Libby Live: Libby Grand Jury Testimony, Eight
Surprise! Welcome to tape-delayed live-blogging. No sooner did Christy's post go up than it turned out we weren't really free for lunch after all — Judge Walton decided to finish off the Libby grand jury testimony, followed by lunch, various minor matters, and then (drumroll) Tim Russert.
By the time you read this, I'll already be at lunch. Enjoy…
NOTES: (1) This is not an official transcript — just a very loose paraphrase, at best — so don't treat it as one. Even exchanges that look like verbatim dialogue are just the gist of each question and each answer, with any key phrases or pauses included as best I can. (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.
Following a defense request at the last break, Walton emphasizes to jury that Fitz's GJ questions are NOT evidence any more than the questions in court are, so don't try to read into them.
We're back on the tapes now, still with McClellan and the meat grinder.
F: What do you understand "asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder" to mean?
L: (long pause) don't know specifically, I suppose that I was asked to talk to deal with press on this issue, should have either kept uranium out of SOTU or had it better documented.
F: So your interpretation — knowing that you didn't write this — is that incompetence on SOTU forced you to deal with press, and now you were having to be cleared [of suspicion of leaking]?
L: (agrees, more or less)
F: Does dealing with the press mean you being the spokesperson on July 12, by Cheney's request?
L: Don't know if I'd say that.
F; And perhaps speculation because you had talked to Time on the record on July 12?
L: (concedes, maybe so)
F: Is it still possible that Cheney told you to talk about the wife on July 12?
L: It's not on my cards for what he told me.
F: But Cheney did think trip was curious in June
F: And Cheney was frustrated over Wilson after July 6th
F: And Carney of Time has sent email saying people are pointing fingers at the OVP over uranium mess
F: And Cheney on July 12 wanted to get whole truth out
F: And Cheney told you about CPD in June
F: And Cheney wrote "junket' on Wilson op-ed sometime after July 6th
F: So it's possible, though you don't remember, that he told you to tell reporters about Wilson's wife
L: It's possible, but I don't remember
F: When you spoke to Kessler, and you thought maybe boondoggle but not negative, do you think reporter might have gotten impression you thought it was boondoggle?
L: Perhaps, but maybe he got impression on his own from Wilson op-ed or Novak article
F: Pincus before June 12th, did you tell him about Wilson's wife
F: Pincus said on WaPo website that he was told. You don't think you told Pincus?
(Now there's a very long, painstaking discussion about what Libby understands to be classified, including insta-declassification, whether a leak to the press makes something non-classified — Libby says no, it's still not to be talked about — and whether CIA employees are assumed to be classified. Libby says he knows CIA people socially, he plays softball & football with them, they tell everyone at the game they work for CIA.)
F: But you were told this by the VP of the US, not at a football game.
L: Didn't have a sense that it was classified.
F: So you forgot that you learned this, thought it was new information when Russert told you, didn't remember until you saw note about VP and wife in CPD, but you have a recollection of sensing that it wasn't classified? (someone laughs in press room — um, me actually. Sorry, everybody…)
(Libby excuses himself lamely, and then Fitz
rubs his nose in asks him again about conversations with Grossman, Cathie Martin, Fleischer, etc. Libby still doesn't remember them. Walks through the Russert conversation, and the info about Wilson's wife striking him as a newly learned fact.)
F: Did you feel uncomfortable that you had misled Mr. McClellan about talking to reporters?
L: Not at all uncomfortable, I said I wasn't source for Novak, offered to tell VP everything I knew, think I did what I was supposed to. Once investigation started, didn't want to have conversations with other officials about this.
F: Given you didn't want to have conversations, why did you call Russert instead of having lawyer call?
L: Russ doesn't know my lawyer, I didn't go into details.
F: Reached out to any other reporters?
L: I haven't but had conversation with Evan Thomas on other subject and he asked about Wilson stuff, I said not allowed to talk
(The following are questions from grand jurors)
F: How often lunch with Ari?
L: Seldom, was first or second time, he's busy 'cause of gaggle at 1PM
F: Have you seen Ari since he left WH?
L: No — yes. Saw him at a basketball game, some other functions.
F: Have you talked about this investigation?
L: Not that I know of. (awkward pause) Was that a strange answer?
L: Don't think I talked to him in any detail (oh, that was a lot better, thanks)
F: When did you reach out to russert
L: Think before 1st GJ appearance but not sure
F: Anything that triggered it aside from advice of counsel?
F: Can you explain the protocol for discussing classified information?
L: Stuff in briefings is clearly classified, stuff on TV/newspaper clearly not, other times person will say "this is just for you." Generally clear from context, only sometimes told specifically
F: Does VP ever ask you not to write things down
L: (slowly) Sometimes, once or twice over a great period time
F: like what
L: Something operational like a war plan
F: Any time VP says it because he doesn't want a permanent record?
L: Dont think hes ever told me that
F: Never told not to write anything down about uranium/Wilson?
L: no, sir
F: If you didn't know info on Wilson's wife to be classified, why so deliberate to make sure reporters were saying it? (this has been published before)
L: Didn't want them to think it was coming from me, and might not be true — I didn't know he had a wife, as I said to Cooper
F: What did VP tell you about conversation with Pres to share NIE (w/Judy Miller)
L: I said, has the pres cleared it? He said, yes Not those words necessarily
F: VP speak to Pres personally, or on phone?
L: I don't know.
F: Was VP in town at the time?
L: Not sure, I think so.
F: Pres in town?
L: Think both were in town
F: Any other details you know of?
L: No, sir
F: Did the VP ask "have they done this sort of thing before"? (referring to his notes on Wilson op-ed)
L: He might have
F: What did you do in response
L: Don't konw if i did anything particular, he may have taken it up with Tenet, he knows I'm not agency person. I may have asked John McLaughlin about it.
F: Did VP tell you he talked with CIA?
L: Not about this specific part
F: What do you know he talked about
L: How trip came about
F: When did you learn this?
L: (pause) Summer… June, July, something like that. He's interested in this subject and doesn't do everything through me, does some stuff himself
F: Ever talk to a person named David Shedd? (paging David Corn!)
L: Have talked to him about a lot of things, but don't recall specifically about Wilson
F: VP ever talk to him about Wilson, Niger, or uranium
L: Don't know, maybe on the margins of a meeting.
… and with that, the grand jury testimony ends. Lunch time! Festivities to resume here between 2:15-2:30 pm ET, unless there are delays…