Just as Karl Rove appears to have ‘forgotten’ to mention to the FBI or grand jury a critical July 11, 2003 meeting with Matthew Cooper regarding the Joe/Valerie Wilson story he was reporting (see the Newsweek story), it appears that Scooter Libby developed a similar case of amnesia regarding a meeting he had with Judy Miller on June 23, 2003 in which they also discussed Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger and possibly his wife’s identity as a CIA agent:
In two appearances before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative’s name, Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, did not disclose a crucial conversation that he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 about the operative, Valerie Plame, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of his sworn testimony.
Libby also did not disclose the June 23 conversation when he was twice interviewed by FBI agents working on the Plame leak investigation, the sources said.
What is especially important about both meetings is that they occured BEFORE Joe Wilson’s NYT op-ed column which criticized the Bush Administration’s reliance on the Niger WMD connection to make a case that Iraq pursued WMD. It’s one thing when government operatives scramble after a damaging story comes out to try to counter it. But it’s quite another when the scramble begins even before the damage is done (two weeks before!). It makes it appear there was a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Bush Administration to “get” both Wilsons. This in turn makes the charge that Rove or Libby may’ve outed Ms. Wilson that much more credible. Of course, it doesn’t prove the claim. But it certainly damages their claim that they didn’t squeal.
I’m amazed that both these jokers, who are about as wise in the ways of Washington as anyone, would make such crucial (and almost identical) legal errors which seem almost certain to lead to their indictment–and resignations from their respective government positions. Of course, it’s possible that neither testified about these meetings because doing so would have landed them in even hotter water (for example, if at those meetings they DID reveal not only that Ms. Wilson was married to Mr. Wilson, but that she was a CIA secret operative).
The Journal story also describes the critical importance of an exchange between Libby’s attorney, Joseph Tate, and Miller’s, Floyd Abrams, in which the latter claims that Tate led him to believe that Libby’s waiver was coerced. This, in turn made Miller decide not to testify to the grand jury (which landed her in jail). So if Tate’s conversation could be construed as discouraging Miller from testifying, then my oh my what hot water the lawyer and his client are in. Do I hear obstruction of justice anyone?