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February 07, 2007



amazing isn't it azaghal? I do hope OPR is watching.


It sure would be nice to know whether Fitz informed Hogan that Russert's affidavit was perjurious.

Gee Fitz could be in a little trouble too.

Now that would make my day!


So Wells is not finished with Russert? Wells will finish up with Wells tomorrow, then what?


I'm way behind, so forgive me if this is already posted:

from FDL non-transcript

What did Fitz cut off here??

T: My personal policy is always off the record when talking to government officials unless specified. So I didn't go on air and talk about it, but I told Neal Shapiro and told him I'd

F: Remember when you heard claims about Ms. Wilson?


Russert does, in fact, contradict Libby. Plus, Russert makes himself look like a disingenuous idiot.

If you give that a moments thought you may realize that its not quite a win-win after all. You just admitted that Libby is being contradicted by a dishonest fool. Not a bad place to be, in a trial.


Is the sort of accusation that Wells flung about lying under oath something done lightly?

Posted by: Dan S | February 07, 2007 at 02:53 PM

It is interesting that when Wells said that, it doesn't appear that Fitz even objected. Maybe the prosecution team was just too stunned by the way things were unravling.

Rick Ballard

"It sure would be nice to know whether Fitz informed Hogan that Russert's affidavit was perjurious."

Sure he did:

"Look Judge, this Russert affidavit is as phony as the one I fooled Tatel with..."

I'm still gonna hold out hope that Eckenrode is called.

By the defense.

With the Russert notes in his hand.


What an amazing day! No one could have dreamed it would have turned out so perfectly (maybe Wells hoped so, but it had to have made him feel like a recipient of a wonderful gift, even so).


I don't get the significance of the "impossible" statement by Russert, that has everyone high-fiving here.

Jane, Syl, Clarice (my usual legal interpreters) could you explain it to me?

Charlie (Colorado)

And it looks like he lied to his lawyer and let him file a false statement to the court.

It's hard to tell for a layman, but isn't this getting into the last five minutes of Perry Mason territory?

Dan S


Amen! This trial is doing one good thing, it's undermining the MSM even more. How much this is coming through to man-on-the-couch is unknown, but it's all on the record, and it will be available as "proof" to the seekers and educators out there trying to turn people from reality-based to the real world.

If it can also contribute to better behavior on the part of FBI and prosecutors, that's an added bonus. Putting Eckenrode on the spot would probably help there.


I'm wondering what Fitz redirect will be.

Christopher Fotos

New thread up. So far, free of peanut-butter-covered-cats-in-yarn-factory references.

Alan Rabinowitz

As a more casual observer, I would think most jurors got lost in all this quite a while back, so I'm not sure that Russert has done that much to help Libby in the long run. Stuff that makes sense to those of you paying close attention may not have the same impact on a juror trying to keep up with the confusion.

Of more interest is the complete and utter trashing of Russert and the Washington press establishment by Russert with some help from Wells.

Historically, this trial will be valued not for its verdict on Libby, but for its indictment of the media that demanded it.

Thanks to all of you for acting as my guide and interpreter, even those wearing tin foil hats. I must confess, I don't speak this language.


Jim E.,

If the FBI wants to talk to you about a phone call you had with VP Chief of Staff, you've already crossed over into serious enough territory sufficient to invoke privilege.

Cecil Turner

But I don't see Russert's admission on the stand as a bombshell.

Nor do I. There's nothing there. And I'm more than a little interested that Wells is pursuing this so hard after trying to get a memory expert and suggesting in an earlier hearing that Libby's memory of this conversation was in fact flawed. It seems like they decided that defense was too complex (and would sound Clintonian . . . which is probably correct), and went for the simpler but false version of a smokescreen. No telling how it'll play with the Jury, but I suspect it'll help. And while that may be good lawyering, it's not very attractive.

And I absolutely love the "squash" term. Oughta become the standard.

Sara (Squiggler)

I think Wells better start summarizing in his questions, like using leading questions, or it won't be a win-win or a lose-lose for the jury. It will be confuse-confuse. The lawyers here seem to think big things happen, but the subtleties are beyond me and I know more than the jury knows.

I came away today thinking Russert had other sources, and he intended to protect them.

And, that like all the other witnesses, his memory is also bad.

Charlie (Colorado)

then he had no legal right to then move to squash

Just a pedantic point, but isn't the word "quash"?


Clarice-I don't share you optimism on the narrative of the story changing to reflect Russert's cross. The media is tightly controlling this story.

Last night, CNN had a ridiculous story headline on "Libby though Bush wanted Plame's Name Leaked" total nonsense.

The only thing the media wont't be able to control or spin (at least initially) is an innocent verdict. Which is why I am rooting so hard for one.

Carol Herman




Maybe, it's me. But this caught my eye, and I read it as saying "some of Russert's notes weren't turned over, because they couldn't be found.

Legal Mumbo-gumbo? In my cut & paste (from above):

‘ As indicated in the Government’s Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant’s Request for Disclosure of Information Related to Accommodations Provided to Media Witness Tim Russert, notes taken during this interview have not been located, despite a diligent search.

Dan S


I'm not a lawyer, just a student of language and literature. But when I see a statement that comprises an absolute, it waves a large red flag with white letters saying "impeach me!" Most people react that way, I suspect. Odds are at least a few of the jurors took notice. It was an invitation to show Russert was less than perfectly honest in his testimony.

"Impossible" is clearly overstatement. If he'd been careful he would have said "improbable." What's also interesting to me is that it was an emotional flag. There was no reason at all for Russert to go to that extreme. He was perfectly safe and in expected ground if he stuck to, "as far as I recall." But for some reason there he switched.

To really know how potentially useful it is we need to see a real transcript. The context Apuzzo put it in is less useful. What the live blogs showed was clearly easy to refute.

In any case, it became less important when Wells went on.

"Impossible" was possibly a surprise gift, but there was no predicting Russert would toss that out. Wells clearly had a plan and he stuck to it. Tomorrow morning might see him do more with that impossible, we'll have to see.


Nothing's "impossible". In stating it so broadly, he opened the door I should think to Gregory and Mitchell and of course any possibility that he did know then undercuts anything he said.

All right a trial story:

I had the defendant's fingerprints on an old German document we'd received from the Russians proving he'd worked with the Nazis.
A major lawfirm was representing the defendant . I prepped the FBI fingerprint expert the night before. I told him that I was certain the defense counsel would suggest that it was possible the Russians had some new supersecret way of lifting fingerprints and placing them on that document and I wanted him to give serious thought to it. The honest answer was that anything was "possible" but I wanted that not to be the defendant's closing statement.
Sure enough, the following day I went thru with the agent all the ways that a fingerprint can get on a document, how this one got there and how he knew it was the defendant's.
On Cross, defense counsel with a wide flourish of his right hand asked,"Isn't it possible that the Russians have some new method unknown to the FBI that would permit them to, say, lift it off a glass in Chiacgo (where the def, lived) and put it on that document?
The agent responded,"Anything's possible, but I consider that unlikely."
"Why would that be unlikely?"the fancylawyer asked, incredulously.
"Because it would be so valuable and worth so much money to be able to do that, I have to believe the US mafia would have that first."
(Even the Russian diplomat who'd brought the doc to court to maintain a chain of custody burst out laughng.)
End of that "possibility"


Jim E. --

""This is pretty cool how Russert's being called on his supposed journalistic principles. Seriously, I hate Russert. My loyalties are somewhat divided today.""

Yes, and I missed something. I assumed the telephone call must have been an intro and there was a face to face with the FBI agent. No, I guessed wrong, on a cold call Russert blabbed.

""However.... Russert probably talked to the FBI agent initially since nothing of import happened on the call. Libby didn't leak ANYTHING to Russert, and for all he knew, Russert was *helping* Libby by saying that Libby didn't leak Plame to him.""

Very possible. But then there's his couched announcements with loopholes that excited suspicion. Whatever happened, does a top guy at a major network just offer up stuff on a high official on a cold call from and FBI official? Yep.

Making Cooper and Miller look pretty good.

Charlie (Colorado)

but morality and legality are two vastly different fields.



Just a pedantic point, but isn't the word "quash"?

Posted by: Charlie (Colorado) | February 07, 2007 at 03:10 PM

Yes, that's my fault. Typing too fast.


kate, alan, et al. Wells will tie this altogether in his closing which would be worth paying to see.

You cannot hear a trial in the same way you listen to anything else.It's hard to explain..but this is not Perry Mason. Most trials are not. It is about getting witness contradictions, lies, retractions and in closing putting that altogether into a compelling narrative.


Javani, what do you wanna bet that FBI agents calling $5 million dollar network honchos usually get shunted to the legal department--not patched through to Tim the Man himself? Maybe that call was set up earlier by phone calls from the SC's office, saying, an agent will call. I mean, do you call NBC and say, Hi, trust me, I'm from the FBI and I wanna talk to Tim Russert? Not likely.


This is the original Steve (Subjunctive Steve), not the guy who was trolling on an earlier thread...

Cecil: The issue with a memory defense is which memories do you defend as true and which do you defend as mistaken? There is Libby's actual real-time memory as events unfolded. Then there is Libby's memory when he testified ABOUT his real-time memory.

A memory expert could be called in to say either that 1) the GJ testimony was correct and it's perfectly plausible that Libby heard about Plame from the VP and forgot it until refreshed by Russert OR 2) Libby's real-time memory worked fine, but when he was interviewed and gave GJ testimony he misremembered the state of his memory. If 1) is the defense, going after Russert's memory and impeaching him six ways from Sunday is the way to go. So far, everything I've seen makes me think that 1) is the defense strategy, although we won't know for sure until they put on their case.

Sara (Squiggler)

I think too much emphasis is being put on the "impossible" remark. I think it is a cultural thing. Here's why.

Russert grew up in an area where I was transplanted to in high school. I didn't attend the same school, but my h.s. boyfriend did.

Years later, when I was in Portland, Oregon, I got into an argument with a guy who had never lived anywhere further away from where he was born and raised than 4 miles and he was pontificating about Easterners and others. He turned and said, "like you, you talk in absolutes. It is words like always, never, etc." I didn't know what he was talking about.

Later, he sent me annotated copies of some email correspondence in which I did make some statement about, "he's always ignoring..." and reamed me as being a liar. That no one ever does something always.

I chalked it up to a very provincial guy with a very provincial and warped view of his limited world. But ... apparently I should have paid more attention.


So far, everything I've seen makes me think that (1) is the defense strategy

Except most of the witnesses have been shown deficient at (2). The thing is that once (2) is invoked it becomes impossible to fairly determine (1).


Sara -
There is breadth and there is depth. Best not to confuse the two. "Provincial" is about breadth only.


and went for the simpler but false version of a smokescreen. No telling how it'll play with the Jury, but I suspect it'll help. And while that may be good lawyering, it's not very attractive.

I adore you, but this is the first time I've had trouble understanding what you are saying? Would you mind expanding a bit.
It'll help the jury how? And why is it not attractive? And what do you mean about simple but false version of a smokescreen?

Carol Herman


The "impossible" remark?

I still remember Judith Miller's "Well, not absolutely certain."

Wells let it go. He had bigger fish to fry.

Clarice, I erupted in laughter at your story. And, how wonderful the FBI fingerprint expert's reply in open court, was.

Not every FBI agent carrying a badge is proud of this Libby witch hunt, I'd bet.

Jim E.

Scooter's GJ testimony (transcript) is online at Dept of Justice.

Cecil Turner

So far, everything I've seen makes me think that 1) is the defense strategy . . .

From the defense strategy paper, it looks like they're going with 1). But from earlier filings (that they mostly got overruled on) it looked like they wanted to go with 2). I suspect 2 is true, but 1 is expedient.

. . . what do you mean about simple but false version of a smokescreen?

I think Libby actually conflated the Russert-Cooper conversations. It fits entirely too well with the known facts (except Fleischer, who I suspect is dizzier than Libby and out-to-lunch on the point). They'd like to make that argument, but it's wayyyyy complex, especially as it requires explanations for other memory lapses. Without a memory expert, they figure the truth is a loser. Instead, they can impeach Russert's testimony and try to fit the facts to Libby's mistaken testimony, which is simple (and somewhat plausible because he is hiding something). Which works, even if it isn't right.

Note: plenty of speculation in the above. There's lots of loose ends, and I'm sure Team Libby doesn't know exactly what happened any more than Fitz does.


The only thing the media wont't be able to control or spin (at least initially) is an innocent verdict.

Sure they can. They can just simply not report it. NBC tonight didn't even mention Russert's "I was for testifying before I was against it".

Curly Smith

The Russert Impossibility

Didn't Timbo say "I don't recall the conversation but it is impossible that I said..."? Mortal men can't state with certainty what they did or didn't say in a conversation they don't remember but the almighty Russert can? Timbo needs more fiber - he's full of crap.


Note: plenty of speculation in the above. There's lots of loose ends, and I'm sure Team Libby doesn't know exactly what happened any more than Fitz does.

Ah, thanks for your explanation. As it turns out, I agree with you.


I actually think the defense's theory paper is ambiguous about 1) vs. 2)

The problem with 2) ("my real-time memory was fine, it's the testimony where I got confused") is that the FBI's claim about what Libby said lines up pretty well with the GJ testimony. HIs story never changed: He insisted three times that he a) learned about Plame from the VP, b) forgot about the fact of Plame until Russert, and c) misremembered the source of his knowledge as Russert until he found a note (in preparing for the FBI) that said the VP told him. He clung to that story all the way along.

To now say "oops, my bad, actually I knew all along I found out about Plame from Cheyney, but those mean investigators got me confused in retrospect" is a tall hill to climb. Even with the other prosecution witnesses being confused and unsure of what they said to and heard from Libby, you'd need to really build up a big head of steam about how confusing and unfair the prosecutors' and investigators' questions were.

1) (real-time defective memory) seems better to me because it has Libby forgetting this detail in the midst of the welter of his work, focused mostly on other things. 2) asks us to believe that Libby's memory was great when the the Plame angle wasn't something he focused on but failed when he started to think carefully about it in prepping for interviews with the investigators.


from Patrick Sullivan

The first mentions (outside of Novak's column of 7-14) of Wilson's wife having been disclosed come from Royce and Phelps in Newsday on July 22.

I think you forgot the "big red crayon" that Corn used for his 'war' contribution on July 15th. I think the Royce, Phelps piece was from M. Mcarthy (IG's office) or M. Yaphe (Senior Iraq Analyst-CIA, she was in attendence at the EPIC conference).


Tom Maguire

So let me get this straight - in the fall of 2003, during the great political scandal of the season, Russert get a call from the FBI about Libby, Cheney's right hand man.

Russert talks pretty freely with the agent.

But he *CAN'T REMEMBER* whether he mentioned this to minor detail about the FBI interview to his boss and friend, Shapiro?

And we are supposed to believe that Russert can't remember this. But when Libby says he can't remember hearing in June a piece of information that seemed utterly inconsequential until July, the lefties fall down in a faint.

Dare I ask whether Pete, Martin at al think this is helpful for Fitzgerald's case?

Tom Maguire

I have a new post noting that Arianna is mocking Russert (she has been stalking him ion this longer than I).

I know Jim E and the restwill want to hurry back and tell us how the firedogs are handling these Russert relevations.

I'd love a summary from FDL - was Russert (a) even better than expected, driving home the obvious Cheney-Libby conspiracy for all to see, or (b) merely compelling?

While in full snark mode, let me clip along the latest from Marcy Wheeler - in the comments of this thread, she explains that Libby and Cheney coordinated their testimony and speculates that Judy joined the meeting. I kid you not.

Here we go, comment 96:

If you look at Scooter’s calendar, he went to visit Dick just before he came back here to meet with the FBI.

They coordinated their story, you can bet it.

Meanwhile, I’m very curious whether one Judy Miller or one Robert Novak was in Jackson Hole at the time. Judy’s rodeo excuse has always sounded like a load of horse puckey. And it would make sense that Judy Miller stopped into the strategy session in early October (before she told Taubman that she wasn’t the target of an organized leak).

You see, Aspens don’t turn in August, when Judy says she saw Scooter in Jackson Hole.

Aspens turn in October.

While they are here, can I get the non-snake handlers to opine on this Libby-Cheney-Miller meet-up? Serious stuff, or uhh, less plausible?



well TM...Marcy also thinks Libby is a flight risk, she's got a book to sell

Tom Maguire

And To be Fair: Jane Hamsher notes some of the problems with Russert's variable embrace of the First Amendment, and links to Arianna's scoffing.

I hope to pick up the hammer Thursday AM.

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