Libby Live: Ari Fleischer Two
Standard housekeeping warnings. emptywheel? Not a court reporter (in fact, she's the author of Anatomy of Deceit)–consider this a decent paraphrase, but not a transcript. And updates? Please consider the servers before you update every minute.
Quick note from Pach: It's disorienting to see Ari Fleischer answer this many qustions in a row without dodging, weaving, fogging or lying. Bizarre indeed!
Pach is off to the Court Room. He said the juror who is gone is the white 30s female who laughs a lot, a travel agent. I'm fairly certain she was one of the jurors, not an alternate. Don't know who was the first alternate, but I think all the alternates were from the last day of voir dire.
Also about Ari, I don't know whether it's the close circuit TV, but back in the day, he had a kind of evil charisma. He doesn't look so good today. But he certainly seems reasonably comfortable on the stand. He's got a striped tie on. Pours water. Sitting there turning in his seat with his mouth set.
When Ari was asked her name apparently he said it was "Plame or Plam-ay." So I think the problem with Ms. Plam-ay is she's French.
Jurors coming in.
You may be seated, good afternoon. Asks about temperature. Ari is laughing about something. Now has his face fixed again.
P just finishing up asking questions about lunch on July 7. Did Libby say anything to you to make you think the info was classified or protected. Later that day, overseas trip.
Fl Overnight flight to Senegal. The President was going on a trip, left out of Edwards aboard AF1.
Fl COS, SOS,NSA, Bartlett, and other support people from WH, press aboard AF1.
P scheduled duration?
Fl Left US on July 7, returned on July 12. Involved 5 African nations.
P During the course of the trip, decision made that WH would walk away, no longer stand behind 16 words.
Fl Night of July 7, meetings taking place, whether we would stand by the 16 words, conveyed by Hadley or Michael Anton, one of those two, WH not stand by this any longer, our position was we didn't know if accurate or not, but it didn't rise to the level of SOTU.
P Conveyed to the press? End controversy?
Fl Started the controversy.
P July 11, Dr. Rice, press gaggle on same subject.
Fl On a trip abroad, I'd ask NSA to go to the back of the plane to address press. Dr. Rice came to the back. That was contentious, Press asking how could this happen? You're the WH, mistakes like this shouldn't happen. Dr. Rice said something that had not been previously said, Had DCI wanted those words to come out, it would have come out. Now WH seems to be blaming CIA for words not getting taken out.
P Are you able to monitor press coverage.
Fl Yes, I get transcripts, news shows.
P Coverage about Africa, what it had hoped for?
Fl Whole trip mired in controversy.
P Did you hear someone on AF1 make another reference to Wilson's wife.
Fl Staff cabin, Dan Bartlett, Comm Dir, reading a different document. He said, "I can't believe he or they are saying that the VP sent Amb Wilson to Niger, his wife sent him, she works at CIA. He said this in front of me.
P Would you characterize this as a conversation?
Fl Dan was venting. That became the second reference I learned, I overheard. I don't recall who was there.
P What was your reaction?
Fl I heard all this before. Never seemed very newsie. The one thing it backed up my statement, VP didn't send Ambassador, he was sent by his wife. I had one more nugget to back up that statement.
P Were you in Uganda. Can you tell us if you had an occasion to talk to reporters by the side of the road.
Fl President walking toward second event. Meeting with young children who were going to sing songs. A group of reporters on the side of the road. I recall I said to these reporters, If you want to know who sent Amb Wilson to Niger, it was his wife, she works there. Tamara Lippert Newsweek, David Gregory and John Dickerson, Time Magazine.
P was this a formal interview?
Fl One of the many conversations I had with the press, the event was not one I had to be there. You sidle up to reporters and chat what was on their mind. Maybe this will address some of these issues about how people got sent. This backs up WH statement.
P What part of it backs up WH account?
Fl Allegation WH twisted intelligence. Amb Wilson wrote that a report had been filed. He said Cheney had played a role must be known by VP. I had been told by two WH officials, which I seemed like I should send on. VP wasn't involved in it. That's why I made a judgment to say that to the press.
P Did you statement get much of a reaction?
Fl Press's reaction was so what. Didnt' take out notebook, Didn't ask any follow-up calls.
P Metaphorically speaking?
Fl Like a lot of things i said to the press it had no impact.
P Did you have a reaction to their lack of reaction?
Fl I try to think of things through the eyes of reporters. I don't think reporters are going to be particularly interested. There wasn't much news there. No one really cares who sent him.
P Did you have any hestitation about sharing this?
Fl I never would have thought this was classified. never in my wildest dreams believed this involved, as I've read since, this involved a covert officer.
Btw, Dickerson is upstairs in the court room, everyone wants to know why this is different than what he reported.
Now Ari has a kind of pouty face on.
Walton, In reference to the Witness' testimony about what he read in the newspaper. That testimony is only relevant as it relates to his state of mind was. It has no relevance to this case. I don't know based on what has been presented to me, what her status was. It's totally irrelevant to this case.
P Your last day at the WH was when
Fl July 14, 2003
Fl The next I started my own business
P Late September, two and a half months later. Did you learn information that caused you concern.
Fl I saw article in NYT that CIA asked DOJ into investigation of identity of covert CIA agent. Went online at WaPo, read very big story about CIA asking for criminal investigation. I read that article.
P Was the person identified?
Fl As I recall it was Amb Joseph Wilson's wife. I was absolutely horrified. I thought I may have played a role in outing, oh my god did I play a role in outing a CIA officer, even though I had no idea that she was classifed or covert,
P What did you do?
Fl I contacted counsel.
P is that how you subsequently obtained immunity
P Prior to obtaining immunity did you answer questions.
Fl No, bc I thought I might somehow be in trouble,
P Once you obtained immunity, did you answer all the questions put to you.
Walton reminds that this article only relates to Ari.
J You spent two and a half years answering questions twice a day. In formal and informal settings.
J You represnted President of US. Some questions were hostile.
J How many times did you meet with the prosecutors.
Fl (something like 8 times)
J How many times have you met with any representative for the defense. You refused?
Fl I declined to do so.
J You recollect that Libby told you info about Amb Wilson's wife. You saw no reason why you couldn't share that info. You left that evening for Africa, reporters from NBC news,
Fl on AF1 there's always a smaller pool, 6-7 reporters and 6-7 technical people.
J reporters on AF1 and reporters on another plane. Do you recall it was not just an op-ed but also MTP
Fl I only know that looking back. I did not watch MTP that morning.
J have you ever watched that video?
J Don't you recall reading an article by Pincus and Leiby?
Fl What I recall was something in the air that spring, I was very aware of the accusations made, that President Bush should have known.
J I'm focusing on the day before you left for Africa. Part of your duty was to read the press critical of the president. Mentions op-ed and Leiby article.
Fl The appearance on TV I only know looking backward.
Fl only became big once we got to Africa, only after WH said we would no longer stand by 16 words.
J Did you tell reporters anything on that plane, to Africa? Did you tell any reporters the next day? Did you fly from Senegal to SA, did you tell reporters. The next day you spent in SAfrica. Did you tell any reporters in SAfrica. Spent the day in Botswana or flying back to SAfrica, did you give any info to reporters about Wilson's wife
Fl not that day.
J On July 11, while flying from SAfrica to Uganda, you had a conversation
Fl I don't know that I'd call a conversation. He vented out loud. He may have been named counsel at that point, it was comm director as I remember.
Flashes picture of Bartlett on screen.
J Is he still in WH, title?
Fl Counselor to President.
Fl He said it out loud, I don't know that he was talking directly to me, I can't believe he, or that Wilson said VP sent him to Niger, his wife sent him, she works at the CIA. If it was they, I think it'd be a reference to the press.
J Up until that time ,you hadn't said anything about her. But after that you said it to two reporters on the side of the road.
Fl There was one other event that made it relevant.
J But that's true, right, that you told two reporters on the side of the road.
J Goes to Libby conversation. This lunch had been set up once before, set up and postponed. It wasn't set up after Wilson's article. It was set up, he asked you to go to lunch bc he knew you were leaving, you had never had lunch with him. All your meetings on the fringe or outside meetings.
J You had had a press gaggle that morning, you used the talking points from Cathie Martin and OVP.
Fl was provided by VP staff, I don't know whether she gave me the talking points orally but what I said was what they told me to say.
J customary for them to email talking points to you.
Fl I would get info from others at WH. It'd be typical for someone involved in something that could be news to tell me or provide it in writing.
Enters defense exhibit, gaggle transcript.
J First questions were about Liberia
Fl This was the issue that for the first day of the trip was on the minds of the press, this was the big one at least at that time.
J If you look at page 5 of the gaggle.
Going over the zero nada new comment in the gaggle.
Still going through the stuff he said that came from Cathie Martin's talking points.
J Had you received other information relating to this controversy.
Fl I received other info about why he said what he said, why did Pres say those 16 words. I received other info saying why he might say it.
J When you said that morning that it had been discovered after the SOTU were forgeries
J did you consider that day or any other day that Mr. Wilson's report is why the WH took back the report.
Fl not sure what J is asking.
J Was the report why the WH took back the 16 words.
Fl on that day I wouldn't have known about that.
J In terms about any conversation about Wilson's wife, 15 seconds, 20 seconds?
Fl very plain spoken, matter of fact.
J Mr Libby did not use the word nepotism. You believe Mr. Libby told you the name. When you testified before the GJ you pronounced her name two different names, Plamay and Plame? If you had heard it pronounced one way or another you'd have remembered?
Fl I didn't pay attention to the name.
J The first newspaper story that came out with her name in it was Novak's column. It had had her name as Plame. If you had read that, it would be natural you might mispronounce. Some might pronounce Plamay and some Plame?
Fl and isn't that why you don't know how it's pronounced. What difference did it make to me what her name was?
J It didn't make any difference to you. That's why you say you think, but you can't be sure about that, can you?
Fl with absolute certainty, no.
J to the extent you began to get questions from the press, is it fair to say you didn't think information that his wife worked at the CIA would be a good way for the WH to respond.
Fl it wasn't very relevant, what the Press was looking at, other than that one point, that the CIA said they sent it. When you are the PS, the press challenges everything you say, they want you to back it up. Talks about first blaming 9/11 on AQ. A reporter says "prove it."
J Isn't it true that prior to conversation about Bartlett, you though the press wouldn't find that interesting.
Fl Other than that one nugget.
J Did you testify to GJ, And it struck me that it was not material. The press would not find it interesting one way or another. if his wife sent him. The press was very interested in teh substance of did president Bush knowingly deceive..
Fl Yes, Ive said that earlier today, already. And I think I mentioned the nugget before the GJ.
J Did you have a gaggle.
Fl Dr Rice came to the back. I believe that Dr Rice came to the back of the airplane prior to Bartlett said that.
J Is it fair to say press all over the Wilson story.
Fl The story they were over was how could Pres put this in SOTU, and how could this happen.
J After the gaggle, this is when you were reading a document. What was it.
Fl A CIA summary of his trip.
J Why were you reading it?
Fl Rice was asked if she could declassify this information. Show us the reason why. There was a meeting in senior staff cabin, we were talking about why president said what he said. I wanted to see that doct, bc Rice said this part backs up what president said.
J gives the report. You recognize that as the report.
Fl I believe that this is the document, with everything blacked out, I can't tell.
J this [cable, interesting word choice] was not written by Wilson, it was written by CIA
J According to this report, former Nigerien PM Mayaki who was FM from 96 to 97, and Niger's PM 97-99, stated he was unaware of contracts being signed. Mayaki did relate that Barka Tafrigi approached him to say he should meet with Iraq delegation. Although meeting took place… [continues reading from report].
J Is it a fact that you said Wilson's report supported claim that Iraq seeking yellowcake in Africa
Fl I remember thinking this supports what Pres said in SOTU.
J You recall Tenet put out a statement,
Fl I know statement came out after I made statement by side of the road.
[Ari fucked up–said the statement came out on the 10th]
J notice in the middle of the third paragraph, statement didn't say the meeting didn't take place
Fl Which was a point I made to the press the following day.
J Going back to the cable, do you recall testifying to GJ that this report referred to Wilson by name, I know I though that this covered Amb Wilson's findings.
GJ testimony up again.
J did you say it referred to Wilson by name
J was that correct
Fl I know the context that this was the summary of his trip, if I read it and it didn't mention him
J If you'd like to look through that entire document, the name is not in there. He's referred to as a contact who does not have established reporting
Fl my context was it was Amb Wilson's trip, if it doesn't have his name verbatim, it may not have his name verbatim.
J W/govt's permission I will represent that the blacked out portions do not include Wilson's name.
JWas at this time when Bartlett came to you
Fl that's when he walked near me
J asks if it was INR memo
Fl I wouldn't know
J Did you see the doct that Bartlett had in hand. Do you know whether this was the doct?
Fl I wouldn't know one way or another.
J Bartlett is saying, "I can't believe…" He seemed to be, upset, annoyed?
J Did you say he says his wife sent him. You're saying that's the same thing Libby said four days earlier. You made no comment.
Fl I wanted to read the doct that Rice had given to me, when Bartlett came back, my first reaction was "I'd heard this before."
J what did you say to Bartlett, it would only take about 3 seconds to say oh sure I've heard that. He said to you and you don't say a word.
Fl one of the things I found in the govt is that you should finish what you start,
J Dan Bartlett is your boss.
Fl nominally my boss.
Fl the way the WH worked, I really reported to the president. Dan Bartlett would have a box above me.
J he was higher than you.
Fl I'm not sure I'd agree he made a statement to me, he vented out loud.
J So he wasn't just talking to you.
Fl he said it out loud.
J When you testified before GJ, did you say "I recall Dan saying to me, I can't believe, the next…"
Fl I heard him, he told me, I think it's all kind of the same.
J You didn't mean to let the GJ think he was saying it to you
Fl Bartlett said it, and I heard it. It's all one and the same.
Fl 4 seats in senior staff cabin.
J how many seats in the cabin you were sitting in.
Fl in the front some 10 seats, and 3 or 4 behind.
Fl people get up and walk around all the time. The people who typically sit in that cabin are nuclear football guy, personal aid, head of advance, photographer.
J Can you name one other person who was seated within earshot.
Fl No, I was sitting in my chair trying to read a document.
J Did you testify b4 GJ why you didn't tell Bartlett of your lunch. you responded, it didn't strike me as news.
Fl Yes sir. I think I also told the GJ what we just discussed as well.
J Now, the point you took away from Bartlett's statement was there was incompetence?
Fl my take was Bartlett was saying incomptence at CIA.
J You saw no reason why you couldn't tell anyone.
J All these people who would be seated in staff cabin, all employees of WH.
Fl Yessir, I hope so.
J David Gregory is WH correspondant at NBC news (flashes picture of Gregory). Did you recall at the gaggle when Rice was being peppered by these questions, Gregory was one of the questions.
J introduces transcript of gaggle. Going through questions asked in gaggle.
J Do you recall that all of the controversy didn't have to do with Amb Wilson. His claims were only one part of the problem you were facing about the credibility of the 16 words. One of the questions consistenly being raised was who cleared the speech. People talking about Foley and Amb Joseph. Did that cause some tension that week. Tension you had to get involved in trying to solve. That didn't have anything to do with Wilson.
Fl It was hard to tell what was attributable to one problem or another. It all kind of, as it always does, meld together as one big controversy.
J in the press gaggle that day, it all had to do with who cleared the speech.
Fl I was making a reference earlier about a report aired on CBS news which said CIA said President did know info was false and deliberately put it in speech even though he knew it was false. That was opposite to everything I was told.
J Do you recall if you could…Goes over the Condi statement–if we had known … "Dr Rice, it sounds as if you're blaming the CIA." That was David Gregory, right?
Fl I don't know.
J If you look down, it refers to David, does that refresh your memory.
Fl I think it's possible.
J Do you recall another David.
Fl I wouldn't remember if there was another David.
Ten minute break. This whole biulding is boiling hot. Here and the court room.
Waiting for the jury. Ari with his game face on.
Jeffress back up, talking about gaggle, talking about IAEA discovering the documents were forgeries. IAEA reported two months after SOTU. And Condi claiming she learned about it on MTP.
Fl I recall she was on some Sunday show. I recall the conversation coming up, particularly afterwards.
J When somebody in that high a position goes on Sunday show, do you brief them, she had not been prepared on Wilson.
Fl not by me.
J But high officials were being asked
Fl yessir, there was something in the air that spring.
Fl I can't remember when Dr. Rice went on what show when.
J But you were present at this gaggle.
J whether before or after the gaggle.
Fl My belief the conversation…Bartlett's statement took place after.
J This gaggle was 12:15 local time. This was flying to capital of Uganda. And Pres had a meeting with Mr. Museveni, the President of Uganda.
J showing document with schedule. Refers Ari to the order of events on the 11th. Gives him another document, one of Ari's documents. July 11, 2003. Transcript of Museveni and Bush. J is trying to pin down the time of the meeting. Jeffress looking for a document that might place the time of Ari's leak.
J Your recollection of when you talked to these reporters was when. This event at 4 is after that event. Shortly after 3:00, shortly after 8:00 (AM) EST. Was there a third reporter?
Fl Tamara Lipper, Newsweek.
Fl my recollection is that she had walked off. Gregory and Dickerson.
J They were asking you questions. How did the information get in your speech, Bush was asked. Were the reporters asking you questions.
Fl No I volunteered it. Talking about bad week at WH, Why going after DCI Tenet, What I recall, in large part that report on CBS, plus the fact that I had heard it from two Admin officials, so I volunteered it.
J Clear memory of another conversation with Gregory.
Fl I remember Gregory saying what a terrible last week it was. I remember saying to Mr. Gregory, "If it wasn't this crap, it was some other crap."
J Did you have second thoughts about that word.
Fl PS' shouldn't use the word. I said, if you're going to use it, don't use that word.
J But no second thoughts about what Wilson.
Fl I don't recall whether it was on the record or on background.
J He'd be perfectly free to call NBC news? And Gregory worked for whom? Washington Bureau?
Fl works out of the WH. Tim Russert was head of Washington Bureau
J Another reporter was hearing the same conversatoin.
Dickerson, with his picture up.
J Dickerson worked for whom? Did these reporters… Do you know a reporter named Matt Cooper?
J Did these reporters have telephones?
Fl on the airplane? Yes.
At least a little after 8 in the morning EST both of these reporters knew from you that Wilson's worked at CIA.
J putting War on Wilson up on the screen.
Fl Doesn’t recall Time story until story broke in September
J reviews the authors, notes Ari spoke to Dickerson.
J There was a gaggle that morning.
Fl Had Tenet's statement, Other question was did President still have confidence in Tenet.
J You were tasked with asking.
Gives gaggle to Ari.
J Did you have conversations with Harlow that day?
Fl I recall one the day before, after Dr Rice "shivved" Tenet, I filled him in, knowing the press would start calling him. I called him to let him know what Dr. Rice said. On July 12, did I talk to Harlow? I don't recall.
J How many times did you talk to Harlow that week?
Fl July 7 or 8, I'm being told by Bob Joseph that CIA did approve those words. He (Harlow) said CIA did not approve those words. I remember that conversation and the one I just referenced on the 12th.
J He felt the WH was blaming CIA.
Fl, Harlow was not pleased to hear that [that Condi had hung Tenet out to dry]
Fl What I recall is that in that statement–do you have that Tenet statement? Tenet said the official from Niger met with Mayaki.
J Did you and Bartlett have a discussion about reaching out to reporters. We talked about that CBS report. We should find out who else is writing this story. I said we should get this out to everyone we talk to about Tenet.
Fl I called Pincus at WaPo, I think I called someone at NYT. I can't recall what Bartlett did.
J Is it a fact that you and Bartlett agreed to contact several print and media journalists. Ari NYT and Wapo and Bartlett the Sunday talk shows.
J You did meet with the FBI on June 10 2004. Did you tell the FBI that Bartlett was going to contact the Sunday talk shows.
Fl I don't recall who I said he was going to call.
J One of the Sunday talk shows would be MTP. Who is the NBC correspondant?
Fl Correspondant? Anchor is Tim Russert.
J Walter Pincus–can you say what area he writes in?
Fl I called him bc, WH reporters taht covered this story. I was working off of who was covering the controversy. I knew he wasn't on the trip, so I could reach him.
J Did you tell Pincus that Wilson's wife worked at CIA.
Fl nossir. I would have remembered it if it happened.
J Immunity agreement? Is that something that your lawyers sought from Prosecutors and his team.
Fl I couldn't tell you the exact date.
I'm going to start a third thread now.