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So very predictable.  Murray Waas breaks the story last week that details Karl Rove’s fifth trip to the grand jury.  Michael Isikoff then crawls to Gold Bars Luskin, promises to print something that shamelessly flatters both him and his client and excludes any narration of the absurd holes in Rove’s story.  Luskin’s all over that action. 

As the Washington Post reported in July of 2005, Fitzgerald was quite surprised to learn that Libby was not Matt Cooper’s original source (probably because Libby had testified to the fact that he had brought up the subject of Wilson’s wife with Cooper, per Fitzgerald’s August 27, 2004 affidavit).  Now we get a few more details:

Given permission to testify by Libby, who waived the usual reporter-source confidentiality agreement, Cooper met with Fitzgerald at the Washington office of Cooper’s lawyer, First Amendment expert Floyd Abrams. Yes, Cooper acknowledged to the prosecutor, he had spoken to Libby. And, yes, Libby had confirmed that Wilson’s wife had worked at the CIA and had played a role in sending Wilson to Africa on a fact-finding trip aimed at discovering whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was trying to buy uranium from the country of Niger. But according to Cooper, Libby had been offhand, passive—"Yeah, I’ve heard that, too," Libby allegedly replied when Cooper asked him about the role played by Wilson’s wife. In other words, Libby was not Cooper’s original source. Well, then, who was?

Fitzgerald seemed to be "surprised," according to a knowledgeable source who declined to be identified discussing a criminal investigation. He broke off the questioning to consult with a colleague, and then began to question Cooper over and over, methodically trying to make sure he wasn’t missing something. The prosecutor had to wonder: was someone else in the administration besides Libby a player in this drama? Fitzgerald is the sort of prosecutor whose very being is offended by deception and who will go to great lengths to pursue the truth.

Yeah well I can get a bit testy myself about being deceived, which is why the rest of this article is such an insult.

We now learn the mystery date of Rove’s missing grand jury appearance.  It turns out he testified twice in January February of 2004.  Twice?  Does seem like something in Rover’s story wasn’t matching up, doesn’t it?  Not to the incurious Isikoff:

But Rove never mentioned any conversation with Time’s Cooper. Then, in October 2004….

Wait, wait WAIT!!!  You can’t just make a leap like that.  What about all the stuff that happened in between February and October 2004?

….Rove, through his lawyer Luskin, suddenly turned over to the special prosecutor an e-mail, sent to Stephen Hadley, then deputy national-security adviser, that clearly showed that Rove had spoken to Cooper..  Reappearing before the grand jury that month, Rove acknowledged that he must have spoken to Cooper, but he still didn’t remember doing so. 

No, in May of 2004 Cooper was subpoenaed — but Rove would not grant him a waiver to testify.  Cooper fought the subpoena but Judge Thomas Hogan (who recently went on record as saying that underlying crimes were definitely committed in this case) found Cooper in contempt of court on October 13 and it became evident he would be forced to testify.  

Two days later, on October 15 Rove made another appearence before the grand jury (at his own request, which apparently happened after Time agreed to hand over Cooper’s notes): 

There the investigation stood until last summer—when Fitzgerald seemed to make a breakthrough. Threatened with jail, Cooper through his lawyer got a green light from Luskin to testify about his original source.

No, Cooper was practically in handcuffs when Luskin went running his mouth to the press, saying that if Matt Cooper was going to jail it wasn’t for Karl Rove.  Cooper’s attorney Dick Sauber seized on that as a waiver (of sorts).  If it wasn’t for Gold Bars’ love of seeing his name in print and Cooper had to rely on the goodness of Karl Rove’s heart, he’d no doubt be waterboarding in some gulag right now.

So why does Rove refuse to grant  a waiver so long to someone he doesn’t remember talking with?  Hmmm, good question.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for anyone to ask it.

Cooper finally testifies on July 13, 2005.  Not only does he remember the conversation, his emails to his editor at the time confirm the conversation (and oh the swift boating we would be witness to if he didn’t have them):

Now Rove was on the hot seat. Summoned back to the grand jury last October for a fourth time, Rove said it was "possible" that he had told Cooper about Wilson’s wife, but he had simply forgotten it.  It appears that Rove’s lawyer saved his client from an indictment.

 "Oh and while you’re at it, Mikey, make sure to add a little bit about me being such a hero?  Thanks.  You’re a peach."

Just before Fitzgerald indicted Libby last fall, he met with Luskin and told him that he was considering indicting Rove, according to a source close to Rove who declined to be identified discussing sensitive matters. Luskin, says this source, made a final plea. Among other things, Luskin told the prosecutor that sometime between October 2003 and January 2004 he’d had a drink with Time reporter Viveca Novak. An old friend of Luskin’s, Novak (who is no relation to the columnist of the same last name) surprised Luskin by telling him that Rove might have been Cooper’s source.

Okay, I get it.  Before Karl appears before the grand jury for the first time in February 2004, Luskin hears from Viveca Novak that Cooper says Rove was his source.  Follow me here, because we’re getting into the deep, heavily deceptive bullshit:

Last week, in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Novak described the conversation. Luskin, Novak recalls, said that Rove "didn’t have a Cooper problem," meaning that Rove had not been Cooper’s source. "That’s not what I hear," Novak recalls responding. At that point, Luskin’s demeanor changed, says Novak. "He got very serious from what I told him. He reacted as though he were learning it for the first time."

Is that all she told you Mikey?  You sure?  Because I can think of one other thing she might have mentioned….

Luskin alerted Rove to the conversation, but his client still didn’t remember it, according to a source close to Rove who declined to be named discussing sensitive legal matters. Luskin seemed to be signaling to Fitzgerald that Rove was truthful when he said he didn’t remember the Cooper phone call; otherwise, why would he testify as such when he knew that others, including Cooper, could contradict him? (One possible explanation: Rove may have assumed Cooper would protect him as a confidential source.)

So let’s just connect some dots here.  Luskin tells Fitzgerald that if Rove had heard that Cooper considered him his source some time before he testified before the grand jury in Februrary of 2004, and Rove still didn’t mention the Cooper conversation, obviously that means he wasn’t lying.  Now even the shameless Isikoff has to point out that Rove quite probably thought that Cooper would protect his source.  But he neglects to mention that Viveca Novak thinks she probably blabbed to Luskin after Rove had already testified, and Fitzgerald seems to have some sort of independent corroboration that the conversation took place closer to March of 2004.  

As Viveca herself recounted it in Time:

Fitzgerald had asked that I check a couple of dates in my calendar for meetings with Luskin. One of them, March 1, 2004, checked out. I hadn’t found that one in my first search because I had erroneously entered it as occurring at 5 a.m., not 5 p.m.

When Fitzgerald and I met last Thursday, along with another lawyer from his team, my attorney, a lawyer from Time Inc. and the court reporter, he was more focused. The problem with the new March date was that now I was even more confused – previously I had to try to remember if the key conversation had occurred in January or May, and I thought it was more likely May. But March was close enough to May that I really didn’t know. "I don’t remember" is an answer that prosecutors are used to hearing, but I was mortified about how little I could recall of what occurred when.

The very witness who is supposed to clear Rove can’t back up Luskin’s already bizarre story.  Does Isikoff mention that Rove then took the highly unusual and rather drastic step of letting Luskin go in and give a statement under oath to the effect that he remembers the conversation with Viveca Novak taking place before Rove’s first appearance before the grand jury, as Murray Waas points out last week?  No in fact he doesn’t.

Rove and his legal team hope they will be cleared soon. It is not clear whether Fitzgerald is just tying up loose ends or building a case.

That’s a rather optimistic outlook wouldn’t you say?  I suppose it’s easier to come by if you leave out all the stuff about how Rove’s last minute hail Mary pass came crashing to the ground when Viveca Novak testified.  I understand now.  The facts of the case failed to reach the appropriate conclusion, ergo they were eliminated.   

Isikoff then goes on suggest that Fitzgerald is only leaving the investigation open so he can deny Libby’s request for discovery due to the fact that it relates to an ongoing investigation (gotta spread a little love Barbara Comstock’s way too).  Rove he describes as "jolly" and "cheerful."

No doubt Isikoff is "jolly" and "cheerful" himself.  He’s probably back on his feet and gorging on a lifetime supply of cocktail weenies right now.