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October 31, 2005



Don't know if you'll see this, but please check out my post in your "Who is journalist number six?" piece.(should be the last one). I'm curious as to your take.

Briefly, the upshot is that I think Libby was actually telling the FBI and the GJ about a conversation that he had with Tweety, not Russert. The words Libby attributes to Russert just don't sound like him (uncharacteristically aggressive and boastful, at least IMHO). They DO sound a lot like Tweety, who always wants people to know how connected he is. I've met him in person before too, so this also jives with my impression of him.

If true, this brings up two important points. First, it explains how Russert might actually still be telling the truth to Fitz, yet also explain his apparent slip on the CNBC show on Sat night. I imagine the scenario to be that Libby called Russert to complain about Tweety, and also asked as a matter of interest, btw has Tweety said anything to you about Wilson/Plame? and then tells him the substanance of their conversation with Tweety saying "all the journalists know about this" and asking for confirmation that Plame was CIA. But of course, Libby never confirms or denies this, but this has the added effect of planting a bug in Russert's ear.

Russert, when finally forced to testify, works out an agreement that says he only talks about what he said to Libby, namely "I had no clue what he was talking about, he called me to complain about a journalist's piece" in reference to conversations about Matthews. I don't know if Libby thought that Russert would then reference that Libby discussed Matthew's suspicions with Russert, or what.

But the second point may be, that it doesn't really matter. Because if Libby is using the "I couldn't recall exactly who I told what" defense it may very well work in this case. Russert and Matthews both work for NBC, both are at the Washington bureau, and often appear together (and of course, Matthews is the heir apparent to Russert's MTP gig and chief of the Washington bureau). It could be conceivable that he would confuse the two in his mind (many people do). And when he spoke to the FBI and testified to the GJ about Russert, he was really talking about Matthews, but momentarily "forgot," thus at least providing a plausible defense to at least the counts of false statements and perjury regarding conversations with Russert.

It would also explain why Matthews was nevered subpoenaed, since he probably went willingly to the GJ and told the truth, therefore "verifying" Russert's testimony. And it would be in Libby's best interest to call Matthews at trial, because he could testify that yeah, they had a conversation on October 8, and it sounded a lot like the conversation Libby attributed to Russert, and then Libby would say, oh whoops, I forgot that what I actually did was tell Russert about this conversation with Matthews, not that Russert actually SAID this.

The other possiblity is that Russert actually confronted Libby with the Matthews information (you know, "Chris Matthews says, 'all the reporters are saying this about Plame'") and was asking, you know, is this true? While this would make more sense in some ways, I think it less likely, because then Russert would have to admit to the GJ that something along those lines were said (since he was only testifying to what HE told Libby), and I think the GJ could then reasonably conclude that maybe Libby did have a momentary lapse of memory about who said what.

Either way, I think, if true about Matthews, this could provide a strong defense to the perjury and false statment charges vis a vis Russert.

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