So why would The Birmingham News run a story with the headline: "Rove Denies Role in Siegelman Case"? Why would veteran broadcast journalist Tim Lennox write a blog post with the title: "The Siegelman-Rove (Non) Connection"?
Well, The Birmingham News has long been a right-wing tool that never has made an honest effort at seeking the truth in the Siegelman story. Lennox has a reputation as a solid and fair reporter, so I can only assume that he just had an off day. For one thing, he links to the News story, indicating he relied on it for his analysis. That was his first mistake, right there.
But the inquiry came down to two "money questions." In both instances, the question essentially was this: Did Rove, or anyone working for him, ever have any communications with anyone about a possible criminal investigation or prosecution of Don Siegelman?
Rove's answer both times? "Not that I'm aware of."
That is not a denial.
What is it? It's an illustration of one of the legal profession's dirty secrets. I'm told that it is common for lawyers to coach clients on how to obscure the truth without technically lying under oath. The way to do it is with answers like "not that I'm aware of," "I don't recall," or "I don't remember."
I call it the "tap dance around perjury." And to no one's surprise, Rove was well versed on all the tap dance's various steps. His 67 pages worth of testimony about the Siegelman case was filled with "tap dance" answers.
Here is a sample question and answer from the first set:
Q All right. Let's go back if we could, then, to the line 80
we had just started relating to contacts -- relating to Governor Siegelman through the end of 2002. In the period of time, again, between Governor Siegelman's election and the end of 2002, did you ever communicate about Governor Siegelman with anyone working at the Department of Justice?
That is an outright denial on Rove's part. But his answers to followup questions quickly become slippery. When asked if anyone from the White House Office of Political Affairs (OPA), Republican National Committee (RNC), or Republican Governors' Association (RGA) communicated with the Justice Department, Rove's answer is "not to the best of my knowledge."
Rove specifically is asked if he had communicated about the Siegelman case with Noel Hillman, then head of the DOJ's Public Integrity Section. The answer: "No, not that I recall."
Note that Rove earlier had emphatically answered no about communicating with anyone at DOJ regarding Siegelman. But when asked about communicating with Noel Hillman, a key figure at the DOJ, Rove's answer is that he doesn't recall. So much for consistency.