Counting Our Chickens
The best case scenario for those involved would be a conviction of only a single count of perjury or obstruction of justice, either of which carries a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison. Under the Guidelines, that would result in the maximum sentence because both charges have a base offense level of 14, and those convicted will most probably receive enhancements of 3 levels for substantial interference with the administration of justice, 6 levels for victimizing a government employee and family member, 2 levels for abuse of the public trust, and 4 levels for being a leader. These total 29 levels, which equals 87-108 months in federal prison under the Guidelines, far above the five-year statutory maximum, so the final sentence will be five years.
However, federal prosecutors rarely issue one-count indictments, but rather charge every possible violation. In the instant case, it is highly likely that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald will throw the book at them, by charging conspiracy and violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of l982 ("IIPA") (50 U.S.C., section 421), each carrying a maximum sentence of ten years, and multiple counts of perjury and obstruction of justice, each carrying five years. Moreover, because there was an agreement among many people in this case, there will most probably also be an overarching conspiracy charge to violate multiple statutes. It is significant that the IIPA mandates that any sentence under the Act be imposed "consecutively" to any other sentence in the indictment. Id. at section 421(d).
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines reflect the seriousness of a conviction under the IIPA by setting a base offense level of 30 for disclosure "by a person with, or who had access to, classified information identifying a covert agent." In the case of White House officials, the same enhancements mentioned above will be added to that base level, for a total of 42 levels, which requires a LIFE sentence. Of course, since the IIPA only allows for a maximum sentence of ten years, that life sentence could be imposed only by a conviction on multiple counts, such as conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice, running consecutively to the IIPA sentence.