Truthout reporter stands by claim Rove was indicted

RAW STORY
Published: Tuesday June 13, 2006

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Jason Leopold, the Truthout.org reporter who asserted May 13 that Karl Rove had been indicted in the CIA leak case, told the syndicated Ed Schultz radio show that he stands by his original report.

Leopold also refused to identify his sources, who he said he would name if he was misled.

"I'm standing by that what we were told was accurate," Leopold said.

"Certainly if some bad information was given, we'll decide what the appropriate thing to do [is]," he added. "But if something did happen four weeks ago, [and] something happened in the past four weeks in Karl Rove's favor...how does that make me wrong?"

Truthout editor Mark Ash also continues to stand by the indictment report and a second piece yesterday in which Leopold asserted that Rove's indictment might be sealed.

"We are stunned by the magnitude of the reaction to the article we published yesterday morning," Ash said. "We have put our cards on the table. We invite Mr. Luskin to do the same."

"To clarify: The entire basis for the information that 'Rove has been cleared' comes from a verbal statement by Karl Rove's attorney. No one else confirms that. As Karl Rove's attorney Robert Luskin is bound to act - in all regards - in Rove's best interest. We question his motives."

No indication has been given of the nature of Leopold's appearance. He has said previously that he would out his sources if he believed he had been misled.

Leopold, who previously wrote for Salon and Dow Jones, wrote freelance articles for RAW STORY before his departure in January.

Rush transcript, in progress:

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Ed Schultz: Karl Rove not indicted, that news coming today, breaking late yesterday, the prosecutor in the CIA leak case advising Rove that he would not be charged legally with any wrongdoing. This is contrary to the reporting done by Jason Leopold, who we've had on this program before with Truthout.org. And Jason joins us here on the Ed Schultz Show. Jason, thanks for joining us today. I appreciate your time very much. Good to have you back.

Jason Leopold: Thanks, Ed, and I certainly appreciate your having me on to answer what I expect to be some to questions.

ES: I'm not here to hang you, I just want to know the truth.

JL: That's okay. Sure.

ES: I guess could, in common vernacular street terms we could say this is professionally your Dan Rather moment. How could you get it so wrong? What happened?

JL: Well, let me say this, Ed. And . . . you know . . . I know that there's a couple of things. And I'm having to juggle many different things right now. One is obviously the incredible personal attacks. So I need to get away from that and focus on what the issue is. The issue right now is that Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Lufkin, made a statement. Apparently, he claims that there's a letter that Patrick Fitzgerald had sent to him. I'm also seeing reports that there's a phone call. And there . . . he needs to release that letter. And until we . . . I hear from Patrick Fitzgerald, until Patrick Fitzgerald actually makes a statement and says, in fact, that this is exactly what's going on I'm not going to budge from my position in terms of what was reported. That . . . you know . . . people are probably getting infuriated just by me saying that. But let me tell you why, Ed.

As you know, the investigation into Karl Rove has been going on for more than two years. As far back as three weeks ago, David Shuster on MSNBC had made a statment that he was convinced that Karl Rove would be indicted. There were reports in the National Journal two weeks ago that Karl Rove may have coordinated with Bob Novak in terms of their testimony. So for now, there's more questions than there are answers. And I think that . . . I'm not about to, like, jump out there and say . . . you know . . . anything is wrong. But I'll tell you this. When that time comes, I will go out there and say it, but . . .

ES: What we're hearing right now, from you, Jason Leopold, is that you stand by your story.

JL: Yeah. Let me just say, by the way, I stand by it . . . and I stand by it specifically, what I was told, what I had reported at that time, is exactly what our sources told us.

ES: So you've got a letter from . . .

JL: We haven't seen the letter. I would like to see the letter.

ES: Okay, well, I mean Karl Rove is out there dancing around right now, his attorney's dancing around . . .

JL: Sure. But Ed . . . Ed. What precipitated this? What happened in the course of five or six weeks since Karl Rove testified for the fifth or sixth time to lead to this moment? What happened? Did Karl Rove cooperate? Did he . . . is he . . . did he cut a plea deal? These are questions that need to be answered.

ES: Well, now, wait a minute, but you have written repeatedly that he was going to get indicted, that it was a done deal.

JL: Right. I actually . . . I'll go further. I wrote that he was indicted. I wrote that there was an indictment there.

ES: And you stand by what you have written to this point.

JL I . . . stand by it, yes. And I know, I mean, I'm hearing myself say that and I know . . . I sort of have this image of what people are responding to.

ES: So people are going to want to know who your sources are to restore your professional credibility. And let's forget, let's put aside all the personal hits and all that stuff. That doesn't matter. Someone told you, gave you information that this guy was getting indicted, and it hasn't happened, and now there is a letter that saying . . . from Fitzgerald . . . we haven't heard from Fitzgerald, nor have we seen the letter . . .

JL: Right. And Ed, here's the other thing. The only person that we know . . . these are questions that I think really need to be answered first, before I jump out there and start . . . you know . . . giving out mea culpas. And here's why. Because as far as we know, Karl Rove was the only person in this . . . in . . . after Scooter Libby. The only one left to be investigated. So either Fitzgerald is going . . . Patrick Fitzgerald is either going to come out in a news conference and say this investigation is now over or this investigation is continuing. And if it is continuing, Ed, then what happened? What happened? How did Karl Rove get to a point where he had a . . . he testified for the fifth time to this point now. And that was six weeks. Clearly, to me, it suggests that something was going on behind the scenes.

ES: I mean, your basically calling Luskin a liar here. I mean, you're saying that, so what, he's got a letter from Fitzgerald . . .

JL: I'm saying that he should produce the letter.

ES: Okay.

JL: And you're saying he should produce the letter.

ES: You're standing by your story that Fitzgerald's going to indict Karl Rove. Am I hearing that correctly?

JL: I'm actually . . . this is . . . how can I answer this? This is . . . it's a bit confusing. I'm standing by that what we were told we believe to be accurate. Something change . . .

ES: Are you going to name your sources if the official word comes . . .

JL: No. In a word, no.

ES: And that's where people are going to question your credibility.

JL: Sure. This is a team effort, and I am not the only one working . . . this is an effort by TruthOut . . .

ES: Well, to save their credibility as well, if you don't give your sources, you and the webside may have some tough integrity and credibility issues down the road, don't you think?

JL: Yeah. And we're actually . . . you know . . . working on that.

ES: Okay. Oh, you're working on that. But America's going to need to know your sources. I mean, somebody . . .

JL: I understand that.

ES: Because the sources, whoever they are, they misled you and they had you believing to the point that this indictment was coming down, and it didn't come down, so why you want to protect them?

JL: That's an excellent question, Ed. And I'm going to be honest, Ed. I don't have an answer at this moment.

ES: Because right now, here's what you're going to be facing. And I'm not telling you anything you don't know. Number one, people will think you made the stuff up and it's fraudulent. Number two, there's the possibility you were set up by these sources.

JL: Right.

ES: And number three, there's a possibility that somebody came in in the eleventh hour and pulled a high-level power play. So we don't . . .

JL: And if that's the case . . . but if that's the case, Ed, if somebody pulled in a high-level power play, how does that change the fact that maybe something happened a few weeks ago? I guess what I'm basically trying to say is this, is that right now, Karl Rove's attorney and Karl Rove's spokesman are the only ones saying anything. We have heard zilch from Patrick Fitzgerald.

ES: All right, I'm . . .

JL: Isn't it fair, isn't it fair, though to at least, I'm not saying give me the benefit of the doubt at all. I'm just saying I'd like to hear from him first. I, you know, am not going to go out there simply because I act on behalf of an organization, my editor has spoken with all of the sources, and we're continuing to do that. And certainly, certainly if some bad information was given, you know, we'll decide what the appropriate thing to do is. But at this point, if something did happen four weeks ago and suddenly during the course of the past four weeks it changed in Karl Rove's favor, I don't know how that would . . . you know . . . how does that make me and my story particularly wrong. And what I'm saying is . . .

ES: Well, what I mean is you reported there was going to be an indictment. And . . .

JL: Right. I reported that . . .

ES: . . . the indictment has not been . . . has not come to pass . . .

JL: Right, but in terms of . . . Look, I'm . . .

ES: So you're saying . . . are you suggesting that there's a possibility that there was a high-level power play that went against your reporting, you had it dead in the water, your sources were right on.

JL: I think this. This is what I believe. I believe that there clearly was some cooperation going on behind the scenes, because there is no way, no way that Karl Rove was given a ticket to freedom, if you will, without something happening in the past six weeks since he testified. And I absolutely believe that. And I think that that is the thing that needs to be explored. Because legally . . . you know . . . in terms of how the . . .

ES: Well, let's . . . wait a sec, we're getting hung up in the hedgerow country here, Jason. Let's stay focused on this. Are your sources telling you . . . number one, are they communicating with you now?

JL: Yes.

ES: Okay. Alright. Number two, are they telling you that there is still a sealed indictment for Rove?

JL: Yeah. (Laughs) They're telling me that.

ES: Okay. And if it isn't Rove, who is . . . who's in the sealed indictment?

JL: Well . . . you know . . . that's . . .

ES: I mean, you wrote yesterday that there's a sealed indictment, right?

JL: By the way, it's . . . there is a sealed indictment. We're . . . I can tell you that I've been working tirelessly for like twenty-four hours . . .

ES: That's great.

JL: . . . to just really get to the bottom of it. And I want nothing more than to, obviously . . . you know . . .

ES: Well, I tell you what. The American people and those who have followed this story are going to want to know who your sources are and they're also going to want to know why are you protecting them.

JL: Right.

ES: At this point, why would you protect anybody at this point? I mean, you . . .

JL: Well, it's a decision that I have not made . . .

ES: Okay.

JL: . . . on my own. It's a decision that we've made as an organization . . .

ES: Alright. I want you to come back on this program, because there's yet another chapter. I have to tell listeners today and write on our webpage, you're standing by your story. And you're not going to change off your story until you hear Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald speak to this issue . . .

JL: Yeah.

ES: . . . and he's saying that there's no comment.

JL: Ed, I promise you, okay, that I'll come back on your show and . . . you know . . . speak very . . . I'll be very forthcoming.

ES: But you're . . .

JL: I know that right now this sounds . . . you know . . . this is . . . I'm in the hot seat, and believe me, I'm taking it.

ES: Well, you're also leaving hope by some who think that Rove is a crook that he still might be indicted. I mean, that's what you're doing right now.

JL: Listen, what I'm saying is, no, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is, is that four weeks ago, when I wrote this story, okay, I'm saying that what my sources told me at that time was exactly what happened. What has transpired since then clearly could have changed . . . you know . . . his status. I'm saying, what has happened since I wrote that story to now, now that would need to be researched. That's what I need to get to the bottom of. That's what Patrick Fitzgerald needs to say. It . . .

ES: That's another story, but right now Jason, respectfully, you're wrong.

JL: Okay. I . . . I . . .

ES: I mean, right now, respectfully, you wrote that there was an indictment and Rove was going to be indicted. It has not happened and now there . . . his attorneys and the people around him are saying it's not going to happened. So you're wrong.

JL: Okay.

ES: I mean, professionally, you're going to, you're going to take a hit on this.

JL: I'm taking the hit. And you know what? I . . .

ES: And yet you still won't admit that you're wrong. And you're still leading us to believe that, well, it's still coming, and until you hear from Fitz . . .

JL: No, no, no, I'm not . . . listen Ed, I'm not saying that the indictment is still coming. I'm saying that what I reported four weeks ago, and what has happened since then . . . I don't know what has happened to change Karl Rove's status. And I think that if there was was an indictment . . . what if Karl Rove . . . wait, hang on . . . what if Karl Rove cut a deal, decided to cooperate? Could that have had the indictment dismissed? Could it have?

ES: But Jason, you didn't report that. You didn't report, there's an indictment coming but he could be cutting a deal. You didn't report that. You said there was going to be an indictment and he was going down.

JL: Right. And you know what? I'm not the only one who reported that, and I'm not excusing what I reported, but clearly there's . . . you know . . .

ES: Alright. I appreciate your time. I think we've covered it, and . . .

JL: And look. I'm sorry that my . . .

ES: You don't have to apologize to me. It's an open microphone. You can speak for yourself. I'm just asking the questions. I'll give you the vehicle to do that.

JL: Well, and I . . . I appreciate the . . . you know . . . the opportunity. I'll certainly . . . you know . . . if things change in the next twenty-four hours, I'll . . . you'll be the first guy I call.

ES: Thanks for your time, Jason.


 

 
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