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Libby Live: Novak One


NOTES: (1) This is not a transcript — It's the blogger's approximation, and no one really knows what that is yet! But I do know you shouldn't quote anything not in quotation marks. (2) I'll timestamp the updates and will update about every 15 minutes, servers willing. The hamsters that run the servers will appreciate it if you don't refresh excessively in the meantime. (3) If you're not having enough fun just reading along the liveblog, consider buying my book on this case.

Well,I guess Libby's team thought we'd be tired after lunch. Or perhaps they want us to lose our lunch. Becuase we're getting Novak.

Novak sitting there looking shiftily from right to left, kind of sitting back in the seat. He's got a three piece suit (like the one in the picture, but a yellow tie or some such thing. And he's wearing glasses. Maybe he noticed earlier that losing one's glasses is a good way to stall for time?!?!

Fitzgerald and Wells chatting about something–bench conference on something relating to Novak.

Libby is very animated right now, laughing with Jeffress. Whatever he said, they're both cracking up.

Novak has one cup of water to the side and one in front of him. He looks more comfortable than Judy, but not all that much more. But maybe that's because he looks shifty by his very nature? That took abotu 5 minutes or so. Jury now coming in. 

I think Walton is getting tired–he's not as chatty as he was with the jury week before last.

[Wells up, I'll use W and RN] 

RN: I'm a journalist, staffer for Sun Times, syndicated columnist, also a (clears throat) contributor for Fox, Bloomberg, editor in chief for Evans-Novak.

W: In 2003 who did you work for?

RN Sun Times, CNN. Exec producer for Capital game [His voice sounds A LOT more nasaly than normal], been political commentator since 1963.

Wells: Work history.

RN: goes through military service, AP, Evans, since Evans retirement.

Now Novak is sitting up on edge of seat.

W: Week of July 7 2003.

RN: Change of counterterrorism aide, Ms. Townsend, and several small stories ran in item, working on Amb Joe Wilson's mission to Niger which he had written about.  

W How did you come to be working on Wilson column

RN: Previous Sunday, alleged attempt by Iraq to buy yellowcake from Niger, he had written op-ed, he was on MTP, I happened to be on roundtable and came in contact with him, had been interested in story, became more interested in it, and whether Pres had ignored report in opting for invasion of Iraq.

Wells, introduces the column.


W: Focuses on the key paragraph of the column. Two SAOs told me. WRT statement about 2 SAOs, who were the two?

RN: Both of those officials have signed waivers I'm free to give their names, then Dpty SOS Armitage, and Senior WH Aide, Karl Rove.

W: Start with how you came to speak with Armitage. 

RN: I had been trying to get appointment with Armitage since 2001, he had declined to see me, had indicated he just didn't want to see me. After 9/11 I tried again, got rebuffed. At the end of June, last week of June, his office contacted me, said he'd see me. Made appointment for July 8, afternoon, his office, State.

W: What you recall about conversation.

RN: The only people in room were Armi and me, no aides, no tape recorders, I did not take notes, it was by tacit agreement rather than by stipulation, a background, I assumed I could write what he said, but I wouldn't be able to identify him, I also got to the point, I had decided by then I was going to write a column about Wilson's mission to Niger.

W What he told you WRT Wilson's wife.

RN: After we talked about mission, I asked why in the world they named WIlson when he had been staffer in Clinton NSC, he was believed to be critical of Bush, no experience in policy, had not been in Niger since 1970s [wrong again, Novak], so Armi said he was suggested by wife Valerie who was employee in CPD at CIA.

W You specifically recall that Armi referred to Wilson's wife by name, 

RN Yes, as Valerie

W How did you come to learn her last name

RN Wilson's entry in Who's Who. It was listed as Valerie Plame.

W Armitage did not give you the last name.

W You used the term Agency operative. Did that come from Armitage

RN I've referred to people probably too much as operatives politicians as political operatives.  Didn't indicate I had knowledge of her being intell operative but as employee of CIA. 

W Did you have knowledge she was covert.

RN No.

W Fair to say Armi primary source. Did you have confirming source.

RN That was Karl Rove.  In 2003 he was senior advisor to Pres on a wide variety of subjects. He had a lot to do with political strategy.

W To make sure they stayed in office.

RN MOre than that, that they were successful. 

W That they were re-elected.

RN He was trying to do a good job for country.

W Personal Friend?

RN I wouldn't call him friend, I'd say very good source.

W When did you speak with Rove. 

RN I called as soon as I returned, I can never remember getting him back right away, I think it was that day he returned the call.  

W Conversaion the next on July 9

RN When we had that conversation–it could have been July 8, I haven't been able to pin it down. Mainly I was interested in Rove, I'm sorry, mostly Wilson mission to Niger, Asked him about that and policy. Near the end, I asked about Wilson's wife, I asked if he knew, I commented, I had been told that she was an employee of CPD of CIA and had suggested mission. He said, "oh you know that too."

W Did you take that as confirmation

RN I took it as confirmation 


W To what extent was your long-standing relationship with him factor into the fact that you took that as confirmation.

RN I knew when he was confirming something. When he said "oh you know that too" I took that as confirmation.

W I want to go to your conversations with Libby. Did you also speak with Libby.

RN Yessir.

W Relationship with Libby. 

RN I had never had contact until election of VP Cheney in 2000 [interesting way to describe that!]. I asked him out to lunch, a couple of social events, I went to his book party, I called him a couple of three times during that year, that was about the extent of it.

W Introduces his phone bill.

RN What was the question?

W Describe to jurors

RN Phone record of phoned in call from my number in Washington at 4:46 PM on July 8 to Mr. Libby's office at WH.

W Going through phone number. It says Inside.

RN That's the name of my column.

W How do you know that shows you call.

RN It's like an eye test.

W magnifies it. Walton points out that it's in front of him on a screen.

RN That says one minute, I didn't talk to him for one minute. I asked for him, and he was unavailable.–they took a message.  

RN I believe he returned call on July 9.

W Describe your recollection of your conversation.

RN  I was trying to find out more information about Wilson's mission to Niger and VP's connection. Most memorable about call, I asked Libby if he might be helpful to me in establishing timeline in 16 words. When they came in, who proposed it, sort of a consecutive account that I could put in column. I interpreted him as saying he could be helpful.

W In context of talking to Libby did Wilson's wife come up.

RN I don't remember exactly, I might have raised that question, I got no help, and no confirmation on that issue. The reason I'm fuzzy is that I talk to a lot of people in govt an politics everyday and a lot of them are not very helpful and I discard unhelpful conversations in my memory bank.

W You have a clear recollection he gave you no info about it.

RN I'm sure he gave be no info about it.

W You might have asked if he knew that "the wife" worked at the CIA. 

W Timeline, on July 8 you talked to Armi, then July 9, you talked to Rove, and also on July 9 you talked to Libby.

RN I'm not positive about the Rove conversation, I'm not positive about whether it was 8th or 9th.

W Back to Novak's column


W Paragraph says CIA said counterproliferation sent him. Is it fair to say CIA said that.

Fitz Objection


Novak with hand on chin, looking at screen. 

Now sitting back, making his big grumpy frowning face. Puts on his glasses to get started again.

W:  I want to see the front of the article. The date. Apparently there is no date.

W The article says Chicago Sun Times, July 14, 2003.

W When did you write your July 14 column

RN [voice slips] The morning of Friday July 11.  

W After you wrote it, what did you do?

RN Immediately after finishing it, it was emailed to syndicate.  

W What is it

RN Syndicate, sells these to indiv newspapers. An editor goes over it, after a while, calls me back, we discuss further changes I might want to make, changes the editor wants to make. Then in final version, is given to AP for distribution to clients who buy my column. Over 100 newspapers buy it.

W Based on your understanding, when 100 newspapers given column.

Fitz Objection sustained.

W Understanding of how it is distributed.

F Objection, incompetence.

Walton: how do you know?

RN I've been a columnist for 40-some years.  

Walton: Overruled 

RN Given to AP, it distributes to newspapers that buy it.

W When column given to over 100 newspapers

Fitz: objection

Walton: You don't know specifically what happened.

W With respect to usual pattern,

RN as soon as column is cleared, it is immediately given to AP it's on the wires within an hour. 

W Usual practice, when would have it been on the wire.

Fitz Objection

Walton Sustained.

W WRT usual process, after you wrote article, what time on wire?

RN It depends on when I got it to the syndicate. My recollection is since I had busy afternoon, I wanted to finish it before noon, editing before 1, following usual practice it would have gone on immediately thereafter.

W Once it's on the wire, can they print it.

RN It is what is called an embargo, it is not to be printed until Monday morning's newspapers.

W Are people in newsroom permitted to review it.

RN All they have to do is look at it.

W No further questions


Oh wait, yes he does!!

W WRT the conversations you had with Libby, Armi, and Rove, when did you first testify about those conversations to Fitz.

RN [looks stumped, lets out breath] I first testified to Fitz, as differentiated from FBI

W Let's start with FBI

RN I haven't reviewed those dates, and I don't have a good memory for dates, a couple of months after investigation started, investigation started October 1, 2003. I talked to him subsequent to that, did not mention names of sources.  I talked later, I can't give you exact date, at that time, attorneys informed that they would have waivers only for Armi and Rove. In other words, they knew my sources, there was no point in dissembling. That's when I first discussed with authorities.

W I'll show you a copy of GJ testimony, February 25.

F We'll stipulate to the date,

W Is that the first time you testified concerning Armi and Rove. And you said Armi was primary and Rove secondary. Did there come a time when you received a waiver from Libby.  Do recall when that was. When did you testify to GJ about Libby?

F Objection.



W One last question.

Novak looking pissed right now.

Fitz up

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