Libby Live: Ari Fleischer One
Hey, look at the exploding pig in the poke cartoon graphic I found! Or perhaps "pig in the poke to stay out of the pokey"?
If you don't know the reference, Patrick Fitzgerald described the process of offering Ari Fleischer immunity "buying a pig in a poke." We'll see whether this particular pig in the poke will be "da bomb."
A reminder of housekeeping rules: This is not a transcript. I'm getting as close as I can get. But trust me, I'm not a court reporter!
Also, I'll try to post update times. I've been updating every 10-15 minutes (usually at convenient breaks that will drive you crazy). Try to save the servers by updating around the time I'll actually update.
The professional liar is swearing to tell the truth.
Ari Flesicher. Not wearing glasses, he looks balder than he used to be.
Fl I have Ari Fleischer Communications, Strategic advice on communications. WH PS from 2001 to 2003.
Fl My job was to speak for the president, to explain what he was doing and why and to defend the WH if there was a controversy.
[I'm going to use P–I think this is Zeidenberg, I'm not postiive]
P how would you do this
Fl I would go to meetings, send other people to meetings. I'd talk to press a variety of ways every day. some formal and informal.
P what do you mean, formal and informal.
Fl Briefing and gaggle. Briefing, on camera, take questions. A second, less well known. Gaggle, on the record but they didn't allow cameras. I'd brief the press 2X a day.
P what does it mean when you say, "on the record."
Fl Reporters have free game to use it as they see fit. But there're no cameras.
P Did you also meet with the press on an informal fashion.
Fl meetings with reporters, conversations where they'll just call you. Talk to them. Meet with reporters on background. There were regularly scheduled meetings on background. My area of the WH the press can come and go as they please. Every day reporters would pop into my office.
P As Press Secretary did you have your own sources of information.
Fl principal source was president, the only way to be PS, but others, incl VP, Cabinet members, COS, NSA, Deputy NSA, some of them would give me informatoin. You learn that you have to listen to a wife variety of people so what you say is just as accurate as can be.
P have you testified previously.
Fl January 2004, February 2004, September 2004.
P Did you answer all questions put to you?
Fl No sir. First time, I said I would refuse to cooperate unless I was given immunity as a result of what I had done.
P Did you get grant of immunity from govt.
Fl reading from Immunity order, cannot be prosecuted for underlying issues in this matter.
P Just so its clear, what your understanding, what can you and can you not be prosecuted for?
Fl, I'm not a lawyer, I cannot be prosecuted for what I did with info I was provided but I can be prosecuted for what I say.
P so if you're not truthful, you can be prosecuted for that.
P I'd like to direct your attention to spring summer 2003. Can you tell about SOTU given by pres in January 2003, what it was, what was the significants.
Fl SOTU a major address, it's typically the address that the most people will ever watch, important for the President to define what he wants to do, January 2003, period leading up to Iraq, very important event to talk to American people, from Bush's point of view about why we might go to war with Iraq.
P in the next couple of months. Did a controversy arise over a particular sentence.
Fl One sentence which as I recall [repeats 16 words] President did not name a country, he said Africa. Part of that was based on forgeries. So I was asked, does the Pres still stand by it.
P response to these questions?
Fl Spring 2003, Yes, there was other evidence, even though part turned out to be wrong.
P late spring, beginning of May, do you recall press accounts which discussed an envoy who went to Africa?
Fl Sometime in spring, something in the air, a couple of things that were written that reexamined these 16 words, and said that info WH had used was wrong in its entirety.
P July 6 2003, an op-ed written by Joseph Wilson, former Ambassador
P can you tell us about that day and article.
Fl came out in op-ed, envoy had previously been raised in the spring, had his name attached, President must have twisted the intelligence, the envoy was challenging honesty and accuracy and now he had put his name on it what was previously in the air.
P July 6, do you remember what day you went to Africa
Fl Monday July 7.
P Monday July 7, were you asked questions that morning regarding the charges, can you tell us about that?
Fl in that gaggle, a reporter asked "what's the WH's reaction." There's zero, nada nothing new here, other than we now know the name. I added the VP did not send this person, CIA sent on his own volition.
P further questions about 16 words?
Fl later, given this oped, on that question I had been previously told not to repeat the WH's "we're standing by the 16 words."I knew the ground was shifting, the worst place to stand as PS is where the ground is shifting. I punted, I said sort of yes and no. And said I'd have to get back to him.
P Lunch on July 7.
Fl I had announced I was going to be leaving, "Spend time with family." Shortly after Mr. Libby asked to go to lunch.
P enters govt. exhibit, schedule for that day.
12:00 lunch with Libby
P was it routine to have lunch engagemnts.
Fl typically I would eat at my desk.
P had you ever had lunch with Mr. Libby
Fl no sir
Fl our relationship good, I liked Mr Libby, I did not consider him as a source, when I asked him questions, he would tell me to ask Dr. Rice NSA.
P notwithstanding your relationship with Libby was good.
P where and who was present?
Fl just Libby and me
P was anything discussed
Fl my plans what I was going to do in the private sector. Talked about sports, football, both fans of the Dolphins. I don't remember if I brought up or Libby brought up the briefing. I said I got asked about Wilson. I said what I was asked by the OVP to say. What I recall Libby saying to me, reiterated that VP did not send Wilson. Amabssador Wilsongot sent by his wife, she works at CIA, Works in CPD, I recall that he told me her name. This is hush hush this is on the QT.
Schuster's Hail to Victors going. People pissed.
Fl I was asked about the briefing.
P What word did Libby use when he described Wilson's wife.
Fl I remember him saying she works at CIA at CPD.
P Did you know what it meant.
Fl not in specific, I don't know enough about CIA inner structure to know what it means.
P her name, how did he describe her name
Fl I believe he said Valerie Plame
Fl the news that VP had not sent him, it was the first time I ever heard it.
P what did you understand Libby to mean by hush hush
Fl I thought it was kind of odd. My sense was Libby was saying it was kind of newsie, no one knows.
P did you understand that it was classified
Fl absolutely not. There's a very strict protocol when classified info is spread, my experience, when someone conveyed info that I was authorized to hear, it was always, "this is classified you're authorized to hear." When it's oral, people always say, "this is classified you cannot use it."
P What was your understanding of purpose of bringing up the wife?
Ari looking up, not focusing on anything. Sometimes using his hands to speak.
P Did you take from the comment about the wife that there was some improper comment
Fl My thought was that there was nepotism. That was what I thought I was hearing.
P Did you feel there was any restrictions. If we can approach.
Ari making a face, a bit of a frown. Drinks water. Rubs hands together. Okay, he's beginning to look uncomfortable. Now trying to listen in on sidebar.
Walton: It's 12:30 we'll break for lunch, don't talk about the case. Have a nice lunch.
I'll start a new thread after lunch.