Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper

Jane at Firedoglake reports an "unsubstantiated rumor" from a source that desires to remain anonymous that Viveca Novak told Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin that his client was a source of Cooper's back in May, 2004 when Cooper was subpoenaed about Libby. [Background here.]

Jane's source reports that it was Luskin's conversation with Novak that jogged his memory about Rove's e-mail to Stephen Hadley.

Does it help Rove? Back to the dates again. The New York Times reported on November 4, 2005:

At the heart of the remaining investigation into Mr. Rove are the circumstances surrounding a July 11, 2003, telephone conversation between Mr. Rove and Mr. Cooper....In his testimony to the grand jury in February 2004, Mr. Rove did not disclose the conversation with Mr. Cooper, saying later that he did not recall it among the hundreds of calls he received on a daily basis. But there was a record of the call. Mr. Rove had sent an e-mail message to Stephen J. Hadley, the deputy national security adviser, which confirmed the conversation.

[Rove associates] said Mr. Rove never intended to withhold details of a conversation with a reporter from Mr. Fitzgerald, noting that Mr. Rove had signed a waiver to allow reporters to reveal to prosecutors their discuskeptical of Mr. Rove's account because the message was not discovered until the fall of 2004. It was at about the same time that Mr. Fitzgerald had begun to compel reporters to cooperate with his inquiry, among them Mr. Cooper. Associates of Mr. Rove said the e-mail message was not incriminating and was turned over immediately after it was found at the White House. ...In addition, they said, Mr. Rove testified fully about his conversation with Mr. Cooper -- long before Mr. Cooper did -- acknowledging that it was possible that the subject of Mr. Wilson's trip had come up.

Then there is this interesting note:

Mr. Fitzgerald did not learn of the Cooper conversation until months later when a search of Mr. Rove's e-mails uncovered the e-mail that he had sent to Mr. Hadley. ''

This seems to be the Rove version: Rove testifies in February, 2004 and does not remember Cooper. Cooper gets subpoenaed about Libby in May, 2004, and Viveca Novak says something about Libby being Cooper's source that jogs Luskin's memory about Rove. In the fall of 2004, he finds the Hadley e-mail and on October 15, 2004, sends Rove back to testify and correct the record -- which just happens to be two days after Matt Cooper was held in contempt for refusing to testify against Rove.

Rove can say since he was the first one to come forward with the disclosure of the Cooper call, he gets to assert recantation to avoid being charged with perjury in the fall of 2004.

(d) Where, in the same continuous court or grand jury proceeding in which a declaration is made, the person making the declaration admits such declaration to be false, such admission shall bar prosecution under this section if, at the time the admission is made, the declaration has not substantially affected the proceeding, or it has not become manifest that such falsity has been or will be exposed.

I think Rove is still trying to squirm his way out of a perjury and/or obstruction charge and convince Fitzgerald to charge him only with making a false statement to investigators, which with a decent 5k reduction, might get him down to a range of probation or home detention.

But what do you think?

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    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    Seems like it depends on whether or not the holding of Cooper in contempt can be interpreted as making it manifest that Rove's leak to Cooper would be be exposed. On that, it seems to me, the recantation defense hangs, assuming the fact scenario stipulated. Am I missing something, Jeralyn?

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    On second thought, could Fitz bypass the whole issue I just described and make an argument that Rove's withholding of information substantially affected the proceeding? On further consideration, I would think he could, easily, make that argument. The leaking of this information is the whole purpose of this investigation. It's hard to see a recantation defense holding up, no?

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    For the life of me I can't see it helps Rove's case to show that Luskin knew, five months before Rove "corrected" his account, that Rove was Cooper's source. In fact, it seems that this information would make it pretty well obvious that by October it was quite manifest to Rove that his "falsity had been or would be exposed," right? Am I reading this incorrectly? Pach -- I think Fitzgerald, cautious as he seems, might not want to try the "affecting the proceeding" approach, which might look overly-agressive to some.

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    Yes, it's hard to see a recantation defense holding up if Fitz charges perjury. But it's worth Rove's while to try and talk Fitz out of charging it by supplying facts that might constitute a defense. Then Fitz can tell us he wasn't confident he could prove perjury beyond a reasonable doubt and decided not to ask the grand jury to indict on it.

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    It looks like Luskin is trying to show Fitzgerald that Rove recanted because of a "recovered memory," not because the falsity of his testimony was about to be exposed. If Luskin can lay down a plausible sequence of events leading to that recovered memory, and if those events occurred before it was clear that Cooper would testify, the recantation defense might cause Fitzgerald to doubt the strength of his case. It's not a great strategy, but Luskin has very few arrows in his quiver. On the other hand, they don't know what Fitzgerald knows. If, for example, the email to Hadley turns out to be fabricated, or if Rove instructed Ralston not to log the call from Cooper, Rove is dead meat no matter what excuse Luskin comes up with.

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    Grampa, in your first paragraph you said what I was trying to say better than I did, thanks. I doubt the email to Hadley was a fabrication. I'm skeptical only because Luskin won't pin himself down on how or when he found it. Some news articles have said the White House turned it over, while others said Luskin did. I doubt Luskin would have a way of finding it since it was on a White House computer (Rove was at work when he wrote it.) I've wondered before on TL somewhere whether it might not have been Hadley who found the e-mail and tipped off Rove and Luskin.

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    Ditto Grampa, that makes it clear even to a simple mind such as my own (and can I say I'm in such info overload on this whole subject? It has really taxed my limited brain space.)

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    Jaralyn, I'm not good at following two threads at once, but I mentioned over at Firedoglake that prosecutors may have had the email to Hadley before it was "discovered" by Rove/Luskin. Murry Wass here says the FBI suspected Rove of lying about his conversation with Cooper very early on, which is one of the reasons that Fitz was brought in. Perhaps they suspected Rove because they already had his email to Hadley.

    Re: Rumor: Viveca Novak Told Luskin About Cooper (none / 0) (#9)
    by Batocchio on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:33 PM EST
    I'm not sure Rove will pull it off, but I think his strategy has to be very much as you theorize. He can play the faulty memory card and possibly wriggle out of perjury and obstruction of justice, but my sense is that a false statement charge would probably stick if Fitzgerald pushes for it. Like everyone else, I like Grandpa's take, above, on Luskin's defense... but how much does Fitzgerald know? I feel Fitzgerald hasn't indicted Rove yet due to his characteristic caution, not because he doesn't have something... but we'll see. By the way, is anyone else troubled by the report than Viveca Novak and Luskin are friends? Since she was covering Luskin's client in the news, that's a potentially large conflict of interest... especially if one of their conversations now becomes key to Rove's defense. Why would she be telling Luskin anything material? Wouldn't that be the purview of Time's lawyers? I'm interested to see what the tale is there.

    Here's one question: If V. Novak said something to Luskin that jogged his memory about Rove, why did it take so long for Rove and his mouthpiece to retrieve the e-mail to Hadley and come forward? Did they decide at first to sit tight and see whether Fitzgerald would actually threaten Cooper with jail? And if so, how would that affect a recantation defense? I mean, it's not like they were any hurry to "correct the record." The memo itself is an interesting artifact. When I first read about it, I interpreted it as Rove's attempt to establish an alibi -- i.e. "Cooper tried to get me to talk about Wilson's wife, but I didn't go for it, nosirree." But in hindsight, it looks more to me like Rove was trying to con Hadley into believing that he (Rove) was not poaching on his turf. My guess is that there was an agreement in place that the NSC would respond to questions about Niger, which Rove and Libby of course were violating with their trash Joe Wilson campaign. Rove and Luskin, of course, have tried to spin the email as exculpatory, even it doesn't jibe at all with Cooper's account of the conversation. I'm sure Fitzgerald doesn't see it that way, which is why I think the LONG gap between Novak's chat with Luskin and the production of the email may end up playing a role in his decision to indict.

    off topic, deleted. Commenter warned.