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Libby Live: Libby Grand Jury Testimony, Six

Libby's theme song

Good morning, again, from the media room of the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, D.C.! Jane, Pach, and I had a pleasant morning cup of tea/coffee with the legendary Arianna Huffington, through whose assistance we are here in the first place. (Thanks!!) Ms. H. is in town for the day and couldn't pass up the opportunity to watch her longtime bete noire Tim Russert on the witness stand. She also shared with us the latest on her evolving relationship with Joe Klein, which perhaps she (or Jane?) will share later.

The accumulated forces of justice are gathering in the courtroom, so I expect we'll be under way soon. The media room is packed in anticipation of Russert's testimony.  As always, before boarding the ride, you must not only be this tall (can you see how high I'm holding my hand?), you must read 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. 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.


Walton opens by discussing the issue of handing over to the defense the previously withheld affidavits filed on behalf of Tim Russert before an agreement was reached on providing his testimony to the grand jury.  He thinks that the privacy issues that justified keeping them secret before are no longer applicable, so — even though he doesn't think there's anything notable in the affidavits — he's ruling that Fitzgerald has to hand them over to the defense.  Fitzgerald doesn't protest much; he agrees to redact the portions he thinks still should be protected by grand jury secrecy rules, and he'll submit the redacted affidavits at the first break in testimony.

Walton also returns to a couple of articles (Articles 412 and 413) where he'd limited how much of them the prosecution could present to the jury as evidence.  (This was brought up at the end of my last post last night.)  Walton now sees the point of what Fitzgerald was arguing, so he's going to let them use more of the articles than he would previously.  The defense objects, arguing that the prosecution hasn't established a foundation for providing the articles.  Walton politely brushes this

Now they're bringing the jury in.  It's 9:40.

We're now back in March 2004, with the replay of Scooter Libby's second grand jury appearance.  When we left off last time, they were about to talk about Libby's July 12, 2003 phone call to Judith Miller.

Fitzgerald finishes the odd (and as-yet-unexplained) line of questioning of how many phones Libby has from which he can call, then gets Scooter to reiterate that, according to him, he did not discuss Joe Wilson's wife with Miller during their meeting on July 8th — only insta-declassified language from the National Intelligence Estimate justifying White House claims that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Niger.  Fitz exhaustively walks Libby through his previously described steps of getting authorization to leak this information, since he was leery of giving out previously classified information.   And that this was the first time he had passed this information along to a reporter.

Now Fitz pulls out a note to Scooter from Cathie Martin about his conversation with the NYT's David Sanger on July 2nd. (Uh-oh, Scooter.)

Sanger's name is misspelled on the memo, which causes chuckles in the media room, especially in the vicinity of the NY Times' representative.

Now Fitz has segued — I must have missed something — to when Scooter asked the VP about sharing information from Robert Novak's column outing Valerie Plame with reporters.  Does he remember when, after the Novak column came out, you discussed this with the VP?

L: No.

F: But you do remember that you might haved discussed with the VP before the Novak column

L: Yes, might have discussed it on July 12. 

F: Do you know if you spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the NIE before July 18th (when it was officially declassified)?

L: No, I didn't.

F: Do you know who did?

L: Secretary Wolfowitz did.

(Long discussion of WSJ article)

F: Did you send Wolfowitz any information for this article?

L: No. 

F: Did you send him the redacted version of the NIE, or talking points, you showed to Judith Miller?

L: No. 

(More discussion

F: The editorial says the information did not come from the White House, correct?

L: Yes.

F: The information came from Wolfowitz, with the approval of the White House, correct?

L: No (interrupts self) He told me he was going to give them information, yes, sir.

(F. brings up VP meeting with conservative columnists on July 17th or so — more efforts to get message out on uranium)

F: Was there discussion about Wilson? 

L: We passed out already-declassified portions of NIE

F: What was your view of Wilson at this time?

L: That his argument had been refuted, for anyone who would look at the facts. (walks through WH spiel on this again)

F: Did you think that Wilson was making an honest portrayal of the facts?

L: In July 6 op-ed, he said he was open to correction, at this point I thought he should have seen that he was incorrect.

F: Do you think it was appropriate for him to go on that mission in 2002?

L: It's not for me to say.

It's 10:07. 

F: You had joked about why CIA had to send an ambassador when we had one already

L: Just thought it wouldn't get additional information, though perhaps Wilson knew some people current ambassador didn't

F: Did you think he was selected because of nepotism

L: He seemed qualified to do the job (implies wife's role was irrelevant to him, since Wilson was qualified)

F: Did you think it was nepotism when Cheney told you about wife at CIA

L: No

F: Did you think it was abnormal to send Wilson

L: I didn't think it would be useful 

F: Did you think there was an issue if he was or wasn't on the CIA payroll?

L: Seemed unusual for him not to be paid

F: Do you think that affected the weight CIA put on his advice

L: Maybe, but not definitively 

F: What was VP's view

L: That Wilson was qualified to go to Niger, but probably wouldn't be helpful in learning about WMD

F: Did VP believe it was nepotism

L: I believe at times he had suspicions

F: Why do you say that?

L: He made brief comments about it

F: When?

L: (pause) in late July, early September

F: Why discuss it then?

L: People would come through, talk about issue in news

F: Why not discuss it earlier?

L: Just don't recall any discussions then, aside from what's in my notes 

F: (asks several questions reiterating that L. doesn't remember any discussion at point X, Y, and Z in this time) 

L: Think after Kristof, he expressed some unease about how Niger trip came about, and then after Wilson op-ed

F How soon after?

L: Don't recall

F: (shows Libby the copy of Wilson op-ed with Cheney's handwriting) Do you feel VP did this on July 6th

L: Probably, but VP was in Wyoming at the time, so I wouldn't have seen it when I walked into the office on Monday

F: Would it be in a stack of clippings, or just one or two

L: Just one or two 

F: He writes, "Did CIA ever do anything like this?" Did he ask you this?

L: I think so, once.

F: When?

L: Don't know.

F: Ask you "send an ambassador to answer a question"?

L: Don't think so.

F: Ask you "did wife send him on a junket"?

L: Remember him not asking, but musing about it

F: When?

L: After Novak column

F: Would he have gone back after Novak column a week later to write concerns on Wilson op-ed?

L: Don't know

F: If he had these concerns before Novak column, he would not have mentioned them to you even as you discussed Wilson?

L: Discussed Wilson during that week, it's just the part about the wife I don't recall discussing during that week (chuckling in media room)

F: You didn't hear anything about Wilson's wife until Russert conversation, when you were surprised to learn it.

L: Right. 

(F. walks through L. testimony about calling Russert to complain about Andrea Mitchell comments, then Chris Matthews.  Pulls out OVP memo of some kind.)

F: Do you recall when you saw this?

It's 10:27.

(F. notes document is stamped "seen by VP," has written note that reports of Wilson's trip have been distorted by the press and Wilson.)

F: Did you feel Wilson was distorting his own report?

L: (hedges, I missed exactly how)

F: Did anyone speak up and say, "The story here isn't Wilson, it's just the trip"?

L: Don't recall.

(F. pulls out draft of WH uranium talking points)

L: I did not write this, someone else wrote it as talking points for me

F: In talking to who?

L: No one in particular, just generic

F: Did you use this?

L: Don't think I did (carps about mistaken name in document — Hadley where it should say Tenet)

In tape, the grand jury takes a break.  Walton stops tape, and Fitz says it's time for a real break, too.

It's 10:36.  New thread when we return.

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Swopa

Swopa

Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (www.needlenose.com).

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