Thursday :: Jun 8, 2006

Waas: Ashcroft Was Briefed Early About Libby/Rove False Statements

by Steve

Read the latest story from the National Journal’s Murray Waas on Plamegate, wherein Waas reveals that John Ashcroft maintained direct involvement in the Plame inquiry during October-December 2003, while he learned from the FBI and DOJ investigators the holes in Scooter and Rove’s stories.

According to people with firsthand knowledge of the briefings, senior Justice Department officials told Ashcroft that the FBI had uncovered evidence that Libby, then chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, had misled the bureau about his role in the leaking of Plame's identity to the press.
By November, investigators had obtained personal notes of Libby's that indicated he had first learned from Cheney that Plame was a CIA officer. But Libby was insisting in FBI interviews that he had learned Plame's name and identity from journalists. Libby was also telling investigators that when he told reporters that Plame worked for the CIA, he was only passing along an unsubstantiated rumor.
Officials also told Ashcroft that investigators did not believe Libby's account, according to sources knowledgeable about the briefings, and that Libby might have lied to the FBI to defend other -- more senior -- administration officials.
Ashcroft was told no later than November 2003 that investigators also doubted the accounts that Rove, President George W. Bush's chief political adviser, had given the FBI as to how he, too, learned that Plame was a CIA officer and how he came to disclose that information to columnist Robert Novak.
In a briefing devoted specifically to Rove and Novak, sources said, officials told Ashcroft that investigators believed it was possible that the presidential aide and the columnist had devised a cover story to present to the FBI to make it appear that Rove had not been a source for Novak's column.
Ashcroft's decision to continue overseeing the leak investigation through December of 2003 was a sore point among some federal investigators: Rove and Libby were top aides to the president and vice president at the time, and Rove also had been a political consultant to Ashcroft in his senatorial and gubernatorial campaigns.
All this is significant, but it does raise questions.

1. Is there any indication that Ashcroft shared the information he was receiving from the investigators about their doubts on Libby and Rove's stories with the White House?

2. If he did, and that is a big "if", why would Rove and Libby repeat these stories to the grand jury later if Ashcroft had already told Bush, Cheney, or Gonzales that the FBI and DOJ investigators had already found them untrustworthy?

Steve :: 3:45 PM :: Comments (3) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!