PlameGate: BUSH KNEW AND BUSH LIED!
Today's big story comes from the New York Daily News:
An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.So Bush knew about Rove's involvement in outing a CIA agent. But what was he angry about? Not the fact that a CIA agent had been outed, nor the fact that his staff had lied to him (we assume) and to the public (repeatedly), but the fact that the "clumsy" lie had been publicly exposed!
"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."
Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."
"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."
Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.
Bush has always known that Rove often talks with reporters anonymously and he generally approved of such contacts, one source said.
But the President felt Rove and other members of the White House damage-control team did a clumsy job in their campaign to discredit Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, the ex-diplomat who criticized Bush's claim that Saddam Hussen tried to buy weapons-grade uranium in Niger.
A second well-placed source said some recently published reports implying Rove had deceived Bush about his involvement in the Wilson counterattack were incorrect and were leaked by White House aides trying to protect the President.
"Bush did not feel misled so much by Karl and others as believing that they handled it in a ham-handed and bush-league way," the source said.
None of these sources offered additional specifics of what Bush and Rove discussed in conversations beginning shortly after the Justice Department informed the White House in September 2003 that a criminal investigation had been launched into the leak of CIA agent Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak.
And then, instead of sacking Rove, Bush himself lied to the press (again repeatedly), saying that he still wanted to get to the bottom of this case. But now we know why he changed his rationale from "if anyone in my administration has been involved" to "if anyone in my administration has committed a crime". And now why know why he started waffling like this:
I mean this town is a -- is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth... I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is -- partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers. But we'll find out...What's worse, however, is that Bush then went and lied to the Fitzgerald enquiry as well (which helps explain why Bush's lawyers insisted he would not testify under oath). As Murray Waas recently reported:
In his own interview with prosecutors on June 24, 2004, Bush testified that Rove assured him he had not disclosed Plame as a CIA employee and had said nothing to the press to discredit Wilson, according to sources familiar with the president's interview. Bush said that Rove never mentioned the conversation with Cooper.Predictably, Josh Marshall is all over this story:
What did the president tell Patrick Fitzgerald? As a number of lawyers and former prosecutors have informed me this morning, not being under oath does not get President Bush out of legal jeopardy if he didn't tell the truth.(Atrios supplies this handy law link).
Marshall ties up the key dates and quotes to show thatBush was still lying to the press after he had reportedly given Rove a good, stiff slap on the wrist.
Marshall also points out that the New York Daily News story's author, Tom DeFrank, is a reputable journo with very good access to senior members of the Bush team.
Meanwhile, Senator Schumer (D-NY) has written a letter to President Bush asking for an explanation of the DeFrank article. And Scotty McLellan is getting hammered... again.