Cathie Martin’s testimony of how she strategized a response to Joe Wilson’s July 6, 2003 op-ed was one of the most visibly discomfiting moments of the Scooter Libby trial for those in the media room. After all, Martin was revealing how easily the DC press allowed itself to be manipulated by those in power. Along with describing which reporters they were dealing which kinds of stories to and how reporters tended to be more compliant when you told them they were getting an exclusive, Martin explained that the White House controlled the message when Cheney went on Meet the Press.
Fitzgerald: Focusing on the language in the black where it says options, can you run down the four options and describe what they refer to in these notes and what you discussed with Mr. Libby?
Martin: Sure. First note M.T.P., which is Meet The Press, dash VP. So this was my discussion about possibly putting the Vice President on Meet The Press that Sunday to give a fuller discussion of the whole picture.
Fitzgerald: On the right you have another reference to M.T.P. Can you describe what that is?
Martin: I think I walked, this is me walking through the pros and cons of putting the Vice President on Meet The Press. And I wrote underneath pros, best. This is our best format, and he’s our best person on Meet The Press. Two, we control the message a little bit more. It was good for our — for us to be able to tell our story. [my emphasis]
TPMM has been wading through the latest document dump of Mark Sanford’s office’s emails released by the Charleston Post and Courier. And they’ve discovered that David Gregory has continued the Meet the Press approach to letting guests control the message.
But Gregory’s emails, in particular, make clear just what a get Sanford was seen as, and how far the networks were willing to go in promising a safe landing place for the governor.
Gregory’s first email to Sawyer was sent at 12:24 p.m. on Wednesday June 24 — that is, after Sanford had admitted to The State that he had actually been in Argentina, but before the famed stream-of-consciousness press conference where he admitted to an affair. Gregory wrote:
Hey Joel …
Left you a message. Continue reading
The only email introduced at the Scooter Libby trial that was among those that had been lost in the White House email
purge loss was an email from Jenny Mayfield (Libby’s Assistant) to Cathie Martin highlighting the part of the October 1 gaggle where Scottie McC refused to exonerate Libby. (You can tell it was reconstructed because it was printed out on February 2, 2006, just days before Fitzgerald received the batch of reconstructed emails; also note it was printed out from David Addington’s account, not Mayfield or Martin’s–both were gone at that point.)
Fitzgerald introduced the email at the trial to prove that Libby had reason to lie in his FBI interviews and, later, his grand jury appearances. Fitzgerald argued that the gaggle transcript, along with other pieces of evidence introduced, showed that Libby was panicking about being a suspect in the Plame leak. Fitzgerald also introduced the October 12, 2003 version of the 1X2X6 article on which someone (presumably Libby) had underlined key passages, including a denial similar to one that had appeared in the Isikoff and Thomas article published on October 6 (though dated October 13). Fitzgerald also entered an October 4, 2003 Pincus and Allen article into evidence, one that had no underlines and–unlike three other Allen articles from that period, no mention of Libby. But it did note that, "FBI agents yesterday began attempts to interview journalists who may have had conversations with government sources about Plame and Wilson."
The defense introduced some of the articles from this period too: An October 27 NRO column, with notations (it’s not clear how this was printed out, but shows as pages 35 and 36 of a packet); an October 1 WSJ editorial, with markings (note, it’s not clear when this was printed out or where); and an October 1 email from Laura Mylroie to Jenny Mayfield sharing Clifford May’s October 1 column, with no markings (printed out October 1, which is presumably why it wasn’t lost). Continue reading
This is the post I promised, in which I’ll analyze what the timeline of the missing dates shows. As I said in that post, this exercise makes several assumptions, some of which clearly are not true:
- It assumes all the missing emails have some tie to the Plame leak; we know this is not true because of the volume of email missing from offices uninvolved in the leak, and there is at least one period when no archive of OVP email exists for which I can think of no Plame leak correlation.
- It assumes we’re seeing all the missing emails; we’re not. There’s a bunch of dates on which there is a very small amount of email archived, and if we were to do this analysis properly, we’d need to know those dates, too.
- It assumes the email archives were destroyed deliberately to hide legally dubious acts. While that might be a fair assumption with this administration, we don’t know for sure that is true, so by trying to find correlations between missing emails and known events, we may end up imagining motivations on the part of the White House that didn’t exist.
So understand that this is as much a thought experiment as useful analysis. It basically tries to answer the question, "Assuming most of the WH and OVP email gaps during this period relate to the Plame investigation, why might the WH have been deleting archives? What were they trying to hide?"
Also, consider some limits about the content of the email. We’re assuming the email was dangerous enough to make it worthwhile to delete. Yet, given that Fitzgerald got at least 250 pages of the missing OVP emails (and presumably a similar amount of missing WH emails), one of the following must be true:
- The emails were not damaging enough to support an indictment for anyone beyond Libby. Only one of these emails was ever even introduced at Libby’s trial–and it was nowhere near the most incriminating piece of evidence. So the emails Fitzgerald received, at least, either contain no smoking gun or he chose not to pursue the smoking gun. Continue reading