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April 26, 2006


Oh, and I've also made the following prediction:

Rove will gladly perjure himself again if it means postponing further indictments until after the election. He has done it before, he will do it again.

I'm just saying...

A deal in the making? Is Rove testifying against someone in return for not getting indicted or maybe for a lesser charge?

Don't know if it's a deal--and in any case, I'm sure Fitzgerald would require lesser charges.

I suspect (based on nothing in particular) that Rove's side of the WH is actually the one that did the email and phone log tampering. So I suspect whatever story he told was just that, a story. Forestall, forestall, forestall.

Thanks emptywheel, great post.

I think the job move is a consequence of the shaky status of the GOP. No coincidence that no sooner had he moved than a sleazy attack ad appeared in the CA-50 race acccusing Francine Busby of praising a teacher who had been found to be possessing porn. What she actually said what he had been very helpful (she was on the school board) and she was shocked by his conduct. A Republican member of the school board appeared in her rebuttal ad to defend her. This has the Rove mark--like his sleazy attack in a race in Alabama. From the Atlantic Monthly article:

"Some of Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. 'We were trying to counter the positives from that ad,' a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. 'It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information,' the staffer went on....'What Rove does,' says Joe Perkins, 'is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take.'"

So I think it was unrelated to whether he will be indicted or not (but maybe not to whether Hadley will be indicted or not) but the Busby race is a harbinger of things to come between now and November.

I hope he will be indicted, but have no special insight on that question.

Rove would take a bullet for Bush so it is not likely a deal to add heft to the Libby evidence. He would have to be giving up someone Fitz believes would in turn give up the Veep.

More likely, he and Luskin have come up with an explanation for the purged email that cannot be checked, or that squares with the surviving hard evidence, and Rove is risking more lying to a grand jury, betting on long odds that he can either spin his way out of trouble or keep the fog thick through the November elections.

I suspect you're right EW.

But at some point, don't you think Fitzgerald's just going to say, enough's enough, every time I bring you back you have a new story. There's got to be some consequences for Rove's actions. Especially if he told another cock and bull story today.

Why not indict on stuff that he's got rock solid information on? And figure out this email mess later with a superseding indictment?

The fact that Fitzgerald specifically told him to be quiet about his testimony makes me think some sort of a deal was reached. Maybe not a plea agreement, but a charge agreement? (maybe for false statements to FBI, with the understanding that the perjury and obstruction charges are dropped as long as Rove cooperates with Fitz about the emails). That way, if the Martha Stewart charges are brought in any impending indictments, Luskin can spin like a top, and it saves face over at the WH?

I just have a gut feeling that *some* sort of indictments are coming next week. Maybe Rove is spared again this round, but I think somebody (Hadley? Addington?) is going to be feeling the heat.

I for one don't necessarily believe that Fitz told Rover not to talk about his testimony. Could just be BS so Rover doesn't have to admit anything. I'm saying no way Rover has flipped. What could he possibly get out of it? Flipping is a lose/lose for Rover as far as I can tell.


Very astute, all around.


I think it may be as simple as Fitz needs to get the anonymous IT guy back in one more time to refute Rove's story, and then we get perjury, false statements, obstruction, conspiracy to destroy evidence.

But I also imagine Fitzgerald is sitting in front of his chess board, weighing whether he will get to checkmate quicker if he takes those three extra pawns, or just gets the Fat Rook to keep talking for another 3 GJ appearances.

magnum, Luskin made the statement. Fitzgerald has alread deposed Luskin over the Vivika Novak tampering, so no way Luskin would risk irritating Fitz imo. Also, Rover's failure to release his GJ testimony to the press combined with the fact that he has not yet been indicted, strongly suggests to everyone at the WH that Rover is cooperating, to some extent, with Fitzgerald. Luskin's statement is probably related to the WH moving Karl Hubris Rove out of "policy" into "politics" spin from last week.


Good point, I hadn't thought of Luskin's need to avoid irritating Fitz.


Sounds good to me. My only question would be, if it's as simple as just hauling in one techie (which could probably be done next week) to refute Rove's bs story, why would Rove even cooperate in the first place? Would he risk additional charges just to put off his indictment by a measly week or two?

I guess I'm just not getting the calculus here. Every time he goes back in front of that GJ is potentially another perjury count (or two, or three). And it makes the case for an obstruction count all the more strong. Why would he pretend to cooperate and lie, if every time he lies he just opens up more Pandora's boxes? He's gotta realize by now, with Fitzgerald in charge, the only way he gets off scot free is if Blinky pardons him. In the meantime, he's just adding more pages to his indictment.

Well, when your boss says the Constitution is just a piece of paper, then you probably believe a multiple count indictment is also just a piece of paper. Or several.

Particularly since, by fingering Card, you eliminate a rival for power (though, if that was part of the plan, it didn't work out the way he hoped, it looks like).

fingering card would have had nothing to do with a "power-play". The only way that the "I forgot about Cooper" story makes sense is if the Rove-Hadley email had been deleted from the White House server. Card was the guy who had 12 hours notice before the rest of the White House was told that everything had to be preserved....and as CoS was the guy in the best position to have his own "techie" loyalist help him delete "incriminating" emails from the White House server....

p luk

I agree completely that Card may well be the guilty party. I'm saying that, in addition, he is someone Rove wouldn't cry over losing. Rove and Card have been squabbling since Katrina and Miers.

See, I can see Rove giving up Card for a number of reasons (he's the guilty party, he's a rival, he's not essential to the Admin). Those reasons all contribute. But, even though Rove has a rivalry with Cheney, he's not going to flip on him.

Ari Fleischer was just on O'Reilly, I only caught the end of it - they were talking about Snow then, but it might be worth watching when it's replayed later tonight.

FWIW, I've always figured Card was maybe the only honest person in the WH. Chris Mathews was reporting a few months back about friction between Rove and Card (Card had showed up at the Harriet Miers events but not Rove). My opinion would be that Card pointed Fitz to the missing emails after Rove was entangled, I heard somewhere that Abu Gonzales had them, and left the whole mess soon after (quite happily).

EW -- did you see this diary over at kos? Interesting speculation.

Fitzgerald's IL case is going on appeal, as yet unknown schedule; current challenges are over jury irregularities and bickering.


While I think someone messed with those emails, I don't think it was OVP. As I ask in this post, if OVP went to the trouble of tampering with evidence, then why didn't they tamper with Libby's notes, particularly their reference to Dick telling Libby about Plame? Especially since it'd be a lot easier to alter hand-written notes than it would be to alter emails. Further, there's the Rove phone log, also probably altered. But not Libby's (AFAIK).

Jason Leopold is reporting that Rove *did* receive a target letter and that is why Rove "volunteered" to testify. This would also bolster the rumors that Laurence O'Donnell wrote about at the Huffinton post.

Yeah, it's Leopold, so who the hell knows. But Leopold did report at least a month ago (maybe it was even two months ago) that Fitz would move on Rove or Hadley by the end of April. Just thought it was worth passing along.

Also note that Leopold has updated his story HERE

I have no idea if Leopold is correct, but I cut and pasted two attorneys from FDL, who suggested today, "no," no target letter to Rove yet.
immanentize says:
April 26th, 2006 at 1:27 pm
Dairymaid 37
Quicky answer–
Target letters are delivered like every other document — usually by fed ex or hand delivered. When I have had a client receive one in a long proceeding, I got a heads up call from the US Attny as well, although that never happens in drug case initial stages.
The real goal of the target letter is to basixcally tell the individual that they will likely be indicted. That has two real consequences — 1) To tell someone if they haven’t already, they should lawyer up and 2) that the US Attny will not loikely request their testimony anymore (or ever) before the gRand Jury because of the yunderstanding that a target always refuses to answer based on their fifth amendment right to remain silent.
OK, lets’ dig a little deeper on that last point. Most respectable US Attorneys do not play the game of getting a suspect in just to plead the fifth just to prejudice the GJ (although AG Thornburgh suggested that and other evil tactics including ignoring represented counsel in plea negotiations — but I digress). Similarly, once a suspect or witness gets a target letter, they almost NEVER AGAIN TESTIFY. Certainly not before the GJ and almost never before a trial jury. There simply, as Christy says above, no odds in favor of helping yourself in that circumstance.
The only time I have ever seen a target testify is as part of a plea negotiation — lesser charges for more and more accurate testimony. These situations in the real world always end up in an indictment of the target on lesser charges followed almost immediately by a guilty plea.
If I was Rove’s attorney, I would be shooting for a bunch of misdemeanors so that Rove could potentially still stay in the whitehouse becasue he was not technically an indicted felon. But to get a deal like that, his testimony would have to be huuge and completely honest. As I once told a client, when you go before the GJ on a plea deal, try to admit every crime you have ever committed starting with stealing change from your parents when you were eight. Because if you hold back or lie to the GJ in that circumstance, you are deadmeat in the world of post-conviction sentencing.
My fantasy is that the deal was worked out, and then Fitz asked a few very unexpected questions to test Rove’s willingness to abide by the deal. Just a likely fantasy at this point…"
" loubarr says:
April 26th, 2006 at 3:22 pm
Luskin can say Rove testified voluntarily even if he did receive a target letter—because if he did receive one he cannot be compelled to testify before the grand jury—one reason the target letter”invites” the target totestify rather than issuing a subpoena which would compel his testimony. That said, I’m with imm—I REALLY discourage my target/clients from ever testifying before a grand jury—nothing good ever comes from that."

So I'm reading Vandehei's article in tomorrow's Post, and it is pretty straightforwardly (and honestly) Luskin's version of what's going on and what Rove testified to today. There's a lot of interest, but overall Luskin has now pretty much persuaded me out of my earlier sense that Rove was getting off the hook. If this is the best that Rove's got, I think he's in deep trouble:

Rove's testimony focused almost exclusively on his conversation about Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in 2003 and whether the top aide later tried to conceal it, the source said. Rove testified, in essence, that "it would have been a suicide mission" to "deliberately lie" about his conversation with Cooper because he knew beforehand that it eventually would be revealed, the source said.

This gets explained a little more explicitly later in the article:

Luskin told the prosecutor that Viveca Novak had informed him that she had heard from other Time reporters that Rove was Cooper's source for a July 2003 story on Plame. Luskin shared this information with Rove -- before Rove testified that he did not recall his conversation with Cooper.

Yesterday, Rove told the grand jury that it would make no sense for him to lie in February, knowing that all of this would soon be public, the source said.

Now, this is just about the lamest thing I have ever heard. Rove's story, then, is that he heard from Luskin about TIME saying Rove was a source for them before he ever testified (which helps explain why there has been so much fuss about exactly when the VNovak-Luskin conversation took place), but didn't mention it then because he truly couldn't remember, and he couldn't have been trying to hide anything because he knew contrary information would eventually come out. This story makes little sense in its own terms, it's not believable in its own right, and for a specific reason I really doubt Fitzgerald will buy it.

It makes little sense on its own terms, because if Rove knew there were rumors - but rumors isn't really the right word, since they were coming out of the very newsroom one of whose reporters Rove was said to have talked to - in February 2004, he almost certainly would have mentioned them in his testimony, no? Wouldn't he have said something to the effect of, I've heard that people at TIME are saying I was a source for one of their reports, but I'll be damned if I can remember anything like that? And it sure sounds like he made no mention of the rumors.

This story is not believable on its own terms in part for reasons Vandehei goes on to specify:

But the timing of that Luskin-Novak conversation is in dispute. Novak has said she testified that the conversation took place between January and May of 2004 -- which could place it either before or after Rove's initial grand jury testimony. Moreover, Rove did not know at that point that Cooper would later be forced to testify and reveal him as a source, according to lawyers who follow the case.

It may even be worse; Schuster is saying that Viveca Novak says the conversation took place in March, which would be really bad for Rove (though I'm skeptical of that report). In any case, this entire alibi from Rove leaves out a key element, one Fitzgerald recently showed us he attributed some importance to in the case of Libby: the fact that these guys first floated their stories to the FBI in the fall of 2003, perhaps never thinking it would go any further, and once it did, the die was cast, as Fitzgerald put it in relation to Libby, and they were compelled to tell a story to the grand jury that was at least largely consistent with what they had told the FBI. So on the assumption that Rove's February 2004 testimony basically matched his fall 2003 FBI interview(s), I seriously doubt that Fitzgerald will be particularly impressed by this story, that Rove knew all about the Luskin-VNovak conversation by February 2004 and it had no impact on his testimony, thereby showing that he was testifying in good faith. The alternative explanation, which Fitzgerald has already suggested he buys with regard to Libby, is that the die was cast, and Rove was stuck with his bs story from his FBI interviews. This is bolstered by the fact that Rove appears not to have made any mention of his knowledge of the rumors about his involvement in February 2004, and by the fact that Rove did not have good reason to believe that Cooper would eventually be compelled to testify. Plus all the other evidence.

If this is really what Rove was up to today, I hereby retract my minimal hopes and expectations with regard to Rove's fate.

I'm sure this is wishful thinking on my part, but I'm not convinced that Rove is still not a target. Could it be that Rove is testifying about the emails that relate to the guilt of others in the WH, and therefore not a target "in connection with his appearance?" It seems plausible that Rove could have received a target letter related to the perjury/obstruction/false statements, but the testimony related to the emails (which Fitz is focusing on), in Luskin's view was not "connected" to those charges. Or am I still living in the frogmarch dream?

I could be way off on what Fitzgerald could legitimately do -- but reportedly he met this morning with Luskin and Rove -- when he could have well handed over the target letter, and then in taking him one more time before the Grand Jury, he could have forced Rove to repeat the lies yet one more time, but on the new JJ record. Fitzgerald apparently questioned for three and a half hours -- quite enough time for Rove to repeat all his former stories, adding to the sworn evidence available for trial.

Looked at another way, it offered Rove a last minute opportunity to clear his perjury under oath. At trial that can be depicted as a courtesy given his high and elevated position in the WH.

Somehow I doubt if Card directly involved himself in trying to trash E-Mail. I think it much more likely that Card has been cooperating with Fitzgerald at arms length for some time, and his removal has more to do with people in the WH finding out about whatever he said to the GJ or Fitzgerald. He has, apparently, been trying to quit the WH for about a year but Bush would not make the move to find replacements and all.

If he is clean, he'll end up on Wall Street or as CFO in a major corporation.

Fascinating interview on Hardball today with Senator George Allan. When asked if he was looking forward to Rove helping in his Virginia Campaign this year, he looked like Cheney just shot him in the face. Then he blubbered a couple of sentences about how he had his own consultants, campaign plans and all that -- in other words, Rove, stay out of Virginia. The question really threw him. I suspect he has a general idea of the lay of the land.

I hate it when your theories get immediatly punked by a WaPo story.

Jeff, thanks for a great analysis of VandeHei's latest. I took the liberty of pasting it in it's entirety over at FDL.

EW, about your prediction: "Rove will gladly perjure himself again if it means postponing further indictments until after the election." Maybe they've figured out a way to get rid of Fitzgerald and they're putting if off until after the election. In that case, would it make any difference in the long run if Rove perjured himself now? The Administration must be thinking of ways to shut this investigation down.

Thanks, John, I was going to post a shorter version, emphasizing my retraction of the pro-Rove spin I've been endorsing all day over at fdl.

Regarding the Rove defense in the WaPo article:

I don't know about you guys, but I am alway skeptical when a person's defense to something is "why would I do something stupid like that." As if there are no possible reasons or factors in existence that might to give reason for their behavior.

It's like OJ Simpson saying, "why would I leave my bloody socks in the house?"


I don't think your theory holds. Libby's story did remain consistent between Fall 2003 and Spring 2004 (that is, across the transition from Ashcroft to Fitzgerald).

But we have reason to believe that Rove's did not remain consistent, at least not between Fall 2003 and Fall 2004 (no idea about Spring 2004). He is reported to have changed his testimony about Novak, too, in that time period. For Rove, I'm fairly certain, the question of timing was proximity to the election:

Fall 2003: Doesn't admit conversation with Cooper or leak to Novak
Spring 2004: ???
Fall 2004: Admits conversation--but not leak--to Cooper, admits confirmation of Novak's story
Fall 2005: Admits leak to Cooper, Novak's story remains the same

ew - A quick effort to save my theory: It remains unclear, I think, whether and what Rove told investigators about Novak in fall 2003. But say Rove changed his story, and suddenly recollected his conversation with Novak for the inevsigtation in spring 2004. He can plausibly claim that he was changing his story in good faith, which is more or less a requirement for your earlier false testimony not getting you in trouble, as I understand it. Not so with regard to Cooper, perhaps. If it's rumors coming from TIME that change Rove's testimony, that doesn't look so good. If it's the discovery of an email on their own part that jogs Rove's memory, that's a more plausible basis for making the case that Rove changed his testimony in good faith.

The only problem with this theory is that to be consistent, Rove probably should have testified in February 2004 that he knew about the rumors but nevertheless he was not changing his testimony. And it appears that he didn't. And of course it appears that he didn't because it appears that it's just another lie that Rove knew about the rumors at TIME via Viveca via Luskin.

I hope MTW has a process something like page-lining here. It helps sort out the voluminous manuscripts.

For what it's worth, I see Think Progress is pointing to the same problem in Rove's story and calling it a gaping hole, though they don't consider the possibility that Rove may now be arguing that the very fact that he didn't change his testimony even though he knew, he claims, about the TIME rumors in February 2004 shows that when he did change his testimony, it was on the basis of independent factors (the newly discovered email) and therefore in good faith.

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