How long is Tim Russert going to remain silent about his role in the Valerie Plame investigation? He apparently has the okay from prosecutors to speak freely, but remains mum. The latest dispatch from the AP detailing how Karl Rove and Scooter Libby testified before the grand jury only underscores the need for the "Meet the Press" anchor to come forward as a journalist and describe the conversation he had with Libby back in July 2003, when senior members of the White House seemed intent on maligning Joseph Wilson. Russert can talk now or he can talk later, because judging from the AP's reporting, if indictments are handed down Russert may end up being a star witness.
Here's the key passage from the AP:
"Libby's testimony stated that Rove had told him about his contact with [Bob] Novak and that Libby had told Rove about information he had gotten about Wilson's wife from NBC's Tim Russert, according to a person familiar with the information shown to Rove.
"Prosecutors, however, have a different account from Russert. The network has said Russert told authorities [he] did not know about Wilson's wife's identity until it was published and therefore could not have told Libby about it."
So, Libby called Russert in July of 2003, before the infamous Novak column was published. Libby and Russert talked about Plame. Libby later told Rove he learned information about Plame from Russert. Russert says not true. Here, in part, is how an NBC statement read when it was released on August 9, 2004, right after Russert agreed to testify: "Mr. Russert was not a recipient of the leak, which resulted in the public disclosure of the name and CIA employment of Valerie Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson." NBC was clear--Libby did not talk to Russert about Plame's identity. But did Russert tell Libby? Back to the NBC statement:
"Mr. Russert told the Special Prosecutor that, at the time of that conversation, he did not know Ms. Plame's name or that she was a CIA operative and that he did not provide that information to Mr. Libby. Mr. Russert said that he first learned Ms. Plame's name and her role at the CIA when he read a column written by Robert Novak later that month." [Emphasis added.]
What's plainly left unsaid in the carefully worded statement is whether Russert, without mentioning her name or specific status, told Libby that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. According to the AP's reporting that appears to be what Libby told the grand jury; he got information about Plame from Russert.
Does NBC feel the need to clear any of this up?