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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Luskin's Friendly Chat

by digby

Since Luskin supposedly unveiled some sort of exciting eleventh hour evidence that gave Fitzgerald so much pause I wondered if maybe Viveca Novak had been called to provide exculpatory evidence for Rove. (I would have thought that Fitzgerald would have moved a little quicker with that thrilling new angle, however, if it could have closed this investigation.)

The Washington Post article today says Novak and Luskin are personal friends and:

Unlike Cooper, Viveca Novak is not seeking to protect a confidential source and was not subpoenaed to testify.

Jane thinks that this is total crap and that Viveca Novak is being called for reasons other than Luskin's 11th hour pause giving "evidence":

If Luskin is dragging in Viveca Novak to substantiate something he said, then it seems likely Fitzgerald has some piece of evidence her testimony is intended to counter. Something within the timeframe must indicate that Rover wasn't being completely honest with either the FBI or the grand jury, and they hope to prove that if Luskin was out there selling his own client's special brand of bs then Fitzgerald should buy it, too.

Luskin has a history of playing reporters.
He may very well be playing VandeHei here too (although VandeHei does report that another source says this Novak testimony has nothing to do with all this Luskin fluffing.)

The article says Novak will write a piece about her deposition, so we will soon find out what this is all about.

But this brings up a question I've long wondered about. Why in the hell did Rove hire Luskin in the first place? The article Jane references in the link above (from The New Republic) describes Luskin this way:

[S]coring Rove was a coup. Luskin is an unlikely choice for a Republican, let alone Rove. In fact, during the 1990s, a wide swath of the conservative movement spent a good chunk of its time trying to destroy his reputation. For the last ten years, Luskin has served as the in-house prosecutor for the Laborers' International Union, where he has been charged with fighting corruption. The right was miffed that the Clinton administration let the Laborers clean house on their own rather than under the tutelage of the Justice Department, as was done with the Teamsters. One gadfly conservative organization, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), turned discrediting Luskin into its own personal crusade. They produced a highly unflattering 13-page report that set off a cascade of critical stories and editorials in the conservative press. Under the headline "Luskin's Ties to the New England/Patriarca Crime Family," the report documented a fishy episode wherein Luskin was forced to return $245,000 in legal fees that he received from a client named Stephen A. Saccoccia, who was sentenced to 660 years in prison for laundering South American drug-cartel and mob money. A U.S. attorney, accusing Luskin of "willful blindness," reasoned that, when Luskin started getting paid with solid gold bars (he ultimately received 45 of them, worth $505,125) and wire transfers from Swiss bank accounts, he should have known the payments were from illicit sources, especially since his client's crimes involved gold bars and wire transfers from Swiss bank accounts.

Many of the other anti-Luskin criticisms concerned alleged conflicts of interest stemming from his defense of several clients wrapped up in Clinton-related scandals. Luskin soon became a target of The Washington Times, Investor's Business Daily, The Weekly Standard, National Review, and The American Spectator, each arguing a version of the NLPC line that he was ethically unsuited for his job at the Laborers' Union.

But, by the end of the '90s, Luskin had established himself as a top-tier defense attorney. He abandoned his boutique law firm for the gilded hallways of Patton Boggs. Still, big-name Washington lawyers say he's not really part of the small clique of attorneys that seem to pop up during every investigation--people like Jacob Stein, Abbe Lowell, Plato Cacheris, Robert Bennett, and Reid Weingarten. "Let's just say that I haven't been in a case where he represented anyone," sniffs a member of Washington's legal royalty.

These political cases require very specialized legal experience. That's why clients usually hire from the small pool of attoprneys who know how to feed the beast, protect their client's reputation to the degree possible) and deal with special prosecutors who operate under different rules and restraints than the usual US Attorney. I've never understood why Rove, the man who said he wanted to "get" Wilson purely because he was a Democrat, hired this guy.

Any thoughts?