COOPER’S STORY….Matt Cooper, speaking to reporters after his grand jury testimony today, said he’s going to tell his whole story soon:

What took place in the grand jury room, all these kinds of questions, I’m going to address as a journalist, which is what I’d like to get back to being and go back and write that up and tell that story in my voice and hopefully in the pages of Time magazine soon.

But I’m going to save it for that. I’m not going to scoop myself today.

….I fully plan to write about my experience in the grand jury session and lay all that out.

I hope he does exactly that. At the same time, it’s really too bad that Cooper has become the center of attention in this case. As near as I can tell, his involvement is tangential at best and it allows conservatives to argue that Karl Rove did nothing wrong: It was just a casual remark at the end of a conversation on welfare reform. Karl was only trying to keep his buddy Matt from reporting bad information.

But of course it wasn’t casual. Rove and at least one other White House official were systematically telling every reporter they could about Valerie Plame, and Cooper just happened to be one of them. It was a deliberate plan, not an offhand remark.

In any case, it’s a lame defense and will probably come back to haunt Rove’s defenders. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is sure acting like a guy who has the goods on this whole affair, and if he starts delivering indictments it’s going to make the Greek chorus singing Rove’s praises look pretty silly. Oh, it was six reporters? Over the course of three days? And some of the calls were from Air Force One? Um….

Frankly, smart Republicans would be well advised to hedge their bets. As Mark Kleiman explains, the legal case against the leakers is probably stronger than most people believe, and if Fitzgerald decides any of these guys lied to his investigators he’s going to throw that into the mix as well. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

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