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May 08, 2006

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I agree with your take on this, that this article is another piece of pure Luskin-orchestrated disclosures and spin. (That is what I speculated last night on a previous thread here.) Unlike over at FDL, I don't see this as a sign of VandeiHei all of a sudden taking a bold new approach.

Moreover, he has testified, if he really wanted to damage Wilson in the summer of 2003, he would have sought out the many other reporters he knew better and trusted more than Cooper. He argued that he hardly knew Cooper, who had recently started on the White House beat -- one reason the conversation slipped his mind, the source close to Rove said.

If this is 'true', it makes me wonder whether there are (many?) more reporters out there whom Rove talked to, that no one's identified yet.

(Also, you've got this post up twice.)

Man, Typepad sucks. Anyway, copied from the second post I'm about to delete:

Here's what I think is going on with the Tenet mea culpa dispute. Rove (and Libby) testified to not learning of Plame's identity until after July 9 (in the case of Rove, from Novak) and July 10 (in the case of Libby, from Russert). We know they actually DID know, very well, about Plame by that point, but for some reason, they wanted to postpone the discovery of that time to after July 9.

But they've got correspondence that proves they were investigating aspects of Wilson's trip, and they were discussing classified information, before that time. I suspect strongly they also were discussing Wilson's 1999 trip to Niger, which is/was also supposed to be classified. I'm not sure whether this mentions Plame--apparently the "Plame recommended Wilson" fiction originated in the fact that she DID recommend Wilson for the 1999 trip, so it is quite likely it did mention Plame, in the context of that earlier trip.

So having tried to hide this early work when they first testified, Rove (and possibly Libby) are trying to pretend they were discussing these things only with an eye toward getting Tenet to issue a statement taking the blame. So far, at least, it appears that Tenet (and certainly Bill Harlow) are going to tell a different story.

Btw, Ruth, I had the same thought. We know Rove spoke to two reporters he trusted (though he spoke to Tweety after the fact). Did he perhaps speak to more beforehand? Cliff May or someone?

So here's another good question. Why isn't Libby subpoenaing Tweety? He obviously had a pretty detailed knowledge of the Niger story, enough so that he was willing to incriminate Libby on it. Is it possible someone talked to Tweety earlier? Like Rove?

I want to comment on two comments EPUed in the last thread. From Jeff:

Two other interesting bits in the article. First, it seems to revert to July 8 (not July 9) as the date of the Rove-Novak contact. There has been a lot of unclarity about this, and my best sense has been that Novak tried to get in touch with Rove on July 8, and they didn't talk until July 9. The Post article does leave open the possibility that Novak called Rove on July 8, and might have left some message with the info about the Wilsons then, although it appears to detail an actual conversation.

Here's the passage in question:

Evidence made public suggests Rove was particularly involved in rebutting Wilson after the former ambassador wrote a July 6, 2003, New York Times op-ed piece charging that Bush had "twisted" intelligence. Two days later, columnist Robert D. Novak called Rove and told him that he had heard that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and helped arrange his Niger mission.

Rove testified that he told Novak, "I heard that, too," according to a source close to Rove.

A few days later, Rove told Libby about Novak's plan to write a column about Wilson and his wife, according to court filings by Fitzgerald. This is the only evidence to emerge publicly so far of Rove and Libby discussing Wilson's efforts.

Great catch, I think this really suggests RoveCo is trying to obscure the number of times or the day he spoke to Karl (and subsequently spoke to Libby; note that if he spoke to Libby on July 11, he may have discussed the Cooper call, which would blow his defense out of the water).

But we should also remember this:

On July 9, 2003, senior presidential adviser Karl Rove was well prepared as he returned a telephone call from columnist Robert Novak. On his desk were talking points and other briefing materials that then-White House Political Director Matt Schlapp and other staffers had compiled for Rove in anticipation of the conversation.

[snip]

Just before his July 9 conversation with Rove, Novak had been relentlessly calling around the White House asking questions about Townsend. Adam Levine, then an assistant White House press secretary and a Rove protege, told Rove that Novak had called, and that Novak was upset that Rove had not called him back. Levine would say later that he was uncertain whether Novak had stated the purpose of the call.

On July 8, Rove's secretary wrote Townsend's name on a telephone message slip, indicating that Townsend was the subject of Novak's inquiry. It was then that Rove instructed his staff to prepare briefing materials for him to have on hand to answer Novak's questions on Townsend.

I'll remind everyone that Levine testified again last Fall. I'm also curious whether the secretary who took Novak's message on July 8 was Susan Ralston, she of the non-recorded phone log. In any case, the ambiguity in VandeHei's latest, as well as this Waas, seems to suggest strongly that Novak called Rove on July 8 and Rove returned the call on July 9, when they claim to have had their substantive discussion. There is all sorts of room for a cover story there, most notably that Novak didn't call on July 8 at all, or that Ralston or someone else fixed the message after the fact, or that Rove invented the Townsend smear excuse after the fact, in the same way that I (very lonely) suggest he invented the welfare reform excuse after the fact.

And from Jim E:

What this WashPost story makes me wonder about is a point that Tom Maguire brought up a week or so ago. TM wrote, "*IF* Rove's team is expecting an imminent indictment and *IF* Rove's testimony includes some similar bombshell, look for the deflating, heads-up leak." (Cheney's knowledge of Plame was reported just prior to Libby's indictment.)

I think it's possible this is expectation setting, leaking the news that Rove definitively spoke to other people the week of the leak. In fact, he may just (finally) be revealing what all the unexpected questions were. This would jibe with my suspicion that they're going to claim the pre-July 9 conversations related to the Tenet statement, not the leak. But we also ought to keep our eye out for coaching. What if, say, Andy Card mysteriously showed up at the GJ on Wednesday? In which case this might be an attempt to give Card some excuses for Rove's earlier gabbing. Not that Card would necessarily use it.

So assuming that, at the least, the July 8/July 9 ambiguity has served to obscure that Novak called Rove on July 8. Consider, too, that we have reason to suspect someone played around with Rove's phone logs. So it may be unclear when Novak called (and hell, they may have logged a Novak call IN on July 9, to hide the fact that Karl called OUT. Do they log calls out??).

One thing that someone wants to hide, undoubtedly, is telling Novak anything before Novak blabbed it to Wilson's friend.

Also, another question about Novak's column timing. It has been alleged (questionably, I think) that Novak's July 14 column was released on July 11. If so, his July 10 column on Townsend would have been released before the Novak-Rove July 8/9 conversation. In any case, the lead time on the Wilson leak (at least 5 days) suggests that, if Novak consistently requires that much lead time, the Townsend leak came out too soon after the Rove conversation to have been related to the July 8/9 conversation.

I still think Tweety's in up to his eyeballs in this mess. I think Libby's afraid to subpoena him, because Matthews has said to Wilson that he's willing to testify truthfully. I don't think he'd cover for Libby.

Now, he might cover for Rove, that I don't know.

I also still believe, and I think I may be the only one, that Libby's testimony wrt Russert is actually partially true, in that I think Libby was relaying to Russert a conversation he had with Matthews (and which he attributed to Russert in his testimony), and telling Russert to shut Tweety up. The whole over-the-topness of the conversation sounds a lot more like Tweety, not Russert. I wonder if Tweety didn't find out from Andrea Mitchell (possibly through hubby?). Or it's possible that Rove told Tweety early on (maybe on July 7?). Tweety's such a gossip hound anyway; he's perfect to plant a leak with.

But of course, Libby couldn't admit that he had actually talked with Tweety, because I think he believed that Tweety would testify truthfully and say something like, Libby told me to be quiet about that Plame info because it's possibly classified, or something to that effect. And since Libby's conversation was to chew out Matthews, not to act as a source, Matthews couldn't fight any subpoena on First amendment or reporter's privelege grounds, making it more likely that he'd talk before the election.

The other possibility is that Matthews is one of the mystery 5 that Libby's going to call as witnesses.

Man, I would kill to know exactly what Matthews told to Fitzgerald.

Though I think Rove's evolving stories are preposterous, even so, he is alleged to have helped Fitzgerald uncover the missing email and to have thereby avoided an earlier indictment. I can only guess that he offered some significant help to the investigation.

Do you think Card ordered email destroyed, and do you think Rove squealed (in some way) on him? I wouldn't put it past Rove. And for all I know, it could be part of the brilliant time-buying strategy Rove has devised to keep the prosecutorial heat off the President as long as possible. Card has a lot to answer for as Bush's Chief of Staff, getting the twelve hour tip-off about the investigation from Gonzalez. And let's not forget Card's role in creating the secretive White House Iraq Group, in which Wilson was allegedly discussed back in March 2003. Do you think WHIG e-mail was ordered destroyed? Any and all evidence of a "plot against Wilson"?

Could Card be the next Libby? That's certainly what Rove would prefer, and probably what he's angled for. What Card is Karl playing?

Hey QS

I think it's definitely possible, that rather than a Karl indictment, we'll see a someone else indictment. But I don't think so. I think we'll see a Karl and someone else indictment, probably a little further out than predicted, but I think Fitz is going to put together a conspiracy charge.

I told ta so

"Karl looks to be going down. And it appears that one of his planned defenses will be to blame Libby. Libby and Cheney"

and then scooter turns on karl, and george and dick get the frog march to the Hague

scooter is going to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and to a moral certaintu, that there was a criminal conspiricy within the whitehouse that resulted in the deaths of 2408 soldiers and one CIA Agent

and that make this a death penalty bounce

started working on that legacy a little late george

nothing can wipe this shitstain off your record

I've been totally convinced by Jim E/TM/ew's point that the Vandehei article serves as a milder version of the deflation strategy, though it's probably more of a hedge than it was with Libby, who almost certainly knew he was about to be indicted. It's milder also because the facts to be revealed are probably milder than in Libby's case. What we're getting is a heads-up on facts that will possibly be included in the indictment, detailing how engaged Rove was on the Wilson pushback within the White House, possibly, possibly including discussion of Wilson's wife - and it's reasonable to imagine that stuff in the indictment because it might be included to make it seem very implausible that Rove would have forgotten the conversation with Cooper on the matter.

It's also a really good point that the article makes clear that it must have been more than two aides - more than just Libby and Hadley - that Rove communicated on the matter about. Where's that old article quoting a White House aide saying that Rove, asked why they were going after Wilson, responded, "Because he's a Democrat"? Or is that Wilson's book, reporting something second-hand?

Although lower-level White House staffers typically handle most contacts with the media, Rove and Libby began personally communicating with reporters about Wilson, prosecutors were told.

A source directly familiar with information provided to prosecutors said Rove's interest was so strong that it prompted questions in the White House. When asked at one point why he was pursuing the diplomat so aggressively, Rove reportedly responded: "He's a Democrat." Rove then cited Wilson's campaign donations, which leaned toward Democrats, the person familiar with the case said.
LATimes 7/18/05

Sorry about the link, only place I could find hosting the article. LATimes is behind a paywall for archives.

Oh and on talking points..these are from July 12, 2005 when all the news about Rove was breaking.

Thanks, polly. It always seem to work better not explicitly to request your presence and unrivaled grasp of the Plame archives.

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