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What Ashcroft Knew

Murray Waas breaks another explosive story: Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft continued to oversee the Valerie Plame-CIA leak probe for more than t

Murray Waas breaks another explosive story:
Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft continued to oversee the Valerie Plame-CIA leak probe for more than two months in late 2003 after he learned in extensive briefings that FBI agents suspected White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby of trying to mislead the FBI to conceal their roles in the leak, according to government records and interviews.

Despite these briefings, which took place between October and December 2003, and despite the fact that senior White House aides might become central to the leak case, Ashcroft did not recuse himself from the matter until December 30, when he allowed the appointment of a special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, to take over the investigation. According to people with firsthand knowledge of the briefings, senior Justice Department officials told Ashcroft that the FBI had uncovered evidence that Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, had misled the bureau about his role in the leaking of Plame's identity to the press."

Another aspect of this story that is bad news for Libby:

" Libby also told the FBI that a day or two before he spoke to Cooper and Miller, he was told about Plame by NBC Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert. According to Libby's first FBI interview, which is summarized in the grand jury indictment of Libby that was handed up in October 2005: "During a conversation with Tim Russert on NBC News on July 10 or 11, 2003, Russert asked Libby if Libby was aware that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA; Libby responded to Russert that he did not know that, and Russert replied that all the reporters knew it." On July 12, 2003, Libby spoke with Miller and Cooper, telling them that Plame worked for the CIA."...read on

Russert has already said that Scooter called him complaining about a Hardball episode which had nothing to do with Plame.

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