Friday, July 15, 2005

'NY Times' Bombshell: Rove Talked to Novak About Plame

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 'NY Times' Bombshell: Rove Talked to Novak About Plame
Robert Novak

By Greg Mitchell

Published: July 14, 2005 11:55 PM ET

NEW YORK Late Thursday night, on the second anniversary of Robert Novak's column that disclosed the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA officer, The New York Times reported that Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with Novak as he was preparing that piece.

The date was July 8, 2003, and the phone call was initiated by Novak. The source, wrote the Times’ David Johnson and Richard W. Stevenson, was “someone who has been officially briefed on the matter.”

The article further revealed that Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of Plame, not the other way around. After hearing from Novak about Plame, according to this source, Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too." The Novak column appeared six days later.

The conversation with Novak took place three days before Rove chatted with Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper about the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Actually, as the Times noted, this account squares up pretty well with Novak’s own description, contained in a column of Oct. 1, 2003. Novak wrote then that a first inside official gave him the tip on Plame and a second source confirmed that. That second source was Rove, the Times says.

Asked by investigators how he knew enough to confirm Novak 's information was accurate, write Johnston and Stevenson, Rove said he had heard portions of the story about Plame helping to arrange her husband's trip to Africa from other journalists, but had not heard her name.

Rove has said he did not know the C.I.A. officer's name and did not leak it. The Times' source holds that Rove did not know that Plame was a covert officer.

Robert D. Luskin, Rove's lawyer, said Thursday, "Any pertinent information has been provided to the prosecutor." The Times said Novak declined to discuss the matter.

The Times added this description of its source: “The person who provided the information about Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak declined to be identified, citing requests by Mr. Fitzgerald that no one discuss the case. The person discussed the matter in the belief that Mr. Rove was truthful in saying he did not disclose Ms. Wilson's identity.”

The Times reporters observe: “The revelation of Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak raises a question the White House has never addressed: whether Mr. Rove ever described that conversation, or his conversation with Mr. Cooper, with the president.”

Greg Mitchell ( is editor of E&P.


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