On Wednesday, following Karl Rove’s fifth appearance before a grand jury, his lawyer Robert Luskin released a statement. Much has been made of this portion:
In connection with this appearance, the special counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he is not a target of the investigation. Mr. Fitzgerald has affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges.
The United States Grand Jury Manual defines a “target” as “a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime.” On Thursday, MSNBC’s David Shuster provided an important bit of context:
I don’t think there is any chance [Rove] will resign absent an indictment. Perhaps that’s why the stakes are so high. Scooter Libby only got notification that he was the target that very morning. He didn’t have time. It doesn’t look like Karl Rove will get advanced notification either if he gets indicted.
Karl Rove may or may not be indicted. But the fact that he hasn’t been notified that he is a target of the investigation should not provide him or his supporters much comfort.