Monday :: Nov 28, 2005

Treasongate: Rove and Ralston

by eriposte

In keeping with the blogosphere speculations about the significance of Viveca Novak's testimony on the Plame case, let's add this Raw Story report to the mix (emphasis mine):

...Rove’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston -- who was also a special assistant to President Bush -- testified in August about why Cooper’s call to Rove was not logged. Ralston said it occurred because Cooper had phoned in through the White House switchboard and was then transferred to Rove’s office as opposed to calling Rove’s office directly. As Rove’s assistant, Ralston screened Rove’s calls.

But those close to the probe tell RAW STORY that Fitzgerald obtained documentary evidence showing that other unrelated calls transferred to Rove’s office by the switchboard were logged. He then called Ralston back to testify.

Earlier this month, attorneys say Fitzgerald received additional testimony from Ralston -- who said that Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003.

Ralston also provided Fitzgerald with more information and “clarification” about several telephone calls Rove allegedly made to a few reporters, including syndicated columnist Robert Novak, the lawyers said.
Those close to the investigation say Fitzgerald will present evidence to the grand jury later this week obtained from other witnesses who were interviewed by the Special Prosecutor or testified, showing that Rove made misleading statements to Justice Department and FBI investigators in an attempt to cover-up his role in the leak when he was first interviewed about it in October 2003.

There is one element of the reporting in this story that makes me doubt it -- that Rove would have directly asked his aide to not log a phone call. This is a dangerous thing to do unless this is something that he and others in the White House have done on other occassions. On the other hand, at the time Rove allegedly asked his aide to not log the call, he was not aware that he was likely to be investigated for possible criminal action - so who knows. Anyway, if this story is true, Susan Ralston, who was once Jack Abramoff's personal secretary, has come a long way.

There is one additional point I want to make - and this relates to an inaccuracy in the Raw Story piece. It says:

On Sunday, Time reported that another one of its reporters, Viveca Novak, who bears no relation to Robert Novak, is cooperating with Fitzgerald’s probe and will give a deposition to Fitzgerald about a conversation she had with Rove’s attorney in May 2004.

However, Viveca Novak did not write about the Plame leak under her byline between May and December 2004. The first time she authored or coauthored a story about the leak was in July 2005.

This is incorrect. A search of the TIME archives shows this article by Viveca Novak dated October 15, 2004, which also briefly mentions Robert Luskin.

Rove Testifies in Wilson Leak
"My client appeared voluntarily before the grand jury and has cooperated with the investigation since it began," said Rove's attorney Robert Luskin.

Hopefully Raw Story will fix the error.

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