Rove-Plame Speculation Update

David Corn thinks he's figured it out. I think he's only partly right. Here's what I think now, and the steps I take to get there:

1. Fitzgerald said in court the investigation has run its course and only Cooper and Miller can move it forward. (Chicago Tribune, July 7)

Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, has said for months that his investigation has concluded except for the testimony of Miller and Cooper. On Wednesday, he told the court that with Miller's refusal to testify, "we are having this whole thing derailed by one person."

2. After Cooper got his call, the New York Times reports there was a conference between lawyers for Rove and Cooper and Fitzgerald.

Mr. Cooper's decision to drop his refusal to testify followed discussions on Wednesday morning among lawyers representing Mr. Cooper and Karl Rove, the senior White House political adviser, according to a person who has been officially briefed on the case. Mr. Fitzgerald was also involved in the discussions, the person said.

I think during the discussions they disclosed what Cooper's testimony would be and Fitzgerald agreed Cooper did not implicate Rove in a crime.

3. The issue is not who Miller and Cooper's sources are, but what Miller's source told her - which she never printed.

4. Floyd Abrams, Miller's attorney, said that he and Miller assume they want her testimony because of what someone else told the grand jury.

Asked why prosecutors sought Miller's testimony when she never wrote a story about Plame, Times attorney Floyd Abrams said, "We don't know, but most likely somebody testified to the grand jury that he or she had spoken to Judy."

5. Lewis Libby gave a waiver for others to speak to the grand jury. Cooper had more than one source. All reporters but Miller and Cooper accepted Libby's waiver.

6. Miller and Cooper both asserted they thought their source's waiver was coerced. Cooper backed down when he got a personal waiver. Miller didn't get a call from the her source providing a waiver.

7. I think Miller's source is Lewis Libby who told her there was a high level meeting of Dick Cheney's staff the week before Novak's article appeared at which they discussed they were going to smear Joseph Wilson's wife who worked for the CIA. He may have also told her Rove was in on it. I don't think Cooper was told about the meeting. Rove denies knowing Valerie Plame's name.

8. Cheney's office later denied such a meeting took place.

9. Lewis Libby testified to the grand jury as did other members of Cheney's staff and Rove, and Cheney was interviewed by grand jury investigators.

10. There are six pages of blanked out information in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals concurring opinion by Judge Tatel. It doesn't take six pages to say X got a phone call from Y who said Z. It does take 6 pages to say Y called X and said the information disclosed during the call (the Z here) appears to make a case for perjury against Y and others because Y and others told the grand jury something different.

11. Miller went to jail not to protect the identity of her source, which is known by Fitzgerald, but what her source told her, because she knows it would make a criminal case against the source and others and she doesn't want to be the cause of that.

12. As to Novak, I think he told his sources early on - and he didn't implicate either in a crime.

Now, is Miller's source Libby, Rove or someone else? I don't know. But I think that whatever the source told her makes a case for the Government on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit perjury and obstruction of justice and conspiracy to leak a CIA undercover operative's identity. And Miller is the only one who can make the case because Cooper and Novak weren't told the same thing, even if their sources were the same. In other words, Miller was told more.

Everyone's known about Libby forever. But, no one knows what he told Miller. Karl Rove has only become headline news this week, and it's not clear that he ever spoke to Miller - only to Cooper. Cooper had more than one source.

So, I think Cooper spoke to Libby and Rove and neither one said anything that controverts what they told the grand jury - otherwise, the source wouldn't have given Cooper the waiver.

Miller's source told her something he didn't tell the others, and that information makes the crime(s).

Again, this is just my latest attempt to connect the dots.

Update: Many more people than I expected are reading these musings due to a link from Daily Kos, so I will include some more sources for my thoughts, all of which appeared in prior TalkLeft postings, in no particular order:

1. From Joseph Wilson's book, excerpted by Salon:

Apparently, according to two journalist sources of mine, when Rove learned that he might have violated the law, he turned on Cheney and Libby and made it clear that he held them responsible for the problem they had created for the administration. The protracted silence on this topic from the White House masks considerable tension between the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President.

2. On Fitzgerald knowing Miller's source, look to the subpoena to Judith Miller (from this DC Court of Appeals decision (pdf) upholding Cooper and Miller's contempt orders, which I wrote about here):

In the meantime, on August 12 and August 14, grand jury subpoenas were issued to Judith Miller, seeking documents and testimony related to conversations between her and a specified government official “occurring from on or about July 6, 2003, to on or about July 13, 2003, . . . concerning Valerie Plame Wilson (whether referred to by name or by description as the wife of Ambassador Wilson) or concerning Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium.”

Note that it requests conversations between her and "a specified government official" so Fitzgerald knew the source. And that the time period is the week before Novak's article was published.

3. On the information from Miller (and at the time Cooper) being critical to the investigation, Judge Tatel says in the linked opinion above:

That said, without benefit of the adversarial process, we
must take care to ensure that the special counsel has met his
burden of demonstrating that the information is both critical and
unobtainable from any other source. Having carefully
scrutinized his voluminous classified filings, I believe that he

4. As to Fitzgerald threatening Miller with criminal contempt and obstruction of justice charges, see the pleading he filed (pdf) arguing that she should not get home detention or be designated to a federal prison camp:

The question is whether Miller would defy a final court order and
commit the crime of contempt and thereby obstruct an investigation of persons who may have compromised classified information.

5. Also on the importance of Miller's testimony, in that same pleading, Fitzgerald states:

If Miller persists in unlawfully depriving the grand jury of her prospective testimony and documents, which the Court of Appeals found to be “both critical and unobtainable from any other source” and necessary to an effort “to remedy[] a serious breach of the public trust,” she will frustrate the purpose of this national security investigation where the Court of Appeals noted the “gravity of the suspected crime.”

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  • Display: Sort:
    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#1)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    Abbott: "Who's on first!" Costello: "That's what I'm trying to find out!"

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    Thanks for the post. Four things: 1. Though it doesn't seem important to the logic of your post, IIRC Matt Cooper did accept Libby's waiver as beyond Libby's waiver he had been personally assured by Libby that he was free to testify to the grand jury regarding their interaction and Cooper did so while refusing to discuss the "other" source. 2. Could there be FISA warrants involved in all this? Wiretaps or whatever that the gov't might know but not want to disclose or maybe even inadmissable that force them to get Miller's testimony even though they already know the story? I'm just trying to understand the voluminous pages of secret filings. This is national security after all and Miller did have many contacts with foreign nationals. Some information may even have been swept up as a by-product of other investigations. 3. Somewhere I saw a reference to Miller's testimony and documents. If Miller has documents that the prosecutor is seeking can she be compelled to provide them through court sanction? It's one thing to try to compel testimony, another to compel the production of notes and other documents. Seems to me the production of documents should be easier somehow. 4. You seem to completely discount the Miller as source or at least intermediate source theory. Miller was into WMD and proliferation. It seems entirely possible to me that Miller could have known of Plame's identity from another source and could have been involved in passing that information on to "senior administration sources." This, in fact, would completely explain why Miller didn't write about this--she couldn't claim to have "learned" from senior admin. sources and if she helped put this story out intenionally or not she would want to stay one step removed. I'm sure this sort of info trading must go on with reporters and their sources.

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    Why does Fitzgerald want to question Miller about her contact with a specific government official on July 6, the same day Joe Wilson went public about the phoney Niger documents?

    A whitehouse internal task force, the Whitehouse Iraq Group, that was working on ways to publicize Saddam Hussein threats, received a subpoena for records.

    A curious note. John Bolton's chief of staff, Fredrick Fleitz, is on loan from the CIA's WINPAC.

    Miller may have a bit larger role in this case than merely a journalist covering for a source. It's funny that she's so often right in the middle of a WMD story. The anthrax letter, her book, her stories for the Times prior to the war. Then her behavior in Iraq, leading people to places she thought the weapons might be. Coincidence maybe, but odd.

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:59 PM EST
    The discussion back and forth between Cooper and Rove's lawyers sure makes the phrase witness tampering come to mind.

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:00 PM EST
    And the dance of plausible deniability continues. No one, not the pols or the reporters, can stand up and act like adults and clear this up. Nothing but ass saving going on, and the truth will fade.

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#6)
    by txpublicdefender on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:00 PM EST
    Here's something I've been wondering. In Texas, you cannot convict someone of perjury or aggravated perjury on the statements of the defendant and just one other witness. Is there a similar rule in federal court? Also, it is an interesting idea that Judith Miller may actually be a source for some administration officials as opposed to being the recipient of information from a confidential source. If that is the case, of course, she has been lying to the court throughout the entire proceedings.

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#7)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:00 PM EST
    Just connecting the dots Whoa!!! Thank you, Sherlock Merritt. Miller went to jail not to protect the identity of her source, which is known by Fitzgerald, but what her source told her, because she knows it would make a criminal case against the source and others and she doesn't want to be the cause of that. Query. If so, what do you make of the ethics of Miller's decision? Would it be legitimate, or would it make her something like an accessory to a crime? Or somehow both?

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#8)
    by Tom Maguire on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:02 PM EST
    Good job. I doubt I can add anything without gilding the lily, but let me try this: Cheney met with prosecutors - we all know Bush did, so Cheney is no surprise. And for folks who doubt USA Today or Joe Wilson (as to Joe, that might not be anyone here), here is a WaPo account of the White House Iraq Group, which presumably discussed the firestorm over the President's "16 Words", the appropriate PR pushback, and, perhaps, Joe Wilson. Lewis and Rove were part of the group. Last idea - Walter Pincus has dropped out of the saga, but he got a leak arguably similar to Novak's on July 12 (prior to Novak's publication). Pincus was subpoenaed, but the source went to Fitzgerald and described the conversation himself. The diligent researcher can start here.

    Re: Rove-Plame Speculation Update (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:02 PM EST
    To have legs, this scandal needs a name. First there was Watergate. Then there was Whitewater. This is Leakwater. Asheville NC