The recent revelation that former State Department deputy Richard Armitage has been cooperating with Joe Wilson Scandal investigator, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, is raising some eyebrows. The New York Daily News reported last week that “Two sources familiar with the case said Armitage, Rove and Libby all had contacts with the press about [Wilson spouse Valerie] Plame. Unlike Rove and Libby, Armitage appears to have tried to dissuade reporters from writing about her.”
But that isn’t the case. Fitzgerald himself has released materials that indicated that at the very least Rove, too, made an effort to dissuade reporters from writing about the Wilson trip to Niger and the fact that Wilson’s wife played a central role in arranging it.
Time reporter Matthew Cooper outlined this in his initial reporting on his contacts with Rove, and Rove similarly explained this in email traffic he and his attorneys turned over to Fitzgerald. Cooper explained that he contacted Rove just as Rove was about to leave on vacation. When the Plame matter was raised, Rove told Cooper that there was much more to the story and that it wasn’t advisable for him to write about it now.
“This notion that Rove was doing one thing and Armitage was doing something else just isn’t true,” says a former White House staffer who has been tracking the Fitzgerald investigation. “You look at the email that Cooper sent to his bosses, and which Fitzgerald has played up, and Cooper writes that Rove warned him not to ‘get too far out on Wilson.’ Rove clearly was steering Cooper away. And that’s been on the record now since last summer.”
The New York Daily News article appeared in the same week that other online reports had Rove being “secretly” indicted and that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had been informed of the indictment, even though Gonzales has recused himself from the case, thus making his knowledge of the grand jury proceedings extremely unlikely.
“There is a growing sense that Libby’s defense is mounting a strong case and that Rove’s situation is becoming more clarified,” says the former White House staffer, who says he has not had contact with Rove or his outside legal team. “I’m just tea-leaf-reading like everyone else, but Karl’s been out talking to a lot of people about the party, the election and the President’s strategy. I don’t think he’d do that if things weren’t a bit clearer for him.”
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