PLAME UPDATE….Karl Rove testified today for the fifth time before the grand jury investigating the Valerie Plame case, and it appears that his testimony revolved around former Time magazine reporter Viveca Novak (no relation to Robert Novak). Here’s a recap:

  1. Rove originally testified that he had never spoken to Time reporter Matt Cooper about Plame.

  2. Later, Rove admitted that he had, in fact, spoken to Cooper. His excuse for his earlier testimony was that he had had a simple memory lapse and had forgotten about the conversation.

  3. However, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (or so it was rumored) didn’t buy the “I forgot” story and was ready to indict Rove for perjury. But then he held off. This was apparently due to a last-minute conversation he had with Rove’s lawyer, Robert Luskin.

  4. What Luskin told Fitzgerald was that Rove really had forgotten about his conversation with Cooper ? and what jarred Rove’s memory was a conversation Luskin had with Novak, who told him offhandedly that Cooper had spoken to Rove and everyone in the Time newsroom knew it. Luskin immediately went to Rove, initiated a massive search of Rove’s email, and eventually discovered that, yes, Rove really had spoken to Cooper. That was what caused Rove to go back to the grand jury and correct his testimony.

  5. But is that really true? The reason nobody knew about the phone call in the first place is that it wasn’t entered in Rove’s phone log, and Raw Story claims that Rove’s secretary has testified that Rove specifically told her not to log it. Needless to say, that’s mighty incriminating behavior. However, no other news account that I know of has confirmed this.

So: did Rove really forget? Or did he lie and then correct his testimony only when he knew he was about to get caught?

Perhaps the best clue is whether Fitzgerald asked Rove to testify (which Fitzgerald might do just to clear up some loose ends) or whether Rove volunteered to testify (which Rove wouldn’t do except as a last ditch effort to keep from being indicted). So far, reports are distinctly mixed on this point.

It’s all still rumors so far, though. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Luskin released this statement after Rove’s testimony:

In connection with this appearance, the Special Counsel has advised Mr. Rove that he is not a target of the investigation. Mr. Fitzgerald has affirmed that he has made no decision concerning charges.

That’s pretty weaselly language, so it’s hard to know what to make of it. Luskin doesn’t say that Rove isn’t a target, only that he’s not a target “in connection with this appearance.” As for bringing charges, there’s no telling what “no decision” means. Maybe he’s waiting to see if Rove cooperates in testimony against someone else. Maybe that’s just boilerplate stuff that prosecutors say until the day they hand down an indictment. Who knows?

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