More elections, please, in Iraq.

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 20 2005 3:15 AM

More Elections, Please!

Four years is a long time in Iraq.

Dickerson vs. Maguire: Did Karl Rove dissemble to the special prosecutor by not revealing he'd talked to Time's Matt Cooper about Valerie Plame? Slate's John Dickerson (Cooper's former Time colleague) suspects yes. JustOneMinute'sTom Maguire tries to shoot holes in Dickerson's account.

Rove apparently claims he didn't remember talking to Cooper--it was only when Time reporter Viveca Novak tipped off his lawyer that his memory was jogged. Dickerson says it's implausible that Rove would forget the Cooper conversation after:

a) Rove wrote an ass-covering email about it;

b) Cooper wrote a story saying unnamed "government officials" had leaked to him about Plame;

c) Washington made a big fuss over the Plame disclosure;

d) Plame's husband specifically accused Rove of outing her;

e) Bush's press secretary was barraged with questions about Plame leaks and seemingly denied Rove was involved;

f) Rove received a subpoena with Matt Cooper's name on it; and

g) Cooper made headlines by almost going to jail for refusing to talk.

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Maguire makes one good point about b)--the big, initial Plame story, for which Rove was accused of being the source, was Robert Novak's, not Cooper's. Cooper's ran only online--it wasn't even in the printed Time, and it could easily have been overlooked in the fuss over Novak. But that leaves a), c), d), e), f) and g)! I say Rove's story is still implausible, though not beyond a reasonable doubt (unless Fitzgerald has other evidence). The other big pro-Rove factor: Rove hadn't talked to Cooper before, and Cooper wasn't a widely-feared Washington knife-fighter like Robert Novak, with whom any conversation was inherently fraught with peril and therefore memorable. ...

P.S.: The Wall Street Journal explains that Viveca Novak's testimony  (she tipped off Rove's attorney that Rove might have talked to Cooper, and the attorney "looked surprised")

may bolster Mr. Rove's explanation of absent-mindedness, because he neglected to tell even his own lawyer that the conversation took place.

This exculpatory theory impressed me when I first heard it, but on second thought it makes no sense. Of course Rove's attorney looked surprised! If Rove had told his attorney about the conversation, after all, and the attorney knew Rove hadn't told the grand jury about it, then the attorney would be in some kind of tough spot too, no? If he wasn't genuinely surprised by Novak's tip, he'd have been well advised to fake it.

P.P.S.: Rove didn't testify to grand jury about the Cooper conversation until October, 2004--eight months after he failed to mention it in his first appearance. But mightn't he have notified the special prosecutor that he wanted to change his story long before October--indeed, immediately after the Viveca Novak tip months before-- and only gotten around to actually testifying at that late date? This is one reason the timing of his lawyer's meeting with V. Novak is important--it might have occurred before memory-tickling item g) on the above list, for example. But the timing is apparently murky. V. Novak guesses it was May, which is right around when Fitzgerald's subpoena of Cooper made the news.

P.P.P.S.: Isn't it a bit strange that the reported reaction of Rove's lawyer to being tipped off to his client's omission was to conduct an email search for evidence of a Rove/Cooper conversation? Wouldn't the logical reaction of Rove's lawyer have been to ask Rove? Are we to believe that Rove didn't even remember then?

P.P.P.P.S.: See Jane Hamsher for many, many more nuances--including the bizarre and mysterious VandeHei Theory. ... 11:39 P.M.

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