Threading the Needle
Thanks to all the commenters here and at The Next Hurrah, I’m working on a new timeline for Rove’s testimony before the grand jury. It should be up soon. In the mean time, Jeff in the comments has evolved the best theory about what Rove is probably trying to claim to Fitzgerald:
Here’s my unified theory of how Luskin is attempting to thread a very narrow needle with his story about Viveca Novak. Luskin says the conversation with VNovak happened in January 2004 (or even as early as October 2003, according to Newsweek, which would make it as early as Rove’s initial contacts with FBI investigators). This enables Luskin to argue that Rove would have been crazy to try to hide his knowledge of his July 11 2003 conversation with Cooper when he testified in February 2004, thus showing that Rove testified in good faith to no recollection of contact with journalists regarding Plame other than with Bob Novak.
However, Luskin also has to explain the fact that Team Rove only found and handed over the Rove-Hadley email documenting Rove’s conversation with Cooper in October 2004, just as it looked like Cooper himself was going to testify. On October 7 2004 Judge Hogan denied Cooper’s motion to quash the new subpoena he had received from Fitzgerald on September 13 2004. Cooper got this subpoena – and this is key to my theory – only after he had completed his testimony in August concerning his contact with Libby, when Fitzgerald discovered, to his surprise, that Cooper had a source earlier than Libby.
So the question is, if Luskin is claiming that VNovak alerting him to the buzz at TIME that Rove was a source for Cooper played a role in prompting the search for and discovery of the Rove-Hadley email, why didn’t that search and discovery happen immediately after Luskin’s conversation with VNovak in early 2004?
My guess is that Luskin is arguing that Rove was confident in February 2004 that he was not a source for Cooper. But when the news hit in September 2004 that Cooper had been resubpoenaed, Luskin and Rove suddenly thought back to what VNovak had said and had their confidence in Rove’s recollection shaken, and said to themselves, “We better check thoroughly through the records to see if we can find any evidence of a Rove-Cooper contact on Plame or Wilson or what have you.” (Key to this theory is the claim that between the news coverage and the available public court records, Rove and Luskin would have known enough about Cooper’s new subpoena to react this way.) This would explain why the search for the email and its discovery did not happen until some time in the month between the middle of September and the middle of October, when Rove went back to the grand jury.
The main problem with this theory is that it really is threading a narrow needle on the question of what motivated Team Rove to do a search through the records: it had to do with what was happening with Cooper, but wasn’t motivated by fear of Cooper testifying. Cooper’s new subpoena simply served to make VNovak’s alert more vivid, and it was that alert that was the real cause of the search for records, the finding of the email, and Rove changing his testimony in October 2004.
The question is whether that is a fatal problem for my theory, or for Rove, who’s got nothing better.
It all sounds more and more like an episode of Law and Order. But I’m loving it.