An Insider’s Insider: Richard Hohlt and the Plame Affair


This is an intriguing story that hit Newsweek on the role and influence of a relatively unknown super lobbyist and former staffer to Richard Lugar, Richard Hohlt.
Hohlt is one of the major heavyweights in Republican party fundraising. Check out how he has spread the wealth. He’s not well-known across America, but all the elite folks running the country will take Hohlt’s calls.
Apparently, before Robert Novak wrote his column outing Valerie Plame, he sent a pre-publication copy to Richard Hohlt. Hohlt then sent the Novak story to Karl Rove to give him a “head’s up.”
Fascinating. That is the way Washington works. Circles within circles.
Hohlt did not know that Rove had already dumped what he knew about Valerie Plame Wilson to Novak — but still the way the web is woven is important for outsiders to see.
He has for many years run an elite dinner group called “Off the Record.” Top tier DC pols regularly attend. I have never had the opportunity.
I had heard of Hohlt but don’t think I have met him before.
This is part of the political machine in Washington. An important journalist needs sources, lobbyists need access, the presidential adviser needs to know what is going on, and they all trade in information.
— Steve Clemons


19 comments on “An Insider’s Insider: Richard Hohlt and the Plame Affair

  1. David N says:

    everybody is still missing the point. When Fitzgerald made such a big deal about whether or not Mrs. Wilson’s job status had already been known prior to discussion, that revealed that his real agenda was to cover up and protect the White House. Legally it made no difference whether the information was already known, and Rove’s comment that her identity was “fair game” reveals that he is a traitor, and should have been, in a system that has real prosecutors, been indicted and tried as such.
    But that will never happen, just as Bush will never honor (what a concept) his promise that anyone who revealed classified information (and we now know that means Rove) would be fired.
    And none of that will ever be discussed in the nightly news, in the op-ed page of a major newspaper, or anywhere else in the MSM. So the Republicans will go into the next election with this entire issue conveniently forgotten, and Shrub and his boy Rove free to retire and enjoy their stolen wealth and the other rewards for the work they did destroying America.


  2. JohnH says:

    Steve, What effect do you think promulgation of Iraq’s Petroleum Law will have on escalating tensions Washington and Tehran?


  3. JohnH says:

    Steve, Do you think promulgation of the Petroleum Law will have any effect on escalating tensions Washington and Tehran?


  4. ... says:

    TimB – i think you hit the nail on the head and describe exactly how it works…. pathetic isn’t a strong enough word to describe the process…


  5. Jeff says:

    For my money the more interesting disclosure in the Newsweek article is this:
    After Novak first told Hohlt that he was working on a hot story about ex-ambassador Joe Wilson, Hohlt says he e-mailed Rove to expect a phone call from Novak.
    If Hohlt conveyed Novak’s interesting in Wilson to Rove, it means Rove had an advance heads-up that Novak would be asking about Wilson, which means Rove had plenty of opportunity to prepare what he was going to tell Novak, which ended up including confirming information about Plame. The public story up to this point has been that Novak called Rove about a different matter (F.F. Townsend) and only asked Rove about the Wilsons at the end, suggesting that Rove might have been taken by surprise by Novak’s new line of questioning. This new information lends more credence to the notion that Rove knew perfectly well what he was doing.
    Of course, all of this information has presumably been known to the special prosecutor for quite some time. But it is still a notable addition to our public knowledge.


  6. Pissed Off American says:

    And why not? He has wiped his ass with every other concept, ideal, and tenet this nation once stood for. And he has done so unopposed, and without accountability. So what incentive does he have to observe and obey the will of the people?
    “With President Bush unable to get much traction so far in moving his agenda through Congress or in improving his job-approval ratings with the public, White House advisers are casting about for ways to jump-start his final two years, including issuing executive orders to get things done without having to ask for support from the Democratic-controlled Congress.”
    ““He should get a list of the executive orders for the last 200 years, as a guide, and choose what he wants to do,” says an informal Bush adviser. One proposal that fiscal conservatives are pushing is to halve all capital-gains taxes, as a way to encourage investment and job creation.”
    “Some conservatives argue that even if Bush somehow regains his political footing, whatever he might work out with the Democratic majority in Congress wouldn’t be very good legislation, so he should go the executive-order route and bypass Congress altogether.”


  7. Aunt Deb says:

    Dear poa, I agree with you wholeheartedly on this. Perhaps this is the “process” but this is a great shame. Saying that this is the way it is and we must work with it or within it is simply wrong. I cannot see how working with this sort of system promises any sort of cure for the broken VA, for instance. Or for healthcare in general. As for foreign policy, this sort of system insures that the ‘failures in intelligence’ will happen over and over again.


  8. TimB says:

    I guess your take is one way to look at it, however could not this be read as Robert Novak allowing his article to be vetted by the White House? Surely Novak knew that his article would be passed on to the White House, and it obviously had no problem with Novak outing a covert operative. Nice the way that works isnt’t it? I mean Karl Rove outs Ms. Plame and then he gets a final say on how the outing is reported. Sweet!


  9. AlanDownunder says:

    With an assist from Viveca Novak, Rove got off perjury/obstruction charges by the skin of his teeth – there was not enough chance of a ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’ verdict for Fitzgerald to proceed against him with confidence. As for Armitage, he simply didn’t lie to investigators.
    But for perjuries and obstructions, charged and uncharged, your ‘real culprits’ would have been in the dock during Dubya’s 2004 re-election campaign. Taking that into account, the perjuries and obstructions were way more serious than the ‘substantive’ crimes that they covered up.


  10. Pissed Off American says:

    Speaking about slimey political machines, consider McCain. Pro choice in 1999, he is now saying that Roe vs Wade should be overturned, and is jumping on the ridiculous and unrealistic “abstinence bandwagon”. Next thing you know, the flip flopping ass will be telling teens not to use rubbers. Its amazing watching these whores pandering themselves to the various groups they feel they need to seduce in order to garner votes. McCain is shamelessly flipping positions on abortion so he can pander to the religious right. Such flip-flopping is a sure fire indicator of a lack of conviction. And worse, it leaves the voter in the dark as to the TRUE intentions of a candidate. Who is the real McCain, the one that was pro-choice as recently as 1999, or the one crawling and groveling before the religious right, begging for votes and redemption?


  11. Easy E says:

    BREAKING: NM Senate Rules Committee Passes Bush-Cheney Impeachment Resolution.
    Anything less than imprisonment would be letting these criminals off too easy.


  12. Carroll says:

    We could do something about the corruption of the “elites”..but we won’t of course….until we are utterly ruined and the country is total chaos.
    Personally I prefer premptive revolution.


  13. NVMojo says:

    One can only hope that Rove and the rest of the jerks are brought to justice. America, wake up!


  14. Ajaz Haque says:

    Trying the Wrong Man
    The Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has indicted Scooter Libby for Obstruction of Justice. There is no doubt that Libby lied to the prosecutor and tried to cover up what he thought was the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA under cover agent. But what Libby did not know was that he had already been beaten to the punch by other members of the Bush Administration. It seems that many officials were only too eager to leak this information to discredit Valerie Plame’s husband, Ambassador Wilson.
    But was the Prosecutor not investigating the outing of a CIA agent and was he not trying to find out who gave the information to Bob Novak the journalist who first published the story? It is now out in the open that the first person who fed that information to Bob Novak was Richard Armitage. A few days later Karl Rove also gave the same information to Novak.
    So why is the Special Prosecutor not indicting Richard Armitage and possibly also Karl Rove and why is he spending his energies on prosecuting Libby on a lesser charge? Sending Libby to jail will still not solve the problem of why a CIA agent was outed deliberately.
    There is still time for Patrick Fitzgerald to drop the charges against Libby and go for the real culprits.


  15. Pissed Off American says:

    It’s just the way it is — and Americans need to understand that there is a systemic corruption of the political process in Washington.
    Oh, Steve, come on. The problem is not that Americans do not recognize it. The problem is that we are powerless to do anything about it, because our so-called “representatives” ARE the “systemic corruption of the political process”.


  16. kim says:

    Hohlt is a longtime ally of the Bush family, Novak knew what he was doing with that article when he outed Plame.


  17. Steve Clemons says:

    DonS — I’m not impressed either. It’s just the way it is — and Americans need to understand that there is a systemic corruption of the political process in Washington. It’s better to expose it and know it than not to reveal.
    best, Steve


  18. DonS says:

    I read the story before. I was not impressed. I don’t think you are either, Steve.
    I am fairly certain that not during my lifetime, or ever, will the likes of this sort of arrangement be eliminated from politics/business. Thanks Steve for giving me the opportunity to express utter disgust at this “part of the political machine in Washington”. These jerks would be well advised that a significant number of citizens are tired of having their country run like a club. Not that it is of moment, but I do not wish them well.


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