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June 16, 2006

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Rove "Very slooowwwwly cooperate[d] with the investigation, "remembering" new details as he was forced to, postponing the resolution of the case out past the 2004 presidential elections"
Uh, how about the 2006 midterm elections? Is the next Fitz installment really going to be the Libby trial?
Sorta looks like it.
Thanks for continuing the analysis -- and keeping to the subject, not deflected by ad hominem garbage in the media.

I have some very simple big picture questions for those of us without the ability to follow these details. If these arent appropriate here, my apologies:

--What are the chances, in your opionion, that Fitzgerald is going after Cheney?

--If there is a chance that Fitzgerald is going after Cheney, is the non-indictment of Rove likely a part of that strategy?

--If Fitzgerald is going after Cheney, what are the chances that that initiative becomes public before November? (ie, are these things sequential--Libby, then Cheney--or possibly concurrent)?

Thanks. I very much admire your insight and that of your posters. I think the questions above are the salient points to those of us who are interested in justice, but aren't as steeped in this material as you are.

And why didn't Libby simply destroy his notes?

mk

I don't think so, I really don't. But I could be alone in that view.

--What are the chances, in your opionion, that Fitzgerald is going after Cheney?

Decent. I think he either is going after Cheney, or going after Libby for the IIPA based on new evidence, or both.

--If there is a chance that Fitzgerald is going after Cheney, is the non-indictment of Rove likely a part of that strategy?

Yeah, I think so (see this post for details). I think Fitz had Rove dead to rights with perjury, and Rove has been cooperating since Fall to try to get out of his perjury. But I also think it would take some really interesting testimony for Fitz to decide not to charge on perjury.

--If Fitzgerald is going after Cheney, what are the chances that that initiative becomes public before November? (ie, are these things sequential--Libby, then Cheney--or possibly concurrent)?

Reasonably good. Following the same logic from above, if Fitz feels he got sufficiently much out of Rove to not press charges, he must haev a fair amount on Cheney. Also, Fitz seems to be well aware of how elections will affect any pardons, so he'd want to indict before the election, because otherwise he might not have the chance. And one more thing. On the outside chance Rove cooperated to get rid of Cheney because he's a burden on the Administration, then I think even Bush would want the indictments before the election, so the Republicans can distance themselves from the huge mistakes associated with Cheney.

Pete

Good question. There was certainly evidence WH wasn't going to help Libby get out of his mess in Fall 2003. Maybe Libby thought Abu Gonzales would skim off the notes, but Abu didn't end up doing so. If I'm right and the notes were delivered between FBI interview #1 and #2, then it really suggests Libby didn't know how WH was going to deal with this investigation.

Of course, there's also the possibility that someone else turned in Libby's notes, not least because there's the big question of how the FBI was able to read Libby's notes, which are famously illegible.

Thanks. You just brightened my Friday.

I don't think that Libby would leave it to Abu. And I don't believe that Libby would not know how the WH would deal with the situation.

More likely either he feared someone had copies of his notes or someone may have read his notes and testify about them. Destroying them or altering them could land him into a far more cut and dry situation of obstruction.

"Libby's notes, which are famously illegible."

Am I wrong, or didn't one of Woodward's books specifically describe Libby's notes as being neatly written?

(I'm not disputing that Libby's notes are illegible -- I'm wondering if Woodward actually wrote the opposite.)

EW, have you read this nonsense from the NY Observer? Luskin on bloggers being unaccountable for what they write about his client.

http://www.observer.com/20060619/20060619_Anna_Schneider-Mayerson_pageone_newsstory2.asp

EW, what are your feeling regarding speculating about the "innocent accused?" I guess I tend toward speculating.

Libby's notes are like Nixon's tapes, maybe it feels too much like a coverup to destroy stuff or maybe there's some ego override that figures personal history is too important and must be preserved?

Jim E

Yes. So either Woodward is an idiot. Or Libby rewrote all his notes to make the illegible, in the hopes he could hide the dirt within them that way. I think the first is far and away more likely, though I would never entirely rule out Libby exerting great energy in the attempt to do something devious, but failing miserably in the effort.

Wheel, I wish I shared your belief that Fitz would let possible pardons influence his timetable. I really think Fits has tunnel vision when it comes to timing. He didn't nail Ryan until he was well out of office, his responsibilities in Chicago have clearly gotten in the way of one of the most important cases in this nation's history, and I still think waiting until the very end of the first grand jury's term to indict Libby, and then losing them while the Rove case was still in confusion may have caused some complications down the road.

Saltin

Point well taken, particular wrt the Ryan case.

Though I do think that the Rove non-indictment may have been because Rove came and offered him some new evidence, not because he got snookered (exclusively) by Vivnovka. And don't forget, the timing of the first grand jury was largely driven by Ms. Judy, who only cooperated when she realized Fitz would happily slap her with criminal contempt, meaning her jail term would be indefinite. She left Fitz with just over a month to work with to finalize his case against Libby.

The question of Libby's notes fascinates me. I don't think the question is really about why he didn't destroy them, but why they were turned over. Libby couldn't destroy his notes. We know that they are voluminous and in chronological order. Total destruction was out of the question and selective destruction would have given the game away. So, why didn't the OVP claim executive privilege? They went to the mat over the guest list for Cheney's energy task force, after all. Or better yet, why not just assert that Libby's notes were non-responsive (to the original subpeonas, not the later ones from Fitzgerald)?

Ultimately, I think the answer is fairly simple. Libby knew that his actions were taken on behalf of official administration policy and he really didn't fear the initial investigation. I think he thought he would get away with lying to the FBI and that Ashcroft would make the investigation go away.

Just detail from the post: EW says that Libby testified he was Matt Cooper's first source. According to the dailykos plame time line, Rove talked to Cooper first (on July 11), and Libby talked to Cooper on July 12, as a confirming (secondary) source.

In regards to Fitzgerald's sense of timing, the Ryan case is not a good example. That investigation began with a traffic accident and a small bribe from a trucker to the state DMV to get a license. It is quite a long ladder from there to a governor, no?

Not that Fitz is motivated by political timing, but I do wonder if he considers what effect midterm elections may have on his power to prosecute.

clbrune

Yes, agreed, as far as we know, Libby spoke to Cooper after Rove did. That whole paragraph is the false story Libby told, not the actual fact.

I strongly suspect he lied to say he was Cooper's first (only?) source to hide Rove's more incriminating conversation with Cooper.

I have read speculation that Hadley was Novak's other source, which would make him official one. But if Hadley was Assistant to the President at that time, doesn't that contradict the filing in which offficial one is "not from the White House."

EW

And that Viveca Novak, a Time reporter, met five times with Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin over the course of the investigation--apparently giving information on Time's compliance with subpoenas.

I don't remember reading anything about Viveca Novak telling Luskin about the TIME subpoenas. Where did you get that?

It is not clear when a number of important witnesses--Cathie Martin, Ari Fleischer, and Richard Armitage--testified. But they apparently provided a clear sense of how Libby and Rove were involved in the case.

This article indicates to me that Fleischer and Martin had been questioned very early in the investigation.


In October 2003, agents interviewed several administration officials, who described conversations they had with Libby about Plame in June and early July of 2003.

snip

Even early in the investigation, two key people were publicly known at the time to have been interviewed by the FBI: Ari Fleischer, then-White House press secretary, and Catherine Martin,
WaPo 11/13/05

Waas had this in late October 2003, it's clear the FBI had covered a lot of ground.

The FBI has already interviewed as many as three dozen administration officials
Waas 10/29/03



Libby was interviewed by the FBI on 10/14/03 and 11/26/03

At some point, Fitzgerald also subpoenaed Libby's notes from the following key periods of the Wilson smear

Waas doesn't say exactly when the FBI had Libby's notes, but I read this article to say that the FBI had Libby's notes in November.

Libby's notes were available to the FBI before Fitz was involved. If Libby's notes were responsive to the 9/03 document request, why did it take until the end of November for the FBI to get Libby's notes.

I'm thinking the DOJ may have issued additional document requests that have not been made public. Possibly the FBI asked for Libby's notes in a later request.

In November 2003, the FBI interviewed Libby a second time, and information derived from that briefing was also passed on to Ashcroft, sources said.

Around this same time, FBI agents had obtained Libby's own notes stating that Cheney, not Russert, was the person who told Libby about Plame's CIA connection
Waas 7/8/06

Polly

I'm extrapolating with that Vivnovka comment. But I suspect that Luskin wasn't--they talked just after the investigation began, in January when the subpoenas were first issued, in March between Rove's and Libby's testimony, in May sometime around the time of Cooper's subpoena, and then right before Libby got indicted. At the very least. In other words, while Vivnovka may have been oblivious to the significance of those dates, I'll bet you money Luskin was not.

Yes, they got some notes from Libby in October-November. I think all the documents took that long. Remember, we had September 26 to September 30 delay in notifying the WH, October 3 before requesting docs, October 7 supposed to turn over docs, 2 weeks of review with Abu Gonzales. So even assuming Libby complied right away, you're past Libby's first interview. Add in a little hanky panky, and these get you to November pretty easily.

I suspect, btw, that the FBI request documents responsive to the Wilson/Novak/Royce and Phelps request. And then in 2004, as Libby became the prime suspect, they asked for a bigger chunk.

emptywheel

Another outstanding and very helpful installment.

He then passed that gossip along to Matt Cooper (he was the first source for Cooper, Libby seems to have testified) and Judy Miller on July 12.

A relatively minor point and a slightly more significant one. I don't think Libby explicitly testified that he was Cooper's first source, he just testified that he brought Plame up with Cooper, leaving the impression (in the absence of any reason to think otherwise) that Cooper did not know before their conversation. The slightly more significant thing is that Libby seems to have testified that it was not even so much as gossip, that it was more innocent even than that. He appears to have testified that he only mentioned Plame in the context of answering Cooper's question about why Wilson thought Cheny was involved in his trip, saying to Cooper that apparently - he was hearing from reporters, he didn't know if it was true, he didn't even know if Wilson had a wife - Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, so maybe Wilson - who he thought perfectly well qualified for the trip - had gotten some inaccurate information from some CIA people he might know through his wife.

David E. Sanger [January 24 document leak]

Is there evidence for this beyond the July 23, 2003 Sanger-Miller piece that alluded to the document - plus, perhaps, the question during the July 22 Bartlett-Hadley press conference which mentioned it, which may have come from Sanger? Since Fitzgerald mentioned the document in one of his filings, I've wondered whether that January 24, 2003 NIO-to-NSC BS might have been declassified and released to the press on July 18, 2003, along with the excerpts (not very well excerpted from the White House point of view!) of the NIE, which would obviously overshadow the January 24 document. But I've never been able to get clear on whether that was the case or whether, like the CIA report on Wilson's trip which was being pressed to be declassified along with the NIE, the January 24 document remained classified when it was leaked to Sanger-Miller.

Also of note is that the substance of the document and/or its significance was leaked to the WSJ for its July 17, 2003 editorial along with the NIE by whoever Libby put up to it.

One other question on Sanger: for a while I was convinced that Sanger was the journalist to whom Libby leaked the NIE on July 2, 2003, but after carefully reading the very obscure May 5, 2006 hearing transcript, it's pretty clear it's Miller they're talking about, right? which I think has been the consensus of experts all along, right?

As a conservative, I still enjoy reading your insights into this. Which is not to say that I an agreeing...

But it is intriguing to consider the rumbling beneath the surface of the presentations of Fitz, Libby's defense team, and Rove's public statements; and the presentations of the MSM.

While Rove, Libby, et al you consider the major players in this, I think the media's presentation of the entirety of this is the most puzzling and the most extremely frustrating.

Like hearing the middle of a conversation, not catching the first parts of it or the nuances of what is coming -- while wading through the thick underbrush of the background information that pads the many articles. (That padding I consider one of Murray Waas' big problems....)

Like most peeps who haven't the time to put the various players' moves under the microscope, I give up on unraveling the news reports to provide any clearer pic of what is happening with them. I think it is really a disservice; it implies that most of us aren't smart enough to follow this story.

At any rate, the most unusual player in all this is Woodard. What explanation does he owe the readers/voters about his role with Armitage (as the UGO, if in fact he is Mr. X)?

As a fight between the VP and Rove and Wilson, this would have been much simpler without the media as a player, wouldn't it?

How did Woodard -- and Cooper or Miller -- end up playing such a peculiar part in this? Granted the publicity and the leaks are part of the strategy these days, but what happened to the "balance" and detachment? Shouldn't Woodard just out with his whole story?

Looking forward to your installment on the journalists...

Speaking quite hypothetically, of course, wouldn't an A&R-type gig at a book publisher, or for that matter any media company, be a convenient duckblind, as it were, from which quietly to put the screws to troublesome folk who try to give exposure to people you don't like?

Jeff

Point well-taken about Cooper. I may be overstating how much Libby planned to protect Rove.

About Sanger--I'm not sure that Fitz was sure of who had received real leaks and who false at the point he subpoenaed these reporters. That is, he may have subpoenaed Sanger because it was clear he participated (like Calabresi, Duffy, and Carney) in a story that relied on an apparent leak, but he needed to subpoena those contacts to rule him out for larger leaks.

Re: July 2. I'm not really sure on that. I'd of course love to suggest there was another Judy meeting (which would suggest Libby got authorization to leak to her on July 2, and not July 8, which would really doom his NIE excuse). But that May 5 transcript--and particularly Fitz' discussion of the NIE--is really ambiguous. I assume intentionally so, for the purposes of any further case he wants to bring on this.

JJ

We don't ask for agreement over here, we ask for reasonable discussion, so thanks for contributing. I think the role of the journalists in this is varied. I think Cooper was really just sucked into this by chasing the story in places it should go (Pincus too, probably). Woodward clearly played a very different role; this story will really put a dent in his legacy. And Judy, well, I sincerely believe she was no longer acting as a journalist, but rather a plant simply placing administration talking points. And if Jeff is right (that there's a July 2 meeting), then she may still be in deep doo doo on this.

prostrate

I assume you're talking about Matalin? Well, for now, she's only succeeded in lining Dick's family's pockets. I can't imagine many conservatives are happy about Mary's book (which explains why the sales are so poor). But yeah, Matalin is basically mainstreaming the Regenery model. Who knows how long she'll be allowed to do it, though? Sumner Redstone is only likely to put up such a losing proposition for long if it gets him real payback in terms of media consolidation.

I was, ew. Last week a Chitra Ragavan interview got pulled from Fresh Air for some entertainment interviews, followed a day later by a long!—most of the hour—interview with Mary Cheney.

I was, ew. Last week a Chitra Ragavan interview got pulled from Fresh Air for some entertainment interviews, followed a day later by a long!—most of the hour—interview with Mary Cheney.

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