As reported here yesterday, Rove’s lawyer thinks Time reporter Viveca Novak is key to keeping Rove indictment-free.

But is she?

From the Wash Post:

The reporter for Time magazine who recently agreed to testify in the CIA leak case is central to White House senior adviser Karl Rove’s effort to fend off an indictment in the two-year-old investigation, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Viveca Novak, who has written intermittently about the leak case for Time, has been asked to provide sworn testimony to Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald in the next few weeks after Rove attorney Robert Luskin told Fitzgerald about a conversation he had with her, the two sources said.

It’s not clear why Luskin believes Novak’s deposition could help Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff, who remains under investigation into whether he provided false statements in the case. But a person familiar with the matter said Luskin cited his conversations with Novak in persuading Fitzgerald not to indict Rove in late October, when the prosecutor brought perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges against Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

“This is what caused [Fitzgerald] to hold off on charging” Rove, the source said. But another person familiar with the conversations said they did not appear to significantly alter the case.

Well, that’s certainly not clear.

Is this simply a smokescreen from the defense or is Luskin telling the truth? Personally, I don’t think he’d come right out and say she was key if she wasn’t. True, lawyers can be calculating and that’s because they’re paid to do so, but this seems to smack of an “attorney/client” privilege defense for Rove that may very well keep him free of Fitzgerald’s gaze.

What are your theories?

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