifying five times before a grand jury, somebody who had the burden to stop the charges, somebody who had to testify for three and a half hours the last time, and oh, by the way, he had a classification in the Libby case that almost suggested he would certainly be indicted, the lawyers say they would have reached the same conclusion.

“The issue, they say, though, is not that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald concluded that the case was unwinnable, rather that it was not a slam dunk. And all these lawyers suggested that in a case where you're looking at a public official and whether a prosecutor is going to indict a public official, that prosecutor usually has an extra burden trying to make sure that if they're going to bring this case to trial, they can certainly meet the obligation of beyond a reasonable doubt, and that they are 99 percent certain, not 50-50 because they're dealing with a public official, and you're dealing with the career-making or possibly-losing case if, in fact, you do lose it."

Unger’s follow-up presumed Fitzgerald let Rove off easy: “David, does this demonstrate some remarkable restraint from what seems to be a very straight arrow here, Mr. Fitzgerald in this case for stopping now?”

Shuster: “Well, what it underscores is that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is somebody who brings cases that he wins...”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center