THE OTHER NOVAK….The speculation-to-fact ratio in Valerie Plame blogging has gotten so far out of hand that I’ve mostly given up writing about it. But today’s story by Time reporter Viveca Novak (no relation to Robert Novak) does explain a few things we’ve only been guessing at before. It describes a series of meetings she had with Karl Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin, in 2003 and 2004:

Toward the end of one of our meetings, I remember Luskin looking at me and saying something to the effect of “Karl doesn’t have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt.” [They’re talking about Time reporter Matt Cooper here.] I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me, and said something like, “Are you sure about that? That’s not what I hear around Time.” He looked surprised and very serious. “There’s nothing in the phone logs,” he said.

…. I didn’t find out until this fall that, according to Luskin, my remark led him to do an intensive search for evidence that Rove and Matt had talked. That’s how Luskin says he found the e-mail Rove wrote to Stephen Hadley at the National Security Council right after his conversation with Matt, saying that Matt had called about welfare reform but then switched to the subject of Iraq’s alleged attempt to buy uranium yellowcake in Niger. According to Luskin, he turned the e-mail over to Fitzgerald when he found it, leading Rove to acknowledge before the grand jury in October 2004 that he had indeed spoken with Cooper.

Of course, this is intended to explain why Karl Rove failed to mention his conversation with Matt Cooper during his initial testimony in front of the grand jury. He just forgot. And he only remembered after Luskin’s “intensive search” refreshed his memory.

Well, maybe. But keep in mind Raw Story’s claim that Rove’s assistant, Susan Ralston, testified last month that Rove had specifically instructed her not to log Rove’s call with Cooper. I don’t know if Raw Story has this right, but if they do then Patrick Fitzgerald probably isn’t very impressed by Luskin’s intensive search. Telling your assistant to scrub the phone log isn’t really the kind of thing you’d forget in the first place.