Ummm….I told you so. Two weeks ago when everyone was buzzing about The National Journal report that Rove lied to George Bush, I wrote:
I don’t doubt for a second that Murray Waas’ sources are correct about what the grand jury has been told, but let’s be serious here. What’s the more likely scenario? Karl Rove lying to the Patrick Fitzgerald or George W. Bush?
And it turns out, Rove didn’t lie to Bush after all :
Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.
Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.
. . .
A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.
“Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way,” the source said.
But here’s something to chew on. What if both stories are correct? On the surface, they seem contradictory, but let’s look at that National Journal piece again (emphasis added) :
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.
Isn’t it equally plausible that both of these stories tell different sides of the same story? Let’s assume for a moment that Murray Waas’ sources didn’t lie to him about what Bush and Rove told Fitzgerald. If that’s the case and today’s story is also true, then we’ve got a President who’s in “cover your ass” mode. Regardless of whether or not the President was under oath, lying to federal prosecutors seems like a pretty clear case of obstruction of justice.
Of course, proving the President’s involvement is another matter entirely. Can Fitzgerald prove that the President lied? If the rumors are correct that someone in the Administration has “flipped”, then there’s a good chance that the President’s “displeasure” towards Rove was well known within the White House. After all, this is a President who wears his heart on his sleeve getting pissed at his most trusted advisor over an issue that everyone was talking about. This wouldn’t just get the rumor mill buzzing, but would likely lead to some communications within the White House about the President wanting everyone to get their shit together. Remember, the big news out of today’s scoops isn’t just when the President found out but his anger that his team “did a clumsy job”. A single saved email along these lines and some fibbing by the President about what he knew and when he knew it could be all the rope Fitzgerald needs to hang Bush out to dry.