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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ari Fleischer and the Karl Rove Scandal

Posted by Bob Brigham

What is former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher's role in the Karl Rove scandal over outing undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame? We know that Fleisher's former deputy and now successor Scott McClellan lied about Karl Rove. And there is a good deal of discussion about whether Fleisher was the second source, why he is being questioned, and which names he might be naming.


People familiar with the inquiry say Fitzgerald also is reviewing testimony by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, though it is not clear whether the prosecutor is focusing on him or seeking information about higher-ups. Fleischer last night refused to comment.

Chris Bowers says:

As Anna noted in the comments, Fleischer actually resigned the day Novak's column first appeared. Even though Fleischer had announced his resignation nearly two months earlier, stepping down the day Novak's column appears means that he would have been able to avoid questions on the matter, and thus compile a public record of statements on the matter.

In addition to reminding us that Fleischer was one of the first Bush officials on record criticizing Wilson, Nico also provides the opportunity:

Details are still uncertain, but news reports suggest one theory for what might have occurred. In the days after Wilson’s NYT column was published but before Novak’s article appeared, Ari Fleischer was among the White House officials aboard Air Force One on a presidential trip to Africa, where he might have had access to the classified State Department document brought aboard by Secretary of State Colin Powell that likely tipped administration officials off to Plame’s true identity.

Talk Left says:

We know that Fitzgeral subpoenaed the complete transcript of his July 12, 2003 press gaggle conducted at a hospital in Nigeria. We know that he subpoenaed telephone records for Air Force One during a portion of the trip. We also know that he subpoenaed the July 6 to July 30, 2003 records of the White House Iraq Group, a public relations kind of task force formed by Cheney's staff to promote the Administrations' view of the war.
We also know that the White House won't release the names of those who accompanied President Bush on the trip, although we know that Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Andrew Card were with him.
Why would Fitzgerald want these documents? I don't think it's to get Ari Fleischer. I think it's to catch Lewis Libby and others on Vice President Cheney's staff, and/or Karl Rove, who attended almost all the White House Iraq Group meetings, in a lie. Ari Fleischer's statements may lead Fitzgerald to the lie - and establish a conspiracy to out a covert agent or obstruct justice - or perjury or false statements to federal investigators by these White House officials.

At the very least I would think the Special Prosecutor would use the questioning of Ari Fleischer to delve into the process used by the Bush White House to prepare the Press Secretary for gaggle's and press conferences. Particularly, which senior administration officials participated in the daily prep. Or more likely, if there were any senior administration officials who were not involved.

Posted at 12:33 PM in Plamegate, Scandals | Technorati