Rove All-But Confirms He DID Talk to Non-DOJ People About Siegelman

In a classic non-denial denial, Karl Rove makes it clear that he did talk to people about Siegelman’s prosecution–even while he denies that he spoke to anyone in DOJ about it.

As I posted three minutes before TPM posted these "exclusively" (huh), Rove has submitted answers to questions that Lamar Smith decided to ask him about Siegelman, in lieu of actually showing up before Congress and answering questions that someone without an interest in covering up Republican politicized prosecutions might ask.

We can talk about these documents in more detail in comments (and I’ll post a timeline in a follow-up post). But here’s the most important part of the question and answers. Smith repeatedly asks Rove whether or not he ever communicated with:

Department of Justice officials, State of Alabama officials, or any other individual about the investigation, indictment, potential prosecution, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of Governor Siegelman

And repeatedly, Rove answers that he has never directly or indirectly communicated with:

Justice Department or Alabama officials [] about the investigation, indictment, potential prosecution, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of Governor Siegelman

Rove would not make the same denials about talking to "any other individuals" he did about DOJ and Alabama officials.

Now to be fair to old Turdblossom, Rove does add this caveat, repeatedly:

nor have I asked any other individual to communicate about these matters on my behalf

But that’s not the same thing as answering whether he spoke to anyone about it all.

So, even with Rove’s careful parsing, even having gotten questions tailor made to allow Rove to squirm out of answering real questions on this matter, he basically refuses to deny that he communicated about Siegelman’s prosecution with other people. Rove doesn’t even deny he spoke to Bill Canary or Rob Riley (Rob is the son of the governor, and therefore not an Alabama official) about it, which is one of the central implications of all the allegations out there!

It was a nice trick, Lamar Smith, to try to pretend that Rove had answered real, antagonistic questions about his involvement in the Siegelman affair. But I think all you’ve accomplished is to make it clear that he was, in fact, involved in the plot to prosecute Governor Siegelman.

[As a reminder, Governor Siegelman will chat with us tomorrow at 12ET/9PT, so we’ll get the opportunity to ask him what he thinks of this wild parsing.]

  1. JimWhite says:

    You can tell he’s lying by the sources he cites. For outside sources on the credibility of Simpson, his first citation (p6) is, drumroll, please:

    The Weekly Standard.

    Case closed.

  2. GeorgeSimian says:

    Plus, it could all be lies. There’s no reason for him to tell the truth here, if it would get him in trouble.

  3. MichaelDG says:

    What? Does Rove actually have a problem with lying and just outright saying that he didn’t communicate with “any other individuals”? Why not just say it. Is he that concerned with actually telling the truth?

  4. RacyMind9 says:

    The early read of the parsied answer says Rove didn’t talk to DOJ/ or Alabama officials about Siegelman’s case about investigation, indictment, prosecution (real or potential), but: If Rove said to anyone in DOJ or in Alabama ” I hate that motherf*cker Siegelman and I think somebody should fuck him over and I would be forever thankful to whoever fucked him over, I don’t care how they do it!” , he weasels out with the answers he gave.

    Rove could say later : “Why shucks, I was just talking about my feelings. I wasn’t telling anyone to go investigate or throw him in jail. Just exercising my first amendment rights…”

    • bobschacht says:

      So this is the King Henry II defense when, after the Archbishop of Canterbury was murdered on the steps of the Cathedral, he professed being shocked, yes shocked, that someone would have acted on his plaint, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”, or words to that effect.

      Bob in HI

  5. lllphd says:

    huge universe that this set of parameters opens up. any ‘other’ individuals who are not DOJ or AL officials would include – among others – the EOP, OVP, and anyone in the repug party not DOJ or AL official.

    better line of questioning would of course be ‘exactly who did you talk to about seligman’s prosecution?’ and when?

    of course, squirming out of that sort of direct questioning is precisely why is avoiding an appearance in response to the subpoena.

    and michaelDG, any perjury charges may end up being the biggest cases that can be nailed against him. think libby. and then remember fitz’s great lecture on this when presenting the indictment.

      • bmaz says:

        Sorry to rain on your parade, and it’s a parade I would like to see, but this submission is unsworn (heck it is not even signed from what I saw, but there may be a missing page) and perjury requires a sworn statement.

        • lllphd says:

          bmaz, of course this letter doesn’t count as perjury, any more than his multiple tirades on faux snooz or wherever else.

          but, the more he spews, the more he locks himself in to a reality he will have to support if he ever is under oath. which i suppose is why he is taking such remarkable precautions to craft what goes before congress, v. what goes before the public. none of it under oath, but all of it under scrutiny, and certainly grist for the mill. if we ever get to that legal and oath-bound mill.

          and WRT that reality he’s locking himself into…. puts another interesting hew on the whole ‘reality’ lecture he gave ron suskind back in the day, eh?

          • bmaz says:

            Agreed. What pisses me off is that they are not even signed, which makes it more difficult (although not necessarily impossible) to make out a case under 18 USC 1001 for false statements. Without better foundation of some sort, these answers don’t mean shit and shouldn’t even be in the record. I would have objected up the yong yang and demanded to voir dire Smith and Issa about vouching for the accuracy and source of the supposed answers. Our brilliant Dem Representatives didn’t do anything.

            • lllphd says:

              yeah, no kidding. it is of particular interest, though, just how carefully they are avoiding those truth traps, ain’t it?

      • lllphd says:

        oh, i’ll take it, too! and frankly there may well be some beauty in all rove’s stalling, in that he may be digging himself in deeper. one would think, given how eager he is to talk about all this to anyone friendly, but not to congress, he’s just bound to say something stupid and get himself all tangled up.

        so have at it, i say.

        meanwhile, novak just got cited in DC for a hit and run, pedestrian, with his black corvette:…..11985.html

  6. MadDog says:

    Every single word, comma and period of that “statement” was written by Goldbars Luskin. Not one bit of it was written by Turdblossom.

    “…nor have I asked any other individual to communicate about these matters on my behalf

    (My Bold)

    Twasn’t on Turdblossom’s “behalf”, but instead was done on the “behalf” of his good ol’ boys in Alabamie.

    And Turdblossom probably asked one of his “deputies” to communicate on others’ behalf.

    Would his deputy, J. Scott Jennings, fit that mold? You betcha!

    And how about Turdblossom protégé Tim Griffin? You betcha!

    And how about any of dozens of other Turdblossom minions that infest the Repug sewer? You betcha!

  7. rwcole says:

    Clusterfuck’s justice department will never indict Rove- and if they did- Clusterfuck would pardon him..

  8. behindthefall says:

    Why don’t people ask, “With whom did you communicate …?” If the answer’s “With nobody,” then the questionee can say so, otherwise doesn’t that kind of question span the non-empty universe? It’s these lists of categories that keep tripping us up — unless, of course, the questioner doesn’t really WANT to oblige the questionee to spill the answer …

  9. sailmaker says:

    Why does Rove never respond to questions about Dana Jill Simpson with her full name? Maybe he is saying that he Rove, never talked, communicated, or had someone else wave smoke signals at Homer, OJ, or some other Simpson. Rove never directly refers to Dana Jill Simpson. Maybe I’m reading this too closely.

    • LS says:

      I thought the same thing. Expecially, because the questions say “any individual other than “Dana blah, blah Simpson, Esq” (which I also thought was weird…the “other than”. But when speaking of Siegelman, the answer always says “Governor Siegelman”, exactly as the question was posed.

  10. rwcole says:

    WASHINGTON – Syndicated columnist Robert Novak said he has been issued a $50 citation after hitting a pedestrian while driving in downtown Washington.

    Witnesses said the collision occurred about 10 a.m. Wednesday as the 77-year-old Novak was traveling near K Street in his black Chevrolet Corvette.

    D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the victim was taken to George Washington University hospital with minor injuries.

    Novak didn’t know he’d hit the pedestrian until a bicyclist stopped him and pointed it out…

    • lllphd says:

      er, do read that story carefully.

      there was a witness on bicycle who had to actually catch up to novak and plant himself in front of novak’s car and confront him with his crime. his description was that novak kept trying to get away, to race away, from the cyclist, and that the pedestrian was thrown onto the windshield. and he’s trying to say he didn’t SEE the guy?

      and he gets a $50 citation?? something stinks to high heaven.

        • lllphd says:

          no kidding. ya gotta wonder why the mere citation was offered.

          i do hope that witness pushes this somehow. any of you lawyers know what can be done to protest such a travesty? can the witness press charges? the victim?

          where are those ambulance chasers when we need ‘em?

    • jayt says:

      Novak didn’t know he’d hit the pedestrian until a bicyclist stopped him and pointed it out…

      How can anyone expect him to know?

      It’s *HARD* to see when you do *everything* with your head up your ass.

  11. bell says:

    more smoke and mirrors… anyone who thinks mukasey is going to directly ask rove anything (unless forced into it?), or that rove is going to do anything other then bob, weave and lie, is dreaming in technicolour..

  12. MadDog says:

    …I have never communicated, either directly or indirectly, with Simpson about taking photographs of any individuals whatsoever, including Governor Siegelman, and I have never asked her to undertake any task to discredit Governor Siegelman. Nor have I asked any other individual, either directly or indirectly, to take photographs of Governor Siegelman…

    (My Bold)

    Parsing this one, it seems that:

    1. Turdblossom only claims not to have “asked” for “photographs”. That leaves open a myriad of other thingies, such as “get the goods” on Siegelman and I don’t care how you do it!

    2. Turdblossom didn’t “ask”. He “ordered” folks to get Siegelman!

  13. 1oldlady says:

    Cohen: if you can consider Memphis, we need the help. VP, in the abstract, he would not have EP extended to him. Addington told us Cheney not in Executive or Legislative, he said he was a barnacle attached to legislative branch, does he have executive privilege.

    MM: VP is member of executive branch. One of closest advisors to President. That’s where he sits. Aside from any abstract theory of whether there’s a barnacle status.

    Did anyone else catch this???
    MM, is stating that the VP is a member of the executive branch..VP has stated he is a branch separate from the executive branch and congress!

  14. JaneS says:

    I am a longtime reader of EW and her brilliant commenters but haven’t participated in the comments for a while. But here’s a question for the lawyers and other experts in Rovian sliminess. Doesn’t this muddy their executive privilege claims? If he can answer Lamar Smith’s questions, why can’t he show up and answer questions. It’s a total contradiction.

    • looseheadprop says:

      Doesn’t this muddy their executive privilege claims? If he can answer Lamar Smith’s questions, why can’t he show up and answer questions. It’s a total contradiction.

      Nice catch! I think you have a very valid point there

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, he’s not claiming executive privilege, though he would like you to think he is.

      That said, he has repeatedly said that if his written questions were insufficient, they could resume negotiations for further testimony. I think he’s wasted that opportunity, now, with such transparently rigged questions and answers.

      • bmaz says:

        Irrespective of that, some type of privilege is being asserted… communicative, deliberative, executive, absolute…whatever; I do think this constitutes at least evidence (though not definitive proof) of waiver.

    • bmaz says:

      And right.

      But those were not on a formal record; this is and does serve as a nice capper to a pattern and practice to a continuous series of instances of waiver with nary a peep of objection from the White House. Now, when they don’t enter any formal objection with the HJC, you start to have a pretty decent argument for waiver. So, in that regard, I think it is significant.

      • emptywheel says:

        Yeah, except that the privilege invoked has ALWAYS been–especially since July 9–about not showing up. He has always said he’d answer questions, just not under oath, with a transcript, in Congress.

        • bmaz says:

          Ah, well, see I refuse to accept that as a privilege, much less a valid one, and certainly not as to a guy that is not only no longer employed by the Executive, but doesn’t seem to have any job at all other than going on the TeeVee and running his yap about the subject he supposedly can’t discuss.

          If there is any validity whatsoever to the “doesn’t have to appear at all privilege/immunity” (and I fully assert there is none whatsoever), then it is rooted in the concept that the critical Executive personnel are too busy with critical work on the nation’s business to take time out to appear. That simply does not, and cannot, apply here.

          • emptywheel says:


            But as I said, that was all Rove was ever shooting for, particularly in recent days. So there is no waiver of anything Rove hadn’t already ceded.

  15. john2 says:

    Excellent analysis as usual Marcy. These new denials appear to be a carefully designed attempt to short-circuit the real questions, a classic Rovian tactic. And he wasn’t ready to respond until he made extra sure that all the emails were destroyed.

  16. Mauimom says:

    We can talk about these documents in more detail in comments (and I’ll post a timeline in a follow-up post).


  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Think Progress is usually better than this. Satyam says at 8.20 pm that “Rove denies any involvement in Siegelman scandal”. And they are among the reportial elite. So what is the MSM saying?

    I think EW has made abundantly clear that drawing blanket conclusions about what Karl Rove says is not the correct way to interpret his statements. Or those of anyone speaking on behalf of this administration at any time.

    Rove said that he did not communicate with “Department of Justice or Alabama officials” or ask others to communicate on his behalf,

    about the investigation, indictment, potential prosecution, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of Governor Siegelman.

    That leaves a lot of people he could have talked to, including national, state and local Republican Party officials, their lobbyists, organizers, consultants and fund raisers. Rove could also have spoken to almost everyone in the federal government other than those employed by the DOJ. Moreover, it’s not clear who Rove means when he refers to, “Alabama officials”. He could mean state, county or local “officials”; it probably depends on who’s asking.

    Rove could also have talked to anybody, “DOJ and Alabama officials” included, about things other than the listed items referring to “Governor Siegelman”. The way Rove uses language, he could have talked about “former Governor Siegelman”, about Democratic governors or competitors generally, the list is endless.

    Rove’s careful parsing also doesn’t address the, “Who will rid me of this priest” problem, which has been around since Henry II had that tiff with Archbishop Becket. Those in power, those in thrall to “needful things”, play rhetorical games. One is to lament a problem without asking anyone to fix it. Old hands, ambitious acolytes, would be insiders who want to make their bones know what to do without being asked.

  18. yonodeler says:

    From back a couple of posts:

    MM: When someone is obliged to tell a reporter that he or she has been picked up on a wiretap…

    [Huh??? Did that make sense to anyone??]

    That wouldn’t be ostentation by Mukasey purported to show that the administration is serious about minimization, would it? I’d better not posit that based on a statement that I find inscrutable.