Karl Rove is working feverishly to rewrite history in the few remaining days before he is no longer taking taxpayer money to do the political work of the Bush-Cheney administration.
The White House political czar, who had never been a frequent guest on the talking-head shows where Washington insiders make news on otherwise slow Sundays, was front and center on NBC-TV’s "Meet the Press" and Fox News Sunday. The interviews of Rove by NBC’s David Gregory and Fox’s Chris Wallace were lousy.
Obviously hoping to get Rove’s help in landing heftier interviews with those who will remain on the administration’s sinking ship longer than the man they referred to as "Bush’s brain," Gregory and Wallace asked soft questions and then allowed Rove to dodge them. Indeed, when the discussion came close to getting serious about documented examples of Rove’s dramatic abuses of his position, the soon-to-be-former presidential aide glibly responded, "nice try," or declared "I’m going to leave it there" — essentially telling his supposed inquisitors that it was time to move on to the next topic.
Fortunately, in the discussion that followed the Rove interview on "Meet The Press," Gregory hosted veteran Time Magazine Washington reporter Matt Cooper.
Cooper bluntly described Rove’s precise role in the scandalous — and, depending on chosen interpretations of the law, treasonous — leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. That 2003 leak came as part of an administration scheme to discredit Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who had revealed details about the misuse of intelligence prior to the launch of the Iraq War by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and others.
While Rove is busy evading questions about the abuse of his position to punish a political critic, and while Rove’s defenders continue to peddle the lie that says their man was never in the lead when it came to leaking information about Plame, Cooper’s comments again confirmed the dirty dealing in which Bush’s political henchman engaged on behalf of the president and vice president.
Here is the significant section of the conversation between Gregory and Cooper:
DAVID GREGORY: Matt Cooper, let’s pick up on an aspect of the interview with, with Karl Rove having to do with the leak case, the CIA leak case, that you were part of as well. And something that’s very interesting, he, he went out of his way to say, "I would not have been a confirming source on this kind of information" and taking issue with, with Novak’s testimony in his column that he knew who Valerie Plame was. He said he would never confirm that information. That’s different from your experience with him.
MATT COOPER: Yeah, I, I think he was dissembling, to put it charitably. Look, Karl Rove told me about Valerie Plame’s identity on July 11th, 2003. I called him because Ambassador Wilson was in the news that week. I didn’t know Ambassador Wilson even had a wife until I talked to Karl Rove and he said that she worked at the agency and she worked on WMD. I mean, to imply that he didn’t know about it or that this was all the leak…by someone else, or he heard it as some rumor out in the hallway is, is nonsense.
DAVID GREGORY: But he makes no apologies to Valerie Plame.
MATT COOPER: Karl Rove never apologizes. That’s not what he does.
Karl Rove will keep spinning for a few more days.
So, too, will Rove’s apologists.
But spin is another word for "lie." And, while Rove has every reason to keep spinning, Cooper has no reason at all to do so. Additionally, while Rove avoids mention of precise dates and details with regard to the Wilson-Plame scandal, Cooper is forthcoming and specific.
The truth, as Matt Cooper has made plain, is that attempts by Rove and others to suggest that the political czar served honorably are simply "nonsense."
The question that remains — for congressional investigators if they ever choose to get serious about their oversight responsibilities — is not: Did Karl Rove intentionally leak the name of a CIA agent who worked in the sensitive area of investigating weapons of mass destruction? He did that. The question is: Who did Karl Rove consult with before making that leak? Did he talk with the vice president about a plan to discredit an administration critic? Did he talk to the president about leaking the identity of a CIA operative?
David Gregory and Chris Wallace failed to ask Karl Rove the relevant questions.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees, as well as other committees charged with checking and balancing these sorts of abuses, should now ask those questions. And if Rove claims executive privilege, the response should be that no president has the authority to convey upon a present — or former — aide the right to use an executive position in a secretive campaign to discredit a critic of the administration.
John Nichols’ new book is