According to several witnesses who have been interviewed by Fitzgerald and who have talked to me about their testimony, he appears to be suspicious about that change in Rove’s narrative. The special counsel seems to think Rove remembered his conversation with Cooper all along but only testified about it when it became clear that Cooper was going to be forced to give up Rove as his source. If Fitzgerald thinks Rove willfully held back on him, it could be the basis for a perjury or obstruction of justice charge.
Rove’s lawyer says there’s an innocent explanation. He says it was Viveca Novak’s suggestion that Rove might have been her colleague Cooper’s source that sent Rove and his lawyer to re-examine Rove’s records. In their search, they found an e-mail Rove had sent, shortly after speaking with Cooper, to Stephen Hadley, then deputy national security adviser, telling Hadley about the conversation. After finding the e-mail, Rove revised his account to the grand jury.
This is the version of the story that most reputable journalists (David Shuster et. al.) seem to be following, that Luskin claims his Vivac conversation sent him hunting through the files. But Luskin seems to be telling different stories to different people.
I don‘t think that this conversation between Viveca Novak and Luskin is about this whole change testimony and the e-mail that happened about seven months later.
I think what‘s happening is Luskin is probably trying to convince Fitzgerald that it would be foolish for Rove to have testified that first time before the grand jury that he did not have a conversation with Matthew Cooper when he knew from Luskin, who had learned from Viveca Novak, that everybody at “Time” was buzzing about the fact that there had been that conversation.
VandeHei seems to be the only one promoting this particular theory. Does he have an incredible scoop or will he wind up looking like a credulous chump for being the only one to buy a batch of ludicrous ex-post-facto spin when the whole thing outs? I guess we’ll know in time.
Dickerson also does a good job charting the major events of the time period that call into serious question Rove’s "I forgot" defense. And he says:
A source close to Rove confirmed to me the widely held speculation that Rove was one of Novak’s sources.
Did Rove cop to this when he talked to the FBI, or during one of his many grand jury appearances, and if so which one?
Dickerson then goes on to mention the fated Hadley email. In January 2004 when Fitzgerald subpoenaed the White House for emails from specific journalists, Cooper included, Dickerson was also on the list due to having co-written the "War on Wilson" article:
White House staffers searched for e-mails containing my name, and I know of at least two who handed over what they had to Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald is not only going to have to buy Rover’s "I forgot" line of defense, he’s also going to have to buy that an electronic search of emails did not turn up the Hadley memo in response to the original subpoena. Were they counting on the fact that Fitzgerald would never seize their computers to know if a memo or two never made its way to him like he would if he were prosecuting, say, the Gambinos? The next time someone bitches about how long the investigation is taking and how much money it’s cost, just remember the kid gloves with which he’s had to treat all these people who have worked so diligently to obstruct him.
(thanks to Pollyusa for the always useful links)
Update: Add Joe Conason to the list of people being told by Luskin that the Vivac conversation sent him on document hunt:
By October 2004, when [Rove] revised his flawed testimony in the grand jury, his recollection had improved, evidently thanks to a suggestive conversation between his defense lawyer, Robert Luskin, and Cooper’s Time colleague Viveca Novak. As Novak recently explained, she had indicated to Luskin, in a meeting over drinks sometime between January and May 2004, that Cooper was saying he had spoken with Rove about Plame. According to Luskin, this alarming news prompted Rove to search his e-mail, where he found a contemporaneous message he had sent to Stephen Hadley in July 2003, then the deputy national security advisor, about his chat with Cooper.
VandeHei still maintains his source is "anonymous," while all the others source Luskin. I’ve always assumed VandeHei’s source was Luskin too, but it makes you wonder who he’s talking to, huh?
Update: Joe Conason was kind enough to email and clarify that he had not in fact spoken with Luskin, but was relying on the accounts of both Dickerson and Viveca Novak. The Salon piece is being changed to reflect that.