ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, December 12, 2005

Viveca goes to Fitz

Today's Time magazine has an article from Viveca Novak detailing her experience being deposed by Fitzgerald in the ongoing CIA leak probe.

Luskin clearly thought that was going to help Rove, perhaps by explaining why Rove hadn't told Fitzgerald or the grand jury of his conversation with my colleague Matt Cooper about former Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife until well into the inquiry. I knew what Matt had been through--the unwanted celebrity, the speculation unrelated to fact, the dissection of his life and career. I didn't face the prospect of prison, since Luskin clearly wanted me to tell Fitzgerald about the incident and thus Luskin was not a source I had to protect, but no journalist wants to be part of the story.
Translation: I couldn't avoid testifying before the GJ if Fitz wanted me to.... RATS!

Fitzgerald and I met in my lawyer's office on Nov. 10 for about two hours. [My lawyer] had told him I would discuss only my interactions with Luskin that were relevant to the conversation in question. No fishing expeditions, no questions about my other reporting or sources in the case. He agreed, telling my lawyer that he wanted to "remove the chicken bone without disturbing the body."

Huh? What's with the corny sayins from Fitz? "Sand in the eyes of the umpire", "Remove the chicken bone", etc. So what did Fitz ask?
He asked how often Luskin and I met during the period from fall 2003 to fall 2004 (about five times), when, where and so forth. I had calendar entries that helped but weren't entirely reliable. Did I take notes at those meetings? No. Luskin was more likely to speak freely if he didn't see me committing his words to paper. Did Luskin ever talk to me about whether Rove was a source for Matt on the subject of Wilson's wife?

Uh-oh. Another reporter with crappy documentation to go along with their memory. If Rove is indicted I hope it doesn't pin on Viveca's uncorroborated recollection of when or what a specific conversation was. So what about that Cooper/Rove conversation?
Here's what happened. Toward the end of one of our meetings, I remember Luskin looking at me and saying something to the effect of "Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt." I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me, and said something like, "Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around TIME." He looked surprised and very serious. "There's nothing in the phone logs," he said.

How does Luskin say "Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem," unless its in response to a statement from Viveca along the lines of "Your client has a Cooper problem." What was Luskin's reaction?
I was taken aback that he seemed so surprised. I had been pushing back against what I thought was his attempt to lead me astray. I hadn't believed that I was disclosing anything he didn't already know. Maybe this was a feint. Maybe his client was lying to him. But at any rate, I immediately felt uncomfortable. I hadn't intended to tip Luskin off to anything. I was supposed to be the information gatherer. It's true that reporters and sources often trade information, but that's not what this was about. If I could have a do-over, I would have kept my mouth shut; since I didn't, I wish I had told my bureau chief about the exchange. Luskin walked me to my car and said something like, "Thank you. This is important."
Immediately, Viveca realizes that Luskin didn't know about Cooper's conversation with Rove. Lookin in hindsight this also makes it look like Rove is telling the truth. He didn't remember the conversation with Cooper. But Viveca has let on more than she knows. She's let on that she knew about the conversation. Which means Cooper or his editors were blabbing the fact to the Time's newsroom. Back to Viveca, who has now been called to testify under oath, and has told her editors at Time.

A new meeting with Fitzgerald was arranged for Dec. 8. Leaks about my role began appearing in the papers, some of them closer to the mark than others. They all made me feel physically ill. Fitzgerald had asked that I check a couple of dates in my calendar for meetings with Luskin. One of them, March 1, 2004, checked out. I hadn't found that one in my first search because I had erroneously entered it as occurring at 5 a.m., not 5 p.m.

[...]The problem with the new March date was that now I was even more confused--previously I had to try to remember if the key conversation had occurred in January or May, and I thought it was more likely May. But March was close enough to May that I really didn't know. "I don't remember" is an answer that prosecutors are used to hearing, but I was mortified about how little I could recall of what occurred when.

There those editors go again at Time with their leaking! Note to self, never be an anonymous source for anyone at Time, unless you want everybody to know who you are.

And wow she really has bad memory and note taking ability, doesn't she? Why do get the feeling that Luskin has better notes on their conversations (and probably expense reports!) than Viveca? It was important to Luskin, it was a mistake to Viveca, something she wanted to forget. And if there's one thing I know about lawyers, its that they aren't happy unless they are writing "memos to the file." So does Viveca think she just gave Rove a "Get out of Indictment free card?"
I didn't find out until this fall that, according to Luskin, my remark led him to do an intensive search for evidence that Rove and Matt had talked. That's how Luskin says he found the e-mail Rove wrote to Stephen Hadley at the National Security Council.
According to Luskin, he turned the e-mail over to Fitzgerald when he found it, leading Rove to acknowledge before the grand jury in October 2004 that he had indeed spoken with Cooper.
Nothing in Viveca's purported testimony disputes Luskin's statements, and the revised narrative likely clears Rove. One things for sure, Fitz better not be relying on Viveca's testimony to impeach Luskin! It's amazing she knows her own name.

So how's the Luskin/Viveca friendship?
One final note: Luskin is unhappy that I decided to write about our conversation, but I feel that he violated any understanding to keep our talk confidential by unilaterally going to Fitzgerald and telling him what was said. And, of course, anyone who testifies under oath for a grand jury (my sworn statement will be presented to the grand jury by Fitzgerald) is free to discuss that testimony afterward.
Oohh, not good! It looks like they won't be sharing a bottle of wine at Cafe Deluxe any longer. Since when does a reporter have a confidentiality agreement? I thought she didn't want to be "involved." If she's a source, she's involved.

One final note from the article:
Editor's Note: By mutual agreement, Viveca Novak is currently on a leave of absence.
Ouch! Sounds like Time and Viveca don't see eye to eye anymore. Viveca should just tell any prospective new employers that she didn't tell her editors because they leaked like sieves!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: Brian