Waiting for the Sword

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, October 19, 2005; 1:15 PM

The White House is suffering from a bad case of the nerves as the feverish speculation over special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's intentions increasingly points toward the likelihood that he will indict one or more senior administration officials next week.

Among the latest developments:

* The Associated Press reports that senior adviser and possible target Karl Rove appears to be clearing his schedule of public events as he awaits word.

* The New York Times reports that Fitzgerald is not intending to file a final report on his investigation -- and the paper interprets that as a strong sign that he intends to file charges. (The unlikely alternative being that he and his grand jury just fold up and disappear.)

* The New York Daily News reports that Bush scolded Rove two years ago for his "ham-handed" behavior regarding the leak, but is now firmly backing him.

* The National Journal details the possible case against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff.

* There are scattered reports that Fitzgerald has a cooperating witness from inside the White House.

Fear Stalks the Corridors

Mark Silva writes in the Chicago Tribune: "Inside the White House, one senior administration official said, reports of the prosecutor homing in on Rove and Libby have had an effect 'like Novocain.' The official said: 'Everyone's trying to act like normal, but it's not.' "

Nedra Pickler writes for the Associated Press: "Juggling appearances before a grand jury and conservative admirers didn't seem to make sense, so presidential adviser Karl Rove has canceled three such outings as he waits to hear whether he or anyone else will be indicted in the leak of a CIA officer's identity."

Here's Chris Matthews on his MSNBC show last night: "Franklin Roosevelt said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself.'

"Tonight in the West Wing of the Bush White House, that's not exactly true.

"The fear -- and it is real -- is that Patrick Fitzgerald and his U.S. Attorneys Office will identify federal felonies in the conduct of the White House staff, laws that were broken in an effort to punish a critic of the WMD case for the Iraq war."

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