I'm intrigued by this passage in the piece on Matt Cooper in today's Times ...
Later, Mr. Waldman asked whether Time's disclosures and a blanket waiver form his source had signed were enough to allow him to testify. In an e-mail message on Tuesday night, Mr. Cooper said he believed the forms could have been coerced and thus worthless.
The only thing that would do, Mr. Cooper wrote, was a "certain, unambiguous waiver" from his source.
Around 7:30 on Wednesday morning, Mr. Cooper had said goodbye to his son, resigned to his fate. His lawyer, Mr. Sauber, called to alert him to a statement from Mr. Luskin in The Wall Street Journal.
"If Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source," Mr. Luskin told The Journal, "it's not Karl he's protecting."
That provided an opening, Mr. Cooper said. "I was not looking for a waiver," he said, "but on Wednesday morning my lawyer called and said, 'Look at The Wall Street Journal. I think we should take a shot.' And I said, 'Yes, it's an invitation.' "
In court shortly after 2, he told Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the Federal District Court in Washington that he had received "an express personal release from my source."
That statement surprised Mr. Luskin, Mr. Rove's lawyer. Mr. Luskin said he had only reaffirmed the blanket waiver, in response to a request from Mr. Fitzgerald.
"Karl was not afraid of what Cooper is going to say and is clearly trying to be fully candid with the prosecutor," Mr. Luskin said.
Did Luskin blow it for Rove?
If you read the whole article <$Ad$> (which is quite good), it's clear that Cooper really didn't want to go to prison over this and was looking for a way out. But he was willing to serve time if he couldn't find a way to extricate himself that he could square with his understanding of journalistic ethics. Not unreasonably, he thought the blanket waivers of confidentiality that Rove had signed at the request of Patrick Fitzgerald were meaningless because they were coerced.
That sounds right to me since a member of the White House staff probably wouldn't be free to refuse such a request -- particularly since he might legitimately fear that such a refusal would find a way to make itself public.
But as the article makes clear, there really was no sudden personal communication from Rove, at least not as I understood it to have occurred in the initial reports.
What seems to have happened is that Luskin availed himself of the opportunity to talk tough and categorically to the Journal
at his client's apparent expense. The key of course is the second to last graf that I've excerpted, in which the Times
author says Luskin was 'surprised' at what Cooper and his attorney read into his statement to the Journal
. He had meant it only as a blanket restatement of their position to date.
Presumably, once Cooper and his attorney took this interpretation with the judge, there was no turning back for Luskin. What could he say?
I'm curious whether others read the article this way too. Share your thoughts with us here over at this thread
at our politics discussion table.