But the fact remains, several sources close to the investigation said, that Rove is in serious legal jeopardy. According to sources, Fitzgerald is expected to decide before the end of the year whether to seek an indictment against Rove for obstruction of justice and making false statements to Justice Department, FBI investigators, and the grand jury on three separate occasions, for failing to disclose a conversation he had with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper in July 2003 about Plame Wilson.
According to these sources, unless Novak, who is scheduled to testify before a grand jury this week about her conversation with Luskin in 2004, provides evidence that can convince the grand jury that Rove genuinely forgot he spoke with Cooper in July 2003, and that only when Novak "casually" told Luskin a year later that Cooper obtained his information about Plame Wilson directly from Rove did Rove remember, the man known as the "architect" will most likely find himself facing a criminal indictment.
Two Time magazine reporters who have shared bylines with Novak on several Plame Wilson articles published in the magazine and are familiar with her meeting with Luskin in 2004 said she will testify that she simply repeated to Luskin what had long been rumored in Washington, DC, circles for over a year at the time: that Rove was Cooper's source.
Novak - who bears no relation to syndicated columnist Robert Novak, the journalist who first published Plame Wilson's name and CIA status in a July 14, 2003, column - met Luskin in Washington, DC, in the summer of 2004, and over drinks, the two discussed Fitzgerald's investigation into the Plame Wilson leak. Luskin had assured Novak that Rove learned Plame Wilson's name after it was published in news accounts and that only then did he phone other journalists to draw their attention to it. But Novak, perhaps trying to convince Luskin that she knew more than she really did about her colleague Cooper's source, made an offhanded, casual comment to Luskin to the effect that the internal buzz at Time contradicted Luskin's account, in that everyone in the newsroom knew Rove was Cooper's source and that he would testify to that in an upcoming grand jury appearance, these sources said.
Novak, who has written for Common Cause magazine, and co-authored the book Inside the Wire, about the atrocities at the Guantánamo prison camp, was in no way trying to tip off Luskin, the sources said; rather, she was trying to gauge his reaction to her comments because "she sensed a story," and thought that maybe Luskin would provide her with a "scoop" by disclosing to her that Rove was in fact Cooper's source.
Ok, the account by Leopold's Time sources seems to corroborate what David Corn was reporting in his blog the other day. It appears that some of Viveca's friends are trying to fight back against Luskin's spin.
It is unclear whether Rove was misleading Hadley about his conversation with Cooper, perhaps, because White House officials told its staff not to engage reporters in any questions posed about Wilson's Niger claims.
But Fitzgerald is said to be suspicious about the chain of events that led up to the discovery of the email. Moreover, he is said to be convinced that Rove had changed his story once it became clear that Cooper would be compelled to testify about the source - Rove - who revealed Plame Wilson's CIA status to him.
Additionally, Viveca Novak's forthcoming testimony before the grand jury appears unlikely to be helpful to Rove, and seems more an attempt at a stall tactic, sources inside Fitzgerald's investigation said.
For one thing, when Luskin and Novak met for drinks in the summer of 2004, there had already been Beltway gossip, and numerous accounts in major newspapers, fingering Rove as the source of the Plame Wilson leak to Cooper and Robert Novak, none of which forced Rove or Luskin to go back and search for evidence to determine if the rumors had merit.
Furthermore, sources close to Fitzgerald's investigation said, unless Viveca Novak pointedly told Luskin that she knew for a fact that Cooper would testify that Rove was his source, and that she had evidence to back it up, she was simply repeating to Luskin what had already been rumored when the leak first became public, and there is no reason to believe that her statements single-handedly forced Rove and Luskin to go back and check their facts.
Well, we knew that. Luskin clearly threw some garbage at Fitzgerald (the Adam Levine email, Novak conversation) in order to delay Rove's impending doom. We knew that this "last minute info" was weak at best and you would really have to grasp at some straws to make a case out of it.