In two appearances before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative’s name, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, did not disclose a crucial conversation that he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 about the operative, Valerie Plame, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of his sworn testimony.
Yeah, well not exactly a news flash. Considering Patrick Fitzgerald himself outlined Libby’s testimony in the September 12 (PDF) letter leaked to the NY Sun on October 4, and made no mention of the June interview:
Mr. Libby has discussed a meeting with Ms. Miller on July 8, 2003, at the St. Regis Hotel and a later conversation between Mr. Libby and Ms. Miller by telephone in the late afternoon on July 12, 2003. Mr. Libby has described his recollection of the substance of those two conversations, without limitation.
Let’s lift up the rug — check underneath — nope, no mention of any June conversation anywhere.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald apparently learned about the June 23 conversation for the first time just days ago, after attorneys for Miller and The New York Times informed prosecutors that Miller had discovered a set of notes on the conversation.
Like he didn’t know about Karl Rove’s memo to Stephen Hadley until Rove’s attorney produced it. How helpful everyone is being. Is it just me, or does it seem like there are key bits of information being left out here by eager beaver attorneys who conveniently forget to explain why it wasn’t proffered long ago? Just wondering.
Meanwhile, in recent days Fitzgerald has also expressed significant interest in whether Libby may have sought to discourage Miller-either directly or indirectly through her attorney-from testifying before the grand jury, or cooperating in other ways with the criminal probe, according to attorneys familiar with Miller’s discussions with prosecutors.
Again — no crystal balls involved. As became clear when Fitzgerald’s letter was leaked, he had not seen Libby’s letter to Judith Miller ’till the rest of us did after it appeared in the New York Times. Fitzgerald told Tate that Libby was free to communicate with Judy as long as he didn’t coach her testimony, and that he didn’t need to see a copy of the correspondence. Libby wrote that letter thinking Fitzgerald would never lay eyes on his torrid, overwrought prose.
I said at the time, whoever leaked that letter fucked Libby. Now that Fitzgerald is looking into charging him with obstruction, I guess the effort was a success.
Dan Richman, a professor at Fordham Law School and a former federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York, said in an interview that while he could not speak specifically as to what occurred between Tate and Abrams, “[A]n attorney encouraging a witness to withhold information from a grand jury when the witness had no right to withhold is engaging in obstructive behavior.”
It didn’t occur to me that the leak of Floyd Abrams’ letter in the New York Times might have the effect of screwing Tate, too. Man, that was one fucked-up huge leak to the NYT and Powerline. I still wonder why that one doesn’t have red flags all around it for anyone but me.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, E&P is reporting that Judy must testify again:
The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, had summoned her for the meeting today after she reportedly remembered her previously unknown June 23, 2003, meeting with I. Lewis Libby, and sent the prosecutor the notes of the meeting.
I guess she left a few things out of her original testimony. Wow. After everything she’s been through, what a dramatic climax, to just now recover from a bout of amnesia. This is turning into a real bodice-ripper, no?
And Ol’ Yeller Keller is getting a bit testy with what he terms “armchair critics”:
“We’ll be reporting this in the paper, of course. It means that for a couple more days she remains under a contempt-of-court order, and is not yet clear of legal jeopardy.”
Of course, Bill. Of course.
The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are working on stories that point to Vice President Dick Cheney as the target of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name.
Hurricane Patrick about to make landfall.
Update 2: I stand corrected, Swopa is all over the weird leak angle. Swopa is also the author of my favorite post title of the week, Judy Plants One in Lewis Libby’s Back. I’m gonna use that one some day.