Why Did Harriet Know of Rove’s Involvement?

I didn’t finish Scottie McC’s book on the plane. Barely started it, actually. Suffice it to say I had an interesting chat, instead.

But I did manage to scan the thing closely enough to have a lot of questions–and here’s one I’d like to throw out at the lawyerly types in the crowd.

Why would Harriet know–in July 2005–of Rove’s involvement in the leak? Scottie McC describes Harriet warning him (though Scottie already knew a lot of it) that something was going to break just before Rove’s involvement in the leaks to Novak and Cooper became known.

Later that morning [July 10, 2005], Harriet Miers, a longtime Bush loyalist from Texas who had taken over as White House counsel when Al Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general, called me through the White House operator. Like me, Harriet had served in the Bush White House since day one. The West Wing was quiet that day. I had come in to catch up on work, watch some of the Sunday political shows that were taped, and prepare for the week ahead free from interruption.

Harriet was calling from her office and said she needed to come and talk to me about something important. She walked in, closed the door behind her, and said, "There’s some news that’s likely to come out tomorrow about Karl in the leak investigation that may appear to contradict what you said nearly two years ago."

"I heard," I said, thinking about Isikoff’s report but not taking time to let what she had said fully sink in. Harriet reiterated to me that we still could not comment on the investigation publicly. In effect, she was forbidding me from talking and setting the record straight about my previous comments.

Now perhaps the answer is very simple: perhaps Isikoff called for comment before he published his article. Perhaps Isikoff even called Harriet and read her the email from Cooper to his editor, in its entirety, that proved Rove was lying about his claims not to have said anything about Plame to Cooper. He had done the same favor–in guise of getting comment–for Luskin.

But why call Harriet, instead of, say, Rove or Scottie McC? (Well, okay, I’ll assume he may have called Rove, but he did not call Scottie first.) (Come to think of it, maybe Luskin just called Harriet as a courtesy.)

Now, as Scottie McC said, Harriet was, at that point, White House Counsel. And earlier in the investigation, Gonzales had reviewed all the evidence before it was turned over to the FBI. So it’s conceivable that Harriet was doing the same. But what evidence would have been turned over in this time period? The Rove-Hadley email? That would not, by itself, reveal the depths of Rove’s involvement.

Or did Rove warn Harriet, effectively telling her the White House was about to have an obstruction problem on its hands? Mind you, that wouldn’t be entirely proper or safe. After all, Rove would not have attorney-client privilege with Harriet.

Finally, I love the fact that Harriet reminded Scottie McC not to say anything. Because, of course, the only thing he could say was "well, the President told me Rove didn’t say anything, and he told me so himself."

I can understand why Harriet wouldn’t want folks to know the details of Bush’s involvement in Rove’s denials.

25 replies
  1. ecthompson says:

    You need to sleep!!

    For those of you that are interested. I will have Marcy on my radio his morning at 9 am EST. I’m streaming at http://www.880therevolution.com. Podcasts of the Errington Thompson Show can be found here. Marcy and I discuss Scooter Libby and Scott McClellan.

  2. GeorgeSimian says:

    I’d like to see Meirs testify just because she looks like she’d be pretty theatrical. I don’t see it happening. I would say that her claim on EP is the strongest. Still, she is such a Bush shill. Hard to believe she was put up for the Supreme Court.

  3. wavpeac says:

    I know I am skipping ahead, I know it’s my guts mostly, but every bone in my body believes that Bush knew all along. That they sat in those war planning meetings (whig??) and discussed this “strategy”.

    1) the climate…they had so much power at the time, with Bush’s popularity running so high, 9/11, power over the media. They had it all. There was such arrogance being displayed by the whole cabal.

    2) Bush got a criminal lawywer…instead of Harriet Meiers. That’s not to say he didn’t speak to her about it and that she didn’t advise him to get a criminal lawywer.

    3) Cheney’s cryptic note about not letting Libby go down and how the name “pres” was crossed out.

    4) Bush was on the plane when Plame’s top secret documents were passed around and it was the same trip when supposedly Gregory was tipped off.

    5) Libby’s note about the roots of the trees, and turning leaves sure suggests a group conspiracy to me…I know..I am not the detail gal here this is a guts thing, but what the hell else does “roots” meet. It suggests of course, that they are all part of the system.

    6) contrary to some opinions, group lying actually works pretty well if you consider gang activity, and mafia. It’s very hard to break into a circle when many people share a crime. Everyone becomes invested in keeping the lie. I don’t think it was about “leaks here and there” because then it would have been plausible, that someone with no culpability might have found out and had nothing to lose to tell all. This lie was well orchestrated. It was done en masse. That’s why it worked.

    7) Rove was Bush’s man, not Cheney’s and he was knee deep.

    When Bush nominated Harriet Meirs there was something “fishy” about it. It felt as if it were a “bush” decision. He “needed her” (it seemed desperate) on the supreme court.

    9) If Bush were found “in the loop” it would be a detriment to them all, because his impeachment would mean that he could not pardon any of them. If the pres were involved in the investigation, and under impeachment, found guilty of anything, they would lose any chance at pardon. The safest bet for all of them would be to protect the president.

    10) There is still the rumor out there, that an undercover officer was killed due to this leak. The amount of emotion behind the responses from the Plame/Wilson “feels” (hinky I know) but there is something about the way she talks about the compromised officers, her colleagues that has a lot of emotion in it. I just “feel” it in her responses. This is important for her on so many levels, and it wasn’t her career, she was getting ready to take a leave of absence. I know she loves her country and it certainly could be patriotism and the war, but there is something that reminds me of a boss righting a wrong for someone elses sake. (okay far, far weeds) It certainly would make obstruction look like the “only” good solution for most of them. It would increase the risk to such a degree that it would convince smart people like “Libby the lawyer” to obstruct justice. It makes the lie “worth it”.

    Those are my reasons for believing that they all knew. It could just be a fantasy, but boy!! I would like to see the whole group prosecuted for conspiracy, obstruction of justice and any damage to our country during time of war, that might have occured to any one serving in the military. Which of course, amounts to treason.

  4. perris says:

    marcy, this book looks like it’s gonna be better then I thought, I sure hope it stays up front for quite some time

    I might just buy a few books and make them presents

  5. WilliamOckham says:

    Looking back at TPM’s coverage on that date is interesting. Look carefully at the timestamp. That’s 38 minutes after midnight Saturday, July 9, 2005. David Corn had already posted about the Newsweek article. By late Sunday evening, WAPO already had story up on the web with Rove’s side of the story (via Luskin). It’s clear from the rest of the week’s coverage that the WH was amply prepared for the revelations.

    McClellan was the weak link in the WH plan. Miers was sent over to shut McClellan up before anybody from the press got to him.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I have long been impressed by your deductive capabilities, but the logic here is elegant.

  6. Citizen92 says:

    Damn. I bought Allen Raymond’s book and now I’m going to have to buy this one.

    Sounds to me like Scott is also laying even more of a trail, in the details:

    Harriet Miers, a longtime Bush loyalist from Texas who had taken over as White House counsel when Al Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general, called me through the White House operator

    All calls through the White House Operator (a civilian function) as well as the White House Signal Switchboard (a military function) are logged. If Harriet was calling McClellan through the WH operator on a Sunday morning, she must have been calling others before him.


    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, that, big fat breadcrumb the size of a dinner roll.


      I think the response of that asshole man-whore Guckert/Gannon is also begging for further exploration; if he gets any more aggressive, he’s going to open up a can of worms regarding the visitor login records. Those records have been screaming for closer examination after a congressional subpoena — or under the next administration, a DOJ subpoena related to criminal activity.

  7. bigbrother says:

    Crimes against “We The People” in lying us into war and spending our national treasury to enrich cronies. Over 30 WH staff has signed the PNAC Neocon letter to invade the middle east before they were hired. Much like DOJ applicants were asked if they had voted for Bush.
    Crimes against humanity: 60% Katrina victims are homeless
    Waste of Public Funds: unaccounted for public funds shipped on pallets to Iraq.
    War Crimes and Misdemeanors: Abu Grad, Gitmo and rendition site all over the globe used for torture. A violation of the Geneva Convention and International Law.
    Multiple Violations of FISA: Spying on America: collecting ALL our electronic communication at Telecom Hubs in a massive data mining scheme on ALL Americans. Wiretapping without warrants.
    Ist, 2nd and $th Amendment violations of our Bill of Rights.
    Contempt of Congress a felony: Ignoring Congressional subpeonas.
    Illegally invoking Executive Priveledge to cover up a multitude of crimes.
    Politicizing illegally our Criminal Justice system and using it to indict political adversaries before an election.
    Destroying the National economy and presiding over Financial Market collapse.
    Presiding (allowing) the housing market speculation debacle: CDOs, 30:1 leveraged financial notes that have no equity ( Magic Paper con scheme). Then bailing out the speculation banks with our Treasury, in other words buying bad debt with our tax dollars.
    Creating a climate of Fear and Panic to manipulate the press and the public to continue an occupation of a sovereign nation.
    All charges to be added to the Articles of Impeachment by the House Judiciary Committee Monday.
    Call for an Indepenece Day March Against King George and his Supremes that put him on the Neocon Throne.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Harriet had been working in the WH from day one and Bush treated her like a big sister, but one he could control. Those conversations would almost certainly be deemed privileged as attorney-client communications and under pre-Bush notions of executive privilege.

    I assume that Harriet, being more thorough and politically agile than brother ‘Fredo, had reviewed the entire file, what was released earlier during ‘Fredo’s tenure as well as what was sought during hers. I also assume that Bush told her most of what he knew, or at least what Cheney told him he knew. I also assume that Ashcroft kept BushCheney informed of the Plame investigation until he was forced to appoint Fitz.

    Apart from his own actual involvement during the counter-attack against Wilson and Plame, Cheney and Rove had to play a fine game. That is, not tell Bush too much, in light of his propensity to speak without thinking, but tell him enough so that he could be managed to say the right things. Which was little beyond, “it’s under investigation” and “we’d sure like to get to the bottom of this” [sic]. Harriet may have known quite a bit.

    She’d managed Bush as a client for years. She knew his ego faults before and after he became President. She’d managed hundreds of other aggressive personalities before: she became a law firm partner in testosterone-filled Dallas when that was unusual for a woman, and had led the city (and, I believe state) bar organization(s). She knew how to cap a dry well and fit pipes and a valve over a geyser. Having worked that closely with Shrub, she would have taken the measure of Rove, Cheney and Libby. So, she had a good idea of what they might do but not say. Also unlike ‘Fredo or Shrub, she can think ahead.

    Lastly, by 2005, my guess is that the WH was further into lockdown mode. If the public or Fitz or Congress wanted anything, they were gonna need a crow bar and one helluva fulcrum to use it.

    • bmaz says:

      Maybe, but remember that Harriet was not WH Counsel until AGAG left for DOJ. Before that, she was White House staff secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. Now you can assert executive privilege for that time period, but I don’t know about atty/client privilege.

    • rapt says:

      Earl, I like your analysis too. I flipped back up to your post again after tea leaves mentioned it, and now I have an image of the 05 WH “locked down”, the whole gang of them swearing fealty to the boss(es) out of fear and a gang sense, as was mentioned by wavpeac above in #5, point #6.

      So if you’ll allow a bit of speculation here, the law is loose lips sink ships, a phrase borrowed from the last century, applied now to the unitary executive. Each and every member of the gang, whether he joined willingly or not, is under a (implied perhaps) threat of death if he talks out of turn or slips up otherwise. I’d go so far as to say that this threat applies to everybody all the way up, including Fitz, army generals, senators, everybody.

      Even now, with McC’s leaky book out, I have the feeling as others do, that Cheneyco still relies on that threat, which includes govt collapse *if you say the wrong thing*. Perhaps Scottie and his family have thrown down the gauntlet finally, have dared the cabal to try and make good on the threat.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Yeah, it’s interesting to try and sort out how much of this is due to social and personal psychology. Given the number of times I’ve encountered the phrase ‘Bush Family Omerta’, it’s stands to reason that fear and intimidation are inherent in the social structures they create.

        If you’ve not read John Dean’s “Conservatives Without Conscience“, it’s invaluable for pondering the social implications of personal psychology, and the nature of the neocons and BushCheney administration.

        And if you read John Dean’s book and think about the implications, you can start to understand how an insider (Paul O’Neill, Scott McClellan) doing some heartfelt, public truth telling is deeply threatening to them. Look at how Pat Robertson went after any evangelical (like Jim Wallis) who dared question his Great Influence. It’s ugly.

        They kind of feed on external conflict; internal dissention unglues them. (Kind of like a political version of Enron or the 700 Club; they’ll eat their own young before they’ll tolerate any threat of dissention.)

        As nasty as they are about us ‘lefty bloggers’ (and I say that as someone with a history of contributing to the political campaigns of both Dems and Republicans), they’re even more ruthless and vindictive to anyone who’s been in their bubble and then has the audacity to leave.

        It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the WH mouthpieces wailing about how they “don’t recognize Scotty” is actually true to their experience. They probably thought Scott McClellan was under their thumb and compliant. But we’ll find out whether he’s made of sterner stuff after all, and it looks like he may be. Here’s hoping… But I can’t say that I envy him (even if I may begin to respect him).

  9. skdadl says:

    O/T (more Guantanamo): I didn’t realize that yet another detainee has status in the UK, but Binyam Mohammed apparently does, although he isn’t a citizen.

    The last remaining Guantánamo detainee with an automatic right to return to the UK is facing the death penalty after being charged with terrorism offences, a legal charity said today.

    Binyam Mohammed, 29, from Kensington, west London, denies any wrongdoing and claims all evidence against him was extracted through torture by US interrogators in a Moroccan prison after he was “rendered” there from Pakistan.

    The case will now be referred to the US Military Commissions’ Convening Authority, which has 30 days to decide whether to press ahead with the charges.

    I feel a bit guilty campaigning so much on behalf of detainees who have national rights as Westerners, since there are hundreds of guys caught up in this meat grinder whose names and stories I don’t even know but whose human rights are undoubtedly being violated every bit as much as are a Canadian’s or a Brit’s. But Khadr remains the one case I can actually do something about in the short term, so that’s what I do. “The last Westerners left at Guantanamo …” — it is horrible to be reduced to that position, but there some of us are.

  10. PetePierce says:

    I don’t have the book, but EW indicated on her short radio appearance this morning that she would be blogging on a number of places where she believes McClelland is still lying. Has anyone seen some of those passages?

  11. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    FYI, it’s interesting to watch MTP with McClellan and catch up on other interviews of McClellan — and follow the news reports confirming that his publisher was not a ‘major press,’ and has now ordered an additional press run over the weekend.

    So if McClellan was shopping his book idea around in Jan 2007, and it never really went anywhere — but then, he hooked up with Public Affairs (whose editor seems to have been astute enough, and committed enough to help him delve more deeply than he’d originally planned). Public Affairs is evidently not simply a ‘vanity press’, and its unclear why they accepted his book proposal.

    But IIRC, the Scooter Libby trial began in Feb 2007, as McClellan was either shopping his book idea, or having to answer difficult questions from the editor at Public Affairs about what he had to say that was worth the cost and hassle of printing books.

    So McClellan would have been writing his book (and, quite possibly reading the ‘lefty blogs’, as well as ‘righty’ blogs since both were relevant to his topic) as Libby’s trial proceeded, and on into the summer when Scooter — who’d basically hung him out to dry, along with Cheney, Rove, and GWBush — was pardoned by the Preznit.

    And watching those events unfold, while trying to write about the WH, would have prompted anyone’s thoughts to do a bunch of pretzel twists.


  12. prostratedragon says:

    Trillion Dollar Meltdown is another PublicAffairs book. They’re small and relatively new (1997), and were named after Morris B. Scnapper’s Public Affairs Press, which often handled books by high-level political figures, among other kinds of authors; the colophon in TDM mentions Truman, Gandhi, and Nasser as well as Toynbee.

    If the new press has taken up their mantle, then no doubt, whatever publishers submit prospective authors to, McClellan had to go through with them.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Thanks for the info. I didn’t have time for Trillion Dollar Meltdown, but primarily b/c I’ve still not finished Kevin Phillips’ book, and just bought McClellan’s today. But I’ve bookmarked the link you gave and will check it out this week — good publishing houses are definitely worth supporting.

      FWIW, Richard Clarke’s chapter on cybersecurity looks like it’s going to be really interesting, and I’m glad to have a copy before the elections — this topic needs A LOT more discussion. But first McClellan, then Clarke… so many books, so little time!

  13. prostratedragon says:

    Too many books! And that’s just the ones that actually are worth reading.

    (Was wandering through a Borders last year when it dawned on me: publishing really is an industry.)

Comments are closed.