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Friday, August 05, 2005

Mount Novak Erupts -- My Two-Bit Theory

By now everyone has seen what happened on CNN yesterday when Bob Novak's DSM IV Cluster B personality disorder reared its ugly head. Now Atrios is reporting a rumor that Novakula has to testify before Fitzgerald's grand jury today.

I've been trying to figure out without success when exactly Novak made his deal, but all indications are that he made it early on, before Fitzgerald was assigned to the case. The White House was notified that the Justice Department was pursuing an investigation on September 29, 2003. Ashcroft didn't recuse himself until December 30 of that year. In the mean time, Associate Deputy Attorney General Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was very much involved in the investigation and was briefed on it regularly, despite having paid Karl Rove $746,000 for work on three campaigns in the early 90s.

It's possible Novak made his deal with Ashcroft before Ashcroft recused himself, something like the one made with Walter Pincus or Tim Russert where they only had to give minimal information and were excused from answering other questions. I can't imagine Fitzgerald making a deal like that with Novak whose role was so central to the whole affair, but Ashcroft certainly might have done so. And Fitzgerald would have had to live with it.

Until, that is, it became clear that Novak had lied in some way to the grand jury, which it appears he might have done. According to Murray Waas on July 12:
[F]ederal investigators have been highly skeptical of Novak's account -- as they have been of Rove's -- and were concerned that the key participants might have devised a cover story in the days shortly after it became known that a criminal investigation had been commenced.
This may be why Fitzgerald has been digging so furiously into the Rove perjury -- it might enable him to break Novak's deal and throw him in the can if he won't reveal his sources.

Which would explain why Carville's needling, which seemed quite minor in the larger context of their Crossfire relationship, suddenly struck Novakula -- jumpy with pre-testimony jitters -- as ill-timed an inappropriate.

CNN ought to cut bait on Novak. It'll save 'em the embarrassing cartwheels the NYT is having to engage in to defend the martyrdom of Jailhouse Judy.