For the record, I'd like to catalog he number of, um, questionable, conversations with journalists that Scooter Libby had. By that, I mean just conversations where he spoke to journalists at a rather convenient time... Now, before anyone presumes to claim this is unique to Scooter, let me admit that Rove and Armitage have done the same. Rove and Armitage are as bad as Libby. But that doesn't make Libby any worse. So let's look at how the three main journalists who could put Libby into jail had remarkably timed conversations with the chap.
If you haven't been reading TNH, you might not have known for the last 1.5 years that Libby had a conversation with Novak during leak week they tried to hide.
Remember when Novak "came clean"? Remember any mention of Libby? I don't think so.
But, as Novak confirmed today after 3 years of dissembling about this, Libby and Novak had a previously unreported conversation on July 9, perfect timing to leak a CIA agent's identity.
But what did Libby have to say about this? Hmmm.
Well, the most important thing is that Libby claims this happened later in the month, after the Newsday article confirmed that Plame was covert and that two SAOs had leaked her identity (including her status) to Novak.
Q. Do you know if you spoke to Mr. Novak at or about the time the article was prepared?
A. I have, I have a recollection that I did speak to Mr. Novak once in that general time frame, but my notes indicate, notes that you have, indicate to me that in fact that was a week and a half or so after the article appeared.
Q. Do you know if you spoke to him at all prior to the July 14th column appearing under Novak's byline?
A. No. I remember I had one conversation with Bob Novak in this period. My recollection of it is that when I spoke to him he had all of the basic facts that we have in our case, by which I mean the type of facts that Cathie Martin gave to Ari Fleischer that morning that the Vice President didn't request the mission; the Vice President was not informed of his mission; that we did not -- that the Vice President did not receive a briefing about the mission after he returned, the Vice President nor I at the higher levels; and that the, the Vice President was not aware of the mission until later on, and what we saw was actually the NIE. I recall that that type of points Mr. Novak had. I have a note in my notes, which is dated in late July, that I spoke to Novak or something about Mr. Novak regarding uranium, and so I tend to believe that was when I had my conversation with Mr. Novak. But I don't recall -- other than that, I can't fix the time of my conversation with Mr. Novak other than to think I had only one, that's all I recall, and I have no recollection of talking to him about the wife -- I in my notes, which is dated in late July, that I spoke to Novak or something about Mr. Novak regarding uranium, and so I tend to believe that was when I had my conversation with Mr. Novak. But I don't recall -- other than that, I can't fix the
time of my conversation with Mr. Novak other than to think I had only one, that's all I recall, and I have no recollection of talking to him about the wife -- I
Libby admits a conversation. But he doesn't date it--until he admits that his notes say he had a conversation with Novak between July 25 and 28. Gosh. Looks like Libby talked to Novak the week after the Newsday article reiterated that Plame was covert and two SAOs gave Novak her name.
Q. Now, sir, when we broke you had read the Novak piece and your recollection was that to the best of your memory you had spoken to Novak about the uranium, uranium/Niger controversy July 25th to 28th, making reference to some notes you made about Novak. Is that correct?
A. It -- it's only the notes, sir, that give me a sense of when I spoke to him. I don't, I don't know otherwise. I know I talked to him once during this period. My note -- I do have a note somewhere around the 25th or the 28th which indicates something about Novak and uranium, and there is subsequently some e-mails that I've seen so that indicates I that to me that was the time, because I only remember one conversation.
Hmm. Libby admits to calling Novak just days after Phelps and Royce reported that:
Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."
Novak reported that his "two senior administration officials" told him that it was Plame who suggested sending her husband, Wilson, to Niger.
So let me get this straight. Libby didn't admit to the two calls Novak, the big leaker, made to him during leak week--even before, by Novak's own testimony, he had finished his column.
But he admits to talking to Novak--in detail--the week Phelps and Royce reported a leak. Hmmm. Curious.
Crazy partisans made much of the fact that Russert testified, somewhat willingly, in Fall 2003, but then got shy in Spring 2004.
Well, we might want to consider whether Scooter's call to Russert between his JG appearances had anything to do with Russert's hesitancy to talk. This is Libby admitting that he spoke to Russert, "a few weeks back" before his second JG testimony on March 24.
Q. Since, since July 14th when the Novak column appeared, have you spoken to Tim Russert about the uranium/Niger issue?
A. I -- no, I think not.
Q. Have you spoken to him about the leak investigation?
A. Not directly, but I did speak to him once.
Q. Okay. And, and what do you mean by not directly?
A. I mean, I spoke to him but not -- I didn't talk to him about the content of the investigation. I did call him at one point to ask if he would be willing to talk to my lawyer.
Q. Okay. And did you talk to him about -- besides asking him if he would be willing to your lawyer, did you talk about the substance of the leak investigation?
Q. Did you indicate whether or not you thought you were involved in the leak?
A. Whether I thought I was involved in the leak?
Q. Right, to Mr. Russert.
Q. And did you ask him what his position would be about whether he would testify or not if asked?
Q. And do you know the time when you reached out to talk to Mr. Russert?
A. A few weeks back.
Q. Okay. A few weeks back being in March of 2004 or -- February, March, somewhere in there.
Well gosh, if I were telling a tall tale and it all relied on one guy, I might want to talk to that guy, too, just as it became clear that things were heating up. Which seems to be precisely what Libby has testified to.
And then there's Judy.
I suspect I don't need to rehearse the ways that Libby tried to coach Judy's testimony. You know--the articles appearing the day she testified, coaching her on how to testify. And then there's the famous Aspen letter. This Libby guy has used mainstream journalists and the court system to affect Judy's testimony.
But let's talk about when they met. As Judy has testified to, she met Libby in August, 2003.
The prosecutor asked my reaction to those words. I replied that this portion of the letter had surprised me because it might be perceived as an effort by Mr. Libby to suggest that I, too, would say we had not discussed Ms. Plume's identity. Yet my notes suggested that we had discussed her job.
Mr. Fitzgerald also focused on the letter's closing lines. "Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning," Mr. Libby wrote. "They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."
How did I interpret that? Mr. Fitzgerald asked.
In answer, I told the grand jury about my last encounter with Mr. Libby. It came in August 2003, shortly after I attended a conference on national security issues held in Aspen, Colo. After the conference, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me. He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was.
"Judy," he said. "It's Scooter Libby."
As Judy has herself testified (if we can believe this somewhat dubious story), she met with Libby in August 2003, just as the threat of an investigation loomed.
So let me review.
- Libby talked with Robert Novak, according to his own testimony, in July 2003, after it had been confirmed that Novak had outed a CIA operative.
- Libby spoke with Russert during the time it became clear that Fitzgerald would subpoena journalists--and possibly in the weeks between the time he first appeared before the JG (in which it became clear he was in deep shit) and his second appearance.
- Libby spoke with Judy Judy Judy (according to her) in August 2003, before the investigation, but after the time it became clear this was heading for an investigation.
Gosh. This guy has good timing. I'm sure it's just good luck.