Certainly it is one

Certainly it is one of the lesser threads in this controversy, but let’s note for the record that RNC Chair Ed Gillespie told what was almost certainly a knowing falsehood today in an email sent out to the GOP faithful and printed in ABC’s The Note.

Writes Gillespie …

“And tonight on CBS, longtime Democratic operative Ben Barnes — a friend of, major contributor to and Nantucket neighbor of Senator Kerry’s and vice chair of the Kerry Campaign–will repudiate his statement under oath that he had no contact with the Bush family concerning the president’s National Guard service. (Anyone surprised that Barnes would contradict a statement he made under oath probably doesn’t know his long history of political scandal and financial misdealings.)”

The reference here is to <$Ad$>a sealed deposition Barnes gave in a civil case in 1999 in which he stated basically the essence of what he said tonight on CBS, but went to great lengths to note that he had no direct contact with the Bush family. The request, he said, came from a mutual friend of Barnes and the elder Bush, a guy named Sid Adger, now deceased.

(This point — the lack of any direct contact — has always been a point of great importance to the Bush camp.)

And yet, Barnes didn’t contradict that earlier statement at all.

As the Times notes in Thursday paper, both with respect to 60 Minutes and an interview with the Times: “Mr. Barnes maintained, as he has since 1999, that he had contacted his friend who headed the Texas Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. James Rose, not at the behest of anyone in the Bush family, but rather a Houston businessman, Sidney A. Adger, a friend of the Bushes who has died.”

Indeed, press reports have been saying for days that Barnes would not contradict that point. Thus Michael Dobbs wrote the following in the Post wrote only a few days ago: “Friends said Barnes will expand on the remarks in his interview with “60 Minutes” while taking care not to contradict sworn testimony from 1999, in which he said that no member of the Bush family had directly asked him for help.”

One might certainly speculate that even if there had been direct contact with the Bush family, that Barnes might choose not to reveal it, since he’s sworn to the contrary under oath. But that’s all speculation.

The point is that he didn’t. It’s been reported for days that he wouldn’t. And Barnes telegraphed that fact widely in Texas political circles. And yet Gillespie said he would. And it would seem that he did this not just on the basis of no evidence, but with manifest evidence to the contrary. All of which is to say that he made it up because making it up worked to his advantage.

Alas, I guess there’s no getting around the fact that Gillespie lied through his teeth.