The Note: "Where Does This Go?"

Write Dan Balz and Mike Allen, "In retrospect, it appears clear that many White House statements about the case were carefully constructed -- giving the impression of being general denials even as the words were narrowly focused on specific allegations. During briefings, McClellan repeatedly challenged reporters to provide him 'specific information' when asking about Rove, and he frequently limited his answers about White House involvement in the case to mean the act of leaking classified information. On a few occasions, however, he offered broad denials about Rove and other top aides." LINK

Note well this awesome graph: "Newsweek printed the contents of Cooper's July 2003 e-mail, in which he recounts to his bureau chief an interview with Rove that is typical of the cryptic exchanges that reporters often have with high-level officials on sensitive matters -- vague, but enough to help promote or squelch a story."

Per John McKinnon and Ann Marie Squeo in the Wall Street Journal, "[Rove's] attorney, Robert Luskin, said the questions raised by Democrats 'are issues of legitimate concern' but added, 'There's been a specific request from investigators that Karl and other witnesses not talk publicly about what they shared with the government.'"

Dana Milbank sketches the trials of Mr. McClellan, "wearing a gray suit and heavy make-up." LINK

The Los Angeles Times has Rove's attorney restating his belief that his client broke no law. Luskin "said Wilson's wife came up as an afterthought in a conversation that Cooper had initiated, primarily for a story about welfare reform," report Richard Simon and Richard Schmitt. LINK "'The fair inference … is that Rove was trying to warn Time … away from perpetuating things that turned out to be false, and not try to encourage him to say anything about Wilson's wife,' Luskin said."

In his New York Post column, John Podhoretz sees Rove's actions only as an attempt to discredit Wilson, not Plame, and writes, "some may differ on the fairness" of that. LINK

SCOTUS:

The agenda item Sen. Specter highlighted from the White House breakfast meeting this morning, which he attributed to himself: Specter suggested the President look for the nominee outside the traditional circuit court mold.

Ranking member Leahy appeared to concur.

Minority Leader Reid (D-NV) made it clear in the White House driveway this morning that the President didn't provide any names of possible nominees to the Senators. However, Reid went on to say that lots of names were thrown around and that they (the Senators and the President) had a deal not to discuss those names publicly.

ABC News Karen Travers reports that Scott McClellan, in this morning's gaggle, referred to the President in "listening mode" at the breakfast.

Note, too, the First Lady's remarks from Africa that she would like to see a female nominee.

ABC News' Ed O'Keefe reports, "The Public Information Office and the Court itself have opened to the public. No members of the staff arrived early, as they did on the day Justice O'Connor retired. Chief Justice William Rehnquist has departed his residence. So far, it's a usual and customary day at the Court; there is no unusual activity to report. The Chief Justice arrived at the Supreme Court at 9:22 am ET"

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