Libby Liveblog: Wells’ Opening Statement, Part Two
Picking up after lunch.
To remind you of housekeeping. This is not a transcript. It is as close as I can get.
And I'll timestamp my updates. I'll try to update every 15 minutes. So don't overtax the servers by trying to update every two minutes.
Before the jury comes in, Fitzgerald lodges two complaints:
Fitz up, I can't tell you whether she was or wasn't classified. We've taken the issue out of the case, but to leave the issue as if Wells wanted to say something but couldn't.
Also, Wells saying, they're making me reading a script. After all we went through in the CIPA process as if it's inappropriate I think is something that should be addressed.
Wells, I don't think I said anything wrong with her job status being taken out of the case.
Walton has no problem with the first issue.
I am more troubled by the second part of the statement, bc it suggests that the government has put a straitjacket on you. To the extent that the govt has constrained you from making your case.
Wells says he'll fix it.
Fitzgerald wants Walton to fix it.
Walton will wait to hear what Wells says.
We're waiting on the jury right now. Here they come.
Wells: I hope all of you had a good lunch. I only get to talk to you directly twice. Once in the opening and once in the summation. I know after lunch people get a little sluggish. I hope you stay.
Back to his timeline. This is on a white background. With a squished July 6 though 14 marked on it–with almost nodetail, then the 3 months and the 9 months marked to the dates when Libby testified.
Interesting, Wells says the investigation is reported on September 28–it was first reported, IIRC, on September 26. On MSNBC.
Wells is looking at the Russert conversation. Russert testified that it was on the 10th or the 11th. Wells says the 11th was a very important day [though Walton has specifically said it is outside the days that are key for the memory defense–Libby's team is trying to shift the dates Walton has given].
If Libby had been talking about the wife on a Monday or a Tueday, and then said he learned it again on the 10th. That's not what happened. Mr. Libby is talking about it three months later. When Mr. Libby when questioned in October what happened in July, he gave an honest, faithful recollection about what happened in July.
Wells is trying to eliminate any discussion of Libby's mindset during the Russert conversation. [That is, how could be be so surprised on the 10th if he had just passed it on.]
One of the first things Libby said was "I first heard about Valerie Wilson from the Vice President." In the first 15 minutes. I learned it from the Vice President. I have a note, that I have produced that the VP told me about the wife on or about June 12." [I guess that answers that–this was a big outstanding question.]
And he produced a note that showed it. [Well, then why weren't his notes enough to spark his memory?!?!?!]
When Mr. Russert told me on the 11th, I felt a sense of surprise. [Interesting tactic–rather than trying to impeach Russert by saying Mitchell had already heard of it, they're going to say that Russert heard of it from the wire of Novak's article.]
He's not saying that Russert or Miller or Cooper are going to lie, they're going to give their good faith recollection. They may, however, be mistaken. Just like Mr. Libby may be mistaken.
Mr. Libby thinks Russert is one of the most respected reporters in the United States and Russert deserves that respect.
Maybe Mr Russert forgot too. Tim Russert is a great reporter but he's a human being. Everybody makes mistakes and Tim Russert can have misrecollections. So can Matt Cooper. So can Judy Miller. You don't have to conclude that anybody is lying. If I believe Russert, then Libby must be lying. The question is is someone telling an intentional lie. It may turn out that Mr. Libby and a reporter both got it wrong.
Wells' demeanor has changed dramatically. Now he's mellow and understanding.
Wells just listed a bunch of reporters (including Pincus, Novak, Kessler) whom he talked to but did not mention Plame. [That seemed kind of out of order.]
Now with a slide showing Libby's version and Russert's version of their conversation. They have the whole Russert conversation with Russert highlighted, but they've left out the words "Libby responded to Russert that he did not know that." I guess they realize Libby is lying on that point and don't want to highlight it?
Now describing how Libby came to call Russert.
Wells asserts Matthews' reporting was incorrect. Implies he called Russert bc NBC "owns it all." He's calling Tim Russert in his job as his head of the NBC Washing bureau. Like a consumer complaint.
Mr. Libby says it's during that telephone call that Russert raises the issue of "the wife."
Now in terms of the evidence that Russert may be mistaken, Mr. Russert has no notes, Mr. Libby has no notes.
[Walton is leaning WAY back in his seat.]
You'll find that Tim Russert and NBC were all over this story. The fact that Russert may have heard either a rumor or a fact about the wife, that's his job. [Hey Wells, which job are you talking about–Russert @ reporter or Russert @ Chief Consumer Complaint Representative]
David Gregory, NBC WH correspondant, working on this story. Andrea Mitchell. She was working with Russert on this story. Russert's two top people were working on this story. If Andrea Mitchell knew or David Gregory knew, then it's likely Russert knew, there's no dispute.
Now he's got an Org chart of 3, Russert, Mitchell, and Gregory.
Now shows Ari dislcoses to David Gregory on July 11 that Ambassador Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Fleischer tells that before Libby was ever indicted. "I told David Gregory." Talks about time difference, says Ari leaked to Gregory first.
Andrea Mitchell, "It was widely known" with the quote from October 3, 2003.
"She says it ON TV"
And as I said, if Andrea Mitchell knew, then doggonit Mr. Russert knew.
She retracts her statement.
And then Mr. Russert, he goes on the TV show.
Mr. Russert was only questioned for 22 minutes.
Mr. Russert was not even required to go down to court. They interviewed Mr. Russert in a law office. All the Grand Jurors saw was Russert's transcript.
Mr. Russert was not asked one question about David Gregory, or about Andrea Mitchell.
Mr. Fitzgerald says the FBI was concerned about getting to the truth. Tim Russert had a deal. He had a deal with the government. He would only be questioned about his conversation with Mr. Libby. He had a deal. [Says it with a snear in his voice.]
They didn't ask Mr. Russert about Mitchell or Gregory.
Went out and asked if they would submit to an interview.
They don't want to be interviewed. No subpoena. She doesn't talk to the government.
So we have this perverse situation where Imus on the radio is asking tough questions, the guy with the cowboy hat.
Now a slide. Why would Mr. Libby concoct a story with Tim Russert.
- Libby was not a personal friend of Tim Russert–purely a professional relationship.
- Libby's conversation was a viewer complained.
- It was not a protected conversation.
[Now they're usingthe expectations of source protection to twist this–but Wells forgets that Libby testified this was off the record!!!]
"Mr. Libby's not stupid. Nobody's going to tell you he's a nut."
In terms of the Russert conversation–it had nothing to do with a reporter-source relationship.
That was never going to be a protected conversation. There'd be no reason in the world to think Libby would make up a story about Russert. He believed it in good faith to be true.
I think the evidence will show that Mr. Russert made a mistake.
New slide–did Libby confuse Russert with another reporter. New slide:
Novak: tesified that he may have mentioend Wilson's wife ot Libby that week.
Cooper: testified he asked Libby about Wilson's wife that week.
At around the same time he talked to Mr. Russert, he talked to Mr. Novak.
[Say, did anyone ask Novak whether Libby told Novak that Plame was an "operative"?]
The questions are basically teh same questions at about the same times.
Mr. Russert [I think he misstated–he means Cooper]. His question to Mr. Libby was about the same as Mr. Russert said.
Mr. Libby said, "I heard that too."
Now onto Cooper.
Mr. Libby talks to Cooper on July 12.
Mr. Cooper is bugging Cathie Martin. I want you to answer these questions. On Saturday July 12.
Now talking about his family. Harriet boy and girl of 13 and 10.
Mr. Libby and his family go on AF2, they leave Andrews Airforce Base to Norfolk VA. They fly because a ship is going to be commemorated.
It's a Saturday, it's like his day off.
Mr. Libby goes up to talk to Cheney. Goes up to get a note. The card has been saved. Mr. Libby was supposed to make certain statements refuting Wilson's allegation. And there is not a word on that card about "the wife." Mr. Cooper was trying to keep Libby on the phone. Mr. Libby was trying to get off the telephone. He's got his wife and two kids in the next room. Mr. Cooper says, in an effort to keep the conversation, he throws out this statement. And that's where the dispute starts. Mr. Libby recollected that he just said, I heard that too, but I don't know if it's true. Mr. Cooper says differently. If Mr. Cooper took notes of the conversation. Because Mr. Libby gives information. You will not see in those notes. There's not one word about "the wife." Not one word. not a word about the notes. The notes do not support Mr. Cooper's recollection, at all. Mr. Libby has no notes. For all practical purposes, Mr. Cooper has no notes. Right after he gest off the call with Mr. Libby send an email to his editor. Doesn't say anything about "the wife."
But Mr. Cooper says that Karl Rove had told Cooper about the wife, the day before. It's right there. Mr. Cooper comes back and types a email to his editor. But if you look at the notes about Mr. Libby it doesn't say anything about "the wife."
This suggests Mr. Libby's recolelction is correct.
There's no separate count involving Judy Miller.
Unflattering picture of her on the slide.
- Quotes. "I'm just speculating," "My memory is fuzzy," "I might have been confused"
- Has Wilson's phone number
- Got the name of WIlson's wife from multiple source
Libby has a recollection that he said the same.
The only reference to Wilson's wife in Miller's notes of this call reads:
Victoria Wilson works in unit.
She says she might have been trying to trick Mr. Libby.
What you're going to see in terms of all of these conversations.
Russert has no notes.
Cooper's notes do not support his story.
Miller: what few notes she has are extraordinarily cryptic.
"Stay with me for a second."
This whole prosecution is built on a false premise.
This is what Fitz said: What Scooter Libby wanted to do was make up a phony story about Russert, so when he was asked questions about Judy or Cooper, he learned about it from Russert.
"That theory is illogical and intellectually flawed."
On July 11, Mr. Libby is told by Karl Rove that Novak has already written a story. About Valerie Wilson that she works at the CIA.
If Mr. Libby needed a reporter on the 11th so he could say to Miller or Cooper, he didn't need to invent a story with Russert. He heard on the same day that Novak had already written a story.
Now moves to government witnesses. I don't have time to talk about all six. To show you that their recollection of what happened is not too good either.
Reiterating that Libby never said he first learned about Wilson's wife from Tim Russert.
When Mr. Fitzgerald rolled the screen with all these witnesses you would have thought these people had perfect recollection.
Grenier. Associate Director of the CIA. One of the top people at the CIA. Interviewed in December 2003. Said he did not remember discussing Wilson's wife with Libby.
January 2004, I have no recollection of talking to Scooter Libby about the wife.
A year and a half, after the first interview, he then tells the FBI that he remembers a conversation with Scooter Libby.
The Wife was not that important to anyone. Let's talk about Mr. Schmall. Every day Libby began his day sitting with a CIA agent.
Says his memory was quite poor.
May 27, he finds a note with a name Valerie Wilson. Joe Wilson.
Now his thinking is, though he doesn't recollect the conversation, he must have had a conversation.
Those people have recollection issues also.
Because "the wife" was not that important.
He says he had a lunch with Mr. Libby.
Going-away lunch. Most of the conversation involved football.
You should know in substance, the wife works at the CIA.
When the FBI wanted to talk to Ari, he pled the fifth, refused to testify unless he was immunized.
After being immunized he said he had this conversation with Libby.
While in Africa,
While on the plane he has a conversation with Mr. Bartlett,who is the head of Communications or Bush. Didn't mention to Bartlett about Libby
Right after Mr. Bartlett says to him that "the wife" works at the CIA. Conversations with reporters.
Two distinct allegations. There's the wife, then there's Wilson.
Whether there was a plan in the WH, Scooter Libby was replying to Mr. Wilson's allegations.
You'll learn that the VP asked Libby to respond to the controversy. That's what the reference refers to.
Mr. Libby was known in the office as having a bad memory. He did not have a good memory. WOW. [The media room erupts in disbelief]
There's a lot in his notes about Mr. Wilson. But there's only one mention about "the wife." [Now Wells is investing in the value of "government witnesses. But only if they're from OVP]
He had a day job.
Wilson goes public on July 6.
Shows Libby discussing the NIE on July 8–makes no mention of the earlier leaks of the NIE.
Who's at home. As this whole thing is blowing up. Miss Rice [that'd be Dr. Rice!!] she's trying to deal.
A decision is made that George Tenet, he's going to make a statement that says, in effect, that the CIA screwed it up. [Note,he says this started on July 9]
The drafting on that statement is very contentious. Mr. Tenet is none too crazy about saying that the CIA screwed it up.
Mr. Libby is asked by the VP to get in the middle of drafting the statement. [This is going to be significant.]
The statement comes out late. These are the things that are going on.
Wells just claimed that the note said, "Discuss NIE." Huh?
On July 8, as this whole controvery is blowing up. I want to withdraw what I said that it happened on July 8. Bush is going to make a decision that he is going to declassify the NIE. It is not publicized. Only three people are to know about that decision: Bush, Cheney, and Libby. Powell's not told, Condi's not told.
I want to declassify certain portions of the NIE.
Says Cheney: I want you talk with certain reporters. Give them an exclusive. [Wells is trying to suggest ALL the NIE leaks came at the order of Dick, even though Libby has testified differently. Game ON!]
Mr. Libby on July 8 was basically put in the spot, this is still the meat grinder. He was being tasked to go meet with Judy Miller. He makes disclosures to Ms. Miller. What the NIE showed is that at least with respect to the Iraqis trying to buy uranium, it was done in October.
Mr. Libby has to stay silent! [Wells is trying to pre-empt the most damaging parts of the grand jury testimony!]
You want to talk about the week this guy was having?
The last thing I want to discuss is what his day job was about.
What it was about in terms of being the National Security Advisor [suggests Libby was THE NSA, not Cheney's NSA]
Judge Walton has made the decision about the parameters that I can discuss. I'm not faulting the government in any was shape or form.
I want to walk you through the statement. This is what I'm permitted to say. He's doing it on those days. The 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. [doesn't mention 12–which is after all one of the days Walton has allowed this kind of testimony in for!]
Both Chief of Staff and NSA to Vice President. Worked long hours. Attended many meetings concerning important matters of national security. [This statement is up on the powerpoint.]
If you're going to judge him, judge him fairly in terms of the total picture, not the distorted picture of the wife.
Now a list of his duties: with big red dangerous highlights.
The red statements are:
- terrorist threats,
- homeland security
- develop nuclear weapons … North Korea Iran
- AQ Khan … develop nuclear weapons
- war in Iraq
- Middle East
- Turkish soldiers
There's one more very scary paragraph there. Highly classified! Classified even today!
More scary red:
- Ansar al Islam … al-Qaeda [I think they weren't supposed to mention Ansar al-Islam…hmmm]
- nuclear weapons
I'll post these later.
Preview of the Dot Chart.
Only it's totally illegible, at least to me in the third row in the media room.
Wells still complaining about reading these verbatim.
On Sunday July 6, Libby also participating in discussions about the Turkish troops.
Monday: An Iraqi terrorist group making ties with AQ.
They want to attack the president and the senior aides. That's his morning.
Possible assassination attempt against President.
July 9, Libby's morning intell briefing included plan to assassinate Bush in Uganda, nukes in North Korea (corrected–Wells originally said North America)
July 10, in addition to having to complain about "Tim Matthews"
Plan for AQ attacks.
Information concerning possible terrorist groups.
Sunday, possible AQ operation to use tanker trucks to bomb skyscrapers.
Good faith recollection
No knowledge of plame's status
Did not leak to Robert Novak
"Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in th emeat grinder because of the incompetence of others."
Going to bring reporter after reporter after reporter so you can see he was responding on the merits.
Wells ends with war in Iraq.
"Only way I lose this case is if somebody starts to interpret the evidence [or facts?] based on your feelings about the war."
Walton: before we break. Want to make sure about classified info.
Restrictions have been made. These restrictions were not imposed by the government, they were imposed.
Don't know what's up–whether this is a break, or the whole day.
Btw, the NBC folks don't know about the Gregory leak.