Friday, October 28, 2005

FITZGERALD NEWS CONFERENCE LIVE THREAD

2 p.m.
We wish Patrick Fitzgerald would quit saying "at the end of the day."

Convicting Libby "will vindicate the interests of the public," the prosecutor says. He will be involved in the prosecution, but he will not be the lead prosecutor.

The breakdown: Investigation remains open, but no "great expectations" of future indictments. Prosecutor might use an existing grand jury; that would not be unusual. Libby is a big fish, and the prosecutor says he deliberately and repeatedly lied to cover his tracks, and quite possibly the tracks of bigger creatures.

"This indictment is not about the war. This indictment is not about the propriety of the war," Fitzgerald says. "The indictment will not seek to prove the war was justified or unjustified ... this is focused on a narrow transaction."

1:53 p.m.
President Bush is speaking at the White House. Cheney is speaking in front of a bunch of soldiers in Georgia. CNN has the sound down on the nation's two most-powerful men. All ears are on Patrick Fitzgerald, who keeps pounding on the "very, very serious matter" he's investigating.

1:45 p.m.
Will there be a congressional investigation? Fitzgerald dances around the question. "I don't think it's my role to opine on whether the Justice Department will oppose or not oppose" another investigation.

About his critics: "One day I read I was a Republican hack, one day I read I was a Democratic hack. In between, all I did was sleep."

Will Fitzgerald issue a final report? Probably not. Does not have authority to write a report. "Charge someone, or be quiet." He's chosen to do the former.

1:42 p.m.
Fitzgerald says reporters should not be routinely called into court via subpoena, but in this case, reporters "were eyewitnesses to the crime." Says he wished Judith Miller didn't have to spend any time in jail, "but I think it had to be done."

1:41 p.m.
Wasn't looking to pick a fight with The New York Times, but "couldn't walk away" from mandate to investigate evidence of obstruction. "We thought long and hard" before subpoenas issued to reporters.

1:38 p.m.
Fitzgerald talks about leaks. "I would prefer, for the integrity of an investigation," that witnesses didn't talk, but they weren't breaking the law if they did. Prosecutor and GJ are bound by secrecy.

No comment on whether he's "bothered" by so many government officials talking about a CIA agent's identity.

1:34 p.m.
Michael Isikoff of Newsweek asks about "Official A." Can he identify him by name? Says the prosecutor: "We just can't do that."

Is Rove off the hook? Same answer. No comment. Either charged, or no comment.

1:33 p.m.
"It's not over," but it pretty much is. No new grand jury. The prosecutor doesn't say it, but it doesn't sound like any further indictments will be forthcoming. No leak charge, he notes, but obstruction is just as serious. The national security was damaged by the leak, Fitzgerald says.

Any evidence that veep broke a law? "We don't talk about people not charged in the indictment. We make no allegations" Cheney committed a crime.

1:28 p.m.
"It appears Mr. Libby's story ... was not true. it was false," Fitzgerald says. Libby wasn't at the end of the gossip chain; he was at the front, shoveling furiously, the prosecutor says.

"This is a country that takes its law seriously, that all citizens are bound by the law," Fitzgerald says. "Let's let the process take place. Let's take a deep breath" and let the system work.

1:26 p.m.
At least four people within the government told Libby about Valerie Wilson, according to Fitzgerald. Not illegal, the prosecutor stresses -- but Libby then told Ari Fleischer "something on a Monday that he claims to have learned on a Thursday." Oops.

At least seven total discussions with government officials before Libby claimed he learned about Valerie Wilson from Russert.

1:21 p.m.
Now to interviews with Libby by FBI. Focus of interview was what Libby knew about Valerie Wilson. Libby gave FBI "compelling story," prosecutor says. Libby blamed Russert and told FBI that the info "struck him." Libby said he then peddled info to Matt Cooper and Judith Miller. "He passed it on understand this was information he had gotten from a reporter, and he didn't know if it was true."

Libby then testified twice before grand jury and "essentially said the same thing." Libby said he'd "forgotten" he'd gotten the Valerie Wilson info from the vice president. "If only it were true," Fitzgerald. "It is not true, according to the indictment." Youch.

1:19 p.m.
"Investigators do not set out to investigate a statute," Fitzgerald says. Important for probe to be secret, he adds. "It was known a CIA officer's identity was blown. It was known there was a leak," he says. The investigation began from those points.

Obligated to be secret, not to be shared with public. "As frustrating as that may be, it's important," Fitzgerald says. "Equally important that the witnesses who come before a grand jury ... tell the complete truth. It's especially important in the national security area."

1:17 p.m.
Fitzgerald outlines indictment, puts investigation into context. Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer, the prosecutor says, and before July 2003, very few people knew of her secret identity. "It is important a CIA officer's identity be protected," Fitzgerald says. It's important for national security.

1:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, 2005
The news conference has just begun. Wow, so that's what he sounds like.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh happy, happy day!! Oops...did I say that out loud?!?!

John Stone said...

It's the first day of Fitzmas and the big Partridge is still in the pear tree ... Maybe Ron can spell shandefreund right for me ...