For media pack awaiting news, little but buzz
Almost three hours after Karl Rove entered the grand jury chambers yesterday morning, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald walked hurriedly...
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — Almost three hours after Karl Rove entered the grand jury chambers yesterday morning, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald walked hurriedly from the room and toward the waiting reporters.
"Just going to the men's room," he announced, continuing past the media pack. "Don't want to create any buzz."
The first part of what Fitzgerald said was true. But not wanting to "create any buzz"? It's a bit late for that.
When you call the president's closest adviser for a fourth grand-jury appearance and grill him for 41/2 hours with no guarantee he won't be prosecuted, you're pretty much guaranteed buzz. In addition to the 15 journalists lurking outside the grand-jury room on the third floor of the Prettyman Courthouse — the same chambers graced by Monica Lewinsky seven years ago — TV cameras were encamped at each of the four building exits and media spotters were stationed in the lobby.
While Rove testified, three women dressed as condoms, and a fourth with a stocking over her head, distributed "Karl Rove Brand" prophylactics in front of the courthouse. The demonstrators, coordinated by the antiwar group Code Pink, chanted "Some things should never leak! Fire Karl Rove!"
Rove, arriving well before the Code Pink crowd, entered the courthouse at 8:45 a.m. with his lawyer, Robert Luskin. He said nothing when one of the reporters asked, "Any comment, sir?" Pete Yost of The Associated Press tried again. "Karl," he said, "If it came down to a root canal or a couple of hours with Fitzgerald, what would you do?" This caused Rove to turn back and look, but he remained silent.
After the witness entered the grand-jury area, the U.S. marshal who was accompanying him returned to warn the reporters: "No questions in the courthouse — even if they're dumb ones."
By 11, the journalists on stakeout duty were getting jumpy. Each time the waiting reporters saw a blurry figure on the other side of the frosted-glass door to the grand-jury rooms, they jumped into position. But they were subject to a series of false alarms. After four hours, the reporters on stakeout duty speculated about events inside the grand jury: Did Rove's unusually long testimony mean he was having trouble reconciling his past accounts? Or had he slipped out and was at that very moment lunching in the White House Mess?
As worries spread that the latter had occurred, Fitzgerald's grand jury finally emerged. The men and women who would judge Rove, 11 of them black and four white, were mostly older, and casually dressed in jeans, sneakers or sweaters. They were followed by Fitzgerald and his legal team, lugging huge briefcases.
"I'm leaving and going back to my office — that's all I can say," disclosed the prosecutor, hesitantly, as if he had already said too much.
At 1:13 p.m., 41/2 hours after he entered, Rove emerged with Luskin and a marshal, who shouted at the reporters, "We don't ask questions in the United States courthouse!" Rove, who had been asked questions in the courthouse all morning, raised his eyebrows and smiled.
Outside, 18 cameras and a cacophony of shouted questions awaited Rove. But the witness and his lawyer hopped silently into a waiting Ford.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
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