Beltway, in the back of a cheap pizzeria on the upper-level food court. They each bought one slice of pepperoni and cheese and a soft drink, then found a booth where no one could see them. The usual rules applied: (1) everything was off the record and deep background; (2) Lowell would give the green light before Sandberg could run any story; and (3) if anything Lowell said was contradicted by another source, he, Lowell, would have the chance to review it and offer the last word. As an investigative journalist, Sandberg hated the rules. However, Lowell had never been wrong, and he was not talking to anyone else. If Sandberg wanted to mine this rich source, he had to play by the rules. "They've found some money," Sandberg began. "And they think it's linked to a pardon." Lowell's eyes always betrayed him because he was never deceitful. They narrowed immediately and it was obvious that this was something new. "Does the CIA know this?" Sandberg asked. "No," Lowell said bluntly. He had never been afraid of the truth. "We've been watching some accounts offshore, but nothing's happened. How much money?" "A lot. I don't know how much. And I don't know how they found it." "Where did it come from?" "They don't know for sure, but they're desperate to link it to Joel Backman. They're talking to the White House." "And not us." "Evidently not. It reeks of politics. They'd love to pin a scandal on President Morgan, and Backman would be the perfect conspirator." "Duke Mongo would be a nice target too." "Yes, but he's practically dead. He's had a long, colorful career as a tax cheat, but now he's out to pasture. Backman has secrets. They want to haul him back, run him through the grinder over at Justice, blow the top off Washington for a few months. It will humiliate Morgan." "The economy's sliding like hell. What a wonderful diversion." "Like I said, it's all about politics."
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John Grisham - 2005