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May 08, 2006


One more thing. What do you think the chances are that Rove instructed his staff to put together talking points to respond to Novak (for a function Bush had assigned Rove) the day before the call?


The only problem with your theory is that you assume the cover story was after the fact. If you assume that Rove was trying to hide his participation in the smear from the beginning, everything makes sense. He tells Ralston not to log the call as soon as he gets off the phone with Cooper. Then, he sends out the emails (to Levine and Hadley) that make it look innocent.

I think Rove might have gotten away with it (hidden his participation) if it hadn't been for Libby's blunders and Novak singing his heart out.


The problem I have with that is one I've raised repeatedly. You're suggesting the only reason to send an email to Hadley is to cover your ass. But it would be smarter not to send any email. And so far, I've yet to hear anyone provide a plausible explanation for sending the email, particularly when we know that Rove definitely did want his co-conspirators to know what was going on, or at least wanted Libby to know. Why have both Libby and Rove apparently testified to the July 10 or 11 conversation if they were trying hard to hide the other evidence?

And now I'm suggesting that the Frances Townsend excuse--if indeed Rove used it--doesn't even make sense. Sure, Novak prints a column the following day on Townsend. But it's not clear that Rove could have served as a source for Novak that close to the publication of the column (though it'd be feasible if the conversation was on July 8, but that would mess with the "Novak called Rove and not the other way around" story). And if Novak really didn't describe the reason for his call (per Adam Levine), then Rove almost certainly went back after the fact and had Ralston or whomever write up a fake phone message (or add the Townsend note to the existing one). The question is, how soon after the fact would Rove have done so? Perhaps on July 11, the same time he was providing cover (you're arguing) for his Cooper call. But that doesn't make sense to me--at that point, Rove and Novak could have coordinated something better. It just seems like it makes more sense that it happened later, probably after the Corn column, and possibly as late as September 2003 (at which point the welfare reform excuse would make more sense, since Cooper would have published his article).


I'm arguing (and I didn't make this clear) that Rove needed to let Hadley know that he had talked to Cooper about Wilson and Plame, but he didn't want to include any incriminating details. Here's the key point to understanding this whole scenario: How did the FBI find out about the Rove-Libby conversation. It makes absolutely no sense that either man testified to that (since they lied about other stuff). I think that that conversation was recorded in Libby's notes. If you accept that, then Rove's actions make a lot more sense. There might have been nothing at all to tie Rove to the leak (except Novak, of course, and remember they all assumed that reporters wouldn't testify) if Libby hadn't noted that conversation.

Explain it to me really slowly, please, because I'm just not getting this.

You're saying Libby noted a conversation with Rove about Novak in his notes? Did he note what day it was, July 10 or 11? Did he also mention Cooper, or does Rove know he didn't mention Cooper because he talked to him about Novak before he talked to Cooper? So the phone note about Townsend, the phone log on Cooper, and the email were all changed concurrently, but Libby's notes went ahead and noted the conversation? Did Libby's notes also note the second July 12 conversation with Judy, the one Fitz apparently didn't know about in August 2004?

I'm honestly confused here, not trying to be snarky.

Here's what I think (all speculation based on the information in the Libby indictment and Waas's reporting):

Libby has extensive notes in chronological order, but I don't think he dates everything. Rove had no idea what Libby was putting in those notes. Rove was busy covering his tracks on the Plame leak (but nothing else). Rove assumed that the emails and phone logs would be the only record of his activities (no reporter testimony and no Libby notes).

Rove wanted to create a thin cover story that made it appear that his conversations with reporters were always mostly about other things and the it was the reporters who kept bringing up Plame. If you assume that Rove had his cover story (I heard it from reporters) planned all along, then I think the emails make sense. We see Rove hard at work on the President's domestic agenda and those pesky reporters keep wanting him to comment on Wilson. And they keep telling him about Plame. The only part that doesn't quite fit is the story about him telling Ralston not to log the Cooper call. Why scrub the phone log when you're going to send an email anyway?

There's always the possibility that the phone log just really didn't get logged, freak of nature and bureaucratic tendencies and all that.

So (assuming the FFT smear is false, which I'm not sure we know--maybe Steno Sue was lying) that would say Rove got Ralston to back note a phone message from Novak, it would say Rove already had the talking points on FFT (and I'll say, Rove's purported comment to Novak is almost verbatim the talking points, but it is short, certainly not one requiring a long phone call), perhaps from earlier in the week. And that he then wrote the email informing Hadley of the Plame conversation. Did he send Hadley (or his boss, on whose behalf his talking points spoke) an email reflecting his conversation with Novak about FFT? Why an email noting Wilson in a welfare reform story but not an email noting Wilson in an FFT story?


Two quick points. July 11 was a Friday - not a Thursday - to July 14's Monday. So, while I remain somewhat skeptical that Novak's column really went on the wires on July 11, presumably the story is that Novak's columns ordinarily go out on the wire on the weeknight previous to their publication, so July 11 for July 14 and July 9 for the July 10 Townsend column.

Second, the other issue with regard to the Rove-Libby encounter is what Rove testified to about that meeting. There has been some vague reporting on this, but since Fitzgerald is convinced that Libby lied about his Russert conversation, if Rove testified that Libby told him that he had heard about Plame from reporters, and specifically from Russert, that would constitute pretty slam-dunk evidence for Fitzgerald of a concerted cover-up and obstruction effort. Check this out from Waas' most recent:

Rove also testified to the grand jury that he had heard from Libby that Plame worked for the CIA. But Rove testified that Libby told him that he only heard the information as rumors being passed on to him by journalists.

It's unclear if this refers to the July 10 or 11 conversation. If it does, and it's accurate, that's trouble for Rove, barring the possibility that Libby lied to Rove at the time. If it refers to an earlier or later conversation, that would be worth knowing, and still likely a problem for Rove.

I agree with William Ockham. I think the email is real, and was probably a 'trial balloon' alibi that Rove sent off to Hadley after the call. It has to be understood in its context. I suspect it was part of the 250 page cache of purged email, and was plucked out in 2005 to explain Rove's 'forgetfulness' about Cooper in his first grand jury appearance.

Rove's email shenanigans may have delayed Fitz, forcing him to focus his prosecutorial energy more profitably against Libby.

Capitol Hill Blue says:

Our sources tell us Fitzgerald still has to [I assume they mean "two"] connections to make before he can indict Rove but say the special prosecutor is determined to do so.


1) what do we think about "Capitol Hill Blue" and their "sources"?

2) I wonder what these two connections are

Jeff, you're right, noted accordingly, thanks. So I'll ask my curious question again. After his conversation with Novak, did Rove send an email to Hadley or Condi? He'd have had more reason to, if you believe the story that he wasn't part of a Plame smear. After all, he says he was the selected person to combat a FFT smear, to support a nomination Condi was championing.

ew - I really don't know what to make of the Rove-Hadley email, assuming we've seen all the relevant parts of it, though my best guess remains that Rove was lying to Hadley because he had gone told Cooper tales out of school. Why send the email at all, then, you ask? Who knows? So that when Cooper comes around indicating that he had a conversation with Rove, and also indicating, separately, that he knows about Plame, it looks like it wasn't Rove who told him the latter? (But was the whole thing on deep background, or only part of it?)

Again, one thing speaking against after the fact alteration of the email is that if Fitzgerald believed that had happened, there's just no way Luskin could have done anything to stop him from indicting Rove, is there? Especially by telling some goofy story about VNovak. But of course I know your track record of vindication for seemingly outlandish claims. So I am firmly but cautiously skeptical.

Well, as I said, I'm coming around. (Though I also think Fitz used the head fakes last Fall to gather the information he needed to get an indictment.) How did he get the 250 emails, for example? Was that related to the Levine testimony, purportedly about an email?

In other words, real or fake email, something has happened since the Libby indictment that has resulted in him getting some evidence that Rove probably thought he wouldn't get. It may not be FAKED emails (the 250, I mean). But they may be really incriminating emails.

I also keep thinking about Kornblut's news that Novak testified again. She made a correction to that article, but left the Novak claim intact. If Fitz has new reason to doubt Rove's FFT story, he might bring Novak back.

it wont change an atom in the universe, let alone indict rove,

and it's been said before by others who know a lot more about this than i

but rove's letter to hadley reads like a concocted missive.

among other things, it reads as if rove is addressing a superior.

hadley is national security. rove is domestic policy, i.e., domestic covert action.

sure they may have a working connection thru the iraq group but that doesn't mean they would routinely communicate like this.

what Fitzgerald may know that i don't is

how often does rove e-mail hadley?

perhaps the truth will be revealed to us shortly.

on another matter,

given what is going on with the octopus of the k-street project,

and the likelihood of rove's involvement there

does anyone know where susan ralston is these days?

at the white house?

at commerce, as was rumored some time back.

has she resigned,


been appointed ambassador to the Philippines?

CREW seems to think Ralston is at Commerce. Though Ralston complained to the Philippine newspaper that reported she was moving to Commerce in December.

All very fascinating. And a delightful surprise... I'd gotten the impression you all were on vacation or something because my firefox rss "live bookmark" thingy for TNH conked out on the 5th without my noticing. I should really visit the actual page more frequently.

Bonus: Finally my hobby reading (this) begins to overlap the reading I'm supposed to be doing right now--about the FFT ("Fast Fourier Transform") for my research. And, as a double-super bonus, my lame attempt at a mathFFT/RoveFFT joke: in work with the FFT, it's important to understand the difference between the real and imaginary parts. Ouch.

Ah but can you work the reference back into your research? A Rovian equation or Rovian transformation or something like that? It could be your big new discovery!

obsessed -- Re: Capitol Hill Blue

Every diary I've ever seen at Kos that is sourced to CHB has been slammed. I don't recall ever reading a single positive word about them. But you never know.

&y: thanks - so much for that

Capital Hill Blue should never be quoted about anything. They have no sources and zero zippo nada credibility.

Oops, didn't mean to be reduntant.

I have a soft spot for sites like Capital Hill Blue and Wayne Madsen, sometimes they've got pretty intriguing stuff. They are regularly trashed, so I get suspicious (especially when Republicans bash them). I always hope they'll get some big scoop (BTW I thought CHB had shut down recently, intriguingly).

There is a congruity emerging, if the similar abbreviations are an indication. Language analysis resembles curve fitting.

Another variable to toss into the equation: Rove exiting quickly on vacation, may have commissioned his office person to log onto his email account and send Hadley a garbled email message; or go to his desk, use his computer, log on as him, open an already read message from Hadley; click reply; put welfare in the subject line; make the message two clauses, 1.) about welfare reform legislation; 2.) has to say two key things: not took bait; Cooper should not let Time get too far (ahead of the FFT curve) on that Cooper [investigative reporting] line of questioning. Fitzgerald probably has the time sent, as well.

I vaguely remember reading (either just before or just after the Libby indictment) that Hadley was the point man for the WH's pushback against Wilson, and that was the reason Rove sent him the email. This might make sense if Hadley (or one of his subordinates) was tracking the contacts with press; it would also explain why Rove mentioned the welfare story (i.e. to explain how the Wilson angle came up). Maybe "welfare reform" was a code.

That said, I trust Cooper more than Rove on what they talked about, and for that reason the email does sound like it was created after the fact.

JohnL-- Nice!

As to whether Novak's column went out on the 11th: the evidence that it was *written* before Tenet's late Friday afternoon statement on the 11th is in Novak's column itself:

Reluctance at the White House to admit a mistake has led Democrats ever closer to saying the president lied the country into war. Even after a belated admission of error last Monday, finger-pointing between Bush administration agencies continued. Messages between Washington and the presidential entourage traveling in Africa hashed over the mission to Niger.

"Last Monday"? That is a reference to Ari's July 7 press gaggle. But the context screams out for a mention of Tenet's July 11 statement, as does the rest of the column, much of which took on a certain "didn't we just hear that" quality; why, for example, reprise the manner in which Wilson was selected without citing Tenet's explanation?

This was from the July 7 gaggle:

So this was something that the CIA undertook as part of their regular review of events, where they sent him. But they sent him on their own volition, and the Vice President's office did not request it. Now, we've long acknowledged -- and this is old news, we've said this repeatedly -- that the information on yellow cake did, indeed, turn out to be incorrect.

Well, scroll down a bit for some brutal tap-dancing; maybe Ari retired a week later because his knees gave out.

Anyway - I have no trouble believing that on a weekend in the summertime, Novak filed on Friday and headed off. Does someone else think he was planning to work the phones and file on Sunday night? That said, I bet the wire service is pretty flexible (they are a news outfit, after all) - I presume that if Novak *did* want to file on Sunday, he would be able to.

Anyway, I believe Waas about July 9 - that briefing book story seems like the sort of thing that Rove *would* remember, and have aides to vouch for, and phone records to support (especially if it were true).

FDL is having a contest (there's a prize) to see who can predict the sordid details of the next Fitz indictment:

1) date
2) person or persons charged
3) charges

Pachacutec has recused himself because he's a judge, and Jane & Reddhedd have abstained, like the gracious hostesses they are ... entonces, so far, no true experts have cast their predictions.

The contest would be meaningless without the participation of EW, Jeff, Pollyusa, TM, J Lopresti, Jim E., WO, OrionATL, et al.

Get thee to FDL!

Tom - The puzzling thing about the idea that Novak's column went on the wires on the 11th is, first, it's never been reported by anyone other than Susan Schmidt at the WaPo; and I don't see why Libby et al wouldn't have used this as part of their explanation for what they were doing on the 12th (though maybe they did, after all).

One detail - Novak's reference to Monday the 7th isn't precisely to Fleischer's absolutely amazing press gaggle, where you can just watch the wheels come off, but to the admission of error issued later that evening or even night to a limited number of press outlets.

Also, in light of the Cult of Tom's continuing insistence that Cheney had nothing to do with Wilson's trip and refusal to acknowledge that the White House lied at all about OVP's role in triggering Wilson's trip, note that you quote Fleischer issuing an entirely characteristic lie (and how much do you want to bet this is one of the things Libby thanked Fleischer for at lunch that day):

So this was something that the CIA undertook as part of their regular review of events, where they sent him.

The trip was, of course, not at all something that the CIA undertook as part of their regular review of events. They specifically cooked up the idea of a trip, and delegated Wilson to do it, as a way of answering a specific question that Cheney had asked. There is, of course, nothing wrong whatsoever with Cheney's question or his role in triggering the trip. But the White House and OVP insisted on mixing such falsehoods with the truth Fleischer goes on to articulate, that CIA sent Wilson on its own volition, and that Cheney didn't request the trip.

As to the contest - May 19, Rove, false statements/perjury/obstruction for failing to describe his talk with Cooper.

That is about as no-guts as can be - where is the conspiracy with Libby? - but it is also as close to the middle of the fairway as Fitzgerald can place it.

The next Friday precedes the long weekend, so that can't be the day; May 24 is the other choice.

As to Ari - Tenet hit a similar theme (No VP, all CIA) that Friday:

In an effort to inquire about certain reports involving Niger, CIA's counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn.


As to Ari - Tenet hit a similar theme (No VP, all CIA) that Friday

Yes, there was a concerted effort to mislead about the role that OVP did play in triggering Wilson's trip, presumably in part to make it more plausible that OVP never got wind of the results of Wilson's trip - a question to which, shockingly enough, we still do not know the answer. But the least that can be said is that Tenet was just deeply misleading. (That July 11 statement will go down in history as a masterpiece of rhetoric.) Fleischer, among others, outright lied.

I actually think Libby and Rove may be partly correct with their argument that they were working on the CIA statement earlier in the week. I've always wondered why the CIA pushed back so fiercely against that claim.

Robert Novak was on Fox & Friends this morning, and was asked about the Plame case, specifically the claim by Libby's lawyers that Plame's identity was well-known around town. Novak said that his lawyers were advising him to say nothing about the case so that he'd "stay out of trouble." But he did say that the "traitor" Ames, not himself, outed Plame, and he complained about how long the case had been dragging on. When asked about what Libby's lawyers were saying about Plame's identity, Novak quickly said, "I have no idea about that."

There was really nothing newsworthy about his appearance. I do wonder, though, if Fitz has doubts about Novak's testimony.

I have no predictions about Rove's future. The very fact that David Shuster so blatently suggested last night that he thought Rove would be indicted makes me think that Rove's off the hook.

looseheadprop over at FDL had an interesting take: That this recent outpouring of leaks is Rove trying to pressure Fitz to indict him sooner rather than later.

Jim E

Novak is at risk for two reason. First, yes, Fitz has doubts about his testimony (for example, I suspect Fitz has doubts about the FFT story; if that's what Novak has been telling and Fitz can prove it's a lie, Novak will go to jail along with the rest of them).

Also, Novak wants to avoid being put in Judy's position. Novak most likely testified as he had to stay out of trouble, but in such a way as to not be too helpful to Fitz. But if Libby (or Rove, more likely) finds out about it, he can use it the way he did against Judy, to undercut his credibility. And while Novak might not mind if that got Rove off, he does care mightily about his reputation.

I find your second point very persuasive. While Robert Novak hasn't looked good in much of this, he probably wants to avoid looking even worse as a witness, like we can see is already happening to Miller. Anything he says publicly can be used to impeach his credibility, which can only lessen his professional reputation. So while he may be following his lawyers' advice, he may actually just be using his lawyers as an excuse to shut the hell up.

As to your first point, about Novak's potential legal problems, I relucatantly disagree. While I suppose anything is possible, I don't know why Novak's lawyers would allow him to reappear in front of the new GJ, as the NY Times wrote a few weeks ago, if he was in any jeoporady. It would be a great two-fer if a conspiracy charge netted both Rove and R Novak (rather than, say, Rove and Libby), but I find it incredibly unlikely that Novak would burn a source AND illegally conspire with that same source in the face of an investigation. Of course, we're talking about the Prince of Darkness here, so I have no idea why am making arguments based on his ethical considerations. I would suppose, I guess, that Novak's lawyers would've intervened before he could do that.

Judy Miller found her notebooks! Developing....

Seriously, TalkLeft has Judy Miller's reply to Libby on the her motion to quash the subpoena.

At Talkleft I said my favorite bit from the Miller filing is this passage:

Mr. Libby suggests that he will use such information "combined with information already known to the defense" to allow him to "identify who, other than Mr. Libby, may have disclosed Ms. Wilson's CIA affiliation to Ms. Miller . . . ." (Response at 14-15, emphasis added). Mr. Libby further maintains he will use such information "to contend that, contrary to the allegations in the indictment, it was Ms. Miller who raised this topic in her discussions with Mr. Libby –if the topic was raised at all." (Response at 15, emphasis in original). To the extent Mr. Libby has specific information establishing the information he demands is relevant and admissible, it is incumbent upon him to present it to the Court now, in support of his subpoena. He makes no such attempt.

Judy and Bennett know well Libby has more info on her. But they also know Libby can't show it to Fitz. At least not yet. Because it would provide grounds for a conspiracy case (and, of course, Libby doesn't know if Fitz knows about tangential players' involvement). Nicely done, Bennett.

TalkLeft now has the legal filings of all of the reporters seeking to "quash" Scooter's subpoenas.

Can someone ask Jeralyn if she can post the original motion to quash from NBC/Mitchell, which was initially filed in paper form and so not electronically? She had gotten the NYT, Miller's and Time's, but I've never seen NBC/Mitchell's.

Can someone ask Jeralyn if she can post the original motion to quash from NBC/Mitchell, which was initially filed in paper form and so not electronically? She had gotten the NYT, Miller's and Time's, but I've never seen NBC/Mitchell's.

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