Karl Rove: Not As Careful As You Think

Reuters’ write-up of Rove’s involvement in the leak scandal captures the emerging consensus within the media that Karl Rove is an astute wordsmith who carefully-parsed his statements:

Rove has carefully chosen his words when questioned about the leak. “I didn’t know her name. I didn’t leak her name,” he told CNN last year when asked if he had had anything to do with it.

There’s no doubt that Rove has tried to carefully parse his statements, but what is being overlooked is that Rove actually did not choose his words carefully enough.

Consider his two on-the-record comments about the leak (which are both on-camera):

Reporter: Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press?
Rove: No. [ABC, 9/29/03]

Rove: Well, I’ll repeat what I said to ABC News when this whole thing broke some number of months ago. I didn’t know her name and didn’t leak her name. [CNN, 8/31/04]

Notice that in the second statement, Rove rephrases what ABC’s original question was to him, omitting the part where the reporter asked whether he had “any knowledge” of the leak. Rove offered a categorical denial to the entire question. The ABC reporter did not ask whether Rove knew Plame’s name — that was simply offered as part of Rove’s later recasting of the question.

If Rove wants to play these legal word games, then he should explain why he said he did not have any knowledge of the leak when he was Matt Cooper’s source.