Inconsistent stories on Rove's refreshed recollections?

Is Patrick Fitzgerald getting conflicting stories from Rove's lawyer and a Time reporter?

By Tim Grieve

Published December 9, 2005 3:01PM (EST)

We wondered Thursday whether Patrick Fitzgerald's decision to take the depositions of both Time reporter Viveca Novak and Karl Rove lawyer Robert Luskin might be a sign that Fitzgerald saw some kind of disconnect in their stories about conversations they have had. It turns out that we may have been right -- but that the inconsistencies may have been far more significant than we might have imagined.

Sources tell the Washington Post that Novak and Luskin have offered differing stories as to when they spoke about Karl Rove's involvement in leaking Valerie Plame's identity. The original, pro-Rove spin on the conversations was that Novak told Luskin sometime in early 2004 that Rove may have leaked Plame's identity to Time's Matthew Cooper; that Novak's warning prompted Luskin to ask the White House to search for e-mail messages that might reflect such a conversation; that, when the White House found just such a message, it refreshed Rove's recollection of a phone call with Cooper that he had forgotten to mention when he first testified before the grand jury in February 2004; and that, soon thereafter, Rove and Luskin told Fitzgerald about Rove's conversation with Cooper.

The Post says that one source "familiar with Novak's account" suggests that it did, in fact, play out that way -- that the conversation between Novak and Luskin took place in March or May 2004, definitely after Rove first testified before the grand jury in February. But another source "close to the case" tells the Post that Novak told Luskin about Rove's conversation with Cooper before Rove first testified before the grand jury, and that the Novak-Luskin exchange wasn't the reason Rove changed his story.

What was? That's for Rove to know -- and for Fitzgerald to find out.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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