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The Rove-Luskin Leaks

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In the 21 days since I broke the story that Karl Rove was Matt Cooper's source, Rove's lawyer, Bob Luskin, has been working the press everyday with a new defense angle that, once committed to print in Newsweek, the Washington Post or the New York Times, gets added to the Republican party's talking points on the scandal. Luskin's first response to my revelation was to say that, well, yes, Rove did talk to Cooper about Joe Wilson's wife but he did not "knowingly" disclose classified information -- knowingly being the essence of Rove's criminal defense (as I have previously discussed).

After getting a lot of embarrassing attention for trying to deny to the Washington Post that Rove was the person who finally gave Cooper a specific release to testify, Luskin has gone undercover and now rarely attaches his name to the defense briefs he dictates to reporters, all of whom would love to use a source other than Luskin but no one in the prosecutor's office is leaking, so they're stuck with Luskin. The Washington Post usually identifies him as a source familiar with Rove's grand jury testimony, but Luskin has managed to negotiate a more indirect label with the Times where he appears as a source who has "been briefed on the case." The Times always points out that the source is sympathetic to Rove. Today's Times piece says that Luskin's latest description about how Rove and Lewis Libby worked together (the prosecutor might say conspired) to respond to Joe Wilson's Op-Ed piece was leaked to the the Times "to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's [State of the Union] address."

That will be Rove and Libby's defense against a possible conspiracy count in the prosecutor's eventual indictment.

It is important for Luskin to get his defense started now because he knows that what one appeals court judge in the case called "the plot against Wilson" is going to become public when the prosecutor reveals everything he has already revealed only to the judges.

Rove is obviously in charge of the day-to-day strategy of what Luskin leaks to the press. Rove is stealing a page from the Clinton scandal management playbook. He is trying to set the stage for the day the prosecutor turns over his cards. Rove-Luskin will then call it all "old news."

Everything Rove-Luskin has leaked has been printed in a form most favorable to the Rove defense without a word of leaked input from the prosecutor. When the prosecutor tells his story, don't expect him to accept Rove's currently uncontested claim that he does not recall who told him that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent and don't expect the "old news" spin to work. When the prosecutor has his day, he is going to make new news.