A Rove’s Gallery

Illustration by Mr. Fish

Karl Rove may have released Time correspondent Matt Cooper from their double super-secret background conversation pact — thus allowing Cooper to avoid jail time — but it remains to be seen whether Turd Blossom himself will be able to evade the law in the Valerie Plame case. Indeed, after Time turned over the “Subject: Rove/P&C” e-mail last week, there has been a growing number of troubling questions about what Rove knew about Plame and how he said it.

Take, for instance, his remarks on CNN last summer. When quizzed about Plame, Rove said: “I didn’t know her name. I didn’t leak her name.”

A carefully worded response — so as to technically exonerate Rove of criminal intent. But then he made a mistake. In that same interview, Rove said he was merely repeating “what [he] said to ABC News when this whole thing broke some number of months ago.” But in that September 2003 exchange on ABC’s The Note, Rove’s answer was different. When asked, “Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press,” his non-nuanced answer was simple: “No.” Name or not, Rove clearly had some “knowledge” of the subject. Perhaps that why the White House has gone from promising to fire the perpetrators back to Bush-style omerta:

Q: You said this morning, quote, “The president knows that Karl Rove wasn’t involved.” How does he know that?
Scott McClellan: Well, I’ve made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place... If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.

—White House press briefing Sept. 29, 2003

“And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of... If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action.”

—President Bush, talking with reporters after a
meeting at the University of Chicago on Sept. 30, 2003

Whoops! Looks like McClellan set himself up for some hard questions later, which actually materialized at last Monday’s White House Press Briefing:

Q: Does the president stand by his pledge to fire anyone involved in the leak of a name of a C.I.A. operative?
McClellan: I think your question is being asked relating to some reports that are in reference to an ongoing criminal investigation. The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point. And as I’ve previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.

Q: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?
McClellan: Again, David, this is a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation...

Q: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, “I’ve gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this”?
McClellan: . . . As part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we’re not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

Q: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you’re going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you’ve decided not to talk. You’ve got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?
McClellan: I’m well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...

Q: (inaudible) when it’s appropriate and when it’s inappropriate?
McClellan: If you’ll let me finish.

Q: No, you’re not finishing. You’re not saying anything.

—White House press briefing July 11, 2005

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