Luskin’s Word Parsing Suggests Rove Is A Target

Previously, Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s lawyer, has insisted that Rove was no a target of the leak investigation. From the Washington Post, 10/6/05:

Robert Luskin said, Fitzgerald assured him in October and again last week that Rove is not a target of his investigation.

Today, Luskin has a different talking point:

I can say categorically that Karl has not received a target letter from the special counsel.

This is significant because, while U.S. Attorneys normally informs someone of their status as a target with a letter, they are not required to do so. Rove could have been warned he is a target with a phone call or an in-person warning. Here’s a relevant section of the USDOJ Guidelines (Ch. 7, Section 1, Part 1):

As the grand jury investigation concludes…attorneys will usually inform counsel for potential defendants of the status of the investigation. In most instances, potential individual defendants will be sent a letter identifying the individual as a target of that investigation, i.e., one who may be considered for indictment.

The fact that Luskin has changed his talking point suggests that Rove is now a target and has recieved a target warning by some means other than a letter. Indeed, the AP reports prosecutors “have warned they cannot guarantee [Rove] won’t be indicted.”

The real question Luskin needs to be asked: Has Rove received a target warning of any kind?

UPDATE: The above is excerpted from guidelines created for the antitrust division which are relevant but not directly applicable to the Rove case. Directly applicable is Section 9-11.151 of the Grand Jury manual, which also indicates that notification by letter is not required.