Today the defense in the Scooter Libby case continues its cross examination of Cathie Martin, a 1993 Harvard Law graduate who became a senior public affairs official in the Office of the Vice President from 2001 to 2004. She’s now Deputy Communications Director in the White House. For a summary of her first day of coverage see James Joyner’s summation at Outside The Beltway.
Liveblogging of Cathie Martin’s testimony continues below.
Defense cross examination
July 11 – Press gaggle. Comments from Fleisher and Rice.
Always part of her job to monitor the press gaggles, and was so on July 7th. Rice – “the CIA cleared on in” regarding SOTU. There was even some discussion on that sentence (16 words) to make sure it reflected their view. If the CIA director said “take it out” we would have. If we knew about some forgeries we would have taken is out. Are they (WH) blaming CIA? No, Rice said it was a clearing issue. Tennet (CIA) statement (Friday 11th) not out yet. Martin wanted it out early. She assumed the late release was due to delay at CIA in clearing the text.
July 12th. She traveled on Saturday with VP, Libby, family in AF2 to Norfolk for Ronald Reagan ship dedication. Testified that Libby was anxious to get home to celebrate his sons birthday. She was “nagging” (her word) Libby to meet with her to maximize the press coverage.
Questions about the Time Magazine piece – A Question of Trust. She, Libby, and others weren’t necessarily “tasked,” but since so many were on Africa trip the all we motivated to “pitch in.”
They (she) was upset about the use of the quote Libby gave, “the Vice President asked a question about the implication of the report,” by Matt Cooper. She felt that the quote as used wasn’t representative of the full quote Libby gave Cooper and was used to infer that he was somehow knowledgeable about the genesis of Amb. Wilson’s trip. The full quote is:
In an exclusive interview Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, told TIME: “The Vice President heard about the possibility of Iraq trying to acquire uranium from Niger in February 2002. As part of his regular intelligence briefing, the Vice President asked a question about the implication of the report. During the course of a year, the Vice President asked many such questions and the agency responded within a day or two saying that they had reporting suggesting the possibility of such a transaction. But the agency noted that the reporting lacked detail. The agency pointed out that Iraq already had 500 tons of uranium, portions of which came from Niger, according to the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA). The Vice President was unaware of the trip by Ambassador Wilson and didn’t know about it until this year when it became public in the last month or so. ” Other senior Administration officials, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, have also claimed that they had not heard of Wilson’s report until recently.
Q: Did the talking points at the OVP change before or after the Novak article? A: No.
Q: Was the is a big deal? A: It wasn’t a big deal to me, because I knew, but I knew that Novak’s article was a big deal for putting it out there.
The defense is making repeated points to note that Martin and the OVP weren’t using Plame’s CIA status as a talking point, even after the Novak article.
No recollection of Libby saying, “reporters are telling us” or “I heard from reporter” (or similar), because she was engaged in another call. She doesn’t remember words like that, defense tries to argue semantics talking about what she didn’t hear, that Libby could have said them and she didn’t hear. Comical aside as the logical circle of recollection chases its own tail. Defense attorney didn’t quite score what he wanted there…
Martin worked on four VP talking points. All respond to Wilson’s claims, none mention Valerie Wilson. Libby reviewed the 2 dictated VP ones from July 12th. She combined July 7th and 8th and he reviewed both. She copied him on the talking points to Chris Matthews. He saw everything and never recommended she include Plame. She never discussed Plame with him and he never discussed it with her.
Tennet statement makes clear that he (Chaney) wasn’t briefed on Wilson trip. Makes clear he was sent by the CIA without the knowledge of WH. It was a small part of the statement which was really addressing the 16 words, not Wilson’s allegations against Chaney.
Defense council doing testimony cleanup.
Q: When you were on a missions to get the whole story out, you did not view the wife as part of that story, correct?
Fitzgerald redirect (11:22AM)
Prior recollections given without any knowledge of others recollections. Yes.
Chris Matthews focus on VP and even Scooter Libby, his (Matthews) talking about that since VP asked for the trip (not true) that OVP should have known about the Wilson finding. That’s why they were so hot to get into the mix.
If anyone in the OVP did talk about Wilson’s wife, they didn’t do it based on your talking points. Yes.
Did VP “whole truth” include Plame. Did she see Cheney markup of Novak column. No.
Did VP direct her to speak to Judith Miller. No Aware of any Libby/Miller meeting. No.
Did he (Libby) ever tell her he talked with Miller? No.
July 10th. Martin recommends a “leak,” i.e. and exclusive to WP, NYT, or news magazine.
Was she in the loop on Cheney/Libby as to what to say to press? No.
Did she hear Libby talk to Cooper on July 12th? No. Did she hear Libby’s quote about Valerie Wilson? No. If she had heard that quote (it was long) would that have been memorable? Yes. Did she remember hearing it? No.
Didn’t remember the end of the Libby/Cooper call. That call was where Libby read the quote above to Cooper. It’s unclear what the jostling about the end of the call is, though it may be as to whether Libby dropped the reference to Valerie Wilson in the call..
Question from the judge
Regarding the NIE and her Andrea Mitchell call. She (Martin) always advocated declassifying the NIE, but was a a bit concerned when Cheney told her to go with it in her call, since she was still under the impression that it was classified. The judge asked her about that, and what (if any) action she took on that concern. She noted that she didn’t take any further action “because the Vice President of the United States told me to say it.”
July 8, 2003 – No dispute that certain portions had been declasified, but Martin didn’t know that.
Libby/Cooper call – In same room, on another call. Did you ever ask him what he said while you were on the other call? No.
Harlow – Joe Wilson. His wife “works over there.” Her notes indicate CIA agent, but the call didn’t say that.
Was it unusual for the communicators not to be involved when responding to the press? Yes.
Have there been other instances when you felt reporters didn’t get the story right? Yes (big courtroom laugh).
Martin testimony wrapup
The Libby defense used the cross examination of Cathie Martin to make the point that the identification of Plame was never a talking point. In that the appear to have succeeded, but give that the testimony about them knowing and talking to various reporters about was given, it’s seems a rather worthless point.