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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

As Kevin says, it's all about The Nukes. And he's right on target in pointing to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as one of the key players in the vast political cover-up that hovers over the criminal one now creaking at every hinge. Laura Rozen has more on coordination between Roberts and Cheney's office.

Roberts was the key player in arranging the authorship of last year's thoroughly mendacious Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraqi WMD intelligence failures. He also played a key part at several points (possibly passively, but probably actively) in ensuring that no real investigation into the origins of the forgeries ever took place.

Ahhh -- good point.

All day we've been discussing Tom DeFrank's article in today's Daily News which reports that President Bush has known about Karl Rove's role in the Plame leak for two years.

But this site points out that this sure seems to contradict what Murray Waas reported not long ago over at National Journal ...

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.


Now, don't lose sight of the fact that we're stacking a lot of 'ifs' on top of each other here. But we do have two articles from well-credentialed journalists pointing to two alleged facts -- one, that President Bush knew in late 2003 that Rove was involved and that Rove had told him he was involved; two, that a year later President Bush denied Rove had told him he was involved in an interview with the special prosecutor.

If both those 'facts' bear out, someone's in a lot of trouble, no?

Tom DeFrank's piece in a Daily News is a touch vague about just when President Bush found out about Karl Rove's role in the Plame leak. The only explicit reference to timing comes in the lede where DeFrank writes that [emphasis added] "[a]n angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair."

Now, 'two years ago'.

In the Plame case a lot of things happened around two years ago. What happened almost exactly two years was the first intensive coverage of the story in the mainstream press. For the first couple months the scandal was largely the province of various disreputable blogs and other untouchables.

So, DeFrank really doesn't provide us with enough detail to say with any confidence precisely when the president knew. But it seems he's saying the president unloaded on Karl right about the time the story blew up into a serious scandal and spawned a Justice Department investigation.

So what was the president saying around that time?

One of his most detailed statements came on October 7th, in a brief exchange with the press just before a cabinet meeting ...

[T]he investigators will ask our staff about what people did or did not do. This is a town of -- where a lot of people leak. And I've constantly expressed my displeasure with leaks, particularly leaks of classified information. And I want to know, I want to know the truth. I want to see to it that the truth prevail. And I hope we can get this investigation done in a thorough way, as quickly as possible.

But the Justice Department will conduct this investigation. The professionals in the Justice Department will be involved in ferreting out the truth. These are citizens who will -- were here before this administration arrived and will be here after this administration leaves. And they'll come to the bottom of this, and we'll find out the truth. And that will be -- that's a good thing for this administration.


Then, a few moment later, the president expressed an odd lack of confidence that the case would ever be solved ...

Randy, you tell me, how many sources have you had that's leaked information that you've exposed or have been exposed? Probably none. 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. That's why I've instructed this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators -- full disclosure, everything we know the investigators will find out. 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.


Given the question of dating noted above, one might speculate that the president learned of Rove's action the next day. But if the DeFrank piece is accurate, it certainly seems likely that the president knew of Rove's complicity while he was saying these words.

Late Update: A lot of news has been bubbling this morning. And in the mix I neglected to note that there is another reference to the time frame of these events in the DeFrank article. TPM Reader MO notes this passage down at the end ...

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.


We're still hanging on the "shortly after" here. But this would seem to nail this down a bit more conclusively: President Bush knew Karl Rove was one of the culprits when he made those statements above.

Ahhh, yesteryear, when we were young and unindicted.

Scott McClellan, June 24th, 2004, almost a year after the president learned of Karl Rove's part in the Plame leak, according to the Daily News.

The President met with Pat Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in charge of the leak investigation, as well as members of his team. The meeting took place in the Oval Office. It lasted for a little more than an hour, probably about an hour and 10 minutes ... He also recently retained a lawyer, Jim Sharp, who you all have reported about before. I would just say that -- what I've said previously, and what the President has said: The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter. The President directed the White House to cooperate fully with those in charge of the investigation. He was pleased to do his part to help the investigation move forward. No one wants to get to the bottom of this matter more than the President of the United States, and he has said on more than one occasion that if anyone -- inside or outside the government -- has information that can help the investigators get to the bottom of this, they should provide that information to the officials in charge.


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.

Isikoff has a new brief piece out on Karl Rove's lawyer, Robert "Gold Bars" Luskin.

Actually, for what it's worth, GB sounds like he'd be sort of a fun person to hang out with. But don't tell anyone I said that.

As we were first to report back in July (at least in the context of the Rove case) Luskin, a Democrat, got in trouble with the Feds back in 1997. He took up the appeal of a precious metals dealer who'd been convicted of laundering tens of millions of dollars of drug money. The DOJ got a bit miffed when they discovered that Luskin was taking payment in gold bars.

Luskin tells Isikoff he did nothing wrong but now concedes "I was completely obtuse about the optics of the situation."

Perhaps we need to rename him Robert "Gift for Understatement" Luskin.

Right at the top of the gaggle this morning at the White House, reporters zeroed in one the DeFrank story ...

QUESTION: Scott, is it true that the President --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Welcome back.

QUESTION: Thanks. Is it true that the President slapped Karl Rove upside the head a couple of years ago over the CIA leak?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Are you referring to, what, a New York Daily News report? Two things: One, we're not commenting on an ongoing investigation; two, and I would challenge the overall accuracy of that news account.

QUESTION: That's a comment.

QUESTION: Which part of it?

QUESTION: Yes, that is.

QUESTION: Which facts --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I'm just saying -- no, I'm just trying to help you all.

QUESTION: So what facts are you challenging?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: You can't say you're challenging the facts and then not say which ones you're challenging.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Yes, I can. I just did. (Laughter.)

... QUESTION: Scott, let me come back to -- so you say you're challenging the accuracy, but you won't tell us why. Why would it be irresponsible for us to report that?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Report what?

QUESTION: What you said --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: It's up to you what you want to report. I'm just trying to --

QUESTION: Well, if you want us to say it's inaccurate, you need to give us a reason why, or it wouldn't be responsible to report it.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Well, there's an ongoing investigation, and as you know, our policy is not to comment on it. So that's where we are.

QUESTION: You just did.

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Based on your personal knowledge, based on your opinion, based on your frustration with the story -- what caused you to say that?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: No, I mean, I read the story and I didn't view it as an accurate story.

QUESTION: Why not?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: Again, I'm not going to go any further than that. There's an ongoing investigation. This is bringing up matters related to an ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: After you read the story, Scott, did you check with either the two people mentioned, the President or Rove, to ask them? Is that what you base --

SCOTT McCLELLAN: I don't have any further comment, Peter.

QUESTION: Well, is that what you base your guidance on, or is it just -- you know, is it just you're feeling that this couldn't have happened?

SCOTT McCLELLAN: I stand by what I just said and I'm going to leave it at that.


The subject comes up again later in the discussion. We'll bring you that later.

On the DeFrank story this morning, McClellan got hammered and tried to deny its accuracy, but really couldn't. We'll provide details shortly.

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