This morning’s WaPo article contained a new bit about the Stephen Hadley email sent by Karl Rove on July 11, 2003 following his conversation with Matt Cooper. According to the article:
Shortly before his client’s second appearance before the grand jury in October, Luskin personally conducted a review of thousands of e-mails Rove had sent during the crucial weeks in 2003, including those from accounts reserved for personal and political correspondence, a source familiar with the situation said.
Amid the e-mails, Luskin found one sent from Rove to Stephen J. Hadley, then deputy national security adviser, in which Rove mentioned his conversation with Cooper. The e-mail was written from Rove’s government account, which investigators searched early in the inquiry. It is unclear why the e-mail was not discovered at that time.
Once found by Luskin, the e-mail was shared with Rove and then quickly turned over to Fitzgerald, the source said. Rove then testified that the e-mail "established that he had in fact had a conversation with Cooper," the source said.
Up until now, the explanation — as dictated to the Rove-friendly Michael Isikoff — has been:
Why didn’t the Rove e-mail surface earlier? The lawyer says it’s because an electronic search conducted by the White House missed it because the right "search words" weren’t used.
This new information about the email production just makes no sense. I can’t even figure out why they would want to put it out there. And someone who knows more about document production can correct me, but based on my limited experience, the chain of events as sketched by Camp Rove is supposed to look something like this:
1. Abu Gonzales sends the an email telling everyone to turn over relevant documents regarding Joe Wilson, the Niger forgeries and any contact with media.
2. White House IT people do a document search that curiously does not contain the words "Wilson," "Niger" or "Time Magazine."
3. Hard copies are usually made of all the relevant documents and in addition to being turned over to Gonzo for production to the DoJ, copies would most certainly go to Rove’s personal attorney.
4. Luskin combs over the documents for the low low price of $900/hr. or whatever the hell he charges.
5. After hearing from ViVak whatever he heard about his client, he has all Rove’s emails delivered to him in some form. (Does Luskin even have the security clearance to view all Rove’s emails?)
6. Luskin reads all the emails, discovers the incriminating document 10 months later, calls Karl and says "oh my gosh, Karl, you’ll never believe what I just found!" Karl faints from shock.
None of this, of course, makes any sense. Presuming we know even a fraction of what is going on, there are only two explanations I can come up with. One, they are going for something really weird like it took Luskin 10 months to read them all.
Or, we are in a situation like we were when the Dick Cheney leak got floated in the NYT four days before the Libby indictment: somebody may feel like indictment day is just around the corner and is trying to get information out there so its impact can dissipate before the boom lowers.
Poorly Chosen Words
Then there is the wording of the Hadley email, which has always been peculiar:
"Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he’s got a welfare reform story coming," Rove wrote Hadley, who has since risen to the top job of national security adviser.
"When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn’t this damaging? Hasn’t the president been hurt? I didn’t take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn’t get Time far out in front on this."
But as we know from Matt Cooper’s account that the conversation went nothing like that. Combine that with the fact that it was not produced in response to the initial September 30, 2003 document request and in fact did not surface until some time before Rove’s October 15, 2004 appearance before the grand jury and it has lead many to presume it might have been forged ex-post-facto. I’m not of this theory, but understand why many are.
Anyway, pollyusa leads us to a comment by Billmon over at Jeralyn’s which makes a lot of sense:
The memo itself is an interesting artifact. When I first read about it, I interpreted it as Rove’s attempt to establish an alibi — i.e. "Cooper tried to get me to talk about Wilson’s wife, but I didn’t go for it, nosirree." But in hindsight, it looks more to me like Rove was trying to con Hadley into believing that he (Rove) was not poaching on his turf. My guess is that there was an agreement in place that the NSC would respond to questions about Niger, which Rove and Libby of course were violating with their trash Joe Wilson campaign.
Rove and Luskin, of course, have tried to spin the email as exculpatory, even it doesn’t jibe at all with Cooper’s account of the conversation. I’m sure Fitzgerald doesn’t see it that way, which is why I think the LONG gap between Novak’s chat with Luskin and the production of the email may end up playing a role in his decision to indict.
That’s the most plausible explanation I’ve heard so far for the wacky wording, and if so it may mean that Hadley was not in fact part of the "get Wilson" campaign.
Most everyone I speak to agrees that this Hadley email is going to take center stage in whatever happens to Rove, and possibly to others. But the thing that argues against Hadley not being part of the campaign is that a search on his end did not turn up the document, either. Coincidence? I’m having a hard time with that one.
Update: Swopa has more on the Hadley enigma.
Update 2: Hadley will be on whatever that Sunday morning CNN show with the bearded one is called.