I spent much of Friday speaking with people at MSNBC, including officials in the network’s communication and legal department, as well as with Hardball correspondent David Schuster.
All of the people to whom I spoke are standing by the report by David Schuster Thursday evening that John Bolton is among those who have provided testimony to the grand jury in the Valerie Plame investigation.
By Friday evening, CNN’s Inside Politics had an interesting exchange between James Carville, Pat Buchanan, and CNN White House Correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Whereas Carville echoed what had appeared on my blog and others that Bolton had met with the grand jury, Malveaux interrupted him and stated that she had heard from White House sources that this information is erroneous.
Despite TWN‘s efforts Friday evening, we were unable to reach Ms. Malveaux — although we did query MSNBC again, after Malveaux’s comments, and the network still says that it’s information on Bolton meeting the grand jury is firm.
Here is the transcript of the Carville-Malveaux exchange:
CNN: INSIDE POLITICS 3:30 PM EST
July 22, 2005 Friday
CARVILLE: I don’t know. But from what I know is, is that federal prosecutors in federal court take a pretty dim view about not telling the truth. I mean a real, real dim view.
And again — you have, Mr. Libby — according to Bloomberg, you have Mr. Libby saying I heard it from Mr. Russert, you have Mr. Russert saying he heard no such thing from me. You have Mr. Rove saying Mr. Novak, he first heard it from Mr. Novak. You have Mr. Novak saying essentially that Mr. Rove confirmed my story for me. Furthermore, you have Mr. Rove saying I had a conversation with Mr. Matt Cooper of “Time” magazine about welfare reform, then Mr. Cooper said we had no such conversation about welfare reform, we were talking about Valerie Plame. So it is — my sense is that it matters greatly. And now the new wrinkle is reported on blogs, I understand, is that John Bolton has been called in to discuss the matter with them.
MALVEAUX: We’ve spoken to a senior administration official who say that that’s actually not true, that that did not occur — that that was actually an erroneous report.
BUCHANAN: That is exactly the point here. Grand jury testimony is secret. And so what we’re hearing is strictly rumors. A rumor a day, people are moving all kinds of stories, we don’t know how many times they’ve been transferred to other people before we actually hear the rumor. And so we do not know anything at this time. I agree with James on one count. I mean, if indeed they perjured themselves, if they lied before the grand jury, then we have a crime. But we will know that until they’re indicted.
CARVILLE: Hold on. We do know, we can know if someone goes in, if I go in and I tell a grand jury something, I can come out and say this is what I told the grand jury. We know that they said, what Mr. Russert and Mr. Novak said, they can say what they said.
So, CNN and MSNBC reports conflict.
After personally speaking with those involved in the MSNBC reports, I will maintain my position that I believe that Bolton has met with the grand jury.
What we don’t know is “when” Bolton met with the grand jury — and under what terms. Was he subpoenaed? In that case, he would appear without lawyer present. Or did he voluntarily meet with investigators on behalf of the grand jury? In that case, he would have a lawyer present.
If he was interviewed when the bulk of other State Department officials were met by the grand jury or investigators on its behalf, then he would have been interviewed BEFORE he was nominated by President Bush to the Ambassadorship at the United Nations.
There is a declaration required by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that specifically asks if the diplomatic nominee had been interviewed by a grand jury or inspector general investigation any time during the last five years. Bolton answered “NO” on this form.
If he had met with the grand jury when others did, then he has technically perjured himself under oath before the Senate. if he met with the grand jury recently, he would not be in technical breach of this disclosure requirement.
But now the people do have a right to know — and the White House should disclose when Bolton met with the grand jury. Was he in appropriate legal territory on his disclosure — or did he violate this disclosure requirement?
If he met recently with the grand jury, then did Fleitz also get interviewed? These are fundamental questions that need to be investigated. Fleitz and Bolton were a team — and Fleitz gave Bolton certain intelligence capabilities given his official CIA WINPAC duties that very few senior officials in the State Department would normally have.
TWN will still try to reach Suzanne Malveaux to learn what she learned — or to encourage CNN to provide further comment, because right now, it’s clear that the White House is either lying about Bolton and the grand jury meeting to Malveaux, or lawyers close to the grand jury investigation are lying to MSNBC.
— Steve Clemons