Libby Trial Recap:All Roads Go To The White House

With both sides resting, jury instructions and deliberations ahead, David Shuster gives a recap to date of the testimony and how not only do all arrow

With both sides resting, jury instructions and deliberations ahead, David Shuster gives a recap to date of the testimony and how not only do all arrows point to the office of the Vice President but to the President himself. Remember when George said that anyone found leaking classified information would be dealt with?

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"Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

Deal with yourself, George. We're waiting.

On a related note, the NY Times notes the new push/pull relationship of the blogosphere with the traditional media insofar as the coverage of the Libby Trial. In addition to scooping the traditional media frequently, the blogosphere (and by that, I mean the fabulous coverage by FireDogLake) has been ahead of the curve in understanding the significance of the trial and the testimony given:

With no audio or video feed permitted, the Firedoglake "live blog" has offered the fullest, fastest public report available. Many mainstream journalists use it to check on the trial.

[..]For blogs, the Libby trial marks a courthouse coming of age. It is the first federal case for which independent bloggers have been given official credentials along with reporters from the traditional news media, said Robert A. Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association.

[..]"They're putting in a lot more opinion and a lot more color than the traditional reporters," said Mr. Cox, adding that the bloggers were challenging "the theory of objective journalism."

[..]In the courthouse, the old- and new-media groups have mixed warily at times. Mainstream reporters have shushed the bloggers when their sarcastic comments on the testimony drowned out the audio feed. But traditional reporters have also called on the bloggers on occasion to check a quote or an obscure detail from the investigation.

Some bloggers at the trial have seen their skepticism about mainstream reporting confirmed.

"It's shown me the degree to which journalists work together to define the story," said Marcy Wheeler, author of a book on the case, "Anatomy of Deceit," and the woman usually in the Firedoglake live-blogger seat.


↓ Story continues below ↓

Hardball transcripts below the fold

(CHRIS MATTHEWS) Welcome back to Hardball. Closing arguments in the trial of Scooter Libby are scheduled for next Tuesday. At its core, this case revealed how the Bush administration sold the war with Iraq and tried to under-cut a critic of that sales job. And the evidence in this case involved not just Vice President Cheney but also President Bush. Hardball correspondent David Shuster has the report.

(DAVID SHUSTER) While the trial against Scooter Libby has revealed that Vice President Cheney directed efforts to smear a high profile administration critic... The evidence from both sides shows President Bush took an interest in Joe Wilson as well and eventually played a role in trying to undermine him.

In May of 2003, before Wilson went public, this article by Nicholas Kristof referred to an ambassador's findings in Niger.at the grand jury, Libby was asked about one of his notes.

Libby/Fitzgerald: Q. does that indicate the President was interested in the State of the Union and the Kristof article? A. Yes. Q. And do you recall what the occasion was that, that you came to learn that the President was interested in the Kristof article? A. I, I don't. It could be something that somebody said to me that I --it doesn't mean that I observed it. It may be something someone said to me and I wrote it down. Q. Any recollection of discussing with the Vice President the interest of the President in the Kristof article? A. I don't, I don't have a recollection of it.

But two days after Joe Wilson went public, accusing the administration of twisting evidence and ignoring findings that Iraq was not seeking uranium from Africa, Vice President Cheney and President Bush took action. Evidence left unchallenged by the defense shows the leaders declassified a secret National Intelligence Estimate, gave it to Libby, and authorized him to leak it to reporter Judy Miller as part of an effort to push back at Wilson. Nobody else knew the NIE had, in effect, been declassified... Not CIA Director Tenet, not then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, not her deputy Stephen Hadley.

Libby/Fitzgerald: I had talked to Judith Miller about the NIE at the President's, you know, at, at the President's approval relayed to me through the Vice President, l and I did not tell Mr. Hadley at that time. Q. And was there any reason why you didn't tell Mr. Hadley that you had told Ms. Miller about the NIE? A, I was sitting with the Vice President. The Vice President knew it and chose not to tell Mr. Hadley and so I didn't change what he had done."

And yet just two months later...

President Bush, Sept. 30, 2003: "Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

Soon after that, even though Vice President Cheney knew that Scooter Libby -- at Cheney's direction -- had spoken to reporters about the NIE and about Valerie Wilson's CIA status just days before she was outed... Notes show Cheney told White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan to publicly clear Libby, just as McLellan had already cleared Karl Rove.

Scott McClellan, Oct. 7, 2003: "They're good individuals, they're important members of our White House team, and that's why I spoke with them, so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved."

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has argued the evidence is clear Rove and Libby were lying to McLellan.

The evidence at trial also shows the White House misled the public by blaming the CIA for the president's false pre war State of the Union claims. When the claims were retracted, documents reveal Vice President Cheney helped write the White House talking points.

Ari Fleischer July 14, 2003: "The broader statement about seeking uranium from Africa was vetted through the CIA.

Scott McClellan July 15, 2003: "I mean, if CIA had said, take it out, we would have taken it out."

But evidence at the Libby trial shows the CIA director did urge White House officials to take it out...

In an audio recording played in court, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, during an interview with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, says CIA director George Tenet personally told the White House the claim was wrong and got it removed from another Bush speech before the State of the Union.

Armitage/Woodward: (Woodward) Oh really? It was taken out? (Armitage) "Taken out. George said, you can't do this." (Woodward) How come it wasn't out of the State of the Union then?" (Armitage) Because I think it was overruled by the types down at the white house. Condi doesn't like being in the hot spot."

The implication appears to be that Condoleezza Rice, who was responsible for voicing Tenet's concerns to the president didn't like having to stand up to Vice President Cheney who was pushing the uranium claim.

When Joe Wilson spoke out 7 months later... His CIA wife was outed 8 days after that.

David Shuster: Prosecutors say Scooter Libby lied about those crucial 8 days in order to protect himself and possibly Vice President Cheney. And as first reported by the on-line newspaper Salon, supporters of Libby confirm he was urged by friends to cut a deal with prosecutors and tell them about the vice president. Libby refused. Closing arguments in Libby's case are set for Tuesday... A case revealing that the effort to undermine a Bush administration critic involved both Vice President Cheney and President Bush. I'm David Shuster, for Hardball, in Washington.

About Nicole Belle

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Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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