If indeed today is indictment day, the media’s image machine will shift gears from investigation to prosecution and line up their photographers to capture the defining event -- that most damning of spectacles: the "perp walk."
Froomkin puzzles over Rove's fate: Whether Rove will be indicted or not is unclear, he writes. "But here's what you need to keep in mind: There is every reason to think that Rove is throwing every move he's got at Fitzgerald in an attempt to escape criminal charges."
The anticipated indictments will list the crimes the defendants allegedly committed and describe the facts the government believes support those allegations. Lawyers close to the investigation say Fitzgerald is considering perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement charges. Fitzgerald’s grand jury indictments would be returned to the DC District Court, which would then issues warrants for arrest.
How soon arrests would follow is unclear. The timing of arrests is often at the discretion of the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction. In the case of well-represented defendants, arrests are negotiated with prosecutors to limit the public humiliation of the perp walk.
Crime media thrive on such moments. Criminal trials by their very nature don’t offer up the visual dynamics that television news craves. There are no getaway cars careening down county roads, police (and news) helicopters in tow, no flood waters washing away SUVs and mobile homes. Instead we’re left with reporters squinting before the kliegs outside a courthouse. If cameras are allowed inside, they depict a defendant dully seated at the table, lawyers and judges shuffling papers. In the often somnambulant universe of court TV, the perp walk ranks as high drama.
Karl Rove has hired "battle-tested" Washington litigator Robert Luskin to make his client's case before the cameras. Luskin -- who brings the considerable resources of powerhouse Washington firm Patton Boggs to Rove's aide -- previously represented a money launderer for Colombian drug cartels. His talent for spin and burnishing client reputations before the media will be in demand from Rove.
Roll Call gossip columnist Mary Ann Akers writes that Fitzgerald was spotted Tuesday paying Ruskin a visit at his plush Washington offices. It seems that a plea deal is already in the works.
All indications are that Rove and Scooter Libby face real legal jeopardy. But they’re also facing a trial by media, which, for seasoned political hacks of their ilk, is a penalty far worse than incarceration. Being photographed in handcuffs is political cyanide for any one entertaining a future in politics. For veterans such as Rove and Libby these images may become their tombstones.
PS: Democratis adds that it's still possible Fitzgerald will conclude that there was no violation of the law; everything that has been reported about coming indictments is built upon either anonymous sources or speculation. “For all we know . . . Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney could be carried down the courthouse steps on the shoulders of the grand jurors.” We'll know soon enough. . .