On September 29, 2003, three days after it became known that the CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate who leaked the name of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, columnist Robert Novak telephoned White House senior adviser Karl Rove to assure Rove that he would protect him from being harmed by the investigation, according to people with firsthand knowledge of the federal grand jury testimony of both men.Why would such a call from Novak to Rove be of concern? Well, here's a prominent Washington lawyer, Stanley Brand, quoted by Waas:
Suspicious that Rove and Novak might have devised a cover story during that conversation to protect Rove, federal investigators briefed then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on the matter in the early stages of the investigation in fall 2003, according to officials with direct knowledge of those briefings. (emphasis added)
"It is the better part of wisdom and standing instruction that witnesses to an investigation do not talk to other witnesses about the case when the case is still pending. It raises the inference that they are comparing each other's recollections and altering or shaping each other's testimony."Novak's role in this entire mess, severely under reported, is finally coming in for some scrutiny. Waas recounts in detail how Novak's story has changed in the various public accounts that he has given of his sourcing on Plame's status. The coup de grace here in Waas' report, to me:
"It's possible that prosecutors would view their [September 29] conversation as the beginning of a conspiracy to obstruct justice, given that they had reason to believe that an investigation would soon be under way," says Richman. "It's even more likely that this conversation would help prosecutors shed light on Rove's motivations and intent when he later spoke to investigators."Once again the prospect of conspiracy charges, raised in the NY Daily news last week where a source speculated on Rove being named an "unindicted co-conspirator." Could the same fate befall Novak as well?