News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinecabal-elitew-administrationcia-identity-leak — Viewing Item

Nbc russert rebuts libby testimony { February 7 2007 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

February 7, 2007
NBC’s Russert Rebuts Libby Testimony

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 — The television journalist Tim Russert testified today that, contrary to what I. Lewis Libby Jr. has maintained, the two of them never discussed a C.I.A. agent whose unmasking touched off a scandal.

“No, that would be impossible,” Mr. Russert said when the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asked him if he had told Mr. Libby about the agent. It was impossible, Mr. Russert said, because he did not know about the agent at the time of a crucial conversation with Mr. Libby.

Did Mr. Russert tell Mr. Libby that “all the reporters” knew about the agent, asked Mr. Fitzgerald, as Mr. Libby has maintained Mr. Russert told him.

“No,” Mr. Russert said, repeating the same one-word answer to several similar questions from Mr. Fitzgerald, who is trying to prove that Mr. Libby lied to investigators and grand jurors during an inquiry into who leaked the name of the covert agent.

In fact, Mr. Russert said, Mr. Libby called him in July 2003 not to talk about the Central Intelligence Agency, but to complain about a report on MSNBC, a cable unit of NBC. “He was very firm and very direct,” said Mr. Russert, who has been the bureau chief for NBC News since 1989.

Mr. Russert said the crucial exchange with Mr. Libby took place the week he returned to work on Tuesday, July 8, 2003, after a long holiday weekend.

Mr. Russert also testified that he did not learn the identify of the C.I.A. agent until Monday, July 14, when he read it in a column by Robert Novak in The Washington Post. “Wow, look at this,” Mr. Russert said he recalled thinking. “This is big.”

Mr. Russert’s account is potentially very damaging to Mr. Libby, who has testified before a grand jury that he first learned about the agent from Mr. Russert on July 10. He is on trial in Federal District Court here for perjury and obstruction of justice, accused of trying to thwart an F.B.I. investigation into the disclosure of the agent’s name.

Mr. Fitzgerald has played several hours of Mr. Libby’s taped grand jury testimony so jurors could hear Mr. Libby deny under oath that he had any recollection of early conversations about the agent, Valerie Wilson. His account has been contradicted in court by several government officials and journalists.

Mr. Libby’s lawyer, Theodore Wells Jr., sought this afternoon to raise doubts about Mr. Russert’s memory, eliciting from the journalist the acknowledgment that he could not remember the exact day of his telephone exchange with Mr. Libby, the time of day, or the duration of their conversation.

And when Mr. Russert said he recalled only one conversation with Mr. Libby, Mr. Wells pointed out that Mr. Russert told the F.B.I. in the fall of 2003 that he remembered “at least one” talk with Mr. Libby.

But Mr. Russert could not be shaken in his account of first learning about the agent on July 14, 2003, after reading the Novak column. “I wish I had known,” Mr. Russert said, “but I didn’t.”

Mr. Russert said he told Mr. Libby, who laced his complaints about the MSNBC report with vulgarities, to contact someone else at NBC after explaining that he had responsibilities for the network’s broadcast news but not the cable programs.

Mr. Russert was on crutches today – the result, he said, of a broken ankle he suffered about 10 weeks ago.

Mrs. Wilson’s identity as a C.I.A. agent was first reported by Mr. Novak shortly after her husband, the former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson IV, wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times that angered the Bush White House by asserting that the administration had willfully distorted intelligence about Iraq’s efforts to obtain uranium in Niger.

Mr. Wilson has gone to Africa for the C.I.A. to investigate reports about those efforts. He concluded that there was little substance to the reports.

Mr. Russert’s testimony came after jurors heard Mr. Libby, on an audiotape of his grand jury testimony in March 2004, recall how abandoned he felt in the fall of 2003 amid a swirl of news reports about the investigation into the unmasking of the C.I.A. agent.

At the time, the White House was putting out the message to reporters that Karl Rove, President Bush’s top political adviser, had nothing to do with the leak of the covert agent’s name. But the same message was not being put out about Mr. Libby, then Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

“I didn’t think that was fair,” Mr. Libby told the grand jury in March 2004. And so, Mr. Libby recalled in his testimony, he approached Scott McClellan, then the chief White House spokesman, and Andrew H. Card Jr., who was then White House chief of staff.

“I think you ought to be saying something about me too,” Mr. Libby said he told the White House aides.

When the White House message was still not sufficiently exculpatory, in Mr. Libby’s view, he went to see his boss, the vice president, who listened carefully and reacted somewhat cryptically, but at least offered Mr. Libby a measure of support.

The grand jury tapes offered a titillating, occasionally entertaining behind-the-scenes look at the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Mr. Libby said he told the vice president, while both were in Wyoming, that “it was unfair” that the White House had not corrected reports that he had leaked Mrs. Wilson’s name to the columnist Robert Novak, who disclosed it a column in July 2003.

“It should be fixed,” Mr. Libby said he told Mr. Cheney.

“I was not the person who talked to Mr. Novak and leaked this bit,” Mr. Libby is heard to say in a soft, even voice. “You know,” Mr. Libby said he told Mr. Cheney, “I learned this from Tim Russert.”

At that, Mr. Cheney tilted his head. “The Tim Russert part got his attention,” Mr. Libby said.

Although the audiotapes were played by the prosecution, they also recalled -- this time in Mr. Libby’s own voice -- assertions by Mr. Libby’s lawyers in the trial’s opening arguments that their client was made a scapegoat by White House officials determined to protect Mr. Rove at all costs. (Mr. Wilson has said he suspects Mr. Rove of having something to do with disclosing his wife’s identity in revenge for his article in The Times.)

At one point in his grand jury testimony, Mr. Fitzgerald asked Mr. Libby why he was smiling. Because, Mr. Libby replied, a line of questioning had just reminded him that Mr. Cheney did weigh in on his behalf.

“It looks like he was trying to protect me a little bit, which is nice,” Mr. Libby said.

He recalled during their meeting in Wyoming Mr. Cheney saying, “I know you were not the leak, not the source,” and pledging to make the necessary phone calls to the White House publicity machine to that effect.

Later in his conversation with the vice president, though, Mr. Libby recalled telling him that, after his memory was refreshed by looking at internal documents, he concluded he had learned about Mrs. Wilson from from Mr. Cheney himself and not Mr. Russert.

“From me?” Mr. Cheney replied, tilting his head again. After considerably more back-and-forth, Mr. Libby testified, the vice president said, “Fine.”

Then Mr. Cheney raised his hand in a gesture that Mr. Libby said he interpreted as, “You know, we shouldn’t be talking about the details of this.”

Recalling the events of that autumn of 2003, Mr. Libby noted that he was giving a true account “if memory serves -- and it doesn’t always.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Administration blows cover of whistleblower { August 8 2003 }
Agee calls leak dirty politics
Agee discusses leak of name
Agee sees whitehouse getting blowback
Another time reported testomy may help rove { December 12 2005 }
Appeals court upheld ruling against reporters over leak { February 15 2005 }
Ashcroft recused self from investigation { December 31 2003 }
Buchanan comments on mclaughlin july 15 05 { July 15 2005 }
Bush admits cia leak came from whitehouse { July 12 2007 }
Bush aide testifies leak probe { February 9 2004 }
Bush and lawyer huddle on CIA leak { June 2 2004 }
Bush commuted libby prison sentence { June 2007 }
Bush defends declassification of prewar report
Bush jokes to reporter about cia leak
Bush knew of pending cia leak
Bush toughens support of leak investigation { October 7 2003 }
Cheney advisor resigns after indictment
Cheney aide also linked to cia leak { July 18 2005 }
Cheney aide says bush approved leak { April 6 2006 }
Cheney and rove lose importance in whitehouse
Cheney may use executive privilege { October 29 2005 }
Cheney reportedly interviewed in leak of CIA name { June 5 2004 }
Cheney source of officer name to libby { October 25 2005 }
Cheney staff focus of probe { February 17 2004 }
Cheney to be defense witness in cia leak case
Cia blocks varerie plame book
Cia name leak from whitehouse { September 30 2003 }
Cia probe widens
Colleague says armitage was cia leak source { August 29 2006 }
Did rove blow spooks cover { September 16 2003 }
Doj investigation whitehouse reveal cia agent
Fitzgerald calls new grand jury after woodward testimony { November 19 2005 }
Judith freed to testify about source lewis libby { September 30 2005 }
Judith miller cant remember where name came from { October 16 2005 }
Judith miller retires from the times
Karl rove testifies before federal grand jury on leak
Last day of probe keeping whitehouse jittery
Leaders express outrage for libby commuted sentence { July 3 2007 }
Leaker said wilson wife fair game { September 28 2003 }
Libby charges dont address cia leak
Libby lawyer told miller to clear scooter libby { October 16 2005 }
Libby may have hidden cheney role { November 13 2005 }
Libby perjury worse than lewinsky perjury
Libby retains 5th amendment by avoiding pardon { July 3 2007 }
Libby says white house superiors approved leak { February 9 2006 }
Libby scapegoated to protect karl rove { January 24 2007 }
Libby trial delayed right after 2006 elections { February 4 2006 }
Matthew cooper testify after rove lawyers maneuvering { July 7 2005 }
Mcclellan cant clear cheney in cia leak case { June 20 2008 }
Memo central to leak delivered to powell { July 21 2005 }
Nbc russert rebuts libby testimony { February 7 2007 }
New tork times reporter jailed for concealing leak { July 7 2005 }
New york times reporter given top security clearance { October 16 2005 }
Novak claims book was source of leak { August 2 2005 }
Novak points to cia { October 1 2003 }
Novak pokes fun at cia leak
Novak wont give up source { October 1 2003 }
Pat buchanan says neocons behind whole thing { July 15 2005 }
Powell gives testimony to grand jury
Press secretary says bush behind leak { October 2007 }
Prison fines await those leak cia identities
Probe exposing cia identity { September 29 2003 }
Prosecutor investigating coverup of leak { July 27 2005 }
Prosecutors question Bush on CIA name leak { June 25 2004 }
Reporter held in contempt
Rove and libby worked damage control { July 22 2005 }
Rove blamed libby to jury { October 20 2005 }
Rove called to testify 5th time { April 27 2006 }
Rove confirmed plame indirectly lawyer says { July 15 2005 }
Rove emailed security official about matthew cooper { July 11 2003 }
Rove fight escalates { July 15 2005 }
Rove legal team furious efforts to convince prosecutor { October 27 2005 }
Rove mclellan interviewed cia probe { October 23 2003 }
Rove told cooper wilsons wife works for agency { July 11 2005 }
Rove wont face indictment in cia leak case { June 13 2006 }
Story from two senior whitehouse employees
Time magazine talked to rove for plane story
Time reporters in contempt of court for cia leak
Time reporters says he first learned of plame from rove { July 18 2005 }
Valerie plame does vanity fair spread { December 3 2003 }
Whitehouse press secretary contradicts libby { December 2007 }
Wilson suggested rove leaked { September 30 2003 }
Woodward attacked by liberals { November 18 2005 }
Woodward eyed after calling fitzgerald overzealous { November 17 2005 }
Woodward was told of plame before leak { November 16 2005 }

Files Listed: 85


CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple