Hot off the AP wire:
WASHINGTON – Top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby discussed their contacts with reporters about an undercover CIA officer in the days before her identity was published, the first known intersection between two central figures in the criminal leak investigation.
Rove told grand jurors it was possible he first heard in the White House that Valerie Plame, wife of Bush administration Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA from Libby’s recounting of a conversation with a journalist, according to people familiar with his testimony.
They said Rove testified that his discussions with Libby before Plame’s CIA cover was blown were limited to information reporters had passed to them. Some evidence prosecutors have gathered conflicts with Libby’s account.
Hmmm…interesting twist. Rove spoke to Libby who talked about his conversation with a journalist? Judith Miller?
Patrick Fitzgerald must determine whether the contacts between the two men concerning Plame’s CIA work were part of an effort to undercut her husband’s criticism of the Iraq war or simply the trading of information and rumors that typically occurs inside the White House.
I vote for the undercutting angle.
The Rove-Libby contacts were confirmed to The Associated Press by people directly familiar with testimony the two witnesses gave before the grand jury. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the proceedings.
Bring on the leaks!
During one of his grand jury appearances, Rove was shown testimony from Libby suggesting the two had discussed with each other information they had gotten about Wilson’s wife from reporters in early July 2003.
Rove responded that Libby’s testimony was consistent with his general recollection that he had first learned Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA from reporters or government officials who had talked with reporters.
Rove testified that he never intended any of his comments to reporters about Wilson’s wife to serve as confirmation of Plame’s identity. Rove “has always clearly left open that he first heard this information from Libby,” said one person directly familiar with Rove’s grand jury testimony.
Rove allegedly claimed he learned Plame’s name from “from reporters or government officials who had talked with reporters.” So, which is it, Rove?
The plot thickens.
* Rove says he “probably” first heard about “Wilson’s wife” at some social gathering during spring 2003. He can’t remember.
* July 9, 2003 Novak tells Rove he’s writing an article that would reveal Plame worked at the CIA. Rove said he told Novak he’d heard the same information
* Rove told Libby about his conversation with Novak on July 11, 2003.
* Libby’s testimony, which had been shown to Rove, showed that “numerous journalists appeared to have learned about Plame’s identity in the period before her name was published”.
* Libby said that Rove had told him about Novak and that Libby’s information about “Wilson’s wife” had come from Tim Russert. Russert testified that he didn’t know anything until after Novak’s article appeared.
* prosecutors have evidence that rebuts Libby’s version. It shows that Libby called Russert and that Libby also initiated the call to Miller.
* Rove said he hadn’t previously testified about his conversation with Time’s Matt Cooper because he didn’t recall it until he and his lawyer suddenly found an e-mail he had sent to Stephen Hadley about the discussion. (Why was he e-mailing Hadley about it?)
Oh…what a tangled web we weave…
UPDATE: WaPo also has a story about this with additional details:
* “Rove has also testified that he also heard about Plame from someone else outside the White House, but could not recall who.”
* “Lawyers in the case have said Rove and Libby are the central focus of Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald”
* “John Hannah, an aide to Vice President Cheney and one of two dozen people questioned in the CIA leak case, has told friends in recent months he is worried he may be implicated by the investigation, according to two U.S. officials. It is not clear whether Hannah had any role in unmasking of Plame, or why he should fear Fitzgerald’s probe” (unless you do your homework, WaPo)
* “Novak has provided scant information about the person’s identity.”