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He asked how often Luskin and I met during the period from fall 2003 to fall 2004 (about five times), when, where and so forth. I had calendar entries that helped but weren't entirely reliable. Did I take notes at those meetings? No. Luskin was more likely to speak freely if he didn't see me committing his words to paper. Did Luskin ever talk to me about whether Rove was a source for Matt on the subject of Wilson's wife?
That was the "chicken bone" Fitzgerald had referred to, the conversation Luskin had told him about that got me dragged into the probe. Here's what happened. Toward the end of one of our meetings, I remember Luskin looking at me and saying something to the effect of "Karl doesn't have a Cooper problem. He was not a source for Matt." I responded instinctively, thinking he was trying to spin me, and said something like, "Are you sure about that? That's not what I hear around TIME." He looked surprised and very serious. "There's nothing in the phone logs," he said. In the course of the investigation, the logs of all Rove's calls around the July 2003 time period--when two stories, including Matt's, were published mentioning that Plame was Wilson's wife--had been combed, and Luskin was telling me there were no references to Matt. (Cooper called via the White House switchboard, which may be why there is no record.)
I was taken aback that he seemed so surprised. I had been pushing back against what I thought was his attempt to lead me astray. I hadn't believed that I was disclosing anything he didn't already know. Maybe this was a feint. Maybe his client was lying to him. But at any rate, I immediately felt uncomfortable. I hadn't intended to tip Luskin off to anything. I was supposed to be the information gatherer. It's true that reporters and sources often trade information, but that's not what this was about. If I could have a do-over, I would have kept my mouth shut; since I didn't, I wish I had told my bureau chief about the exchange. Luskin walked me to my car and said something like, "Thank you. This is important."
Fitzgerald wanted to know when this conversation occurred. At that point I had found calendar entries showing that Luskin and I had met in January and in May. Since I couldn't remember exactly how the conversation had developed, I wasn't sure. I guessed it was more likely May.
As my meeting with Fitzgerald wrapped up, I asked what would happen next. He said he would consider whether he needed to interview me again under oath, but that if he did, he wouldn't require me to appear before the grand jury. I hoped that would be the end of it. But on Friday, Nov. 18--when I was on deadline, writing, ironically, about Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's newly discovered role in the investigation--my lawyer called and told me Fitzgerald did indeed want me under oath. I realized that I now needed to share this information with Jay Carney, our Washington bureau chief. On Sunday, Nov. 20, I drove over to his house to tell him. He then called Jim Kelly, the managing editor. Nobody was happy about it, least of all me.