Libby to FBI: I didn't tell Fleischer about Plame

FBI agent's testimony puts Libby's story squarely in conflict with the testimony of Bush's former press secretary.

Published February 1, 2007 8:46PM (EST)

Defense lawyers for Scooter Libby may have muddied up the record as to what their client told Judy Miller and Matthew Cooper about Valerie Plame, but they weren't able to do much with the testimony of the all-but-unflappable Ari Fleischer. The former White House press secretary testified earlier this week that Libby told him during lunch on July 7, 2003, that Plame worked for the CIA and had been responsible for sending him to Niger -- and from where we sit, at least, Libby's team didn't give jurors any real reason to doubt him.

FBI agent Deborah Bond is on the witness stand now, and she just testified that Libby told her and other investigators in November 2003 that he absolutely did not discuss Plame with Fleischer over lunch. "He adamantly denied knowing abut Mr. Wilson's wife or discussing it with Mr. Fleischer," Bond said. "He said he didn't know that Joseph Wilson's wife worked at the agency until he spoke to Mr. Russert on July 10th or July 11th."

More accurately, Libby has said that Dick Cheney told him in June 2003 that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA but that he forgot that fact until he heard it again from Tim Russert on July 10 or July 11. And when he heard it then, Libby told the FBI, it was "as if" he was hearing it "for the first time."

Bond said that Libby told her that he talked with Cheney about the Wilson controversy aboard Air Force Two on July 12, 2003, but that he did not know whether they had discussed the idea of telling reporters about the identity of Wilson's wife.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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