Former Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper testified Wednesday in the trial of former Cheney adviser Lewis "Scooter" Libby that he first learned the identify of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson from White House adviser Karl Rove and then confirmed Plame's identity with Libby.
Cooper told the jury that in July 2003 he was working on a story addresssing the controversy surrounding claims made in the president's State of the Union that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium in Niger.
In a New York Times Op-Ed, Wilson's husband, Iraq war-critic Ambassador Joseph Wilson, asserted that the Bush administration had ignored prewar intelligence on Iraq.
Cooper said Rove told him: "Don't get too far out on Wilson...a number of things are going to be coming out that would cast him differently."
Cooper also told the jury that Rove said Wilson's wife "worked on [Weapons of Mass Destruction] at the Agency."
Cooper recounted a July 12, 2003 conversation he had with Libby where Libby allegedly confirmed Rove's assertions about Valerie Wilson by saying, "I heard that too."
Matthew Cooper is the second journalist to testify in the perjury and obstruction trial against Libby. Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller was the first.
Miller's testimony over Tuesday and Wednesday pertained to conversations she had with Libby about CIA operative Valerie Wilson, conversations whose details were sharply questioned by the defense because they allegedly occurred before Libby says he learned Plame's identity.
Judge Walton ruled this morning that Libby's defense attorneys had to limit their questions during cross-examination about Miller's sources strictly to Joseph and Valerie Wilson.
One of Libby's defense lawyers, William Jeffress, tried to argue that the way Miller learned about Valerie Wilson established Miller's lack of credibility.
"The real issue is her credibility....she can't name a single person she spoke to about Joe Wilson," Jeffress told Judge Walton.
Jeffress also pointed to the comments made by Miller in her October 2005 grand jury testimony. "In the grand jury, she can't be certain who she spoke to." Jeffress said.
In 2005 when Miller testified before a grand jury about learning from Libby about Valerie Wilson's job at the CIA, "I don't remember if that was the first time but it was among the first times I had ever heard it."
Questioned if she had heard about it before her meeting with Libby, Miller then told the jury, "I believe it was the first time but I can't be absolutely, absolutely certain."
"This tends to show she got this information before she spoke to Mr. Libby...who were they?" Jeffress said.
Once Miller took the witness stand this morning for a sharp cross-examination, Jeffress pounced on her memories and previous statements to the grand jury and a TV show called "The Digital Age."
Jeffress showed the jury a clip from the show where Miller said, "I had conversations with senior government officials, and not-so senior government officials about Ms. Plame, Mr Wilson and this issue."
Jeffress then tried to have Miller reveal her sources. "Who were those senior government officials?"
Miller said that she was referring to Mr. Wilson in her show appearance to represent the larger issue of the Niger-Iraq controversy.
Jeffress also returned to the fact that Miller had Joe Wilson's phone number in her notes as she worked on her story about the Iraq WMD hunt and questions about pre-war intelligence. "I cant remember who told me that Joe Wilson may be helpful."
Miller was questioned extensively about her June 23, 2003 meeting with Libby where he allegedly told her that Wilson's wife worked in the "non-proliferation bureau."
Miller said she had been confused about the word "bureau" because she assumed it was referencing the FBI.
The defense also asked Miller about her notes and the incorrect names she had for Wilson's wife where she had written "Valerie Flame."
"Where did you get this information?" Jeffress asked?
Miller told the jury, "I don't remember."
"It didn't come from Mr. Libby." Jeffress stated to which Miller said, "I don't believe it did."
Attempting to demonstrate that there may be doubts about Miller's testimony supporting the prosecution Miller was then shown another grand jury excerpt where she said that after Wilson published his op-ed "I decided to ask as many people as I could think of."
Miller testified that after Wilson's op-ed ran she thought it was odd that a person connected with the CIA on WMD issues would be making voracious claims about the administration skewing intelligence.
Under re-direct examination by Fitzgerald, Miller testified that during her meetings with Libby she was more focused on working on Iraq WMD issues and that Mr. Libby was focused on who-said-what of the State of the Union.
"I was focused on Chemical and biological weapons, not the he said she said, Washington politics," Miller said.