This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Will Rover Skate?

CBS News is reporting that Fitzgerald spent three hours with the grand jury today, accompanied by three deputies and an FBI agent. Since Judge Hogan's ruling last summer said that anybody testifying before the grand jury had to walk in through the front door, it's unlikely anyone made an appearance today and Fitzgerald was probably bringing this new grand jury up to speed on whatever it is he hopes to bring to them.

I also hear that Viveca Novak will be giving a deposition tomorrow, though not before the grand jury.

Lawrence O'Donnell sketches a withering indictment of Vivak's defense in this matter as laid out by her good friend David Corn:
Corn’s stated mission in this account is to prove what a good person and honorable reporter Novak is. “Novak wasn’t trying to tip off Luskin …” Uh huh. But she did. Why was a Time reporter discussing Time’s secret source with Rove’s lawyer? No other Time reporter did that. Corn’s Novak defense could not be more tortured. He says she didn’t know who Cooper’s source was, that she didn’t tell him anything, she just “pushed back.” Then he quotes another friend of Novak saying, “She assumed that Luskin did know about the Rove-Cooper conversation and that she was not telling him anything he did not already know.” So, according to that friend, Novak did know Rove was Cooper’s source and she did tell Luskin. With friend/defenders like these … Hey, I like Viveca Novak too. Everyone does. But in this case, she may have more to answer for than any other reporter involved.
He then goes on to detail just how he thinks Vivak's testimony might very well get Rover off the hook. And he might be right, but I have still not heard enough to convince me of the rectitude of this particular argument.

For Karl Rove to be able to recant his early testimony before the grand jury where he stated he did not remember his conversation with Matt Cooper, he has to be able to prove that he did not come forward because of the likelihood that his lie would be exposed.

I want to underscore this because it is critical and I think sometimes I take it for granted that people understand this. Vivac either did or did not tip off Luskin to the fact that his client was Matt Cooper's source, and it really doesn't matter whether his client had been forthcoming with him or not. The piece of information Luskin gleaned from this conversation is that Matt Cooper was not the only one who knew this, the story was in circulation and even if Cooper was successful in his bid to invoke journalistic privilege the story might out anyway. No matter what happens, O'Donnell is right. Vivac gave her good friend Luskin -- and I'm told they are very good friends -- extremely valuable information.

Because as a result, Luskin began to lay the groundwork for a plausible excuse that would serve Rove if he ever needed to recant -- the Hadley email. Now, nobody knows whether the Hadley email was given to Fitzgerald before or after Time Magazine and Matt Cooper lost their bid to quash the subpoena in October 2004. But the timing is quite convenient -- Rove appeared to correct his testimony two days later.

Further, if the WaPo is correct and Luskin and Vivac had their little highball gab fest prior to Rove's February 2004 testimony, they've got to explain why:

a) there's a 9-10 month delay until the email is produced and Rove recants
b) how Rove knew of Vivac's story and still went before the grand jury and didn't tell them about Cooper
c) his conveniently timed amnesia cure when it became evident that Cooper would have to testify, and
d) his refusal to grant Cooper a waiver for another ten months ('til July 2005) about a conversation he testified to in October, 2004.

I'm of the mind that Vivac's testimony makes Rove look more oily and guilty, not less.

O'Donnell also thinks that Fitzgerald will shy away from indicting someone as powerful as Rove if there is a plausible explanation for his behavior. I absolutely don't agree. Fitzgerald is dogged. He may not indict until he thinks he has enough to do so, but if he thinks Rove's guilty -- and my guess is he most certainly does or he would not still be pursuing him after two years -- he will keep digging and keep digging until he has enough to go after him.

I think Fitzgerald is perfectly happy to run around on Luskin's goat ropes because it gives him an excellent look into Rover's defense, and he can shape his indictment accordingly. If Luskin was so confident that this particular defense was exculpatory I think he would've offered it up long before the final days before Libby was indicted. I think he held onto it until the last moment because he knew it was incredibly dangerous, as likely to hurt his client as it was to help him, but he was willing to do anything at the last minute to keep Karl from being indicted on the same day as Scooter. In the smoke and mirrors world Rove lives in, appearances are everything and he was more than willing to roll the dice to push Libby out on that limb first.

And by the way, I admire Lawrence O'Donnell absolutely, and I know he has had much fun going back and forth with Luskin in the press. But I am more inclined to buy the Ryan Lizza portrait of Luskin than the full-lipped hummer he gets in today's WaPo.

Let's remember. If Luskin hadn't shot his big mouth off in the press, Matt Cooper might never have testified. If Rove skates, it might very well be due to Viveca Novak as O'Donnell speculates. But if he goes down, it's equally likely his own chatty lawyer had a hand in it.

Update: Over at the Agonist, Sean-Paul Kelly says DC bets are on Rover to be indicted.

And the NY Observer is saying that Vivac will testify tomorrow.