Scott McClellan Testimony: Rove Is a Liar and Cheney an Oil-Hungry War-Monger


I confess to being underwhelmed with the work HJC did with Scott McClellan’s appearance before the committee today. I’ll do a post later (once I’ve recovered from a terrible day for Democracy) on what I think was missed. But I’ll start with the positive–what I consider the highlights of the hearing.

Conyers started the hearing right, IMO, by introducing the meat-grinder note, showing that as Cheney was pressuring Bush to have Libby exonerated, Cheney was thinking of Bush’s order that Libby "put his neck in the meat-grinder." Conyers also made the case–which I made here–that Mukasey should turn over the reports from the Bush and Cheney interviews (doing anything else is really cooperating the ongoing attempts to cover-up the Libby case). Of course, HJC could have made a more compelling case that it needs the reports had they don’t a better job of explaining why the reports would be the only way to answer urgent questions about the leaks. But, aside from Chairman Conyers, no one on the committee made a concerted effort to present the abundant evidence that Cheney and Bush were involved in the leak of Plame’s identity. For example, when Jerrold Nadler asked McClellan whether Bush and Cheney had any knowledge of Libby’s involvement in the leak, he didn’t introduce that evidence that Cheney, at least, did, and Bush may have as well.

NADLER: Do you know when the president gave instruction to cover Libby’s rear end, did he know about Libby’s involvement? Scott didn’t know that.

Perhaps the best use of the hearing time came from (unsurprisingly–he usually excels in hearings) Artur Davis. Davis, who is from Don Siegelman’s state, got McClellan to admit that Rove not only would–but has–lied to protect himself from legal jeopardy and political embarrassment.

Artur Davis Let me circle around a person, Rove. You stated Rove encouraged you to repeat a lie. Indicated you’ve known him for some time. Committee extended invitation to Rove. I’m willing to talk, only if no oath, no cameras, no notes. Based on what you know does it surprise you that Rove wants limitations on circumstances.

SM An effort to stonewall the whole process.

Davis Would you trust Rove to tell the truth if not under oath.

SM Can’t say I would

Davis Not under oath.

SM I would hope he would. I’d have concerns about that.

Davis Did testify before GJ under oath. You don’t believe he told the complete truth to the GJ.

SM I don’t know.

Davis Karl only concerned about protecting himself from possible legal action. Do you believe he is capable of lying to protect himself from legal jeopardy.

SM He certainly lied to me.

Davis Do you believe he is capable of lying to protect himself from political embarrassment.

SM he did in my situation, so the answer is yes. [my emphasis]

While this may not help the Plame-related oversight, it’s an important admission, especially as HJC moves to get Rove to testify to the committee about Siegelman and other related issues.

Hank Johnson did a good job of getting McClellan to admit that the Libby commutation was unusual and could rightly raise suspicions about why Bush had commuted Libby’s sentence.

Hank Johnson Over 5000 requests for commutation. Of those, prior to Libby, Bush granted 3 petitions for commutation. He actually denied 4108 of those, others closed without presidential action. Reluctance to grant mercy is consistent with Bush’s conduct wrt death penalty cases. All of a sudden we’ve got White House confidant Libby. An attempt to silence Libby. A misleading of American public. On the same day that Libby found out that Appeals Court would not reverse the judge’s decision, Bush issued a commutation, without consultation of his own DOJ he decided to issue consultation of that prison sentence. Do you believe that?

SM I can understand why people view it that way.

Johnson Any reason to think that would not be reasonable scenario.

SM We haven’t had any answers to those questions.

Finally, one other good use of the hearing was unrelated to Plame: when Betty Sutton got McClellan to admit that Cheney’s rationale for the war may have been a desire to get control over Iraq’s oil.

Sutton VP may have viewed removal of Saddam opportunity to give US more control over Iraq’s oil reserves.

SM Hard to know what VP’s rationale was. If Iraq didn’t have large reserves, wouldn’t have been on the national security radar.

Sutton Anything specific?

SM VP’s involvement in energy issues.

Well there you have it–confirmation of two things we’ve known all along. Rove is a liar, and Cheney an oil-hungry war-monger.

At least we accomplished that much.

30 replies
  1. CanuckStuckinMuck says:

    I’m with you, EW. I’ve been underwhelmed by the Congress’s use of these hearings in almost every case. Perhaps it’s in the nature of such hearings. But it does frustrate anyone to hear platitudes and worse over and over, to hear the same talking points repeated, and to see so many gaps in our knowledge that might have been with keen questions and honest answers. And, on the other matter, the so-called “compromise” on FISA. Bullshit. What do the Democratic party leaders fear? I have to conclude that they are every bit as complicit as the Repugnicans on the matter of destroying privacy in the false name of security.

  2. GeorgeSimian says:

    We knew it already. But that’s the Republican line for every crime. There’s nothing new here. All these crimes are already crimes we know about and nobody has done anything about, so they can’t be worth repeating or hearing about again. It is a real tragedy that Congress can’t enforce their subpoena to Rove.

    • BlueStateRedHead says:

      Will the next AG enforce it and if yes, are we not better off? IANAL, but I could see Rove and Luskin (rides again, right EW?), use the HJ to create a situation that would allow Bush to pardon him because of the possiblity that the terrible Dems would misconstrue the innocent man’s testimony.

  3. wavpeac says:

    Conyers sounds literally depressed, oppressed. I can’t figure it out. There was something terrible in his tone today. (defeat).

    I don’t know he sounded more monotone than usual.

    • otchmoson says:

      Sadly, I can identify with Conyers’ demeanor. At what point are we fighting valiantly onward vs. beating our head against a wall?

      • bigbrother says:

        You said:
        “Sadly, I can identify with Conyers’ demeanor. At what point are we fighting valiantly onward vs. beating our head against a wall.”

        Freedom,like learning, is a struggle worth a lifelong engagement. Like exercise you do it to stay strong. The resistance to totalitarianism keeps them from being worse to us. Think of the kids.

        Big Brotherwill take all we let him have.

  4. darclay says:

    OT EW ,bmac, cboldt, ? could Dodd, Finegold add an amendment to FISA bill so it would be unable to pass?

    • Hmmm says:

      It might depend on Senate rules (the House rules permitted no amendments), but I’ve been thinking of two possible amendments whose mere proposing could be useful: (1) Replace “was determined to be lawful” with “was determined by a court of law to be lawful”, followed by (2) Replace “was determined to be lawful” with “was determined by the President of the United States” to be lawful. You can see 1 would fail, and 2 might conceivably pass but would compromise the law from a later court challenge POV. But even if both amendments fail, the point would be made unavoidably obvious even to the dimwitted reporters that Congress seems inevitably to attract, and they would both publicly shame the compromisers. (Reporters specializing the Article III Department are generally way way better.)

  5. bigbrother says:

    Is outing a National Security spy ring working on Weapons of Mass Destruction violations treason or a mistake a la fuax pas? It is time to call it what it is. That their was no knowlesge or no intent to cook the intell is a flat out lie. SM parses that.
    Bush and Benedict Arnold have a similar place in American history.

    Sounds like oversight did not happen today but it is “on the table”. This hearing was not prepared with great care but a hunting expedition busted by the Rs. R said Impeachment was mentioned 4 times as an antidote to Impeachment.
    Can anyone make the case that breaches of Natitonal Security after a major terrorist attack is not treason?
    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
    The mark may be some other legal term but outing a spy for political gains ahs to be a “High Crime”. The Bush administraion did just that Libby was convicted and did not work alone. He worked for Cheney. Rove knew according to today’s SM testimony.

  6. Phoenix Woman says:

    Scott McClellan Testimony: Rove Is a Liar and Cheney an Oil-Hungry War-Monger

    Of course, the press will continue to give this the David Brock Treatment:

    He’s bitter/a failure/was he lying then or now?/yadda yadda yadda.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s the treatment every former employee gets when they sue their employer for illegal conduct, or just fail to say that they were the “kindest, gentlest, warmest most wonderful” human being on the face of the earth. Scotty’s no exception; neither is Bush.

    • otchmoson says:

      I do think McClellan missed an opportunity. Near the end of the hearing, Ellison asked McClellan what measures could be taken to enhance transparency. He stated that Congressional OVERSIGHT was an important tool. He had the opportunity–and failed to use it–to point out that corporately-owned media, in the hands of the very few, also hampers transparency. Perhaps a bit of deregulation is in order? Likewise, the stick-and-carrot treatment of WH correspondents is another measure that could be handled more judiciously if transparency is indeed a worthy pursuit.

  7. sadlyyes says:

    Scott McClellan Testimony: Rove Is a Liar and Cheney an Oil-Hungry War-Monger
    By: emptywheel
    lets just say they both MURDERERS and the whole Republican DEATH MACHINE…your money hard at work folks

  8. BayStateLibrul says:

    Actually, you could invent a clue game with the Plame D’Affaire

    The Oval Office
    VP Room
    Air Force One
    The Gaggle Room
    The WAPO editorial lounge
    The Wyoming Ranch
    Judy’s Desk
    The Law office of Luskin

  9. JimTheCynic says:

    So what will make the current news cycle? Scotty or the desolution of the 4th Amendment?

    My bet is the SHINY OBJECT!!!!!

    Look… it’s Scotty!!!
    And Scotty says nothing actionable.


  10. klynn says:

    I was a bit confused this AM when I sat down to read EW, when Iwon came up, they already had a “top story” headline for SM and his testimony… I was a bit confused because I thought the hearing was just about to start. Came to EW’s blog, and of course, she was just starting to live blog. Went to CSPAN to see how long they had been up and broadcasting.

    Iwon posted their darn story on SM hearing just five minutes into the hearing. That told me everything. The hearing will be scripted…and for the most part…it was.

    The story has been updated since. I should have saved a copy of it.

    Just an interesting observation.

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