Key Players React to Libby Verdict Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of former CIA operative Valerie Plame, talks about the verdict of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby; and Matt Cooper, a former Time writer, who initially refused to disclose his sources in the grand jury investigation, also talks with Melissa Block about the verdict.

Key Players React to Libby Verdict

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/7738468/7738471" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

We're joined now by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband, of course, of Valerie Plame Wilson. It was his op-ed piece in the New York Times in 2003 that led the White House to try to discredit him and ultimately led to the prosecution of Lewis Libby. Ambassador Wilson, what do you take away from the verdict today?

Mr. JOSEPH WILSON (Former U.S. Ambassador): Well, what I take away from the verdict is two things. One, I think it's a very sad day when a senior public servant is convicted of crimes, particularly the crime of obstructing justice. Because, after all, defending the Constitution of the United States is one of the obligations of a public servant. On the other hand, I take away from it sort of reaffirmation that this is a nation of laws and that no individual is above the law.

BLOCK: We heard the comments of one of the juror speaking after the verdict, saying that they were thinking, what are we doing with this guy? Where is Rove? Where are the other guys? Did those comments resonate with you?

Mr. WILSON: Well, they do, and of course we have a civil suit that we filed so that we can question Mr. Rove, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Armitage, and perhaps others about precisely what their involvement in this matter was. Now that this trial is over, the president of the United States and the vice president should have no more reason not to share with the American people their roles in this. I would argue that as a start, the president and the vice president ought to release transcripts of their meetings with Mr. Fitzgerald.

BLOCK: You mentioned the civil suit. This is a civil case you're pursuing, charging that White House officials and others conspired to retaliate against you. What new evidence do you think you might be able to introduce in that case should it come to trial?

Mr. WILSON: Well, I think the important thing for us is to be able to get discovery. That way we can begin to ask these people some rather pointed questions about their involvement, and that will hopefully unleash more facts about senior officials' involvement in this matter.

BLOCK: If President Bush were to pardon Lewis Libby, how would you feel about that?

Mr. WILSON: Well, I think that our system of justice requires that justice be served, and I would hope that the president, because this is something where he has distinct conflict of interest - this is, after all, an assistant to the president who has been convicted - that he would refuse himself and stay out of this matter.

BLOCK: In other words, not issue a pardon?

Mr. WILSON: Absolutely.

BLOCK: Ambassador Wilson, thanks very much.

Mr. WILSON: Thanks very much.

BLOCK: That's Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of Valerie Plame Wilson.

As we mentioned earlier, Lewis Libby was acquitted of one count today. It was the charge that he lied to the FBI about his conversations with former Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper. Cooper is now Washington editor for Portfolio magazine, and he joins us from his office in Washington. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. MATTHEW COOPER (Washington Editor, Portfolio Magazine): Thanks, Melissa.

BLOCK: Were you surprised that that count was the only one leading to acquittal.

Mr. COOPER: I guess I'm a little surprised that was just why - you know, I don't think it would be a four-one split in count, but it makes a certain amount of sense.

BLOCK: You testified first before the grand jury and then at the trial under subpoena. What do you think the lessons of this case are for reporters, for confidential sources?

Mr. COOPER: Well, you know, Melissa, saying don't quote me on this or let me tell you something off the record is a way of life in Washington. It's a way of life for a lot of reporters around the country covering other things. But it's a good reminder that that agreement between reporter and source really has no basis on law, only in honor.

BLOCK: I wonder what you see as the broader lesson of this whole experience. And we have now this conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice, but nothing about the leak itself, which is how this whole thing started out, as a leak investigation.

Mr. COOPER: Well, Melissa, it's not the first time we've seen things like this. You know, Al Capone got convicted on tax charges. So these things can wander far off field. I don't think in any way that it diminishes the embarrassment to the administration.

BLOCK: You know, part of Lewis Libby's defense was that he was being made the fall guy for the administration, for something far larger than his own actions. What do you make of that argument in the end?

Mr. COOPER: I think it was curious to a lot of people why some other people weren't charged on the case. I mean, Ari Fleischer's statements to the grand jury seem to have been false. So why wasn't he charged? I think that people have raised that question. But, you know, the defense came out of the gates with a very strong charge that Libby had been set up to protect other people in the White House. And then they presented no evidence that there was an effort to set up Libby. I think if he'd presented some evidence on that front, he might have gotten traction.

BLOCK: Matthew Cooper was one of the many reporters who testified at the Lewis Libby trial. He's now Washington editor for Portfolio magazine. Thanks for being with us.

Mr. COOPER: Thanks, Melissa.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.