During his tour of the Sunday shows this morning, Karl Rove attempted to downplay and dismiss his role in the CIA leak scandal, telling Fox News’ Chris Wallace that he acted benignly in his conversations with reporters about Valerie Plame’s identity:
What I did say to one reporter was, I’ve heard that, too. And what I said to another reporter, off the record, was, in essence, I don’t think you ought to be writing about this.
Appearing on Meet The Press today, Matthew Cooper, one of the reporters to whom Rove spoke about Plame, said Rove’s version of the story was hard to believe. “I think he was dissembling to put it charitably,” said Cooper. “To imply that he didn’t know about [Plame's identity], or that he heard it in some rumor out in the hallways, is nonsense.”
Cooper also contradicted Rove’s characterization of their conversation, describing the “essence” of it as much more than just an attempt to wave him off the story:
Look, Karl Rove told me about Valerie Plame’s identity on July 11, 2003. I called him because Ambassador Wilson [Plame's husband] 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.
Cooper’s right. Rove is peddling “non-sense” with his brushed off description of his role in the leak scandal. On Meet The Press, Rove also declared, “if a journalist had said to me, ‘I’d like you to confirm this,’ my answer would have been ‘I can’t, I don’t know, I’ve heard that too,’”
But as Cooper notes, Rove not only confirmed to him that Plame worked at the CIA, but he willingly pushed the information to him without it even being solicited, telling him that she “works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues.”
When pressed by Wallace about his conversation with Cooper, however, Rove resorted to the administration’s standard line when asked about inconvenient facts: “I don’t recall.”
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars has more on Rove’s Meet the Press appearance here and here.
UPDATE II: Marcy Wheeler, who wrote a book about the Plame scandal, debunks Rove’s Meet the Press claims here.