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(Photo by Lauren Shay/AP via Newsweek.  Rove's button says "I'm a SOURCE, not a TARGET."  We know he was a source for Novak, but was he a good one for the FBI as well?)

CNN is reporting that Karl Rove is not likely to take the stand in the Libby trial, according to "two witnesses close to the defense."  [Read:  Likely Mark Corallo — Barbara Comstock's GOP CYA/PR firm partner, and former/current/no one is certain on that one spokesperson for Rove's legal team; and Robert Luskin, Rove's attorney.]  As CNN says:

Just last month, Rove and presidential counselor Dan Bartlett received subpoenas informing them they could be called to testify. A flurry of reports circulated suggesting that the White House aides might be forced to provide testimony damaging to the president.

Libby's attorneys refused to comment on whether Rove would testify, but Rove's legal team has been told at this point not to expect it, the sources said.

Libby's attorneys could still change their minds, but a source close to Rove said the White House official has been told that his chances of being called as a defense witness are between "zero and nil."

Hmmm…perhaps one of those sources is Rover himself, given how he enjoys planting tidbits among his newsy pals.  As Digby puts it:

Far be for me to infer that Novak and Rove might have colluded. (And it doesn't appear to be a crime, if they did.) But it should be a political scandal that ruins Bob Novak's "reputation" as any sort of reliable journalist.

Remember this article in the LA Times?

In one White House conversation, investigators have learned, Rove was asked why he was focused so intently on discrediting the former diplomat.

"He's a Democrat," Rove said, citing Wilson's campaign contributions. By that time, Wilson had begun advising Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.

Let's not forget the Rove dimension in all this. He may not have committed a crime because he may not have known that Plame was undercover. And Fitzgerald ultimately decided that he couldn't prove lied under oath. But he most certainly was in on the smear job with Cheney and his motive wasn't even covering his own ass. His motive was simple character assasination of a Democrat. It's what he does.

Indeed. As Novak himself described his relationship with Rove during his own testimony yesterday:  "I wouldn't call him a good friend. I would call him a very good source," Novak said of Rove. "I talked to him two or three times a week at that point."

Well, isn't that cozy?

In an otherwise overwrought piece about the Libby indictment in Newsweek back in early November 2005, there was a little noticed bit on the final page of the article that I want to bring to everyone's attention this morning:

Interestingly, Rove may be an important witness for Libby. According to a source familiar with Rove's testimony, who declined to be identified disclosing grand-jury information, Libby told Rove that he had heard about Wilson from Tim Russert. This squares with what Libby himself told the grand jury and suggests that Libby's story was at least consistent—not cooked up to mislead the Feds. Of course, Fitzgerald may just argue that Libby was lying to Rove, too.

Libby's trial, which may be a year away, promises to offer more glimpses into one of the most secretive administrations in modern times. Cheney may be called as a witness. If so, a jury—and the American public—will get a chance to decide if the conversations between those two guardians served the republic—or shamed it.  (emphasis mine)

If the defense is not calling Rove to the stand, it means one of two things: (1) this cover story told to the gullible reporters at Newsweek held water about as well as a rusty sieve, and because Rove already spilled his guts to Fitzgerald and the grand jury about exactly where and when he and Scooter and everyone else learned about Valerie Plame Wilson, and Team Libby now knows it, we won't see Rove on the stand; or (2) after Ted Wells' finger pointing at Rove during his opening statement in this case, Team Libby has decided a snake on the stand isn't worth any risk, whether or not this little fantastical saga planted in the pages of Newsweek has any validity whatsoever (which I doubt — see (1)).  Either way, it looks like Rove and Scooter are about as tight as…(well, I shouldn't say it in an early morning posting, but you fill in the blank).

Fetid little group of malignant pals, isn't it?

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com