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Karl Rove, Robert Luskin and various vacuous overly hairsprayed TV mannequins have managed to deflect most of the media attention onto Rove’s legal liability over the sudden discovery of the Hadley email, but as Digby points out in a post today his culpability probably goes much deeper than that.

Rove has said at various times that he first learned of Plame from reporters, but he can’t remember which one (or ones), and also that he heard from Scooter Libby. But as we know from the Libby indictment, Fitzgerald says that Rove — or "Official X" — is the one who mentions it to Libby, and not vice versa. He either did or didn’t confirm or tell Robert Novak, and his Matt Cooper story has so many incarnations (or "rolling disclosures") it’s a veritable urban legend all on its own.

Many, many opportunities for Rove’s flexible (and one might say pathological) relationship with the truth to rear its ugly head.

But Digby notes an interesting chain in the Cooper tale. Despite the absurd "Luskin spoke to Viveca Novak" in January theory that only Jim VandeHei seems to be pursuing, most people reasonably assume that Rove probably testified the first time before the grand jury and said, in effect, "Matt who." And then some time after that, Luskin talks to Viveca Novak, who probably doesn’t shake any earth when she tells him his client is Matt Cooper’s source. But she does let him know that the story is in circulation, and that any one of a number of people might wag their chins at Fitzgerald.

So by the time Rove goes before the grand jury in October 2004, he still thinks Cooper might keep the details secret, but he’d better acknowledge some kind of conversation with Cooper lest people he can’t control get gabby behind closed doors. Hence the cover story about "welfare reform" that eventually drifted off and momentarily touched down on Plame.

What Rove wasn’t counting on was the fact that Time Magazine would eventually cave and turn over Cooper’s notes and dash the whole welfare reform nonsense. And that is what ultimately led to Rove’s next grand jury appearance, which some argue happened in early July 2005. Whether there is another grand jury appearance in there that makes the October 2005 the fifth one is open to debate, but I think that rumor just may be the result of sloppy reporting.

If anyone would like to argue that Rove somehow dripped this in front of Patrick Fitzgerald in staggering bouts of recovered memory in a way that seems plausible, I’m all ears. Because all I see is an inveterate liar being busted time and time again in his lies by a dogged and thorough prosecutor, even with Rove’s own highly paid spinners being the sole dispenser of public information as Fitzgerald remains unflinchingly silent.

And the next time you hear some empty head on TV talking about how Fitzgerald will think twice before indicting someone as powerful as Karl Rove, don’t believe it. I’ve spoken with people he’s worked with in both the FBI and the justice department who say that while some US attorneys are reluctant to prosecute the high and the mighty for fear that as political appointees they’ll ruin their careers, Patrick Fitzgerald is not one of them.

The wingnuts can tell that one to their little wingnutty offspring as they tuck them into bed at night if they want. Because that’s all it is, a wingnut fairy tale.

(thanks to Pollyusa for links & heavy lifting)