News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Time: Rove's Lawyer Told of Conversation - Yahoo! News

By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Months before Karl Rove corrected his statements in the Valerie Plame investigation, his lawyer was told that the president's top political adviser might have disclosed Plame's CIA status to a Time magazine reporter.

Rove says he had forgotten the conversation he had on July 11, 2003, with Time's Matt Cooper. But the magazine reported Sunday that in the first half of 2004, as President Bush's re-election campaign was heating up, Rove's lawyer got the word about a possible Rove-Cooper conversation from a second Time reporter, Viveca Novak.

Novak described her conversation with the lawyer, Robert Luskin, in a first-person account released Sunday on Time's Web site.

Luskin declined comment. Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove's legal team, said the deputy White House chief of staff has cooperated fully with prosecutors.

"The integrity of the investigation requires that we not discuss the substance of any communications with the special counsel," Corallo said in a statement. "Out of respect for the investigative process, we have abided by that rule and will continue to withhold comment on our interactions with the special counsel."

Six weeks ago, in a so-far successful effort to avert Rove's indictment, Luskin disclosed his conversation with Novak to the special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald. Rove remains under investigation.

In her first-person account, Novak wrote that Luskin clearly thought disclosing their discussion "was going to help Rove, perhaps by explaining why Rove hadn't told Fitzgerald or the grand jury of his conversation with my colleague Matt Cooper."

Fitzgerald questioned Novak under oath Thursday, the day after the prosecutor began presenting evidence to a new grand jury considering evidence in the leak investigation.

The prosecutor is investigating the Bush administration's leaking of Plame's CIA status to the news media in 2003, as Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the administration of manipulating prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Novak says Luskin appeared surprised when told in 2004 of a possible Rove-Cooper conversation about the CIA status of Wilson's wife.

Luskin said in effect that "Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt," Novak wrote. "I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me."

Novak said she told Luskin "something like, 'Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around Time.' He looked surprised and very serious" and at the end of their discussion that day said, "Thank you. This is important."

Novak said the conversation with Luskin occurred anywhere from January 2004 to May 2004; she thinks it was perhaps in March.

It was not until October 2004 — sometime between five months and nine months after Novak's conversation with Luskin — that Rove disclosed his conversation with Cooper to the prosecutor.

Rove's disclosure followed Luskin's discovery of a White House e-mail from July 11, 2003. The message, from Rove to then-deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, referred to Rove's conversation earlier that day with Cooper.

It is not known publicly whether Fitzgerald's investigators had the e-mail all along and simply overlooked it or whether the White House had not produced the e-mail for the prosecutor.

By the time Rove stepped forward to disclose the Cooper conversation to investigators, Cooper was under intense pressure from the prosecutor to reveal the original source of his information that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

Five months ago, his court appeals exhausted and after receiving a personal waiver from Rove, Cooper disclosed that his source had been the president's top political adviser.

Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is under indictment in Fitzgerald's probe on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. Libby has pleaded not guilty.


Post a Comment

<< Home