David Schuster of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews made a whopper revelation about grand jury testimony in the Valerie Plame-outing investigation: John Bolton has testified about the top secret document that Colin Powell had aboard Air Force One.
TWN has confirmed with MSNBC that it it standing by its story.
Shuster’s report yesterday:
DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A witness who testified at the grand jury and lawyers for other witnesses say the memo was written in July of 2003, identified Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame, as a CIA officer, and cited her in a paragraph marked S for sensitive.
According to lawyers, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and undersecretaries, including John Bolton, gave testimony about this memo. And a lawyer for one State Department official says his client testified that, as President Bush was flying to Africa on Air Force One two years ago, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer could be seen reading the document on board.
The timing is significant, because the president’s trip on July 7 was one day after Ambassador Joe Wilson’s column was published criticizing the administration. In other words, on July 6, Wilson’s column comes out. On July 7, the State Department memo about Wilson’s wife is seen on Air Force One. And, on July 8, Karl Rove had a conversation with columnist Robert Novak, but says it was Novak who told him about Valerie Plame, not the other way around.
Rove also says he never saw the State Department memo until prosecutors showed it to him. Six days later, on July 14, 2003, Novak published the now infamous column that publicly identified Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife, as a CIA operative.
Grand jury witnesses say a call record kept by Ari Fleischer shows Novak placed a call to him during this period. And lawyers for several witnesses say their clients were questioned by investigators about Fleischer’s conversations. Fleischer, however, did not have the power to be a decision-maker in the administration. And White House observers point out, he wouldn’t have likely taken it upon himself to disseminate the State Department memo. In any case, Fleischer and his lawyer have declined to comment.
As far as Karl Rove is concerned, a recent line of questioning about him suggests the grand jury may be pursuing issues related to possible inconsistencies. For weeks, Karl Rove’s lawyer has been saying the now deputy White House chief of staff testified his 2003 conversation with Ã¢â‚¬Å“TIMEÃ¢â‚¬Â magazine reporter Matt Cooper was about welfare reform and, only at the end of that discussion, did Rove talk about anything else.
Matt Cooper recalls leaving Karl Rove a message about welfare reform. But Cooper testified that, when he and Karl Rove spoke, Joe Wilson was the only topic of conversation. Cooper says this contradiction with Rove, combined with his testimony that Rove told him about the Wilson’s CIA wife, prompted a flurry of grand jury questions. And Cooper told NBC’s Tim Russert the grand jurors themselves played an active role.
This takes us back to whether it is possible that John Bolton’s shop played a role in promulgating not only the Niger/Uranium story inside the State Department but in its cozy relationship with the Vice President’s office tried to help undermine Joe Wilson by exposing the identity of his wife.
The John Bolton and Fred Fleitz rap was that they constantly crossed lines of appropriate behavior and conduct.
More on this — as it develops.
— Steve Clemons