Libby Live: Libby Grand Jury Testimony, Three
The jury has returned, so we're back for more Libby grand jury testimony from March 2004. Don't forget the ground rules…
NOTES: (1) This is not an official transcript — just a very loose paraphrase, at best — so don't treat it as one. (2) My own notes will be in parentheses and/or italics. (3) I'll tell you the time at the end of each update; expect about 15-20 minutes before the next one. The hamsters that run the servers will appreciate it if you don't refresh excessively in the meantime. (4) I didn't write the book on the Valerie Plame outing — but you should buy it, if you haven't already. If you're wondering who this "Swopa" character is, my previous writings on Plamemania can be found here.
F: Do you remember talking to Judith Miller on July 8th?
(discussion of what Miller had been up to — just back from Iraq, etc.)
L: This was our first meeting, or she may have come to my office once before. She's a very responsible reporter, and I'd wanted to meet her because she cares about the WMD issue and threats to America. As we started to discuss week of July 7th, the NIE had said … (discusses NIE, asks for permission to discussion January 24 document) A January 24 document had said exactly the same thing as the NIE supporting the notion of Iraq seeking uranium from Niger. The CIA had issued this in October 2002 and January 2003, and we wanted people to know that this went against what Wilson said.
I was unaware that she was not writing during this period, but the VP instructed me to talk to Judith Miller. I said, but NIE is classified, but Cheney said Pres. had authorized it. Libby went to Addington to confirm that Pres. could declassify (this is all stuff that has been reported, so sorry if I miss details). So the Pres and VP wanted me to discuss this, and I selected Judith Miller because I felt she was a responsible reporter (Uhh, you just said Cheney picked her, didnt you?).
(Fitz and Libby discuss declassification of NIE and Jan. 24th document, Addington saying Pres has absolute ability to declassify anything whenever he want — this has all been reported previously)
F: Getting back to Judith Miller, did you talk about Mr. Wilson?
L: I don't remember specifically, but probably since we discussed it since we talked about Niger and uranium.
F: What about Mr. Wilson's wife?
L: I don't believe I did.
F: Do you recall a meeting on July 9th chaired by Stephen Hadley?
L: Not specifically.
F: Hadley was angry, saying that Tenet was upset by Andrea Mitchell report… do you recall him looking at Cathie Martin and Claire Buchan of OVP?
L: Not specifically.
F: This was just after you spoke with Andrea Mitchell, right?
(Fitz explains that Martin and Buchan were removed from contacting CIA during that period, Libby says he doesn't remember it for that reason, was because of work on Tenet statement at higher levels)
F: Do you recall Hadley saying on July 9th that we need to do something about Wilson now, discredit him? (Oh, my.)
L: I don't recall that specific phrase, but I'd have to check my notes.
F: Do you remember that concept coming across, regardless of specific words?
L: Yes, to discredit what Wilson was saying. Don't recall about discrediting him personally.
F: (pulls out notes) Do you recall Rove complaining that Wilson was viewed as a credible expert?
L: Remember wanting to discredit his story, but not him personally
F: Were people saying, "Let's be careful to discredit his story, but not discredit him personally"?
L: Don't recall any statement like that.
F: Do you recall an effort to push back on Wilson's credibility that week?
L: Yes, trying to get statement from Rice and Tenet explaining that Wilson's findings didn't really undermine intelligence, but supported it (gives the whole spiel again)
F: Did you consider Wilson's wife working at the CIA as something that undermined his credibility?
L: No, I thought he was credible to do what he did.
F: Do you believe it reflected nepotism in his hiring?
L: I… I don't think I knew then why he was hired. That didn't come out until later, with the Rove report. (??? I have no idea what this means. ???)
F: You're clear that you didn't give this information with Ari Fleischer
L: I don't recall it. I'm sorry to keep repeating this, but all I recall is being surprised when I talked about it with Tim Russert.
F: (pulls out note from conversation about Tenet statement, with references to Cheney, Hadley, plus Harlow/McLaughlin on CIA)
F: Does this say, "Wilson is declassified"?
F: Does this say, "The president is comfortable"?
F: And the next line:
L: Hadley saying it's the NIE should be leaked.
F: Did anyone say it was OK to leak the NIE that week?
L: I had already talked to Judith Miller, with the President's approval.
F: Did you tell Hadley this?
F: Why not?
L: Because the VP was there, and he knew, and didn't say anything.
F: What is this line?
L: Hadley saying whole truth has to get out, and he'd told Tenet that.
F: Was he getting ticked off?
L: More or less, Tenet statement was supposed to come out Tuesday, and was being delayed.
F: Tell me about conversation with Mr. Russert.
L: Chris Matthews has a TV show, and is an outspoken fellow, and he was saying Wilson report had been seen by VP and should have convinced WH that Niger uranium intelligence was false, not even referring to denials by WH, OVP, and CIA. This was frustrating to us, and we wanted him to acknowledge that the public record was different. Wasn't first time Matthews had criticized us. So I called Mary Matalin and asked for advice on how we should get Matthews to acknowledge public record. Mary had own opinions on where we were, so she gave them, then suggested I call Tim Russert.
So I called Russert, can't remember if I got him right away or had to call back. We spoke briefly, and then I turned to our issues. I mentioned Andrea Mitchell but said I'm not really calling about Mitchell, then went into problems with Matthews. I think Russert said he had to call me back. And I think in the second phone call, if there was one, or a delay in the first call, we had a fuller conversation. He said not much he could do about Chris Matthews, and then he said did you know Ambassador Wilson's wife works for the CIA? I remeber being taken aback by that, and I said "No, I don't know that." Intentionally, because I didn't want him to take me as confirming it. Because I had forgotten by then that I had ever known.
So he said wife works at CIA, and I said, "I don't know that," and he said, "Yeah, all the reporters know that," and I said "I don't know that." Again.
F: What was resolution with Chris Matthews.
L: We were told to go to his producer. In short, I struck out.
F: Did he give you the name of the producer?
L: Yes. I think it's Shapiro.
F: Did you call him?
L: No. We asked someone in the WH press office who knew him. Adam Levine.
F: Did he succeed?
L: No. Matthews kept saying same things.
(Fitz and Libby discuss note from Matalin conversation about calling Russert… see emptywheel's post last week for details)
F: What's this,
L: This is Matalin talking, "get David Sanger of NYT or someone, get Wilson's whole story out"… "we need to address Wilson's motivation"
(Yeah, the snake part gets discussed, too, but it's snipped out of the audio and shown as "REDACTED" in the transcript.)
(Fitz walks Libby again through all the conversations about Plame he doesn't remember — Grossman, Fleischer, etc. — he still doesn't recall them.)
F: You're sure you spoke with Russert on the 10th or 11th?
L: My notes show that I called Matalin on the 10th and then tried to reach Russert the same day.
F: When you called Russert, were you calling as a source?
F: When you spoke to Pincus and Miller, you did so as an official giving the WH point of view
F: But not with Russert?
L: I was just trying to get him to influence Chris Matthews.
F: You say you were giving the name of Russert's producer. Did you write it down in your notes?
L: I may not have.
(Fitz walks through Russert conversation details — all the reporters know it, etc.)
F: Was there anything sensitive about Wilson's wife working for the CIA that made you especially not want to confirm it?
L: No. I just didn't want him to think I was confirming it.
F: If Cathie Martin had told you about Wilson's wife before July 10th, your testimony is that you don't remember that.
L: Could you repeat the question? (Fitz does.) My testimony is that I don't recall that.
F: When Russert told you what you said he did, did you call the CIA press office to say, have you heard about reporters knowing this?
F: Did you tell any other WH official, or the VP?
F: What's the next discussion you recall where you discussed Wilson's wife's employment with anyone?
L: On the 11th, as we were still waiting for Tenet statement, at the end of the day I spoke to Karl Rove. During this conversation he said Bob Novak had told him he'd be writing a story about Wilson that weekend, he felt Wilson might not be impartial, and that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. So this was confirmation of a sort of what I'd heard from Tim Russert. I told Karl that I had heard from Tim Russert the same thing. I don't remember the exact order of this conversation, but that's the sum and substance.
F: When was this conversation with Rove?
L: On the 11th, I think in the afternoon or evening.
F: Did you tell Rove how you responded to Tim Russert?
L: I don't think so.
F: Did you learn how Rove responded to Novak?
F: Was there a sense of relief that Novak was responding to WH being beaten up all week?
L: The more important thing was that the Tenet statement was going to come out, rebutting Wilson on the facts.
F: Were you pleased to know a story was coming out on Wilson's background that weekend or so?
L: More concerned with Tenet statement, glad it was finally coming out but concerned it would miss Friday evening TV news and get lost in Saturday papers. Felt like CIA rebuttal on facts was more effective way to answer Wilson charges.
F: It wouldn't help to know that his wife had sent Wilson?
L: I didn't know that at that time, lots of people work at the CIA. I didn't know anything about the wife sending him until I read the Novak article.
F: Did you tell Rove that Novak called you that week?
L: No. I didn't know that Novak had called me, and my recollection is still hazy on that point.
F: Did you talk to Andrea Mitchell about Wilson and his wife sometime in this time frame?
L: I talked to Andrea Mitchell after Russert, and I see that NBC has stated that she didn't know about Wilson's wife until after July 14th.
F: What do you remember about talking to Mitchell?
L: I remember an awkward moment in talking to her, because I thought about what Russert told me, but I didn't know if she knew, and I didn't want to get Russert in trouble by saying he'd told me.
F: Did you talk to Mitchell about it after the 14th?
L: I don't recall. I was worried about her asking where I found out.
F: Why not just say you couldn't comment.
L: I don't like to obfuscate in that way. (smiles in media room)
Fitz starts to ask about July 12, and being with Cheney. Walton stops the tape and says it's time for lunch.
It's 12:25. New thread when we return.