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Peter Fitzpatrick? Rove stumbles during Plame questions
David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Published: Sunday August 19, 2007


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Appearing on Fox News Sunday, White House adviser and 'Bush's Brain' Karl Rove spoke carefully about his role in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, refusing to divulge anything more than what was already on the public record, due to his fear of a civil lawsuit.

Fox anchor Chris Wallace asked Rove, "Why did you discuss with two reporters that Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson, worked for the CIA?"

"First of all," Rove answered, "let me say that there is a civil lawsuit filed by Wilson and Plame against a wide variety of people."

"But that's been dismissed," Wallace said.

"But they announced they intend to appeal," Rove countered, "and so I'm not going to add anything to the public record. What I did say to one reporter was 'I've heard that, too,' and what I said to another reporter, in essence, was 'I don't think you should be writing about this.'"

When asked specifically about the second reporter, Matt Cooper from Time, Rove said that he didn't "recall" the conversation and would "let his notes stand as a record of it," but that "it's clear that I'm talking to him 'off the record'" in order to warn him off the story.

"But whether it was 'off the record,' whether you were saying 'I heard that, too,' whatever it is you were saying, you're a goverment official," Wallace noted. "Why traffic at all in the fact that his wife worked for the CIA?"

"Look, I didnt confirm it," Rove insisted. "If you as a reporter asked 'I'd like you to confirm this,' my answer would have been to say 'I can't.'"

"But that's not what you said to Bob Novak," Wallace interjected.

"That was not confirmation," Rove argued.

Wallace pressed again, "Should you have even been discussing a CIA operative?"

Rove struggled to respond, before suggesting that Plame wasn't a CIA operative, at the time.

"Look, there are thirty-something thousand people who work at the CIA, I did not...I'm not even certain to this day that she fit the definition of a CIA operative," Rove said.

"I would remind you also if she were," Rove added, "I suspect the special prosecutor would have done something different about both Richard Armitage, who was the person who had an extensive conversation with Mr. Novak about this, and would have done something different about me."

Wallace then showed clips from the fall of 2003 in which Bush and former White House spokesman Scott McClellan "denied that you had spoken to anyone about Valerie Plame."

"Question," asked Wallace, "Did you mislead the president and Scott McClellan?"

Rove responded, "No, I didn't," and claimed that he was "very clear right from the beginning on this."

The outgoing presidential adviser then stumbled over special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's name, calling him "Peter Fitzpatrick."

"When was the first time you told the president?" Wallace asked Rove.

Rove wouldn't answer.

"Iím not going to ó again, nice try," Rove said. "I'm not going to expand on the public record."

At The Corner, Andy McCarthy observes, "Karl Rove really comes across as smart and likeable ... perhaps because he is smart and likeable."

While Think Progress, reporting on Rove's appearances on CBS, NBC and Fox on Sunday, argued that he "was treated largely with kid gloves by the hosts and was not forced to confront many difficult questions about his ethical improprieties while serving in the White House."

The following video is from Fox's Fox News Sunday, broadcast on August 19.