Cheney Aide Libby Indicted in Plame Case

Lewis Libby is indicted for obstruction of justice, making a false statement to a federal grand jury, and perjury in the CIA leak investigation. Libby is a senior adviser to Vice President Cheney. Another possible target in this investigation, Karl Rove, President Bush's top White House adviser, has not been indicted. Rove remains under investigation. Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald announced the indictments Friday afternoon in Washington.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is special coverage from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

In about 15 minutes, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to hold a news conference at the Justice Department to discuss the indictment announced about an hour ago of Lewis Libby. Scooter Libby, as he's known, is chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. He's charged with five felonies: one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury and two counts of making false statements. Libby was the only Bush administration official indicted today. Almost immediately afterwards, the White House announced Libby's resignation.

The charges emerged after a two-year investigation into who leaked the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA undercover operative and the wife of career diplomat Joseph Wilson. In 2002, the CIA arranged for Wilson to go on a mission to the African country of Niger to look into reports that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was trying to obtain a processed form of uranium ore called yellowcake. On his report, Wilson reported there was nothing to that report; yet, the White House continued to site intelligence about Niger's yellowcake as part of its case that Saddam's Iraq continued to develop weapons of mass destruction.

As Ambassador Wilson's doubts about that case began to emerge in print in May 2003, the indictment released today says that Scooter Libby learned from the vice president that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, that he leaked that information to several reporters, and then when this investigation got under way about two years ago, that Libby made false statements to the FBI, committed perjury in testimony before the grand jury and obstructed justice by misleading and deceiving the grand jury. We expect President Bush to respond to the day's developments sometime after special prosecutor Fitzgerald's news conference.

With me here in the studio in Washington are NPR White House correspondent Don Gonyea, NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg and Mara Liasson, NPR's political correspondent. And, Nina, let me begin with you. The charges against Scooter Libby issued today not about the act of leaking Valerie Plame's name, but about the cover-up.

NINA TOTENBERG (NPR News): That always seems to be what it is in Washington. It's the--not the original act. It's the cover-up that's the crime. It's an axiom. It was certainly true in President Clinton's difficulties about Monica Lewinsky. If he told the truth, he would have had no difficulties other than the obvious political ones.

CONAN: Maybe with his wife, yeah.

TOTENBERG: Maybe with his wife. And here in this indictment--and we should say that Karl Rove, who was not indicted today, is still under investigation, and while I'm sure he feels relieved that he doesn't have to prepare for trial, this is not a good result for the White House, either.

CONAN: Well, Nina, let me ask you about that. The term of this grand jury expires today.

TOTENBERG: It does. But you can extend a grand jury another six months or you can impanel a new grand jury.

CONAN: After two years of investigation, what more does he need to know about whether to indict Karl Rove or not?

TOTENBERG: Well, apparently, at the last minute, Rove's lawyer was successful, at least, in persuading the special prosecutor that he might have misinterpreted something that Rove said in his grand jury appearance. I'm interpreting from this perhaps the last grand jury appearance. And Rove's lawyer was successful enough in that that the prosecutor finally said, `OK, maybe I was wrong. Let me check into it further, but I can't do it by the end of--you know, by the end of--in a few days.'

CONAN: This grand jury term, yes.

TOTENBERG: `In this grand jury term, so I will continue the investigation.' And so he is not indicted, but he's not off the hook, either. And I was talking to a lot of lawyers today who know Patrick Fitzgerald, who say that, you know, he is eminently fair, but that he's really not a person who doesn't dot I's and cross T's, and he wouldn't leave anything open, on the one hand, but that it's still a very serious cloud hanging over Mr. Rove.

CONAN: Well, then let's turn to Don Gonyea at--not at the White House, but you're normally at the White House, Don. And as Nina Totenberg says, this is--well, the White House has been anticipating this now for a couple of weeks.

DON GONYEA (NPR News): They have. There has been tremendous anxiety at the White House. You can just feel it. The president would talk about it as being background chatter, noise, but it is clearly something that has had them just kind of on pins and needles, nervous, lots and lots of anxiety. And while this isn't the worst thing that could have happened today, had Karl Rove been indicted today, that would have been the worst news imaginable for them.

CONAN: Karl Rove is technically the deputy chief of staff at the White House, the president's deputy chief of staff...

GONYEA: Yes, but...

CONAN: ...but also identified as the architect, the man responsible for the successful Bush campaigns.

GONYEA: Deputy chief of staff, his chief of staff, is a title that doesn't do his power within the building justice. He is involved in virtually every decision, every facet of this White House, advising the president. He's a sounding board. He helps create and set the direction for policy. So again, it would have been just the worst possible news for the White House had he been indicted. But still, it is a cloud.

CONAN: And with that cloud still hanging over the deputy chief of staff, there have been suggestions in the past that some of the White House missteps over the past several weeks may have been due to Karl Rove's distraction. Without his usual touch, maybe the Miers' nomination may have gone better than it otherwise did.

GONYEA: You hear about that as it relates to the Harriet Miers nomination, the president's response to Hurricane Katrina, even the way they have handled Iraq of late and talked about it, yes.

CONAN: Now let me go back to you, Nina Totenberg, and a lot of people are going to say, look, this is somebody who's been indicted. This might be an attempt to criminalize politics. Leaks happen in this town all the time. And the idea that this is not a substantive crime, but rather somebody trying to protect their boss--this isn't a serious matter; yet in the indictment itself, special prosecutor Fitzgerald talks about implications for national security.

TOTENBERG: He does because he says that the implications when somebody is outed are very serious, some--an undercover agent is outed are very serious not just for that individual, but for his or her whole network of people that they dealt with and that kind of thing. But, you know, perjury is not an inconsequential count. Nor is obstruction of justice. And the overall picture from these five counts strikes really at the heart of the administration's attempt to frame the debate over Iraq. And what you see here is that in May of 2003, there were the first press inklings, which were clearly leaks, I think, by Ambassador Wilson, to suggest that some of the foundation of this argument that there were weapons--they had evidence of weapons of mass destruction, that this foundation was not only shaky, it was non-existent, at least as regards to Niger and the allegations...

CONAN: In Wilson's terms, twisted--that the administration twisted the intelligence to support their case.

TOTENBERG: Right. And from that moment on, according to the indictment--and we have to stress these are allegations--the vice president's chief of staff, Scooter Libby, is sort of on a rampage. He speaks to the vice president. He speaks to the undersecretary of State. He speaks to a CIA official. He speaks to his CIA briefer, all in an attempt to find out where this is coming from, who sent Wilson, how did this happen? And then there come this shower of--the Novak column...

CONAN: Mm-hmm, the Robert Novak.

TOTENBERG: ...the Robert Novak column that outs Valerie Plame and then comes the investigation, how did that happen? And then Scooter Libby goes and talks to the F--is interviewed by the FBI twice, the grand jury twice, and the story that he tells them is, `I didn't know that Ambassador Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. I've heard it from reporters that that might be true, but I didn't know it. And I had nothing to do with this.' And when--according to special counsel Fitzgerald, that is contradicted by the testimony of various members of the administration, that's con--and...

CONAN: Including the vice president.

TOTENBERG: Including the vice president, that's contradicted by--and by the reporters themselves. And when you look at an indictment, especially a perjury and false statement indictment, you typically see a few lines that are underlined, and those are the alleged lies. In this indictment, there are pages and pages of underlined lies, alleged lies. And let me just read you as an example on something from one of the grand jury appearances. And so Libby is testifying before the grand jury about his conversation with Tim Russert, and then--and he--and then he said, referring to Russert, `You know, did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife works for the CIA?' `And I was a little taken aback by that. I remember being taken aback, and I said'--he may have said a little more than that, but--`And I said, "No, I didn't know that." I said, "No, I don't know that"--I said, "I don't know that" intentionally because I didn't want him to take anything I was saying as, in any way, confirming what he said.' And it goes on and on this way, and Russert said, `I didn't know anything like this. I didn't know that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. I didn't know Ambassador Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. I didn't have this conversation.' Russert says, in essence, `This is a made-up conversation.' And it's duplicated with Matt Cooper and...

CONAN: Of Time magazine.

TOTENBERG: ...of Time magazine and it's duplicated with Judith Miller from The New York Times.

CONAN: All of this at the same time that Mr. Libby had to know the existence of notes of a meeting that he attended with Vice President Cheney, in which the vice president informed him, Mr. Libby, about Valerie Plame, that she worked for the CIA.

TOTENBERG: You know, if Scooter Libby is convicted or pleads guilty or whatever and this comes to a bad end for him, the answer to that question you're asking is what it always is in Washington, hubris. That's why people get caught, hubris.

CONAN: We're awaiting a news conference by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, which is scheduled to begin in about four minutes or so at the Department of Justice, to discuss this indictment handed up today against Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff.

And let's turn to you, Mara Liasson. Mr. Libby, the White House announced earlier today, has already resigned. We know that the president is planning to make a statement later today in which, you don't want to presume too many things, but business as usual will be, I would assume part of what he will have to say. Yet, a day after a damaging political defeat with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers, this is a White House that is--this is bad news for the White House.

MARA LIASSON (NPR News): This is bad news for the White House. It's been a bad year, and this was probably the worst week of the bad year. And now the White House has to figure out how it's going to kind of collect itself and move forward, find a replacement for Harriet Miers, decide exactly what kind of fight it wants on that nomination. They have a couple to choose from there. And also decide who, if any, outside fresh faces they want to bring in. Now I think the moment to do that is when and if Karl Rove is indicted, and that hasn't happened yet. So I don't think you're going to see any kind of big personnel changes there because of Lewis Libby's resignation that will mean anything politically or send a signal to the public at large. I think that the vice president's shop will continue with a different trusted insider aide in charge.

CONAN: Now in the Harriet Miers' nomination, the fight was largely a fight to--within the conservative movement.

LIASSON: That wasn't the fight the president picked. In other words...

CONAN: No, I understand.

LIASSON: ...he chose not to have a fight with the Democrats, and he got one that he didn't anticipate or at least he got a worst one than he anticipated. Now he has to decide, does he want another one of those or a fight with the Democrats? Yeah.

CONAN: But getting back to this indictment...

LIASSON: Yeah.

CONAN: ...that was handed down today, who cares about this? Which political element--I mean, are the Democrats going to leap on this to say, `Ahh, we are finally learning of the truth about what happened in the run-up to the war'?

LIASSON: Oh, OK. The Democrats will use any indictment--they could--you know, if a ham sandwich had been indicted, the Democrats would have said, `It's more example of a culture of corruption in the Republican Party at the White House or in Congress.' For the Democrats, I don't think it matters that much who's indicted. Although, my God, Karl Rove is such a more significant indictment if that should occur. For this one, I think the Democrats will say they twisted the evidence, they lied about it, this is part of the culture of corruption. There's no doubt the Democrats will jump on this.

Republicans have tried a couple different approaches to this. On the Sunday talk shows last week, you heard Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison saying, `Well, perjury, obstruction of justice, that's not the same thing as outing a CIA operative,' which is one of the things that the prosecutor was looking into and didn't indict Libby for. We don't know why, but, of course, she was reminded at that moment that, gee, Bill Clinton was impeached for some of those same kinds of charges. Now today, Kay Bailey Hutchison issued a statement that said, `We shouldn't have leaks about an ongoing investigation. People are innocent until proven guilty.'

CONAN: And interestingly, Nina Totenberg, we're told that special prosecutor Fitzgerald--and his news conference is now scheduled to begin in just a few seconds' time--but that he is going to take questions in what you've already told us is still an ongoing investigation, certainly in terms of how far--Mr. Rove is concerned, and we'll take questions--no time limit, until there are no more questions, and that this will be the one and only time that he talks about this.

TOTENBERG: Well, this is what really good prosecutors do, is they don't leak until there's an indictment, and then they talk about the indictment. And there are some obvious questions. There's an official A who leaked the story to the--obviously to Novak and we do...

CONAN: The other senior White House source.

TOTENBERG: ...and we don't know who that--we still don't know who that is. So I assume...

LIASSON: Senior administration source.

CONAN: Senior administration source.

TOTENBERG: Administration source.

CONAN: OK.

TOTENBERG: Somebody will, I presume, ask that and probably not get an answer. But again, for the administration, where this gets hairier after today is a trial. A trial then will become focused on all of this, and that would be, if there is one, closer to the election.

CONAN: A trial--and just speculating here--but might that trial include witnesses, Vice President Richard Cheney, Tim Russert of NBC News, Judith Miller of The New York Times, Matt Cooper of Time magazine?

LIASSON: A star-studded trial, so to speak.

TOTENBERG: Yeah, it might.

CONAN: Has a vice president of the United States ever testified in a criminal trial? Anyway, let's go to the Justice Department, and here is special prosecutor Fitzgerald.

(Soundbite of news conference)

Mr. PATRICK FITZGERALD (Special Prosecutor): Ready? Good afternoon. I'm Pat Fitzgerald. I'm the United States attorney in Chicago. I am appearing before you today as the Department of Justice special counsel from the CIA leak investigation. Joining me to my left is Jack Eckenrode, a special agent in charge of the FBI office in Chicago, who has led the team of investigators and prosecutors from day one in this investigation.

A few hours ago, a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia returned a five-count indictment against I. Lewis Libby, also known as Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. The grand jury's indictment charges that Mr. Libby committed five crimes. The indictment charges one count of obstruction of justice of the federal grand jury, two counts of perjury, and two counts of false statements.

Before I talk about those charges and what the indictment alleges, I'd like to put the investigation into a little context. Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence committee. Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life. The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well-known for her protection or for the benefit of all of us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer but for the nation's security.

Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003. But Mr. Novak was not the first reporter to be hold that Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, Ambassador Wilson's wife Valerie, worked at the CIA. Several other reporters were told. In fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June in 2003 about Valerie Wilson.

Now something needs to be brought in mind about a criminal investigation. I recognize that there's been very little information about this criminal investigation, but for a very good reason. It may be frustrating, but when investigations are conducted in secret, when investigations use grand juries, it's important that the information be closely held, so let me tell you a little bit about how an investigation works. Investigators do not set out to investigate a statute. They set out to gather the facts. It's critical that when an investigation is conducted by prosecutors, agents and a grand jury, they learn who, what, when, where and why. Then they decide based upon accurate facts whether a crime has been committed, who has committed the crime, whether you can prove the crime and whether the crime should be charged.

Agent Eckenrode doesn't send people out when a million dollars is missing from a bank and tells them, `Just come back if you find wire fraud.' The agent finds embezzlement, they follow through on that. That's the way this investigation was conducted. It was known that a CIA officer's identity was blown. It was known that there was a leak and we needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it. And given that national security was at stake, it was especially important that we find out accurate facts.

There's another thing about a grand jury investigation. One of the obligations of the prosecutors and the grand juries is to keep the information obtained in the investigation secret, not to share it with the public. And as frustrating as that may be for the public, that is important, because the way our system of justice works, if information is gathered about people and they are not charged with a crime, we don't hold up that information for the public to look at. We either charge them with a crime or we don't. And that's why we've safeguarded information here today.

But as important as it is for the grand jury to follow the rules and follow the safeguards to make sure information doesn't get out, it's equally important that the witnesses who come before a grand jury, especially the witnesses who come before a grand jury who may be under investigation, tell the complete truth. It's especially important in the national security area. The laws involving disclosure of classified information in some places are very clear and in some places they're not so clear. And grand jurors and prosecutors making decisions about who should be charged, whether anyone should be charged, what should be charged, you can make fine distinctions about what people knew, why they knew it, what they exactly said, why they said it, what they were trying to do, what appreciation they had for the information, and whether it was classified at the time. Those fine distinctions are important in determining what to do. That's why it's essential, when a witness comes forward and gives their account of how they came across classified information and what they did with it that it be accurate.

Now that brings us to the fall of 2003. When it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown, an investigation began. And in October 2003, the FBI interviewed Mr. Libby. Mr. Libby is the vice president's chief of staff. He's also an assistant to the president, an assistant to the vice president for national security affairs. The focus of the interview was what was it that he had known about Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson; what he knew about Ms. Wilson, what he said to people, why he said it and how he learned it. And to be frank, Mr. Libby gave the FBI a compelling story. What he told the FBI is that essentially, he was at the end of long chain of phone calls. He spoke to reporter Tim Russert, and during the conversation, Mr. Russert told him that, `Hey, do you know that all the reporters know that Mr. Wilson's wife works at the CIA?' And he told the FBI that he learned that information as if it were new, and it struck him. So he took this information from Mr. Russert and later on he passed it on to other reporters, including reporter Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, reporter Judith Miller of The New York Times.

And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on on July 12th of 2003, two days before Mr. Novak's column, that he passed it on understanding that this was information he had gotten from a reporter, that he didn't even know if it was true. And he told the FBI that when he passed the information on to the reporters, he made clear that he did not know if this were true. This was something that all the reporters were saying and, in fact, he just didn't know and he wanted to be clear about it. Later, Mr. Libby went before the grand jury on two occasions in March of 2004. He took an oath and he testified, and he essentially said the same thing. He said that, in fact, he had learned from the vice president earlier in June 2003 information about Wilson's wife, but he had forgotten it, and that when he learned the information from Mr. Russert during this phone call, he learned it as if it were new, and when he passed the information on to reporters Cooper and Miller late in the week, he passed it on thinking it was just information he received from reporters and that he told reporters that, in fact, he didn't even know if it were true. He was just passing gossip from one reporter to another at the long end of a chain of phone calls.

It would be a compelling story that would lead the FBI to go away, if only it were true. It is not true, according to the indictment. In fact, Mr. Libby discussed the information about Valerie Wilson at least half a dozen times before this conversation with Mr. Russert ever took place; not to mention that when he spoke to Mr. Russert, Mr. Russert and he never discussed Valerie Wilson or Wilson's wife. He didn't learn it from Mr. Russert, and if he had, it would not have been new at the time.

Let me talk you through what the indictment alleges. The indictment alleges that Mr. Libby learned the information about Valerie Wilson at least three times in June of 2003 from government officials. Let me make clear there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson or Mr. Wilson or his wife in imparting the information to Mr. Libby. But in early June, Mr. Libby learned about Valerie Wilson and the role she was believed to play in having sent Mr. Wilson on a trip overseas from a senior CIA officer on or around June 11th, from an undersecretary of State on or around June 11th and from the vice president on or about June 12th. It's also clear, as set forth in the indictment, that sometime prior to July 8th, he also learned it from somebody else working in the vice president's office. So at least four people within the government told Mr. Libby about Valerie Wilson, often referred to as Wilson's wife, working at the CIA and believed to be responsible for helping organize a trip that Mr. Wilson took overseas.

In addition to hearing it from government officials, it's also alleged in the indictment that at least three times, Mr. Libby discussed this information with other government officials. It's alleged in the indictment that on June 14th of 2003, a full month before Mr. Novak's column, Mr. Libby discussed it in a conversation with a CIA briefer in which he was complaining to the CIA briefer his belief that the CIA was leaking information about something or making critical comments, and he brought up Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson. It's also alleged in the indictment that Mr. Libby discussed it with the White House press secretary on July 7th, 2003, over lunch. What's important about that is that Mr. Libby, the indictment alleges, was telling Mr. Fleischer something on Monday that he claims to have learned on Thursday. In addition to discussing it with Mr.--the press secretary on July 7th, there was also a discussion on or about July 8th in which counsel for the vice president was asked a question by Mr. Libby as to what paperwork the Central Intelligence Agency would have if an employee had a spouse go on a trip. So there were at least seven discussions involving government officials prior to the day when Mr. Libby claims he learned this information as if it were new from Mr. Russert and, in fact, when he spoke to Mr. Russert, they never discussed it.

But in addition to focusing on how it is that Mr. Libby learned this information and what he thought about it, it's important to focus on what it is that Mr. Libby said to the reporters. And the account he gave to the FBI, to the FBI, to the grand jury was that he told reporters Cooper and Miller at the end of the week on July 12th and that what he told them was he gave them information that he got from other reporters, that other reporters were saying this and Mr. Libby did not know if it were true and, in fact, Mr. Libby testified that he told reporters he did not even know if Mr. Wilson had a wife. And, in fact, we now know that Mr. Libby discussed this information about Valerie Wilson at least four times prior to July 14th, 2003; on three occasions with Judith Miller of The New York Times and on one occasion with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

The first occasion on which Mr. Libby discussed it with Judith Miller was back on June 23rd of 2003, just days after an article appeared online in The New Republic which quoted some critical commentary from Mr. Wilson. After that discussion with Judith Miller on June 23rd, 2003, Mr. Libby also discussed Valerie Wilson on July 8th of 2003. And during that discussion, Mr. Libby talked about Mr. Wilson and, in a conversation that was on background as a senior administration official, and when Mr. Libby talked about Wilson, he changed the attribution to a former Hill staffer. During that discussion, which was to be attributed to a former Hill staffer, Mr. Libby also discussed Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, working at the CIA. And then finally, again, on July 12th.

In short--and in those conversations, Mr. Libby never said, `This is something that other reporters are saying.' Mr. Libby never said, `This is something that I don't know if it's true.' Mr. Libby never said, `I don't even know if she had a wife.' At the end of the day what appears is that Mr. Libby's story that he was at the tail end of a chain of phone calls, passing on from one reporter what he heard from another, was not true. It was false. He was at the beginning of the chain of the phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter and that he lied about it afterwards under oath and repeatedly.

Now, as I said before, this grand jury investigation has been conducted in secret. I believe it should have been conducted in secret not only because it's required by those rules but because the rules are wise. Those rules protect all of us. We are now going from a grand jury investigation to an indictment, a public charge and a public trial. The rules will be different. But I think what we see here today, when a vice president's chief of staff is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, it does show the world that this is a country that takes its law seriously, that all citizens are bound by the law. But what we need to also show the world is that we can also apply the same safeguards to all our citizens, including high officials. Much as they must be bound by the law, they must follow the same rules. So I ask everyone involved in this process, anyone who participates in this trial, anyone who covers this trial, anyone sitting home watching these proceedings, to follow this process with an American appreciation for our values and our dignity. Let's let the process take place. Let's take a deep breath and let justice process the system.

I would be remiss at this point if I didn't thank the team of investigators and prosecutors who worked on it, led by Agent Eckenrode, and particularly the staff under John Dyer from the counterespionage section in the Department of Justice, Mr. Ziedenberg from Public Integrity as well as the agents from the Washington field office and my close friends in the Chicago US Attorney's Office, all of whom contributed to a joint effort.

And with that, I'll take questions.

Unidentified Reporter #1: Mr. Fitzgerald, this began as a leak investigation, but no one is charged with any leaking. Is your investigation finished? Is this another leak investigation that doesn't lead to a charge of leaking?

Mr. FITZGERALD: Let me answer the two questions you asked in one. OK, is the investigation finished? It's not over, but I'll tell you this. Very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried and would you ever end a grand jury investigation. I can tell you the substantial bulk of the work in this investigation is concluded. This grand jury's term has expired by statute and could not be extended, but it's an ordinary course to keep a grand jury open to consider other matters, and that's what we will be doing.

Let me then answer your next question. Well, why does this leak investigation that doesn't result in a charge? I've been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something. If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, `I've got bad blood with this batter. He hit two home runs off me. I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can.' You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher just let go of the ball or his foot slipped and he had no idea to go any--throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head.

And there are lots of shades of gray in between. You might learn that he wanted to hit the batter in the back. It hit him in the head because he moved. He might want to throw it under his chin but ended up hitting him on the head. And what you'd want to do is have as much information as you could. You want to know what happened in the dugout? Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else? What was he thinking? How does he react? All those things you'd want to know and then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball, whether he should be suspended, whether he should do nothing at all and just say, `Hey, the person threw a bad pitch, get over it.'

In this case it's a lot more serious than baseball and the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't to Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us. As you sit back, you want to learn why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused, or did he intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray? And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice is the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure out what happened and somebody blocked their view. As you sit here now after asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you. We haven't charged it. So what you were saying is the harm of an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the very fine judgments we want to make.

I also want to take away from the notion that somehow we should take an obstruction charge less seriously than a leak charge. This is a very serious matter. And compromising national security information is a very serious matter. But the need to get to the bottom of what happened and whether national security was compromised by inadvertence, by recklessness, by maliciousness is extremely important, and we need to know the truth. And anyone who would go into a grand jury and lie, obstruct and impede the investigation has committed a serious crime.

I will say this. Mr. Libby is presumed innocent. He would not be guilty unless and until a jury of 12 people came back and returned a verdict saying so. But if what we allege in the indictment is true, then what is charged is a very, very serious crime that will vindicate the public interest in finding out what happened here.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #2: Mr. Fitzgerald, do you have any evidence that the vice president of the United States, one of Mr. Libby's original sources for this information, encouraged him to leak it or encouraged him to lie about leaking it?

Mr. FITZGERALD: I'm not making allegations about anyone not charged in the indictment. Now let me back up, because I know what that sounds like to people if they're sitting at home. We don't talk about people that are not charged with a crime in the indictment. I would say that about anyone in this room who has nothing to do with the offenses. We make no allegation that the vice president committed any criminal act. We make no allegation that any of the other people who provided or discussed with Mr. Libby committed any criminal act. But as to any person you ask me a question about, other than Mr. Libby, I'm not going to comment on anything. That's not--please don't take that as any indication that someone has done something wrong. That's a standard practice. If you followed me in Chicago, I say that a thousand times a year and we just don't comment on people because we could start telling you, `Well, this person did nothing wrong, this person did nothing wrong,' and then if we stop commenting, then you'll start jumping to conclusions. So please take no more.

Mr. Isikoff.

Mr. MICHAEL ISIKOFF (Newsweek): All right. For all the sand thrown in your eyes, it sounds like you do know the identity of the leaker. There's a reference to a senior official at the White House, Official A, who had a discussion with Robert Novak about Joe Wilson's wife. Can you explain why that official was not charged?

Mr. FITZGERALD: I'll explain this. I know that people want to know whatever it is that we know and they're probably sitting at home with TVs thinking, `I want to jump through the TV, grab him by his collar and tell him to tell us everything they've figured out over the last two years.' We just can't do that. It's not because we enjoy holding back information from you. That's the law. And one of the things we do with a grand jury is we gather information and the explicit requirement is, if we're not going to charge someone with a crime, if we decide that a person did not commit a crime, we cannot prove a crime, doesn't merit prosecution, we do not stand up and say, `We gathered all this information on the commitment that we're going to follow the rules of grand jury secrecy which say we don't talk about people not charged with a crime,' and then at the end say, `Well, it's a little inconvenient not to give answers out, so I'll give it out anyway.' I can't give you answers on what we know and don't know other than what's charged in the indictment. It's not because I enjoy being in that position; it's because the law is that way. I actually think the law should be that way. We can't talk about information not contained in the four corners of the indictment.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #3: Sir, is Karl Rove off the hook and are there any other individuals who might be charged? You say you're not quite finished.

Mr. FITZGERALD: And all I can say is the same answer I gave before. If you ask me any name, I'm not going to comment on anyone named because we either charge someone or we don't talk about them. And don't read that answer in the context of the name you gave me.

Carol(ph)?

Unidentified Reporter #3: What can you say about what you're still working on then?

Mr. FITZGERALD: I can't. I mean, let's be--you know, I don't mean that fliply, but the grand jury doesn't give an announcement about what they're doing, what they're looking at unless they charge an indictment. I can tell you that no one wants this thing to be over as quickly I do, as quickly as Mr. Eckenrode does. I'd like to wake up in my bed in Chicago; he'd like to wake up in his bed in Philadelphia. And we recognize that we want to get this thing done. I will not end the investigation until I can look anyone in the eye and tell them that we have carried out our responsibility sufficiently to be sure that we've done what we could to make intelligent decisions about when to end the investigation. We hope to do that as soon as possible. I just hope that people will take a deep breath and just allow us to do--continue to do what we have to do.

Mr. FITZGERALD: Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #4: Mr. Fitzgerald, you said that there was damage done to all of us, damage done to the entire nation. Can you be any more specific about what kind of damage you're talking about?

Mr. FITZGERALD: The short answer is no, but I can just say this. I'm not going to comment on things beyond what's said in the indictment. I can say that for the people who work at the CIA and who work at other places, they have to expect that when they do their jobs that classified information will be protected. They have to expect that when they do their jobs that information about whether or not they're affiliated with the CIA will be protected. And they run a risk when they work for the CIA that something bad could happen to them. But they have to make sure that they don't run the risk that something bad's going to happen to them for something done by their own fellow government employees. But getting the specifics of the damage, I won't, but I do owe Carol the next question.

CAROL (Reporter): You've mentioned the importance to you of grand jury secrecy and you have been leak-free. But I want to know what your thoughts are about a series of leaks about your investigation. What was your interpretation of what some people have described as manipulative, selective leaking about your investigation by people close to your witnesses?

Mr. FITZGERALD: And all I can say is I--well, I'll just say this. I'm not going to comment on why certain things were leaked or any speculation I might have where it was leaked was from. I think the average person does not understand that the rule of grand jury secrecy binds the prosecutors and the grand jury. It binds the agents who come across the grand jury information. It binds the grand jurors. Any one of us could go to jail if we leaked that information. It does not bind witnesses. Witnesses can decide to tell their testimony or not. So if this were a bank robbery and we put a witness in the grand jury about the bank robbery, I would go to jail, he would go to jail and the grand jurors would go to jail if they walked out and told you about it. But the person who went into the grand jury would walk out and hold a press conference on the front steps. So they're not breaking the law by discussing the grand jury information. I would prefer, for the integrity of the investigation, it not be discussed, but I just think people may not understand that certain people are not restricted in talking about grand jury information and certain are. All I can do is make sure that myself and everyone on our team follows those rules.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #5: Mr. Fitzgerald, you said that it was OK for government officials to be discussing among themselves Mrs. Wilson's identity. Were you troubled, though, that at least a half dozen people outside the CIA seemed to be talking about this in the weeks before her name was disclosed?

Mr. FITZGERALD: My job is to investigate whether or not a crime is committed, can be proved and should be charged. I'm not going to comment on what to make beyond that. There's, you know--it's not my jurisdiction, not my job, not my judgment.

Yes, ma'am?

Unidentified Reporter #6: I know you just talked about having sand in your eyes when you have the obstruction charge here. Can you give us any sense of how you think you might---how long it might take you now to determine if there was this underlying crime that occurred beginning with the unauthorized--alleged unauthorized disclosure?

Mr. FITZGERALD: I can't and I wouldn't. And if I had predicted, you know, two years ago when it started when we'd be done, I would have been done a year ago. So I'm not--all I can tell you is as soon as we can get it done, we will.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #7: OK, you identified Mr. Fleischer as one of the people that Mr. Libby spoke with. Could you say who the counsel to the VP was and also the undersecretary of State that he spoke with?

Mr. FITZGERALD: We've ident--we refer to people by their titles in the indictment just because that's a practice. We don't allege they did anything wrong. But we said White House press secretary and we've talked about counsel for the vice president and I generally don't identify people beyond the indictment. And I'll talk to Randy Sanborn, who tells me what I'm allowed to do, at the break. If we can provide you those names, we will. I'm not so sure we can, so we better not do it in front of a microphone.

Let me just go over here.

Unidentified Reporter #8: In the end, was it worth keeping Judy Miller in jail for 85 days in this case? And can you say how important her testimony was in producing this indictment?

Mr. FITZGERALD: Let me just say this. No one wanted to have a dispute with The New York Times or anyone else. We can't talk generally about witnesses. There's much said on the public record. I would have wished nothing better that when the subpoenas were issued in August 2004, witnesses testified then and we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005. No one would have went to jail. I didn't have a vested interest in litigating it. I was not looking for a First Amendment showdown.

I also have to say my job was to find out what happened here, make reasoned judgments about what testimony was necessary, and then pursue it. And we couldn't walk away from that. I could not have told you a year ago that we think that there may be evidence that a crime is being committed here, obstruction, that there may be a crime behind it and I'm just going to walk away from it. And our job was to find the information responsibly. We then--when we issued the subpoenas, we thought long and hard before we did that. And I can tell you there's a lot of reporters whose reporting and contacts have touched upon this case that we never even talked to. We didn't bluff people. And what we decided to do was to make sure before we subpoenaed any reporter that we really needed that testimony.

In addition to that, we scrubbed it thoroughly within ourselves but we also, when we went to court, we could have taken the position that it's our decision whether to issue a subpoena, but we made sure that we put a detailed, classified, sealed filing before the district court judge, the chief judge, Hogan, in the District of Columbia. So we wanted to make sure that if he thought our efforts were off base, if what we were saying, representing to him was the case was off, that he would have those facts when he made the decision. Judge Hogan agreed and felt that we met whatever standard there might be for issuing a subpoena. Then it went up to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals with the same filing and they found the same results. Then it went to the Supreme Court.

So I think what we did in seeking that testimony, what was borne out by how the judges ruled, at the end of day, I don't know how you could ever resolve this case. To walk into you a year ago and say, `You know what? Forget the reporters, we have someone telling us that they told Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller that they didn't know if this information were true; they just heard it from other reporters; they didn't even know if he had a wife,' and charge a person with perjury only to find out that's what happened, that would be reckless. On the other hand, if we walked away and said, `Well, there are indications that, in fact, this is not how the conversation would happen; there were indications that there might be perjury or obstruction of justice here, but I'm going to fold up my tent and go home,' that would not fulfill our mandate.

I tell you, I will say this, I do not think that reporters should be subpoenaed anything close to routinely. It should be an extraordinary case. But if you're dealing with a crime--and what's different here is the transaction is between a person and a reporter, they're the eyewitness to the crime--if you walk away from that and don't talk to the eyewitness, you are doing a reckless job of either charging someone with a crime that may not turn out to have been committed--and that frightens me, because there are things that you can learn from a reporter that would show you the crime wasn't committed. What if, in fact, you know, the allegations turned out to be true that he said `Hey, I sourced it to other reporters; I don't know if it's true'? So I think the only way you can do an investigation like this is to hear from all the witnesses. I wish Ms. Miller spent not a second in jail. I wish we didn't have to spend time arguing very, very important issues and just got down to the brass tacks and made the call of where we were. But I think it had to be done.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #9: You said earlier in your statement here that Mr. Libby was the first person to leak this information outside of the government. Now first of all, that implies that there might have been other people inside the government who made such leaks. Secondly, in paragraph 21, the one about Official A, you implied that Novak might have heard this information about the woman, Mrs. Wilson, from another source, but you don't actually say that. What can you tell us about the existence that you know of or don't know of or whatever of other leakers? Are there definitely other leakers? Is this Official A a leaker or just a facilitator? Are you continuing to investigate other possible leakers?

Mr. FITZGERALD: All right, I'm afraid I'm going to have to find a polite way of repeating my answer to Mr. Isikoff's question, which is to simply say I can't go beyond the four corners of the indictment. And I'll probably just say I repeat it so I don't misstep and give you anything more than I should.

Yes?

Unidentified Reporter #10: Can you say whether or not you know whether Mr. Libby knew that Valerie Wilson's identity was covert and whether or not that was typical at all in your inability or your decision not to charge under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act?

Mr. FITZGERALD: Let me say two things. Number one, I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert, and anything I say is not intended to say anything beyond this: that she was a CIA officer from January 1st, 2002, forward. I will confirm that her association with the CIA was classified at that time through July 2003. And all I'll say is that, look, we have not made any allegation that Mr. Libby knowingly, intentionally outed a covert agent. We have not charged that and so I'm not making that assertion.

Yes, sir.

Unidentified Reporter #11: Would you oppose a congressional investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity and, if not, would you be willing to cooperate with such an investigation by handing over the work product of your investigation?

Mr. FITZGERALD: Well, I guess that's two questions and I'm not--I know I can answer the first--I can answer the second part. Turning over the work product--there are strict rules about grand jury secrecy if there were an investigation and, frankly, I have to pull the book out and get the people smarter than me about grand jury rules in Chicago and sit down and tell me how it works. My gut instinct is that we do not--very, very rarely is grand jury information shared with the Congress. And I also think I have to be careful about what my charter is here. I don't think it's my role to opine on whether the Justice Department would oppose or not oppose some other investigation. So I'm certainly not going to figure that out standing up here with a bunch of cameras pointed at me.

Yes, ma'am?

Unidentified Reporter #12: Mr. Fitzgerald, your critics are charging that you are a partisan who is conducting what, in essence, what...

Mr. FITZGERALD: For which party?

Unidentified Reporter #12: You tell us.

Mr. FITZGERALD: You tell me. I...

Unidentified Reporter #12: ...political witch-hunt. I mean, how do you respond to the--since you are in Washington...

Mr. FITZGERALD: OK. I don't know, you know, it's sort of `When did you stop beating your wife?' I've read--one day I read that I was a Republican hack; another day I read I was a Democratic hack, and the only thing I did between those two nights was sleep. I'm not partisan. I'm not registered as part of a party. And I'll leave it there.

Unidentified Reporter #13: You noted earlier that the grand jury's term expired, but you said something about holding it open. Or will you be working with a new grand jury?

Mr. FITZGERALD: The grand jury by its terms can serve--it was an 18-month grand jury by statute. It's my understanding it can only be extended six months. That six months expired. It's routine in long investigations that you would have available a new grand jury if you needed to go back to them and that's nothing unusual. And I don't want to raise any expectations by that. That's an ordinary practice.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #14: I think you've kind of answered this, but I assume that you have no plans and don't even think you'd be allowed to issue a final report of any sort?

Mr. FITZGERALD: You're correct. But let me explain that. I think people--what people may be confused about is that reports used to be issued by independent counsels. And one of the complaints about the independent counsel statute was that an ordinary citizen, when investigated, they're charged with a crime or they're not. If they're not charged with a crime, people don't talk about it. Because of the interest in making sure that--well, it was in the interest of the independent counsel as to making sure those investigations were done thoroughly, but then people ended up issuing reports for people not charged. And one of the criticisms leveled was that you should not issue reports about people who are not charged with a crime. That statute lapsed. I am not an independent counsel and I do not have the authority to write a report. And, frankly, I don't think I should have that authority. I think we should conduct this like any other criminal investigation, charge someone or be quiet.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #15: Isn't it true that Mr. Comey's letter to you makes you in essence almost a de facto attorney general and you can abide or not abide by the CFRs or the regulations as to whether or not to write a report or not to write a report? And the follow-up is, every special counsel prior to you has in fact written a report and then it over to Congress, and they've gotten around the grand jury issue as well.

Mr. FITZGERALD: Let me say this. I think any prior special counsel may have been special counsel appointed to--certain regulations for people outside of the Department of Justice, which I do not fit into. I'm not an independent counsel. I may be unique in this sense. I can tell you I'm very comfortable, very clear that I do not have that authority. And to the extent that I was given sort of the acting attorney general hat for this case, it's the acting attorney general, but the attorney general can't violate the law. And the law on grand jury secrecy is the law. So I may have a lot of power for this one case as acting attorney general hat, but I followed the Code of Federal Regulations in this case and I certainly would follow the law.

Yes, ma'am?

Unidentified Reporter #16: Mr. Fitzgerald, the Republicans created some talking points in anticipation of your indictment and they said that if you didn't indict on the underlying crimes and you indicted on things exactly like you did indict--false statements, perjury, obstruction--these were, quote-unquote, "technicalities" and that it really was overreaching and excessive. And since--when and if they make those claims, now that you have indicted, you won't respond, I want to give you an opportunity now to respond to that allegation, which they may make. It seems like that's a road they're going now.

Mr. FITZGERALD: And I don't know who provided those talking points. I assu...

Unidentified Reporter #16: ...(Unintelligible)...

Mr. FITZGERALD: I'm not asking.

Unidentified Reporter #16: ...(Unintelligible)...

Mr. FITZGERALD: OK.

Unidentified Reporter #16: ...(Unintelligible) of your...

Mr. FITZGERALD: I'll be blunt. That talking point won't fly. If you're doing a national security investigation, if you're trying to find out who compromised the identity of a CIA officer and you go before a grand jury and if the charges are proven--remember, there's a presumption of innocence--but if it is proven that the chief of staff to the vice president went before a federal jury and lied under oath repeatedly and fabricated a story about how he learned this information, how he passed it on and we prove obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements to the FBI, that is a very, very serious matter.

And I would say this. I think people might not understand this. We as prosecutors and FBI agents have to deal with false statements, obstruction of justice and perjury all the time. The Department of Justice charges those statutes all the time. When I was in New York working as a prosecutor, we brought those cases because we realized that the truth is the engine of our judicial system. If you compromise the truth, the whole process is lost. In Philadelphia, where Jack works, they prosecute false statements and obstruction of justice. When I got to Chicago, I knew the people before me had prosecuted false statements, obstruction and perjury cases and we do it all the time. And if a truck driver pays a bribe or someone else does something where they go to a grand jury afterward and lie about it, they get indicted all the time. Any notion that anyone might have that there is a different standard for a high official, that this is somehow a singling out obstruction of justice or perjury, is upside-down. If we--if these facts are true, if we were to walk away from this and not charge obstruction of justice and perjury, we might as well just hand in our jobs because our jobs in the criminal justice system is to make sure people tell us the truth. And when it's a high-level official and a very sensitive investigation, it is a very, very serious matter that no one should take lightly.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #17: This doesn't relate to the charges so I'm hoping maybe you can shed some light on this. But in your investigation, have you determined how it was that Ambassador Wilson became the person to be sent to Niger to investigate the situation, how directly involved was his wife in this selection, how much pressure she may have put on officials? And also I'm wondering about the cooperation you've received from the CIA.

Mr. FITZGERALD: And I think all government agencies that we have turned to for cooperation have cooperated. I'm not going to comment on the circumstances of the trip. I think the only thing that's relevant, frankly, is the belief in the mind of some people that she was involved in the trip or responsible for sending the trip. The dispute as to whether in fact she was is irrelevant to the charge before us. What we're talking about is why--the investigation was why someone compromised her identity and the issue in this indictment is whether or not Mr. Libby knowingly and intentionally lied about the facts. And whatever happened in that trip and what role, if any, the wife played is really irrelevant and not our focus. What is set forth is a belief on his part that she played a role in the trip, and that is set forth in the indictment. Whether that belief is a hundred percent true or a hundred percent false or a mixture of both is sort of irrelevant, but it does set forth in there that he had that belief that she was involved in the trip.

Go ahead.

Unidentified Reporter #18: Pat, are you at all concerned that Mr. Libby or his counsel sought to attack or discourage the testimony of Judy Miller by withholding a so-called personal waiver, allowing her to testify, notwithstanding a pledge of confidentiality, ...(unintelligible) letter to her that she reportedly received when she was in jail?

Mr. FITZGERALD: And I'm not going to comment on anything that's not in the indictment. I can tell you that we're not relying upon anything other than the indictment which the obstruction of justice charges set forth, the statements by Mr. Libby to the FBI and the testimony under oath to the grand jury as being the basis of the obstruction charge and nothing else.

Yes, sir? I'm sorry.

Unidentified Reporter #19: Thank you. The indictment describes Lewis Libby giving classified information concerning the identity of a CIA agent to some individuals who are not eligible to receive that information. Can you explain why that does not in and of itself constitute a crime?

Mr. FITZGERALD: That's a good question and I think knowing that he gave the information to someone who was outside the government not entitled to receive it, and knowing that the information was classified is not enough. You need to know, at the time that he transmitted the information, he appreciated that it was classified information, that he knew it, or acted, you know, in certain statutes with recklessness. And that is sort of what gets back to my point. In trying to figure that out, you need to know where the truth is.

So our allegation is, in trying to drill down and find out exactly what we got here, if we receive false information, that process is frustrated. But at the end of the day, I think I want to say one more thing, which is when you do a criminal case, if you find a violation, it doesn't really in the end matter what statute you use if you vindicate the interest. If Mr. Libby is proven to have done what we've alleged, convicting him of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements, very serious felonies, will vindicate the interest of the public in making sure he's held accountable. It's not as if, you know, you say, well, this was person was convicted but under the wrong statute, I think. But I will say this. The whole point here is that we're going to make fine distinctions and make sure that before we charge someone with a knowing, intentional crime, we want to focus on why they did it, what they knew and what they appreciated, we need to know the truth about what they said and what they knew.

Carol?

CAROL: Does that mean you don't feel that you know the truth about whether he intentionally did this and he knew and appreciated it, or does that mean your you're exercising your prosecutorial discretion and being conservative?

Mr. FITZGERALD: Well, I don't want to--look, a person is charged with a crime, they're presumed innocent. And I haven't charged him with any other crime. But all I'm saying is the harm in the obstruction crime is it shields us from knowing the full truth. I won't go beyond that.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #20: Were you--first, will you actually prosecute this case individually yourself? And second, have you learned anything about the way inside Washington works that surprises you through this investigation?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FITZGERALD: The latter, yes. And the former, yes and no. I will be involved in the prosecution, but if you meant individually will I personally participate, yes. If you meant individually--I haven't done this individually. I have a great team from DC, Main Justice, FBI and Chicago and it'll be a team effort.

Unidentified Reporter #21: Yes, if during the course of the public trial, information comes out with regard to other people who have leaked, the source of the leak, or other people who have exposed Ms. Plame's identity, would this then reverberate back to you since you had been studying this, if new information is forthcoming during the course of the trial?

Mr. FITZGERALD: If I can take it with--answer your question with a bucket of cold water and say let's not read too much into it, any new information that would ever come to light while the investigation is open would be handled by our investigative team concerning these facts. So if there's anything that we haven't learned yet that we learn that should be addressed, we will address it. But I don't want to create any great expectations out there by giving sort of a general answer.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #22: Just to be clear--we touched on this earlier. With the grand jury's time being done, you have no plans to impanel another grand jury related to this case at all; is that correct?

Mr. FITZGERALD: No, I think what I said is we could use any other grand jury or avail of another grand jury. We couldn't use the grand jurors whose service expired today any further.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #23: Mr. Fitzgerald, can you clarify for us, this is not just the word of three reporters vs. the vice president's chief of staff--and I ask that in the sense of how it may be difficult to proceed at trial with memories about something that happened long ago.

Mr. FITZGERALD: And I can't comment on the trial evidence and I won't tell you the witnesses, but we simp--you know, I can't. Sorry. (Unintelligible)...

Unidentified Reporter #23: But I guess to put it another way, why are you confident that this is the right thing to do, given that you're dealing with memories of people from something long ago?

Mr. FITZGERALD: And what I can tell you is a prosecutor is allowed to lay out the charges and a prosecutor is not allowed to vouch for the charges. And what I'll say is we're comfortable proceeding. But you're right, let's go to a trial, let's reserve judgment. And our burden is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. By indicting him, we're committing to doing that. But he is presumed innocent and let's let the process play out.

Yes?

Unidentified Reporter #24: Can you explain in general terms why a suspect or witness would be given multiple opportunities to come back before the grand jury? Are there times that you give them the opportunity to set the record straight?

Mr. FITZGERALD: And I don't want to answer that in this context because I think people will read too much into it. So I'm not going to give a hypothetical answer to something where I think your questions are based upon the belief they're not hypothetical. Sorry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FITZGERALD: I don't want to comment on generally what happens in grand jury investigations when you're here after we've just returned an indictment from a particular grand jury investigation. There's no way that people would read my answer as other than commenting on this grand jury investigation, is what I'm trying to say.

Unidentified Reporter #24: ...(Unintelligible) at the last minute that you would you allow a defense lawyer to come in and see you one more time and to make a case--you know, it was very curious, at the last minute, there was considerable FBI activity. Wilson's neighbors were interviewed. Witnesses were contacted at the last minute. What are we supposed to read into that? You were just tightening up your case? You know, crossing the T's and dotting the I's? There was a considerable flurry of activity... (technical difficulties)

Mr. FITZGERALD: I think--with all respect, I think--you know, I think someone interviewed the person who shined my shoes the other day, I think. We've been doing lots of interest, but if suddenly you put a camera on everyone working on the case and follow them when they have coffee and have lunch, anything we do in the ordinary course of business looks like a flurry of activity. There was a flurry of attention. I won't go beyond that. Look, people, when we investigate things, we're always going out and doing things. And I'm not going to do a timeline. We obviously wanted to get as much done before October 28th as we could. I would've loved to have loved to have...

CONAN: You're listening to special coverage from NPR News.

Mr. FITZGERALD: ...this grand jury served long and hard and was very, very attentive. We're grateful for their service. So I wanted to get as much accomplished before October 28th, but I wouldn't read anything beyond that. I'm not going to comment on any discussions we had with any counsel.

Yes, sir?

Unidentified Reporter #25: A lot of American people who are opposed to the war, critics of the administration, have looked to your investigation with the hope that in some way they might see this indictment as a vindication of their argument that the administration took the country to war on false premises. Does this indictment do that?

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