Editor and Publisher
By Greg Mitchell
NEW YORK Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to a federal judge, revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source or sources in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant. Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, now claims that at least two authoritative sources have confirmed that one name is top White House mastermind Karl Rove.
This afternoon, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff confirmed that Cooper did indeed talk to Rove for his story, but Rove's lawyer denied he was the key leaker in the case.
"The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House," Isikoff writes on the Newsweek web site. "Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with Newsweek, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove."
According to Isikoff, Luskin told Newsweek that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information" and that "he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA." Luskin declined, however, to discuss any other details. He noted that Rove had testified before the grand jury "two or three times" and signed a waiver authorizing reporters to testify about their conversations with him.
"He has answered every question that has been put to him about his conversations with Cooper and anybody else," Luskin said. But one of the two lawyers representing a witness sympathetic to the White House told Newsweek that there was growing "concern" in the White House that the prosecutor is interested in Rove.
MSNBC's O'Donnell first offered the Rove revelation Friday night on the syndicated McLaughlin Group political talk show. Today, he went beyond that, writing a brief entry at the Huffington Post blog:
"I revealed in yesterday's taping of the McLaughlin Group that Time magazine's e-mails will reveal that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source. I have known this for months but didn't want to say it at a time that would risk me getting dragged into the grand jury.
"McLaughlin is seen in some markets on Friday night, so some websites have picked it up, including Drudge, but I don't expect it to have much impact because McLaughlin is not considered a news show and it will be pre-empted in the big markets on Sunday because of tennis.
"Since I revealed the big scoop, I have had it reconfirmed by yet another highly authoritative source. Too many people know this. It should break wide open this week. I know Newsweek is working on an 'It's Rove!' story and will probably break it tomorrow."
Here is the text of what O'Donnell said on Friday:
"What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury--the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.
"I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."
Other McLaughlin Group panelists then joined in discussing whether, if true, this would suggest a perjury rap for Rove, if he told the grand jury he did not leak to Cooper.
Besides his career at a TV journalist, O'Donnell has served as a producer and writer for the series "The West Wing."
According to published reports, Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the case, has interviewed President Bush and Vice President Cheney and called Karl Rove, among others, to testify before the grand jury.
"The breadth of Fitzgerald's inquiry has led to speculation that it has evolved into an investigation of a conspiracy to leak Plame's identity," the Chicago Tribune observed on Friday, "or of an attempt to cover up White House involvement in the leak."
Greg Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org ) is editor of E&P.
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