Yesterday, Karl Rove testified for almost four hours before a federal grand jury about his previous statements pertaining to the leak of an undercover CIA agent’s identity. Rove offered this stunning defense:
Rove’s testimony focused almost exclusively on his conversation about Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in 2003 and whether the top aide later tried to conceal it, the source [close to Rove] said. Rove testified, in essence, that “it would have been a suicide mission” to “deliberately lie” about his conversation with Cooper because he knew beforehand that it eventually would be revealed, the source said.
Rove wants the grand jury to believe that he wouldn’t have lied in 2003 about his role in the Plame affair because he knew journalists would ultimately tell the truth. But in fact, President Bush and the White House believed in 2003 that journalists would remain silent about the case and would refuse to name their sources:
“I have no idea whether we’ll find out who the leaker is — partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers.” [Bush, 10/7/03]
Rove was first interviewed by the FBI around the same time that Bush made this statement. All throughout late-2003 (when Ashcroft was still heading the investigation), the White House had reason to believe that the Plame investigation was not going to seek the testimony of reporters. Recall, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was not even appointed until the beginning of 2004. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported it wasn’t until 2004 that journalists were contacted to testify.
The evidence suggests that when Rove testified in October 2003, he did not believe Matt Cooper would be ultimately be forced to testify against him in July 2005.