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Libby Live: Walter Pincus One


 (Sorry about the quality of this picture, which is scanned. But I love that Pincus has a messier desk than I do.)

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.

Jeffress up [I'll use J and WP for the dialogue here].

J Good morning Mr. Pincus, What do you do for a living.

WP I write for the WaPo, I've been a journalist for roughly 50 years. I cover National Security and Intell.

J Did you have experience in intelligence field.

WP I served for two years in Coutnerintelligence 1955-57.

J What's a Pulitzer Prize

WP "One of the many prizes you're given for journalism." I was part of a team that won a prize.

J For reporting on OBL.  Stuart Alsop Aware

WP Given for the best intell reporting I won the original one in 2000 

J How many security articles

WP Probably 1000.

J Asks about anonymous sources, has him list where they come from. How often do they talk to you and not be attribtued. Do you honor those requests.

WP Yes, part bc I'm interested in facts, part bc you wouldn't get that info otherwise. 

J I'm going to be asking you about conversations with two Admin officials. Is it fair to say that ordinarily you would not wish to testify.

WP Yes

J You testified on 9/15/2004 concerning conversations with Libby. Why did you do that?

WP Through my lawyers I learned Libby granted a waiver for that conversation. 

J Going through Libby's waiver, using this as a way to introduce Libby's willingness to let journalists testify.


WP My understanding wasn't based on the waiver. I testified based on the understanding that he wanted me, personally to testify.

J Do you know him.

WP Met him socially in 2002.

J Events of Summer 2003.

J Brings up Pincus' June 12 article. Does this concern the 16 words?

WP In a roundabout way.

J Reads the first paragraph of the Pincus article. The former govt official is Mr. Joe Wilson, is that correct? In June you described info you received from Wilson without naming him. That was one of the conditions on which he spoke with you.  [Goes to last full paragraph on this "Armed with information."  Continues reading, then next full paragraph] The former US govt official is Mr. Wilson. Did you come to learn whether he saw documents or said anything about forgeries?

WP I came to learn later that he didnt' talk about forgeries [I'm not sure I understand his answer to mean that Wilson didn't tell truth or not]

J [Reads the paragraph saying "an aide" of Cheney was impetus of trip, continues to read] Did you speak to Libby before writing this article, were these two paragraphs based on info given by Libby. [Hey Jeffress–that means Libby lied to Pincus!!] Do you remember when you spoke to Libby

WP I spoke to him once and probably twice.

J Had you published an earlier article on June 5 that also talked about VP? Did you talk to Libby and Cathie Martin in prep for that article.

WP I believe I did

J Prior to June 12, correct? Why were you wishing to speak to Libby. 

WP [referenced Kristof article] I wanted to talk to VP office to find out what happened. Eventually I talked to Cathie Martin. She told me he was going to call. He called, on telephone.

J Were you asking him about the truth of this unnamed envoy. Do you recall what Libby told you.

WP He did not know how it had come about.

J That the VP did not?

WP He didn't talk about VP–he talked about himself and the staff.

J Did Libby say anything about Wilson's wife.  He didn't mention her at all? You're sure about that.

WP No, he didn't mention her. 

J This conversation was before June 12, let's put it at June 11.

WP That's pretty tight, but it might have been that date.

J Did you continue reporting on this. Later did you co-write an article on July 6. You interviewed him at his home?

WP I talked to him on the telephone. 

J Were you aware that Wilson's wife worked at CIA. When did you first learn that fact?

WP July 12. 

J By phone or in person?

WP By Phone.

J Where were you?

WP At my desk at WaPo.

J Even though that's a Saturday.

WP That's a Saturday.  I was writing a story about another aspect of the Niger story, to some degree, about WMD, in the midst of a discussion, in answer to question about the story I was writing, person swerved off and said, in effect, don't you know his wife works at CIA, is an analyst on WMD, and she arranged the trip, that's why people weren't paying attention to it.

J Government official?  Who was it.

WP Ari Fleischer. [Damn, I owe Swopa a beer]


J Are you certain it was Fleischer

WP Yes.

J Now goes to the October 12 article (the second 1X2X6 article), Goes to the first paragraph. [looking at the paragraphs that talk about the FBI investigation] Did you write that paragraph.

WP I wrote that.

J [now to "wilson said he told Kristof" paragraph] That's the first article that reported publicly on Wilson's trip. That column mentioned OVP for the first time? [Next page]  "Wilson was pressing his case … he also began making frequent TV appearances." That's what led you to the June 12 article.  You see the paragraph "regarding." "Wilson said he attempted to increase pressure by calling some present and former senior AOs who know Condi. He wanted them to tell Rice she was wrong." This appeared on MTP on June 8. She was asked questions about Niger and Iraq and she didn't seem to know anything about an envoy's trip to Niger.  Last two lines of this page. A post reporter was told by a WH official bc it was set up as boondoggle by wife. Plame's name was never mentioned, purpose was to undermine Wilson's report. The reporter who you say was called, who was that?

WP Myself

J It was not Glenn Kessler. The person who called was who?

WP Ari Fleischer.

Pincus is paging through the article, now looking to the easel.  Jeffress comes off fairly nice here, but then he's not impugning Pincus. Hooray! A journalist whose credibility remains intact.  Jeffress gives Pincus his notes.

J What were Ari's words in describing Wilson's wife.

WP Wilson's wife, an analyst, and WMD.

J An analyst in WMD?

WP I don't know the phrasing.

J Did he say and do your notes reflect anything about her working in CounterProliferation? 

WP No.


J You use the word boondoggle.

WP That was my shorthand of the inference he was applying to the trip.

J What were the rules under which he gave you this info.

WP That I wouldn't associate his name with the info he gave me.

J Had Fleischer given you permission to talk about this?

WP Through my lawyers, Mr Fleischer, though his lawyer, gave me permission to speak about our conversation, bc he had come forward to the prosecutor. And in fact I got the same permission to speak here today last week.

J In your testimony, you described this conversation, but you did not name Fleischer.

WP I feel strongly about identification of sources. Since prosecutor knew who source was I wanted to be able to say that I did not disclose.


Fitz up.

F Is it fair to say that in 2004 you were interviewed in a lawyers office, there were agreements reached so you did not have to appear before GJ. Did anything about the fact that you appeared under oath change the substance of your testimony. You testified that there are many sources who won't speak to you unless you don't reveal their names?

WP They'll speak to me, they just won't give me any info.

F Some speak to you for noble reasons, some less noble.  It's clear in your mind that the first person who told you about it was Fleischer. Did he tell you where he first learned about Mrs. Wilson?  Late May 2003, I recognize you've published more than 1000 articles, did you publish any articles that discussed intell and OVP.

WP I can't recall.

F show you for identification. Only for identification. I want to show you two articles from late May 2003 that discussed intell and OVP. I put two post-its that help focus your attention, if that helps.

Pincus got a bit of a smirk on his face. Almost looks like he's laughing, but I think he's just nodding.

F Did you write articles on intell matters that touched on OVP in last week of May. Conversations prior to June 12 with Mr. Libby and June 12 article that Jeffress asked. If no objection, I'll show an identical copy of the article, so we can use our machine.


F Goes to paragraphs starting "CIA's decision." Is it fair to say Libby was a source. I'll read you a line. "The CIA's decision was triggered by an aide." 

BINGO!! Fitz got Libby in a lie!! 

F Did Libby tell you it was the VP

WP He told me it was an aide.

F That's clear in your mind

WP Certainly did not.

Jeffress–no redirect.

Walton: Approach for a minute. Bench conference. 


Take a short break for discussion with Counsel. [Jury out, but I'm still here]

Fitz: The next evidence is Woodward. The defense intends to offer a tape between Woodward and Armitage, which I believe Woodward will testify it was the first time he learned of Plame. Getting into tape recorded conversation presents 403 issues, particularly since in the opening Wells entered this scapegoating idea. This is in my view a blatant appeal for jury nullification. If they wish to introduce that Woodward knew by a certain date, even though Libby and Woodward don't remember Woodward sharing Plame's ID. to get into tape and transcript seems to be heading down jury nullification route.

Wells, at no time in my opening statement did I make any reference to  no one getting charged. Fitz has this jury nullification on his mind and is imagining things.

Fitz reading from Wells' opening statement."But unlike Karl Rove, you will learn that the person sitting her was not pushing the story. The innocent person was not pushing a story."

Wells no, what you imagined is that I said someone had not been charged. 

Walton: Don't talk to him. I did not say somebody has not been charged. What he said a minute ago, it's not in the transcript, because I didnt' say it.

Jeffress; let me address the evidence. You may recall a reference in a transcript almost a year ago. it is a 1:07 minute transcript. We have removed any profanities from the transcript. Armitage talks to Woodward on 13 of June, recall that INR memo is June 10, Armitage knows that obviously from that memo. Woodward working on book, Among the people he goes to interview, a set of questions, that has a reference to Joe Wilson and wife. Woodward's testimony, he may or may not have, he does know that if he did say anything, Libby didn't say anything about it. It is critical for us to show what Woodward had at the time he interviewed Libby. It's obviously being admitted to show what Woodward had at the time he saw Mr. Libby. It is not hearsay. We've redacted the profanity. There's no basis to keep it out. Clearly it is the best evidence of the conversation.

Fitz. After June 13, Mr. Woodward had a phone call with Libby bc he was sending questions to VP through Mr. Libby in a document Que Cheney. Of all the questions put to VP not one touched on Wilson's wife. At the end of the day, he brings Cue Cheney. No where in the notes does it show any discussion of Wilson and his wife. The document was for Cue Card, questions for Andy Card. The notion is that though Woodward doesn't recall discussing Wilson with Libby and the 20-page outline of questions. The argument is going to be made, it's a bit of a logical stretch, that bc he had questions for Card, maybe he went off the 20-page sheet with Libby, all of which goes back to hearing from Armitage on June 13.  We're getting pretty attenuated to then put in a taperecording. We're getting far afield of what's relevant here, that Woodward imparted this to Libby, and now he's going to say maybe he confused the conversation. I think it' s an attempt at Jury nullification.  I think we're way too far afield. My bottom line, I don't see the relevance, I don't see what probative value the tape has.

10 minute break. I'm going to move to a Woodward thread now–see you there.


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