Scottie McC’s Chronology: September 29

In this post, I showed that Scottie McC should have suspected that Rove was lying at least by September 27, when it would have become clear that Rove had already been less than forthcoming about his conversations with Bob Novak and when it should have become clear that, after finding out the identities of the 2 SAOs alleged to have leaked Valerie Wilson’s identity to 6 journalists, Mike Allen immediately called Rove for comment.

Which brings us to September 29, the day when Bush told Scottie McC that Rove "didn’t do it."

Before I start, let me point out that Scottie McC presents several events that happened on September 29, most of which he doesn’t place in chronology within that day. These are (in the order I’m guessing they occurred):

"That morning the Washington Post was reporting that the Justice Department had opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of Plame’s identity."

[Between 7:00 and 7:30 AM] Bush told Scottie that "Karl didn’t do it … He told me he didn’t do it."

"Andy [Card] replied that he had not heard anything new [about the investigation], and as far as he knew we had yet to hear from the Justice Department."

[simultaneous with the Bush-Card-McClellan meeting, but necessarily viewed afterwards] "Joe Wilson, appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America, was backing away from his previous assertion that Rove had been responsible for leaking his wife’s identity. However, Wilson also asserted that he believed Rove ‘at a minimum condoned the leak.’"

"I checked with Rove that day to confirm that he’d neither leaked nor condoned leaking Plame’s identity. He assured me that was correct."

Two things about this chronology. First, by putting the GMA Wilson comments and the Rove question before his account of the Bush-Card-McClellan meeting as he does in his book, Scottie McC suggests he had one more reason to believe Bush when he told him Rove hadn’t leaked Plame’s identity–that even Joe Wilson was backing off the allegation. But since GMA airs at 7:00, precisely when Scottie McC says he was meeting with Bush, it’s unlikely he saw Wilson’s comments until after both the Bush-Card-McClellan meeting and the senior staff meeting (which took place immediately afterwards). We know, however, that Scottie McC saw the GMA comments before his 12:18 press briefing, because he mentions Wilson in the briefing. That’s just one small detail that might make Scottie McC’s acceptance of Bush’s statement more credible.

Also, note how Scottie McC states that the WaPo had reported "that morning" that DOJ had opened a criminal investigation. As I pointed out in my last post, that’s just meaningless. Not only had the WaPo also reported the day before–on September 28–that "At CIA Director George J. Tenet’s request, the Justice Department is looking into an allegation that administration officials leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer to a journalist," but on September 26, NBC had also reported the investigation (and at least two outlets had referenced the NBC report in stories on September 27). In other words, Scottie McC suggests that the White House had just received its first report of the investigation on the same day that Scottie McC and Bush discussed how to respond to press inquiries about it.

By mentioning the September 29 WaPo article before he discusses the Bush conversation, Scottie McC suggests that he and Bush were responding to news of the investigation itself. But they had had that news for two days by that point. More likely, they were responding to the September 28 article–the one that seemed to implicate Rove directly (and which Scottie McC had reason to believe–based on Allen’s apparent knowledge–did so even more directly). Also, by suggesting that the White House received its first notice of the investigation on the date when Bush made these comments, it pretends that the Rove-Bush conversation and the Bush-Scottie conversation couldn’t be an attempt to coordinate a cover story, because it pretends they hadn’t already known about the investigation for two days.

With that in mind, read Scottie McC’s description of the meeting.

"Hey Scott," the president said good-naturedly. "What’s on the press’s mind today?"

"The reports of a Justice Department investigation into the leaks of Valerie Plame’s name," I said, knowing his question was just pro forma since he, like all of us, was well aware of the topic du jour. "I want to talk to you about it before I gaggle."

"Karl didn’t do it," the president reflexively said, referring to his senior adviser and chief political strategist, Karl Rove. The "it" clearly meant disclosing Plame’s identity to reporters. He was holding on to the armrests and leaning back in his chair behind the desk. He seemed to be in fairly good spirits.

"I know …" I began, not realizing the president had more to say.

"He told me he didn’t do it," the president continued, cutting me off midsentence.


Then the president glanced toward Andy [Card], who had raised his hands above his waist and was now gesturing down with both to indicate to the president that he should keep quiet and stop talking about what was fast becoming a sensitive subject.

"What?" the president said, looking at Andy with a slight hint of irritation in his voice. "That’s what Karl told me."

"I know," Andy said. "But you shouldn’t be talking about it with anyone, not even me."


"I talked to Karl too," I continued, as I looked back to the president. "He said the same thing to me."

"Does the press think he did it?" the president asked.

"I’ve already told them he didn’t," I responded. "But I’m sure they will ask again today." I mentioned the Sunday story in the Washington Post, which said that two top White House officials had called at least six Washington journalists to disclose Plame’s name and current position at the CIA.

I didn’t delve further into the president’s conversation with Karl, in part because of Andy’s unease. But I assumed from his comments that he had asked Karl earlier that morning whether or not he was one of the two sources. It seemed to be fresh on his mind, and I felt confident about defending Karl, since the president too had received assurances from him.

Now, obviously Scottie admits that Bush was probably thinking of the 1X2X6 article–as I’ve argued he probably was. But by presenting the chronology as he does, he minimizes the degree to which Scottie McC should have had a well-grounded reason to believe Rove had been directly implicated to Allen and Bush probably did too. Scottie McC also invents the least incriminating chronology for the Bush-Rove conversation–that Bush had read the 1X2X6 article and only then asked Rove about it–without considering the possibility that Rove came to Bush to broach the subject after he learned the article would appear on September 27. Furthermore, Scottie McC interprets Andy Card’s attempts to quiet Bush (reminiscent of Libby shushing David Addington when he spoke about insta-declassification and CIA records on spouses) as an attempt to get them to stop talking about it–and not, as the gesture suggests, an attempt to get Bush to lower his voice so no one else heard it.

So let’s review the critical chronology:

September 16: Rove tells Scottie McC he wasn’t one of Novak’s sources

September 26: NBC leaks news of investigation

September 27: Allen calls Rove, implying Rove is one of the 2 officials implicated in the 1X2X6 article; Rove tells Scottie McC a different story than he told him on September 16, admitting he talked to Novak, but denying he confirmed Plame’s identity

September 28: The WaPo reports the 1X2X6 story

September 29: George Bush tells Scottie McC that "Rove didn’t do it"

It looks a whole lot less innocent and a whole lot more like an attempt to order Scottie McC to publicly exonerate Rove when you look at the chronology that way, doesn’t it?

25 replies
  1. phred says:

    No one could mistake Bush for an intellectual genius, but in the excerpt above he comes across quite strikingly like a 5 year old who has been coached by an older sibling in what to tell Mom and Dad about the lamp that got broken while they were out. Bush blurting out information to McC in the manner he does, rather than engaging McC more conversationally in response to any questions McC might have, reads to me like Bush was making sure he got the cover story across before he messed up any details.

  2. BayStateLibrul says:

    We need to open up Bush’s statement to Fitzy — that will show that Bush is a one helluva “lying sack of shit”….

    • TobyWollin says:

      Am I mistaken here or mixing up something – is this the thing where Bush would not talk without Cheney being there?

  3. BayStateLibrul says:

    Isn’t Scottie, in his book, following from his Grand Jury Statement.
    To stray, would give Fitz a green light…

  4. freepatriot says:

    It’s off topic, but I need a ruling here folks

    I been saying that the Democrats could pick up between 11 and 20 seats in the senate in November, and I been call CRAZY (a lot)

    now I think I got company in the whacko wading pool:

    GOP hopes Chambliss keeps seat

    ATLANTA — The chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee says Sen. Saxby Chambliss will be a key part of the firewall the party wants to build against stronger Democratic control of Congress

    Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., set a floor on the number of Senate seats the party must control: 41.

    “The number that we get to is really, really important in the U.S. Senate,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons Saxby absolutely must hold his seat.”

    so what does the peanut gallery think ???

    has ensign gone off the deep end ???

    or maybe I ain’t as crazy as some people thought (or tried to prove, or the best testing indicates)

    and in another off topic item, fred fielding would be a fool if he WASN’T reading your stuff ew (know thy enemy, and all)

    we now return you to the regularly scheduled plameology ass kicking

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Sen. Ensign is stating the obvious. By self-imposed rule, sixty votes out of a hundred are required to manage the Senate’s procedural business, even though most votes on the substance of legislation require only a simple majority of fifty-one. Veto overrides, of course, require 2/3’s majority, but that super-majority wouldn’t be needed with Democrats controlling the WH and both houses of Congress.

      The GOP need forty-one to keep Democrats from being able to control the Senate’s business: confirmations of judicial, political and military appointees, treaty ratifications, investigations and passing of legislation. Ensign hopes to hang on and obstruct, not govern.

      • freepatriot says:

        but a supermajority IS needed to remove an impeached official

        like say, a supreme court justice … or 4 supreme court justices maybe …

        that’s what we’re playing for here

        67 votes and we can protect our rights for the next 40 years

        but remember, I’m crazy (till it happens)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I wouldn’t expect to see impeachments (indictments by the House) or trials and removals by the Senate. Investigations, yes, but probably not styled as “impeachment” investigations. I think they’ll be used to document that the messes Obama inherits are GOP in origin, to justify some of his reforms, and to use the laundry list of embarrassing facts to lower the GOP’s ability to obstruct. And there will still be Bush Dogs to deal with.

          Bush’s political appointees will be out early in 2009. Obama can replace his military commanders with considerable discretion. Judges will stay put, but be replaced with alacrity if the Dems have at least sixty votes. Cheney moles in the permanent bureaucracy, by design, will be harder to contend with.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Look ‘em in the eye, smile, and simply say, “Hmmmm… ya think gas at over $4/gal is a big GOP selling point?”

      At this point, let the GOP dream about 41 seats.
      It could happen.
      But once the American public grasps that the Preznit and VP have aided, abetted, and enabled a nest of spies, the GOP is deader’n a sarcophagus.

      People forgive a lot of things, but not treason.

  5. SaltinWound says:

    Bish is so aggressive in defending Rove, I can see why Libby thought it was at his expense. Not fair! Meat grinder!

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Competent CEO’s don’t jump into the middle of a federal investigation potentially involving their own top aides (and here, himself) with a glib, conclusory “He didn’t do it”. Not if they want to avoid obstructing routine fact finding, not if they want to avoid personal liability for obstructing justice.

    Competent CEO’s minimize their personal involvement. They authorize a detailed investigation. They order in fact full cooperation, in fact, not in order to imply the exact opposite. They avoid jumping to conclusions because ordinarily they know they don’t know the full story or full motivations behind even their most trusted aides. They let an inevitable, necessary process play itself out. If they might express confidence in the outcome, it is confidence about the investigatory process as well as the good faith and competence of their aides.

    Bush, frankly, does all the wrong things. His response is derisory. It’s based on hope, the fantasy that he has the power to make an irritating application of the law to high as well as low just go away. Sadly, it might have worked. Fortunately, Fitzgerald did a top notch job, and public awareness of how vital it was that he did so was dramatically improved by bloggers, especially EW.

  7. maryo2 says:

    “He was holding on to the armrests and leaning back in his chair behind the desk. He seemed to be in fairly good spirits.”

    I wonder what a body language expert would say about this posturing. To me it reads like GW had just been given a pep talk and he was bursting with glee at his power.

    Second thing is – Assuming Andy Card wanted GW to keep his voice down, who would have been nearby to hear this conversation? Where did this conversation take place? Whose offices are nearby?

  8. rkilowatt says:

    Bush…strawman as cheerleader…has worked very effectively to enable another’s hidden agenda. Take a moment to read the “another’s” game plan, in his own words. Perhaps now you will understand the gravity of PeakOil [meaning peak-oil-world-production has been reached and is now in decline..most especially that the corollary is Peak EXPORTS to importing nations.
    1999 speech:

    quotes from above:
    –”Oil is unique in that it is so strategic in nature.”
    –”Energy is truly fundamental to the world’s economy.”
    –”The degree of government involvement also makes oil a unique commodity.”
    –”Oil remains fundamentally a government business”.
    –”It is the basic, fundamental building block of the world’s economy.”
    –”It is unlike any other commodity.’
    –”The Middle East with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies.”
    –”The Middle East and Africa have over one hundred year’s supply of gas reserves at current low usage levels and the former Soviet Union and Latin America have gas reserve-to-production ratios which should last over seventy years.”

    DC and fellow insiders have certainty Anglo-Amer grab of crude sources will trump any overt acts to accomplish such, and their legacy will be as heroes to consumers desperately seeking gasoline for their cars and food for their hunger. Soon.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bush’s glib, “Karl didn’t do it” – without explaining what the “it” was – implies a foolishly overconfident executive or an executive who knew who did do it. It implies a belief that no liability could attach to what he or his personal reports do, no matter what laws or broken, no matter who was hurt or at what cost.

    As we said at the time, if the leak had involved disclosing Karl Rove’s Rolodex or e-mails, the DOJ would have been running non-stop to plug it and exact retribution in and outside of the courts. So much for ensuring that all the laws be faithfully executed.

    • Minnesotachuck says:

      Bush’s glib, “Karl didn’t do it” – without explaining what the “it” was – implies a foolishly overconfident executive or an executive who knew who did do it.

      I would add the following clause to this sentence: “and who may very well have been personally involved in doing it.”

      • kspena says:

        “It” also points to something really BAD. The ‘it’ in “He didn’t do IT” means he didn’t break that priceless platter, or he didn’t steal those valuable coins, or he didn’t out that covert spy…. I read this as bush’s MO for his whole life long; it works for him…. an agressive, “He didn’t do IT.”

  10. freepatriot says:

    and btw, that senate race that chambliss might lose, it’s in Georgia

    don’t get much deeped in the south than Georgia

    how’s that “southern strategy” working out now ???

    gop, burn in hell (in lieu of RIP)

  11. LabDancer says:

    “and not, as the gesture suggests, an attempt to get Bush to lower his voice so no one else heard it”

    Nice work otherwise but I’m not with you on the suggested interpretation of this gesture. Ive been involved as legal counsel in a lot of hearings in which there was a gag order imposed by someone wanting to maintain propriety or a statute or even a court order & Ive found it one hellacious problem to stop those in the know – or who THINK they are – from passing on their insider take to the friends outside – & conversely from getting those on the outside to stop from cajoling & teasing it out. I’ve seen some success when I or some other lawyer has lowered the boom, but even then I suspect the participants say words to placate the suits then go right around the corner or get on the phone & do it.

    In this case, as COS Card was in position to know how bad it all could be, what Bush knew or likely knew, the kind of role Spottie was to play in the process as “Official Believer & Passer-On of the Gospel” & the limitations to Spot’s skills & to the role itself in the context of this kind of problem. Card did his best, but the Cheerleader in Chief was intent on getting the troop worked up to the task & there’s only so much a person in Card’s position can do without his value in other assignments being diminished.

    Bear in mind that Card accompanied Algae to Ashcroft’s beside; why Card? I suggest because he’d been well-placed to see how poorly Algae performed under a lot less pressurized situations than the mission Cheney had goaded Bush into sending Algae out on – & that given Algae’s performance before Congress & the press during repeated appearances in the spring of 2007 on stuff than at least tangentially touched on that episode, it was very likely Card’s role first to keep Algae’s eyes focused on the mission, second to show diplomacy to the ailing Ashcroft, third to react appropriately to exigent circumstances, such as Comey showing up complete with FBI cavalry, fourth to sound retreat, fifth to report not just reliably but compellingly to the Bosses, & sixth to focus the discussion to finding a way out of the morass. That Card left thereafter says a lot about what hed seen & where he expected that might lead.

    • emptywheel says:

      I’m making a very limited point.

      Moving your hands up and down signals “quiet.”

      Moving your hands from side to side, crossing them in front of you means “stop what you’re doing/talking about.”

      Scottie very clearly describes the former signal.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I’m inclined to disagree.
        Upperdown hands also signals, ‘cut it out’ IMHO.
        The thing the WH was clearly worried about was conspiracy; Card’s admonition, “… shouldn’t be talking about it’ suggests to me they’d already cooked the books.

        Not disagreeing, however, on other points in the post.
        The plot thickens…

  12. freepatriot says:

    here’s a scary thought:

    warning, explicit content warning

    the following is a view behind the mental door It provides a true look at how my mind really works

    boy do I like salmonella.

    according to CNN, micky d’s and other fast food places have stopped serving tomatoes because of a salmonella outbreak.

    I hate tomatoes.

    Good for salmonella

    I don’t see things the way most people do. Some days I root for the germs

    and for a while, I don’t gotta tell the burger flippers to leave out the tomatoes

    things are lookin up

  13. 4jkb4ia says:

    In the very slight probability anyone will read this Bowers has Chambliss as a lock. I was wondering why I was not reading about the person running against him. Ensign is really saying that every competitive seat is so risky that the RSCC appreciates the locks.

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