I’ve been skimming the analysis that’s coming out in the blogosphere, and there is a lot of interesting speculation about who exactly is in legal jeopardy.
Two things are keeping me from writing my own speculation. One, my grasp of the Plame case is rusty. I haven’t been keeping track of who testified, and I haven’t put together a timeline. Secondly, the possible legal ramifications are so wide-ranging that it’s hard to know where to start.
But the politics of this are easier to gauge. The Cooper e-mail exposes Rove as one of the sources for the Time article, and it specifies that Rove told him: “Wilson’s wife,  apparently works at the agency on wmd…”
Rove has claimed that he didn’t know Wilson’s wife’s name. That assertion may, or may not, have legal consquences. But, from a political point of view, it doesn’t matter. We now know that Rove read the Wilson editorial in the New York Times, and then called Cooper. He told Cooper that the information he was about to give him was on “double super secret background”. Then he revealed that Wilson’s wife was a CIA officer who worked on issues related to weapons of mass destruction.
He had to tell Cooper where she worked within the agency because otherwise Cooper would not have been able to understand how she could have influenced the decision to send her husband on a hunt for yellowcake.
Rove will say that he was only trying to counterspin a story, and that he didn’t know Plame’s name, let alone that she was undercover. But, again, politically this doesn’t matter.
What matters politically are things like this:
“And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there’s all kinds of allegations. You’ve heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information — outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.
“And then we’ll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something — leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we’ve had them — there’s too much leaking in Washington. That’s just the way it is. And we’ve had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I’ve spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are.” – George W. Bush (9/30/03)
Now, if Rove concealed that he was the leaker from Bush, then that is a breach of trust that has damaged Bush’s credibility. I would think that Bush would fire Rove for that. But no one in their right mind is going to believe that Rove concealed the truth from Bush. Bush said he would take “appropriate action” if he learned who the leakers were. But all he did with Rove, was promote him to assistant Chief-of-Staff.
There is no way to spin this. It is a disaster for the President.