White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove personally assured President Bush in the early fall of 2003 that he had not disclosed to anyone in the press that Valerie Plame, the wife of an administration critic, was a CIA employee, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the accounts that both Rove and Bush independently provided to federal prosecutors.
During the same conversation in the White House two years ago-occurring just days after the Justice Department launched a criminal probe into the unmasking of Plame as a covert agency operative-Rove also assured the president that he had not leaked any information to the media in an effort to discredit Plame's husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson. Rove also did not tell the president about his July 2003 a phone call with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, a conversation that touched on the issue of Wilson and Plame.
But some 22 months later, Cooper's testimony to the federal grand jury investigating the Plame leak has directly contradicted Rove's assertions to the president. Cooper has testified that Rove was the person who first told him that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, although Rove did not name her. Cooper has also testified that Rove told him that Plame helped arrange for Wilson to make a fact-finding trip for the CIA to the African nation of Niger to investigate allegations that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium with which to build a nuclear bomb.In his first interview with FBI agents working on the leak probe, Rove similarly did not disclose that he had spoken to Cooper, according to sources close to the investigation.
But in subsequent interviews with federal investigators and in his testimony to the grand jury, Rove changed his account, asserting that when the FBI first questioned him, he had simply forgotten about his phone conversation with Cooper. Rove also told prosecutors that he had forgotten about the Cooper conversation when he talked to the president about the matter in the fall of 2003...
Sources close to the leak investigation being run by Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald say it was the discovery of one of Rove's White House e-mails-in which the senior Bush adviser referred to his July 2003 conversation with Cooper- that prompted Rove to contact prosecutors and to revise his account to include the Cooper conversation.
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