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Late Nite FDL: How Big Are Your Chances, Karl?


With new details arriving daily about the history of Karl Rove’s testimony before the grand jury there have been many corrections to the known narrative.  Thanks to everyone in the comments sections both here and at The Next Hurrah, there is a new timeline emerging that makes it look very much like Rove kept altering his testimony to keep up with what Fitzgerald was learning about his involvement, hence the five trips before the grand jury.


July 9 — Robert Novak and Karl Rove speak about Valerie Wilson, according to Murray Waas (12/16/05).  Accounts of this call differ, per Novak (10/1/03) and a Rove-friendly Washington Post story (7/15/05).

July 10 or 11  — Libby speaks with "Official A" in the White House, presumably Karl Rove (per Libby indictment). 

July 11 — Rove speaks with Matt Cooper (per Time Magazine) and then emails Stephen Hadley (per AP).

July 17 — Cooper et. al. publish "A War on Wilson?" in Time.

July 21 — Rove calls Chris Matthews and says Wilson’s wife is "fair game" (Per Joe Wilson, Politics of Truth).

September 29 — ABC News producer Andrea Owen asks Rove he has any knowledge of or if he leaked the name of the CIA agent to the press.  Rove says "no."  (The Note).

September 30 — Alberto Gonzales notifies White House officials to preserve and maintain all documents related to Joseph Wilson, his wife, his trip to Niger and her role in the CIA.

October (date unknown) — Rove interviewed by the FBI, at which time he claimed that he only circulated information regarding Plame to journalists after it appeared in Robert Novak’s column on July 14, 2003.( Waas 3/8/04).  He did not mention that he ever spoke with Matt Cooper and claimed he first heard that Plame worked for the CIA from a journalist, though he could not remember who. (Waas 7/19/05)

December 30 — Ashcroft recuses himself from the investigation; Comey appoints Fitzgerald (Washington Post). 


January — Fitzgerald’s grand jury subpoenas the White House for all "records on administration contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news media outlets," including Matt Cooper (Newsday, per Just One Minute

Feburary (date unknown) — Rove testifies twice before the grand jury:

— "In February 2004, when Mr. Rove testified about his conversations with reporters, he recalled the [Robert] Novak conversation, but no other interviews with reporters"  (NYT, 11/4/05)

— "He told of speaking briefly to columnist Bob Novak about the Wilson trip. But Rove never mentioned any conversation with Time’s Cooper." (Newsweek).   

March 1 (possibly, but date unknown):  Viveca Novak tells Robert Luskin that Matt Cooper considers Karl Rove to be his source.  Luskin says the conversation took place between October and January (Newsweek); V. Novak says it took place between January and May, but Fitzgerald seems to have independent corroboration that it happened on March 1 (Time).

May 21 — Matt Cooper is subpoenaed for the first time (opinion).

June 3 — Cooper moved to quash the subpoena (opinion).

July 6 — District court denied Cooper’s motion to quash (opinion).

July 20 — District court issued a written opinion and order  (opinion).

August 9 — Cooper held in contempt (per Judge Hogan

August 23 — Cooper deposed about his contacts with Scooter Libby.  Fitzgerald is surprised to learn that Libby was not Cooper’s original source. (Washington Post)

August 31 — Rove tells CNN at the Republican Convention:

—  "I didn’t know her name. I didn’t leak her name."

September 13 — Cooper is subpoenaed again  (opinion).

October 7 — District court denies Cooper’s motion to quash subpoenas (opinion).

October 13 — Cooper held in contempt.  (opinion).

October (date unknown) — Luskin hands Hadley email over to Fitzgerald. 

October 15 — Rove testifies for the third time before the grand jury (Time). 

—  "Reappearing before the grand jury that month, Rove acknowledged that he must have spoken to Cooper, but he still didn’t remember doing so." (Newsweek)

—  "Rove said he believed that he had spoken to Cooper about Plame, but still had little independent recollection of what was said."  (Waas 4/28/06)

— "White House adviser Karl Rove told the grand jury in the CIA leak case that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, may have told him that CIA operative Valerie Plame worked for the intelligence agency before her identity was revealed…Rove has also testified that he also heard about Plame from someone else outside the White House, but could not recall who." (WaPo, 10/20/05)

October 19 — District court consolidates the appeals of Miller and Cooper.

December 8 — District court hears arguments on the appeals of Miller and Cooper (Special Counsel brief)


February 15 —  Federal appeals court rules that Miler and Cooper may have witnessed a federal crime and may not claim journalistic privilege. (In Re:  Grand Jury Subpoena, Judith Miller)

June 27 — Supreme Court refuses to hear Miller and Cooper’s appeal.

June 30 — Time Magazine agrees to hand over Matt Cooper’s notes.

July 1 — Lawrence O’Donnell appears on the McLaughlin Group and  claims that the primary Plame leaker was Karl Rove (he blogs about it on the HuffPo the next day).

July 2 — Luskin admits to Newsweek that Rove spoke with Cooper, but says he “did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA":

— "The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper’s sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove"  (Newsweek, 7/11/2005 issue)

July 4 — Luskin told CNN:

— "Karl did nothing wrong. Karl didn’t disclose Valerie Plame’s identity to Mr. Cooper or anybody else … Who outed this woman? … It wasn’t Karl."

July 6 — Article appears in the Wall Street Journal (via Froomkin)  which says:  "If Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source," Mr. Luskin told The Journal, "it’s not Karl he’s protecting." Accounts differ as to what happen, but Cooper’s lawyer Dick Sauber said he called Luskin and asked him if the general waiver already executed by Rove covers Cooper, and Luskin said it did.

Sauber, in Editor and Publisher (via Digby):

— "There was no indication that we had that Mr. Rove or his lawyer were interested in receiving such a request. And it was really only in the last few days, when Mr. Luskin started making some of hiscomments, especially the one that I just quoted to you that was in the Wall Street Journal that led us to feel that we were on firm footing picking up the phone and calling and saying, "Based on your public comments, we would ask for an express and personal…," and that’s what we did."

But according to the New York Times :

In court shortly after 2, [Cooper] told Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Federal District Court in Washington that he had received "an express personal release from my source."

That statement surprised Mr. Luskin, Mr. Rove’s lawyer. Mr. Luskin said he had only reaffirmed the blanket waiver, in response to a request from Mr. Fitzgerald.

July 9 —  Luskin confirms to Newsweek that Rove was Cooper’s source:

"Rove has never publicly acknowledged talking to any reporter about former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife. But last week, his lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed to NEWSWEEK that Rove did—and that Rove was the secret source who, at the request of both Cooper’s lawyer and the prosecutor, gave Cooper permission to testify." (Newsweek, 7/18/05 issue)

The article reports that  the email sent by Cooper to his editor indicated Rove said "Wilson’s wife" worked for the CIA and authorized his trip.   It’s clear that when Luskin asserted on July 2nd that Rove never said "Valerie Plame" worked for the CIA he was being legalistic and intentionally deceptive.

July 11 — Luskin tells the Washington Post that Rove discussed Plame with Cooper but did not name her:

— "Rove did not mention her name to Cooper," Luskin said. "This was not an effort to encourage Time to disclose her identity. What he was doing was discouraging Time from perpetuating some statements that had been made publicly and weren’t true." (WaPo 7/11/05)

July 12 — Luskin appears to be telegraphing to Matt Cooper what Rove testified to, potentially coaching Cooper’s testimony.  From Cooper’s account:

 — "A surprising line of questioning had to do with, of all things, welfare reform. The prosecutor asked if I had ever called Mr. Rove about the topic of welfare reform. Just the day before my grand jury testimony Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, had told journalists that when I telephoned Rove that July, it was about welfare reform and that I suddenly switched topics to the Wilson matter.…To me this suggested that Rove may have testified that we had talked about welfare reform, and indeed earlier in the week, I may have left a message with his office asking if I could talk to him about welfare reform. But I can’t find any record of talking about it with him on July 11, and I don’t recall doing so.

July 13 — Matt Cooper testifies before the grand jury (Time Magazine).

July 15 — AP’s John Solomon is shown a copy of the Hadley email:

"I didn’t take the bait," Rove wrote in the message, disclosed to The Associated Press. In the memo, Rove recounted how Cooper tried to question him about whether President Bush had been hurt by the new allegations Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had been making.


"Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he’s got a welfare reform story coming," Rove wrote Hadley, who has since risen to the top job of national security adviser.

"When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn’t this damaging? Hasn’t the president been hurt? I didn’t take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn’t get Time far out in front on this."

July 16 — As PollyUSA notes at TNH, Luskin (or someone speaking for Rove) begins telling the press that in his October 2004 grand jury appeareance Rove had disclosed that he discussed Plame’s CIA work with Cooper (when in fact Rove had told the grand jury he couldn’t remember):

—  "[T]he White House turned the e-mail over to prosecutors, and Rove told a grand jury about it last year during testimony in which he also acknowledged discussing Plame’s covert work for the CIA with Cooper and syndicated columnist Robert Novak" (AP 7/16/2005)

—  "Rove has at some point testified that he passed on information about Plame to Cooper, according to two lawyers involved in the case. Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, declined to say when Rove gave this testimony" (WaPo 7/23/05)

— "On Oct. 14, 2004, Mr. Rove went before the grand jury again to alter his earlier account, by saying he had also discussed the C.I.A. officer with Mr. Cooper"  (NYT 12/2/05)

July 17 — Matt Cooper wrote "What I Told the Grand Jury" in Time.

July unknown — Rove offers "to come  back and answer any questions that might arise from Cooper’s testimony," according to Luskin (Washington Post).

July 29 — Rove aides Susan B. Ralston and Israel Hernandez testify before the grand jury (NYT)

—  "Rove’s secretary was questioned about why a phone call from Cooper to Rove in 2003 was not recorded in White House phone logs, according to sources familiar with the probe. She reportedly explained that Cooper called the main switchboard and his call was not logged because it was rerouted to Rove’s office." (WaPo)

October 14 — Karl Rove testifies for a fourth time before the grand jury. 

— "Summoned back to the grand jury last October for a fourth time, Rove said it was "possible" that he had told Cooper about Wilson’s wife, but he had simply forgotten it" (Newsweek

October 24 (week of) — Luskin calls Viveca Novak and tells her he’s going to tell Fitzgerald about their conversation (Time).  

October 26 — Adam Levine is interviewed about his conversations with Rove on the day Cooper spoke to him (WaPo). 

October 28 — Scooter Libby indicted (Fitzgerald press conference)

November 10 — Viveca Novak questioned by Fitzgerald for the first time in his office (Time).

December 2 — Luskin gives sworn testimony to Fitzgerald (CNN).

December 8 — Viveca Novak meets with Fitzgerald for the second time (Time).

December 16 — George Bush nominates Viveca Novak’s husband, Robert Lenhard, to the Federal Election Commission. 


January 5 — George Bush grants Viveca Novak’s husband, Robert Lenhard, a recess appointment to the FEC, thus circumenting Senate hearings and uncomfortable questions (WaPo)

January 23 — A Fitzgerald letter in the Libby case indicates:

In an abundance of caution, we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.

April 26 — Rove appears for the fifth time before the grand jury (AP). 

— "Rove… testified to the grand jury that when he told Cooper that Plame worked at the agency, he was only passing along unverified gossip.

"In contrast, Cooper has testified that Rove told him in a phone conversation on July 11, 2003, that Plame worked for the CIA and played a role in having the agency select her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, to make a fact-finding trip to Niger in 2002." (Waas)

— "Rove testified that he would have had no motive to deliberately conceal his conversation with Cooper. "It would have been crazy" of Rove "to testify about [his conversations with Bob Novak] but not testify about the Cooper conversation," says this source, who adds that Rove would have known he would be "stepping into a perjury trap." (Newsweek 4/30/2006)

Much gratitude is owed to the DKosopedia entry on Plame. I’m sure there  will be numerous additions and corrections to this so if you notice any errors or think there should be any other entries, please let me know.

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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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