Book: Rove withheld crucial CIA leak email for nearly a year

John Byrne
Published: Wednesday September 6, 2006

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Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove withheld a crucial email from CIA leak investigators for eleven months, according to an upcoming book that arrives in bookstores today.

In the new book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, veteran Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff and Nation Washington editor David Corn reveal they obtained a copy of the printed-out email sent by Rove to then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley in July 2003.

The printout is dated in November of 2003. Rove's lawyer -- Robert Luskin -- didn't turn the email over to the special prosecutor investigating the outing of a CIA officer until October 2004.

In the e-mail, according to Isikoff's account in a Newsweek story last year, Rove said Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper pushed him on whether the president was being hurt by a controversy over the validity of intelligence which claimed Iraq had sought uranium from the African country of Niger ('evidence' of Iraq's attempts to obtain WMDs which later emerged had been fabricated).

"I didn't take the bait," Rove wrote, saying he advised Cooper not to get "far out in front" of the story.

Cooper told a grand jury that Rove had told him the wife of the former ambassador who questioned the Niger story worked at the "agency" -- a disclosure which White House critics suggest was part of an organized effort to discredit a critic of White House policy on Iraq by outing his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson. Rove and others also tried -- with some success -- to convince reporters that Plame Wilson had sent her husband to Africa.

In the book, Rove is quoted as having told MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews that the Wilsons "were trying to screw the White House so the White House was going to screw them back."

Hubris reveals the email was printed out Nov. 25, 2003 and given to Rove's lawyer by Rove assistant BJ Goergen.

Luskin would later say he overlooked the email, not discovering it until Cooper was held in contempt of court for a second time in October 2004 after refusing to testify about his conversation with Rove.

Luskin turned over the email the day after Cooper was held in contempt. At the time, he said it was missed because the right "search words" weren't used -- an explanation that seems to lose water amidst the new revelations.

Hubris leaves unanswered why Rove's team did not turn over the Hadley email earlier; the grand jury in the case subpoenaed the White House for any information concerning contacts with reporters -- Cooper among them -- on Jan. 22, 2004.