WASHINGTON - A transcript subpoenaed in the CIA leak probe reveals the White House press operation began efforts to personally discredit former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV days before a columnist blew the cover of his CIA-officer wife.
As Newsday reported Friday, a federal grand jury served three subpoenas on the White House in January for Air Force One telephone records and a transcript of a press briefing during the presidential trip to Africa the week before Robert Novak's July 14 column identifying CIA officer Valerie Plame.
The grand jury also subpoenaed White House records of staff contacts with an expanded list of more than two dozen reporters who wrote or broadcast about administration concerns over Plame, Wilson and his CIA report that rejected rumors Iraq tried to buy uranium in Niger.
The White House Friday confirmed it had received subpoenas. "We're still in the process of complying fully," said spokesman Scott McClellan.
The efforts to discredit Wilson came after he went public July 6 with criticism of President George W. Bush for mentioning the uranium rumor in January 2003 in his State of the Union address which helped make a case for the Iraq war.
In the subpoenaed July 12 transcript of a briefing in Nigeria, then-press secretary Ari Fleischer called Wilson a "lower-level official" and said Wilson had made flawed and incomplete statements. Fleischer did not return calls Friday.
Meanwhile, many of the journalists on the subpoena's list have reported various attempts by the Bush administration last year to discredit Wilson by suggesting his wife arranged for the CIA to send him to Niger.
For example, Time Magazine reported three days after Novak's column that unnamed administration officials had described Plame's relationship to Wilson and suggested she had gotten him the mission.
One journalist, NBC reporter and "Meet the Press" host Andrea Mitchell, appears to have several connections of interest.
On July 6, she interviewed Wilson about his trip to Niger, and two days later she reported officials tried to cast Wilson as a Democratic "partisan."
And on July 16, her husband, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, was honored at a White House reception held to celebrate former President Gerald Ford's 90th birthday. The grand jury subpoenaed the guest list, which has not been released.
"I shouldn't talk about it," Mitchell said Friday, declining to say if she attended the reception. Asked why the grand jury might be interested in it, she said, "I can't even imagine."
Probe's scope includes media figures
A federal grand jury has subpoenaed White House records on administration contacts with more than two dozen journalists and news media outlets in a special investigation into the improper leak of a covert CIA official's identity to columnist Robert Novak last July. They include:
Robert Novak, "Crossfire," "Capital Gang" and the Chicago Sun-Times
Knut Royce and Timothy M. Phelps, Newsday
Walter Pincus, Richard Leiby, Mike Allen, Dana Priest and Glenn Kessler, The Washington Post
Matthew Cooper, John Dickerson, Massimo Calabresi, Michael Duffy and James Carney, Time magazine
Evan Thomas, Newsweek
Andrea Mitchell, "Meet the Press," NBC
Chris Matthews, "Hardball,"
Tim Russert, Campbell Brown, NBC
Nicholas D. Kristof, David E. Sanger and Judith Miller, The New York Times
Greg Hitt and Paul Gigot, The Wall Street Journal
John Solomon, The Associated Press
Jeff Gannon, Talon News
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