Thursday, May 25, 2006

Novak-Rove Conspiracy?

Via Mike at Crest, I came home to learn that Murray Waas has broken new ground once again in the CIA leak case. Waas reports that federal prosecutors believe columnist Robert Novak and Karl Rove may have conspired to create a cover story to protect Rove during a September 29, 2003 telephone call that came three days after it became public news that the Justice Department was investigating the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

Waas says investigators were suspicious on three counts:

a) The timing of the conversation was dubious - Novak reached out to Rove three days after the criminal investigation into the leak was made public by NBC News (though a formal announcement wasn't made until Sept. 30, 2003.)

b) Prosecutors believed Novak shifted his account of the July 9, 2003 conversation that he had with Rove about Ms. Plame after his September 29, 2003 conversation with Rove. Before Sept 29, Novak told Newsday that White House officials encouraged him to write about her ("I didn't dig it out, it was given to me...They thought it was significant...they gave me the name and I used it.") but after Novak's September 29, 2003 conversation with Rove, Novak made it sound as if he told Rove about Plame and her job at the CIA and Rove said that he had heard that too.

c) Prosecutors believed a professional journalist like Novak wouldn't write such an important story outing a CIA operative after only getting the slim substantiation that Rove had also heard Plame worked for the CIA after Novak claimed he brought the matter up with Rove.

Waas says that Fitzgerald may not bring charges related to the September 29, 2003 Rove/Novak conversation, but he gets Dan Richman, law professor at Fordham to say:

"It's possible that prosecutors would view their [September 29] conversation as the beginning of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, given that they had reason to believe that an investigation would soon be under way," says Richman. "It's even more likely that this conversation would help prosecutors shed light on Rove's motivations and intent when he later spoke to investigators."

Jeralyn at Talk Left doesn't think the conversation hurts Rove much unless Fitz uses it as part of an obstruction case but she says it reflects poorly on Novak and she wonders if Novak has immunity from prosecution. Mike at Crest wonders if Novak turned on Rove after Fitzgerald gave him a choice between having his name on the top of his own indictment or having it down in the supporting evidence of Rove's indictment.

I'm not sure what I think yet. I would tend to agree that this kind of conspiracy case seems hard to try unless Fitz has a third person with direct knowledge of the conversation. But I also think that Fitz could use the alleged conspiracy between Novak and Rove as a jumping point to a larger obstruction/conspiracy case.

I do think we know one thing after today's report. The investigation into Rove may be messier than we first thought, Fitzgerald looks like he is going to spend a bit more time investigating Rove's actions before he decides to bring charges or not, and resolution for Rove is definitely not coming tomorrow (when the grand jury in the CIA leak case usually meets) and perhaps not for some time.

UPDATE: Rove's spokesman confirmed the Spetember 29, 2003 phone conversation between Rove and Novak to MSNBC tonight.

I like this new angle..hope they all get hung by their ball sacks now..

oh, sorry, thats a visual you probably aren't too fond of..being a male and all..
Let's just pray you don't bring this liberal bullshit into the classroom.
dusty, I am perfectly happy to both Novak and Rove hung by the ir ball sacks - frankly, it would make my entire year to see it.

Thanks for sharing, anonymous.
I'm just going to wait for and indictment.

I can't stand the letdowns.
praguetwin - I'm with you on that. I know I jumped on the Leopold report and got all excited, but I have learned my lesson. Until Fitz calls a press conference and announces indictments, I will only blog Rove/Plame stuff as rumor (I think Mike at Crest said the same thing actually.)

Nonetheless, Murray Waas is a very reliable reporter and since Rove's people confirmed Rove and Novak had the Sept. 29, 2003 phone conversation, I thought it was important to write about it. It sure does open some possibilities (all speculation, of course) about where Fitz is going w/ the case.
I so hope this is true and Novak sees the inside of a Illinois jail cell. Last summer I predicted that Novak was involved and would be indicted.
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