What's a Little Lying Between Friends?

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 25, 2005; 11:18 AM

"Some perjury technicality"?

Did Kay Bailey Hutchison really say that?

She must have. It was on "Meet the Press."

Is this the Republican strategy for dealing with any CIA leak indictments? Saying no real crimes were committed, just a teensy weensy bit of perjury? Turning Patrick Fitzgerald into Ken Starr?

I hasten to add that I have no idea whether anyone will be indicted. I've never met Pat Fitzgerald, and I had problems with the way he threatened reporters with jail, but as the U.S. attorney in Chicago who went after some Daley cronies, he has a sterling reputation.

It is true that prosecutors who can't prove the original crime often wind up bringing perjury and obstruction charges. But lying to investigators, or to a federal grand jury, strikes at the heart of the law-enforcement process. This happens to be the message that GOPers pounded over and over again when Clinton dissembled over Monica, so surely they take it seriously. Or is that only when a Democrat is president?

Hutchison likened the senior administration officials who might or might not be indicted to Martha Stewart, who was only charged with a cover-up (lying about insider trading is okay as long as you're not convicted of insider trading? Well, Martha did get two TV shows, even though one is tanking). The Texas senator also complained about "sort of a gotcha mentality in this country," which again, try as I might, I can't remember being a significant Republican complaint during the prosecutions of the Clinton years.

It instantly occurred to me that I might check what Sen. Hutchison had to say during the Lewinsky scandal. But in the blog world, somebody's already thought of your best idea five minutes ago. So before I could type in the Nexis search, I saw that Michael Crowley , on the New Republic's new group grope "The Plank," has this:

"Hmm . . . That's not the tune Hutchison was singing back when Bill Clinton was caught with his hands in the intern jar. Here's the February 13, 1999 Dallas Morning News:

" 'The principle of the rule of law-- equality under the law and a clear standard for perjury and obstruction of justice-- was the overriding issue in this impeachment,' said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who also voted 'guilty' on both counts."

HuffPost blogger Trey Ellis pounces on Kay Bailey:

"Senator Hutchinson's absurd utterance was another GOP trial balloon intent on trying to mute public outrage. Fox and the rest of the right-wing echo chamber has been beating this drum ever since 'lawyers close to the case,' (probably Rove and Libby's), leaked that indictments were coming not for the felony charge of outing an undercover agent but for lying about it to federal investigators. You have to at least hand it to these guys, when they're handed lemons, they try their damndest to make lemonade. 'Gee, there's not enough evidence to actually convict the highest-ranking members of the White House and the office of the Vice President of treason, just perjury and conspiracy. Is that so wrong?'

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