We are relying on the live-blogging of the Libby trial by the always-astute EmptyWheel, who is covering the opening statement of Libby's attorney, Ted Wells, but we have a potential blockbuster absolutely guaranteed to get exactly zero headlines.
Ted Wells drops the news that David Gregory of NBC received a leak about Plame from Ari Fleischer on July 11:
Now shows Ari dislcoses to David Gregory on July 11 that Ambassador Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Fleischer tells that before Libby was ever indicted. "I told David Gregory." Talks about time difference, says Ari leaked to Gregory first.
Now let's flash back to October 29, 2005, just after the Libby indictment. Russert has gathered the Washington Bureau to discuss the case on CNBC's "Tim Russert Show". At the time, I excerpted the transcript and suggested they were rehearsing their cover story. So let's cut to David Gregory:
RUSSERT: Well, ironically, when I was asked about this, I said, if I had known this, I would have told Andrea Mitchell. I would have told Pete Williams.
MITCHELL: In fact, Tim, you would have called me and said, `You hosted "Meet the Press" and questioned Joe Wilson and covered the agency and you didn't know that the wife--what's going on with you?'
RUSSERT: And I did call Neal Shapiro, the head of NBC News, and say, `You know, we have this high-level viewer complaint about what's on cable,' and that--you know, that was the extent of my sharing information with Neal Shapiro.
RUSSERT: If I had known something with--then I would have said to Neal--and Neal would have said, `Get to the cameras.' Or you know what? Actually it is so sensitive...
MITCHELL: We would have decided not to...
RUSSERT: ...I would have even talked--we would have talked it through and said...
RUSSERT: ...`Hey, what about this?' or `Should we check her status?' It's easy to say that in hindsight, but I...
MITCHELL: In fact, we should tell...
RUSSERT: ...when I read it in Novak, boom.
GREGORY: And it is interesting--it's also interesting, I should just point out, that nobody called me at any point, which is unfortunately...
WILLIAMS: Apparently not.
GREGORY: ...not the point.
RUSSERT: Does anybody ever?
GREGORY: But I just wanted to note that.
RUSSERT: I've been meaning to talk to you about that.
Nobody called him except Ari Fleischer. Baffling. Now, before I run amok, let me remind folks that Libby "confessed" to leaking to Glenn Kessler of the WaPo, who spoke with Fitzgerald and insisted that Libby had done no such thing.
SO - one might presume that Fitzgerald spoke with David Gregory, and one ought to hold open the possibility that Mr. Fleischer made the same type of error made by Mr. Libby.
However, there is a small straw in the wind from Fitzgerald's opening statement (again, based on the EW liveblogging):
Ari had conversations with reporters that he should not have had
Reporters, plural? I have long asserted that Ari Fleischer leaked to Walter Pincus, but an additional leak to David Gregory would justify the use of the plural.
I have no doubt that reporters will line up to learn whether David Gregory (a) was interviewed by Fitzgerald (apparently not, see MORE); (b) received a leak from Ari Fleischer, and (c) lied on the "Tim Russert Show" on Oct 29, 2005. Unless, of course, the media covers for their own, which is what will happen here.
I am going to post this to highlight the Gregory discrepancy, then see the rest of the Wells statement to see where he went with this. But *IF* Gregory is lying, can Andrea and Russert be as clean as the snow? here is more detail on Andrea Mitchell's evasions, confusions, and close coverage of the Wilson-Niger story; Russert's tightly focused denial is tagged here.
MORE: From the live blog summary of the Wells opening statement:
Mr. Russert was only questioned for 22 minutes.
Mr. Russert was not even required to go down to court. They interviewed Mr. Russert in a law office. All the Grand Jurors saw was Russert's transcript.
Mr. Russert was not asked one question about David Gregory, or about Andrea Mitchell.
Mr. Fitzgerald says the FBI was concerned about getting to the truth. Tim Russert had a deal. He had a deal with the government. He would only be questioned about his conversation with Mr. Libby. He had a deal. [Says it with a snear in his voice.]
They didn't ask Mr. Russert about Mitchell or Gregory.
Went out and asked if they would submit to an interview.
They don't want to be interviewed. No subpoena. She doesn't talk to the government.
So neither Gregory nor Mitchell spoke with Fitzgerald? That is consistent with Mitchell's story, and means Fitzgerald left the Gregory detail hanging. Wow. I am so surprised that I want to see some one else's coverage to see if the EmptyWheel got a flat here or something - unlikely, because she is well up to speed on the implications of all this, but still... [Several big time journalists picked up on the Fleischer-Gregory item - link].
A NOTE TO DAVID GREGORY"S APOLOGISTS: Please, stop it. Yes, it would be hard to sustain a perjury conviction on the basis of that transcript. However, Gregory is a reporter, not a contestant on "I've Got A Secret" - if Russert and Mitchell are explaining that they didn't get leaks, so therefore they could not have known, it is incumbent upon Mr. Gregory to deliver a bit of corrective news and admit to his involvement with Mr. Fleischer. Failure to do so is a lie of omission, i.e., the deliberate concealment of relevant information with the intent to deceive.
And by chiming in with "nobody called me at any point", Gregory certainly does not clarify the situation for the viewer. Quite the contrary. In this context, I consider that a clear lie - his intent was to leave viewers with the impression that he had not received a leak.
And to be fair, perhaps he did not - at this point, I would not expect there to be much evidence other than Ari's word.