Dem talking point from Paul Begala, former Clintonista: Enormous hit for administration, especially given Bush's promise to "restore honor and dignity to the White House" during the 2000 campaign. Worse for Cheney, who wields more power than any other veep in history. Says Begala: "Even Al Gore was never as powerful."
GOP talking point from Human Rights editor: Perjury and obstruction of justice are serious crimes, just like they were in 1998. And by the way, Joe Wilson is scum.
WH announces Libby's resignation. Written earlier in the day, according to CNN's John King, and accepted a couple minutes ago.
The indictment says Cheney told Libby of Valerie Plame's identity. Joe Wilson, husband of the outed agent, is scheduled to make a statement shortly.
The filed documents aren't yet online, but the chattering heads note that inside noise about Wilson started circulating through the White House in May 2003 -- two months before Wilson published his column in The New York Times.
(CNN's John King notes that a Nicholas Kristof column from May 6, 2003, may have been the spark that set off the blaze inside Cheney's office. King covered the WH at the time and remembers the WH political operation "kicking into high gear" to discredit war critics like Wilson, who was the unnamed source in Kristof's column.)
More details: Libby told FBI agents that Russert asked him if he knew Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Libby also said (allegedly) that Russert blabbed about "every reporter in Washington" knowing this juicy tidbit. When interviewed by the feds, Russert called BS on Libby.
Ditto for Matt Cooper of Time. Those are the false statement charges.
Re perjury: Libby told the grand jury the same tales about Russert and Cooper. Man, that's some arrogance.
Most damning appears to be the naming of Cheney as the source of Plame's identity. The veep isn't charged, not even as some sort of unindicted co-conspirator, but his political stock has been depleted.
Novakula's name emerges! Documents discuss "Official A" talking with Libby and being told by the veep's chief that Robert Novak was about the write a column about the Wilson mess.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby basically lied his ass off to deceive FBI agents, the grand jury and the special prosecutor. Or so claims Patrick Fitzgerald. The charges against Vice President Dick Cheney's "alter ego" are muy serious, indeed.
NBC's Tim Russert speaks; he's one of the reporters Lewis allegedly blamed for leaking Plame's name. Russert says he was not a recipient of the leak; he did not know Plame's name. Sounds like Libby was playing Russert, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller off each other.
Russert does know he's going to be a witness at Libby's trial, doesn't he? Ditto for Dick Cheney. And -- ye gods -- Judith Miller.
Libby charged one count obstruction, two counts perjury, two counts making false statements. Accused of lying about how and where he got Plame's name. Charges allege Libby lied to FBI agents; committed perjury in two GJ appearances; and engaged in obstruction by impeding GJ investigation.
Five counts against Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury. No charges related to actual leak of Valerie Plame's name.
Libby indicted for false statements, obstruction of justice.
Grand jury has handed up indictments.
CNN's "Situation Room" rocks. Not for Wolf Blitzer, but because we can watch Bob Franken, John King, Candy Crowley and Jeff Greenfield all at once on the big screens. Franken picking up the indictment now.
One more procedural update: Grand jury is not yet in courtroom; still in clerk's office. Fitzgerald & Co. are in courtroom of magistrate.
Bush returns to WH from Andrews.
Fitzgerald's in the magistrate's courtroom. Presentment about to begin.
Dick Cheney is in Georgia, giving a speech on terrorism.
Grand jurors leaving courthouse, MSNBC reports. MSNBC's earlier reporting is off; grand jury going into magistrate's courtroom. Indictment about to be published.
Maybe no public statement from Fitzgerald? So says Andrea Mitchell, now nattering about prosecutor's letter to House Dems.
Notice from special counsel to Dem leaders on House intelligence committee: Patrick Fitzgerald will issue public report on the grand jury investigation. This according to Andrea Mitchell. House Dems had requested such a report. Update: Mitchell says no grand jury testimony to be included in report to Congress.
Like the climactic scene of a summer blockbuster, all events in Traitorgate dovetail:
•Air Force One lands at Andrews AFB following a speech at Norfolk. It is precisely 11 a.m. Central time -- high noon in D.C. -- and Patrick Fitzgerald is due to release legal documents in the next several minutes. By the time noon strikes in Springfield, this will be a different political world.
•The grand jury files into open court. Extra chairs have been brought in.
•The magistrate is ready to read the indictment.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell says these events will radically and permanently change the landscape for the Bush Administration.
Someone give MSNBC's David Shuster some oxygen before he passes out. Way too excitable right now.
What we do not know is remarkable, given the crush of coverage, especially over the last several weeks. Patrick Fitzgerald does not leak, or if he does, he leaves no fingerprints. Compare this to Ken Starr's office and its "leak of the day" to the media -- you know, the damned liberal media that never slams Democrats.
Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post is reporting that Karl Rove's lawyers presented Fitzgerald with information that "gave the special prosecutor pause." VandeHei also says the Rove portion of this investigation could be over in the next couple weeks, not months.
We're down to the short hairs now, kids.
Ack. CNN is doing one of those "let's look back" timeline pieces -- voiced by Wolf Blitzer. Or, as the anchor might announce, "VOICED by Wolf BLITZER, and YOU'RE IN the Situation ROOM."
Fox reports that Fitzgerald may be walking indictments to the district court as we type.
MSNBC notes that the first page of the indictment (or information) will be read in open court.
The White House spin machine puts out a new line this half-hour: Fitzgerald has taken two years. Why does he need more time? Thing to remember: Judith Miller and Matt Cooper created delays in the case when they refused to testify.
David Shuster, the NBC correspondent, is reporting live from outside the courthouse. His voice is shaking as he reports that at least one indictment will be issued by the grand jury.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has got that honest-boy look. Ozarkers should check the resemblance between Fitzgerald and former state representative (and current top Democrat) Craig Hosmer.
Karl Rove claims he "misspoke" to the grand jury, and anything he didn't tell the grand jury was an innocent mistake and not some type of cover-up. This is according to those pesky sources -- aka, Rove or his lawyer.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby is toast; this seems very certain. Libby is expected to resign his post as chief of staff to the vice president after being indicted or charged in an information. Sources say Libby will be charged with making false statements -- probably not perjury, but the charge is easier to prove and the penalty is the same.
If Libby is the biggest fruit to fall from the tree, will he become an aspen and turn? The White House is furiously spinning the line that no Rove indictment means the Bush Administration is in the clear. You will hear a lot of spin today, but none of it will contain such a high level of equine feces.
If Dick Cheney ever thought about running for president, those thoughts ended today.
Speaking of Cheney, he and President Bush are giving anti-terror speeches today. Reporters can't remember the last time both men were making similar speeches on the same day. Then again, no one can remember the last time a sitting White House official was indicted.
9:50 a.m., Friday, Oct. 28, 2005
To aid the cubicle-bound, for the next few hours we'll keep a live channel open and update what we see and hear.
This hour's highlights:
•David Gergen raises an ominous issue on CNN -- Bush could be called to testify in a Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial. "That would totally distract the country," Gergen tells Wolf Blitzer.
•Name you need to know is John Eckenrode, FBI special agent in charge of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. He'll appear with Fitzgerald at the 1 p.m. news conference. Media will enter with cameras at 10 a.m. Central.
•Jeff Greenfield, CNN's senior analyst, provides some history to the story, noting the gulf between CIA and defense officials has been present since the 1970s. Vice President Dick Cheney (and his chief, Libby) argued for "sharper intelligence" and didn't trust the CIA. "This is why Scooter Libby is so central to this investigation," Greenfield said.