Let The Chips Fall Where They May In The Plamegate Investigation

As far as I’m concerned, Kay Bailey Hutchison was out of line here, especially when she referred to perjury as a “technicality:”

SEN. HUTCHISON: Tim, you know, I think we have to remember something here. An indictment of any kind is not a guilty verdict, and I do think we have in this country the right to go to court and have due process and be innocent until proven guilty. And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. So they go to something that trips someone up because they said something in the first grand jury and then maybe they found new information or they forgot something and they tried to correct that in a second grand jury.

I think we should be very careful here, especially as we are dealing with something very public and people’s lives in the public arena. I do not think we should prejudge. I think it is unfair to drag people through the newspapers week after week after week, and let’s just see what the charges are. Let’s tone down the rhetoric and let’s make sure that if there are indictments that we don’t prejudge.

MR. RUSSERT: But the fact is perjury or obstruction of justice is a very serious crime and Republicans certainly thought so when charges were placed against Bill Clinton before the United States Senate. Senator Hutchison.

SEN. HUTCHISON: Well, there were charges against Bill Clinton besides perjury and obstruction of justice. And I’m not saying that those are not crimes. They are. But I also think that we are seeing in the judicial process–and look at Martha Stewart, for instance, where they couldn’t find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn’t a crime. I think that it is important, of course, that we have a perjury and an obstruction of justice crime, but I also think we are seeing grand juries and U.S. attorneys and district attorneys that go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country. And I think we have to weigh both sides of this issue very carefully and not just jump to conclusions, because someone is in the public arena, that they are guilty without being able to put their case forward. I really object to that.

First of all, let me make something perfectly clear: there are politically motivated prosecutions that go on in this country. For example, if you ask me, Ronnie Earle — the prosecutor who indicted Tom DeLay, is engaged in a completely frivolous and politically motivated prosecution. I’d also add that Martha Stewart and even Rush Limbaugh, who still has a Florida prosecutor dogging him, seem to have both been targeted for prosecution primarily because they were big names. Had either of them been nobodies, it seems quite unlikely that Stewart would have gone to jail or that a prosecutor would have tried to pin a doctor shopping charge on Limbaugh in the first place.

On the other hand, there has been absolutely no evidence up to this point, not one single shred, that Patrick Fitzgerald has been unfair or politically motivated. Nor would bringing perjury or obstruction of justice charges be evidence of bias either. Anyone who works in the White House should know better than to lie under oath or get involved in a cover-up, and if they did something that foolish, then they should expect to be charged with a crime.

That’s not to say that Patrick Fitzgerald is beyond criticism, but conservatives should be very careful not to go down the same sleazy road that the Clinton administration did with Ken Starr. While in all fairness, Kay Bailey Hutchison cannot be accused of the same sort of contemptible partisan sliming that the Clintons and their allies aimed at Starr, it seems to me that her comments are a step in that direction. That is not the sort of behavior Republicans should engage in…

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