What did the president say to Berlusconi?
From this morning’s gaggle …
QUESTION: Thank you. Any more explanation of the Berlusconi-President discussion about Italian intelligence on Iraq — is this to say that Mr. Fitzgerald’s finding that the Niger claim had its genesis in Italian intelligence was wrong?
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Mr. Fitzgerald’s — I’ll have to look back at what his finding was. I don’t recall the specifics of that.
QUESTION: Fitzgerald found that what we had been calling British intelligence, the document — the forged document —
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Maybe I missed that. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.
QUESTION: — alleging an Iraq —
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Okay, I don’t think he did.
QUESTION: I’m wrong on this?
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Maybe I’m wrong. But I don’t think he —
QUESTION: That’s not ringing any bells.
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes.
QUESTION: It’s not ringing any bells with other people either.
QUESTION: No, it is, it is. And I can’t remember if it’s Fitzgerald or somebody else, but there’s this is the central issue is —
QUESTION: The central issue was —
QUESTION: — the source of the —
QUESTION: The source of the forged document was Italy, who handed it to —
SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, the — we actually briefed on the source of the information back in July of 2003, and the source was the National Intelligence Estimate and British Intelligence. That was the basis for the reference in the President’s State of the Union address.
QUESTION: Fitzgerald found an Italian tie, and I presume this is what the discussion between the President and Berlusconi was about.
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes, they — like I said they — Prime Minister Berlusconi brought it up, and as they indicated, that there wasn’t any documents that were provided to us on Niger and uranium by —
QUESTION: Wait, no documents or no intelligence?
SCOTT McCLELLAN: I’m sorry?
QUESTION: The press report out of Italy is a transcription — it’s a transcription of the forged documents, not the actual documents themselves. But Berlusconi said yesterday was, no information passed from Italy to the United States.
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes, I think he was accurately reflecting what he indicated in the meeting.
QUESTION: So that accurately characterizes the President’s position, that the United States never received any intelligence —
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, Prime Minister Berlusconi was reflecting that within the meeting, and we’ve previously said in regards to a question that came up about a meeting here at the White House that no one here has any recollection of Niger and uranium being discussed at that meeting, much less any documents being provided.
More to come.