MSNBC’s Don Imus and CNN are buzzin’ about the new story on Tim Russert’s involvement in the CIA Leak case. Imus joked about Russert’s possible indictment (then slipped in that his little boy Wyatt likes Tim who gives him lots of toys). Cozy.
Libby’s testimony stated that Rove had told him about his contact with Novak and that Libby had told Rove about information he had gotten about Wilson’s wife from NBC’s Tim Russert, according to a person familiar with the information shown to Rove, (AP/CNN, Oct. 20, 2005; 6:32 a.m. EDT)
The sources are “people directly familiar with testimony the two witnesses gave” who also said that, during his grand jury testimony, “Rove was shown testimony from Libby suggesting the two had discussed with each other information they had gotten about Wilson’s wife from reporters in early July 2003.”
One problem is that, according to MSNBC TV today, Russert’s testimony shows that he talked to Libby a week after Libby spoke with Rove.
And, unlike the Matt Cooper case, there may not be a “smoking gun” in the form of an e-mail from or to Russert. From the WSJ on July 11, 2005:
Newsweek magazine reported that among Mr. Cooper’s notes was an email he sent to one of his editors describing a conversation with Mr. Rove a few days before columnist Robert Novak first identified Valerie Plame as a CIA agent in print [on July 13, 2003].
It’s critical to keep in mind that if Matt Cooper hadn’t sent that e-mail, he’d have been in a stronger position to resist Judge Hogan and Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald.
This story could be partially recycled news. From the July 23, 2005 WaPo story, “Testimony By Rove and Libby Examined” — in which the sources were “lawyers in the case and witness statements”:
“Libby has testified that he learned about Plame from NBC correspondent Tim Russert, according to a source who spoke with The Washington Post some months ago. Russert said in a statement last year that he told the prosecutor that “he did not know Ms. Plame’s name or that she was a CIA operative” and that he did not provide such information to Libby in July 2003. […]
The possible conflicts in the accounts given by Russert and Libby were first reported yesterday by Bloomberg News.
Russert’s silence is strange because, after all, he is a “journalist.” … More below:
On NBC’s Oct. 2nd Meet The Press (transcript) — the first Sunday following Judith Miller’s widely reported release from jail — moderator Tim Russert didn’t ask a single question about the case. He didn’t even bring up the biggest story of the week: Miller’s testimony before the grand jury.
Early last week, I checked several Meet The Press transcripts dating back to August. I only found two shows when Russert brought up the CIA Leak case. One instance was this past Sunday, when he asked Sen. Carl Levin a few generic questions.
Sect’y of State Condi Rice, also on the Oct. 16 show — and who’s reportedly “cooperated” with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald but hasn’t been called to testify — got the old soft shoe:
MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you a couple of questions, domestic questions. Have you testified under oath in the CIA leak investigation?
SEC’Y RICE: Tim, I’m not going to talk about an ongoing investigation. I’ve cooperated in any way that I’ve been asked to cooperate.
MR. RUSSERT: Including testifying under oath?
SEC’Y RICE: I’ve cooperated in any and every way that I’ve been asked to cooperate.
And it’s a wrap! No follow-up question. What marshmallow questions of the woman who helped sell the Iraq war in cahoots with the major figures in the CIA Leak case.
But it’s not like Tim digs for the truth:
On the April 10 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press, host Tim Russert falsely claimed that “there’s no evidence” that Ahmed Chalabi, former Iraqi exile and head of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), “was associated with Curveball, a relative of a top Chalabi aide who became the most influential source for U.S. intelligence on Iraq’s biological weapons program … [The] Robb-Silberman report on intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and independent news reporting indicate a clear connection between Chalabi and Curveball. (Media Matters, April 11, 2005).
Doesn’t this Chalabi/Curveball denial by Russert sound a lot like the WMD fabrications of the NYT’s Judith Miller and the “Joe Wilson is a liar” campaign by Andrea Mitchell?
Isn’t it interesting how all three try to steer and confine discussion, and worm in their favorite themes, as Andrea Mitchell does in perpetuating the Wilson lie every time she’s on TV pundit shows? And how about this claim that Judith Miller was funneled information from the White House Iraq Group (aka WHIG)?
“They [WHIG members] were funneling information to [New York Times reporter] Judy Miller. Judy was a charter member,” the source said. (New York Daily News, Oct. 19, 2005)
(This is my REAL focus of this case: How the Iraq war was sold through innumerable lies to the American people, Congress, and the media, often by members of the media in congress with WHIG and ancillary members of WHIG such as David Wurmser, a manipulator of intelligence information on Iraq and Al Qaeda that he was unqualified to assess.)
Tim Russert was the first journalist to “cave” and cooperate with Fitzgerald. Michael Isikoff reported on August 1 that “[t]he deal was not, as many assumed, for Russert’s testimony about what Libby told him: it focused on what Russert told Libby.”
An NBC statement last year said Russert did not know of Plame, wife of ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson, or that she worked at the CIA, and “he did not provide that information to Libby.”
Andrea Mitchell, Time‘s Matt Cooper, and even Judith Miller and her attorneys, have been Chatty Cathies about the case. But not Russert. Why? And why did Russert and NBC cave so quickly following Judge Hogan’s ruling, while Cooper and Miller fought the subpoenas?
My faith in the media aside — read that as snark — the wildest outcome might be if Fitzgerald determines that it was Russert who told Libby about Plame. After all, it might explain Russert’s silence and avoidance.
But, really, I am skeptical of the lot of them. Here’s hoping that Fitzgerald has documentation — like the all-important Matt Cooper e-mail — that’ll put holes in their stories.
Update [2005-10-20 14:18:31 by susanhu]: Jane Hamsher at FireDogLake has some fascinating thoughts on all of this, and how there’s a pattern with NBC “news” people.