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Yeah I Got Your Spin Right Here


Since Karl Rove makes yet another appearance before the Grand Jury today (his fifth), I thought it would be nice to reconstruct Rove’s history of testimony.  As Christy said this morning, it’s quite unusual for someone to appear before the GJ so many times, so let’s revisit  what we know (or at least what we’ve heard) about the ever-evolving story of Karl Rove.

Karl Rove, as we now know, spoke to Robert Novak on Wednesday July 9, 2003 —  three days after Joe Wilson’s op-ed appeared in the NYT (Waas 12/16/05).  On either July 10 or 11, Libby and Rove spoke about Plame (Libby indictment ).  On July 11, Rove spoke with Cooper (Cooper’s Time Magazine article).  On Monday, July 14 the Robert Novak column appeared.

Yet according to Murray Waas’ March 8, 2004 article, this is what Rove initially told the FBI when questioned in October, 2003:

President Bush’s chief political adviser, Karl Rove, told the FBI in an interview last October that he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame with others in the White House, outside political consultants, and journalists, according to a government official and an attorney familiar with the ongoing special counsel’s investigation of the matter.

But Rove also adamantly insisted to the FBI that he was not the administration official who leaked the information that Plame was a covert CIA operative to conservative columnist Robert Novak last July. Rather, Rove insisted, he had only circulated information about Plame after it had appeared in Novak’s column. He also told the FBI, the same sources said, that circulating the information was a legitimate means to counter what he claimed was politically motivated criticism of the Bush administration by Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Rove and other White House officials described to the FBI what sources characterized as an aggressive campaign to discredit Wilson through the leaking and disseminating of derogatory information regarding him and his wife to the press, utilizing proxies such as conservative interest groups and the Republican National Committee to achieve those ends, and distributing talking points to allies of the administration on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Rove is said to have named at least six other administration officials who were involved in the effort to discredit Wilson.


According to sources, Rove, in his interview with the FBI, said that he and others on the White House’s political staff wanted to contain the political fallout from Wilson’s allegations, and that they thought the charge of favoritism was a legitimate issue. Rove added that when he steered others in the direction of the now-disproved charges, he believed them to be true, in part because he regarded Novak as a credible news source.

Rove used the same cover story Libby did — "I heard it from journalists."  He heard it from Bob Novak, don’t you know — a "credible news source."  

According to Waas’ July 19, 2005 article, Rove did not mention the Cooper conversation either in this initial FBI interview:

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.

Also leading to the early skepticism of Rove’s accounts was the claim that although he first heard that Plame worked for the CIA from a journalist, he said could not recall the name of the journalist. Later, the sources said, Rove wavered even further, saying he was not sure at all where he first heard the information.

It seems like every appearance Rove has made before the grand jury has been to walk back the incorrect information he gave the FBI in the first place (which no doubt matched up with Libby’s quite well).  Rove thinks he is awfully clever and can talk himself out of just about anything, and I am certain Fitzgerald is more than willing to give him enough rope. 

But unless Fitzgerald has grown a bit more credulous and is now buying the "I forgot" routine that worked so well for Scooter Libby, I’d say today’s attempts at spinning this as a "good" thing for Team Rove are GOP pipe dreams.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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