The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times all lead with Harriet Miers' withdrawal. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with and NYT fronts lawyerly sources saying Scooter Libby is in for a very bad day while Karl Rove will apparently be stuck in purgatory: The Journal says the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, is "likely to charge Mr. Libby at least with making false statements." The Times, citing Libby "associates," offers the same assessment. The Post is slightly more circumspect but still says Libby is "shopping for a white-collar criminal lawyer." As for Rove, the Times, Journal, and the Associated Press cite sources saying Karl was told he won't be charged today but is still under investigation, meaning the grand jury term would have to be extended. But the Post doesn't think Rove will be left hanging: "Two legal sources said [Fitzgerald] has indicated he does not plan to take that route and will wrap up the case today."
USA Todayleads with Exxon's announcement of massive profits: It netted nearly $9.9 billion this quarter, the second-highest take on U.S. record. Among other things, oil companies have benefited from the fact that Katrina-caused refinery shortages have resulted in wholesale gas prices outpacing the price of oil. In any case, as the LAT previewed earlier this week and NYT fronts today, politicians are making a stink about the profits.
Miers reportedly called the president Wednesday night to tell him she's pulling out, a move the White House of course said it didn't order (and it might not have had to). In a letter Miers later delivered, she cited the Senate's demands for her White House-era papers. "Protection of the prerogatives of the Executive Branch and continued pursuit of my confirmation are in tension," she wrote. "I have decided that seeking my confirmation should yield." That just happens to be the face-saving script first proffered by columnist Charles Krauthammer. "A way out: irreconcilable differences over documents," he wrote last week.
The papers are full of tick-tocks on the weeks-long Miers debacle: A big moment came Wednesday when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told the White House that Miers was doomed, saying, as the NYT puts it, she "might not even have the votes to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, let alone the full Senate." The WSJ's Washington Wire reminds that early this month Frist praised Miers as an "outstanding nominee."
The Post uncovers another potential factor in Miers' demise: She bombed the "murder boards," mock hearings held by the White House. Says the WP, "Her uncertain, underwhelming responses left her confirmation managers so disturbed they decided not to open up the sessions to the friendly outside lawyers they usually invite to participate." As for how she got nominated in the first place, the Post's sources point fingers at the president, who, according to this version, went against advice by picking her. He also had a Miers underling do the vetting. One result was, says the WP, that "no one had done a thorough search of her background."
Most of the papers say the White House will offer up a new nominee pronto, possibly even today. But the Journal says aides are split, with some wanting to wait.
Slate's Dahlia Lithwick says the conservative revolt against Miers was, among other things, a revolt against "abortion code-speak." So, their win is also "a big win for honesty."
The Post and NYT both flag the creation of what seems to be an Iraq Shiite Superparty: The two Shiite parties that currently top the governing coalition have now joined forces with supporters of, yes, firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr. As the NYT detailed Thursday, Sunni parties have also banded together in a coalition. The Post focuses on the hardening sectarian lines. The NYT adds another dividing line: religious vs. secular. Meanwhile about 25 Shiite militiamen and police were killed in a Sunni town. The military also announced the death of three GIs in two roadside bombings.
Have you thought about trying a "Nobody Home" Sign? The NYT: "Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, did not schedule a briefing for Friday, and Mr. Bush plans to leave in the afternoon for a weekend at Camp David."