Why Russert Didn’t Want to Testify in Plame Case

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By: E&P Staff

Lawyers for NBC News reporter Tim Russert suspected in the spring of 2004 that his testimony could hurt I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Russert resisted testifying at the time about private conversations with Libby, according to court papers released Monday, The Washington Post reports today.

“Russert was aware that a special prosecutor probing the leak of a CIA operative’s name knew of his summer 2003 telephone conversation with Libby, and that Libby had released him from any promise of confidentiality,” the Post’s Carol D. Leonnig writes. But Russert and his attorneys “argued in previously sealed court filings in June 2004 that he should not have to tell a grand jury about that conversation, because it would harm Russert’s relationship with other sources.

“Russert ultimately testified under oath about the conversation after a federal judge ordered him to do so in July 2004. The information Russert provided became important evidence that Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald used to indict Libby in October on five felony counts of lying to the FBI and a grand jury, and of obstruction of justice.”

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