The Note: From This Podium



The place: the White House briefing room.

The time: the future.

"I have a statement to make before taking your questions."

"Now that the special counsel has informed me that I will not be charged in his investigation, I thought I should come to this podium and tell you the straight Texas truth about my role in this case."

"In short, my counsel advises me that there is no controlling legal authority that says that any of my activities violated any law."

"Just kidding. Lighten up, Plante."

"When news reports began regarding allegations that Valerie Wilson's name was improperly released to the media, I was asked by several colleagues here at the White House if I had played a role in illegally releasing the name of Mrs. Wilson. I said at the time that I had not. That was my best recollection at the time I was asked."

"Subsequently, three things occurred. One, the special counsel's investigation began, and both he and the President -- as well as the White House counsel -- asked those of us working in the government not to speak publicly about the case in any way."

"Two, my colleague and friend Scott McClellan on several occasions repeated what I had in good faith told him -- that I had not played any part in breaking the law and disclosing her name. As a result, he mislead you more often than my lawyer, Luskin, which is really something when you think about it."

"Third, after an e-mail was belatedly discovered through the normal search process at the White House, my recollection was refreshed and I recalled that I did have one brief conversation with one reporter in which I mentioned Mrs. Wilson's role in her husband's trip to Niger."

"Because of the first development -- the absolute barrier to speaking about the case -- I was unable to deal in a timely manner with the second two developments in a public way. This had the unfortunate effect of bringing into question the credibility of the White House and my own public credibility. For that, I am sorry."

"But let's be clear. I never was knowingly untruthful with my colleagues, the grand jury, the President, the FBI, or the special counsel. And I did not break any laws. And I think that Mr. Fitzgerald will agree that I broke no laws. In other words, I can now go from being 'Official A,' back to being just plain ol' 'Karl.'"

"But, hey, I would not have hesitated to be honest about it if HAD remembered any discussions about Mr. and Mrs. 'I-figured-it-all-out-in-Niger-over-some-green-tea.' Let's not forget that Mr. Wilson made a series of statements about his fact-finding that a Senate Committee has since found to be false -- and that he repeated, and repeats more or less still today, in an effort to suggest wilful deception of the American people by this government."

"His wife's position in the CIA was only interesting to anyone because it answered the question of how he came to be sent to Niger. He described his trip in a different way, because he was puffing his role and attacking the credibility of the President and the Vice President. So why shouldn't this White House have set the record straight?"

"You folks want to argue that these roads can only be travelled one way: that Ellsberg can put out the Pentagon Papers, or that former CIA agents can write books and make disclosures, but only when the Office of the Presidency is being challenged: you think the White House, under attack, cannot defend itself and put out the essential facts as it sees them. I just don't see it that way."

"You say: whatever we had to say, should have been publicly, openly stated. Come on! Not one of you mean it -- not one of you. Anyone of you would have taken a leak, or used some information from me, before you took one step into one of these shout-a-thons in the White House press room. And you also know that it would have been far smarter for this Administration to put out the information on background, than to engage with Wilson publicly and raise the visibility of his charges or enhance his credibility. It would have been malpractice of a high order to have done things differently."

" And let's not pretend that any of you give a hoot for the protection of intelligence agents. Most of you think that we need protection FROM intelligence agents."

"Let me be clear. I had two very brief conversations with reporters about Mrs. Wilson. Both conversations began as talks about other topics. By the time of both conversations, I was under the impression that Mrs. Wilson's employment at the CIA was widely known in Washington, including among reporters. In both instances, I briefly engaged on the topic of Mrs. Wilson not to disclose her employment, but to discourage reporters from writing stories about Mr. Wilson, by putting his trip in the proper context."

"This kind of discussion --- and this kind of innocent disclosure -- occurs hundreds of times a day in Washington. By virtue of his decision not to bring charges against me, Mr. Fitzgerald seemed to agree that I broke no law in my actions."

"It has become clear, however, in retrospect, that the fact of Mrs. Wilson's employment at the CIA was classified. When I discussed that information with Mr. Cooper, I did not know that. But I should have checked. Because President Bush expects all of us on his staff to meet the highest standards, I have voluntarily relinquished my security classification and will no longer have access to classified information while I work at the White House."

"As the weeks went on, I very much wanted to set the record straight, with the country and with my colleagues, particularly Scott McClellan, who spoke on my behalf. But, as I said, there was no ambiguity about the wishes of the President and, perhaps more importantly, the special counsel. I was simply unable to speak out."

"I know that for some, my explanation about what happens comes later than they would have liked. And, again, for that I am sorry."

"But in the words of our third-greatest president: I am not a crook."

"I knew when I came to Washington that things were rough here, but I never expected there to be stakeouts on my lawn and reporters itemizing the contents of my garage -- or Ted Wells cross-examining Tim Russert."

"I came here to help a great man lead and reform this country. I plan to take your questions today, then go back to work for the American people -- balancing the budget, cutting taxes, making sure every child has a chance to learn, and making America safe from terrorist attacks."

"And as we all know, the Democrat Party is still crouching in therapy sessions around the country, complaining about civil rights violations of suspected terrorists. And that's why the Republican Party, which is keeping America safe in a dangerous world, will defy second-term convention wisdom and return majorities to the House and Senate."


Elsewhere, President Bush is in Mar del Plata, Argentina, for the Summit of the Americas. His events include bilateral meetings with the president of Argentina and the president of Chile as well as participation in the Summit's First Plenary Session and a dinner with Heads of State.

Democratic Sens. Rockefeller, Levin, and Feinstein hold a press conference on "Phase II" of the Senate Intelligence Committee's inquiry into pre-war intelligence in the Senate Gallery at 9:30 am ET.

The House meets at 9:00 am ET and the Senate meets at 9:30 am.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld welcomes Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to the Pentagon at 11:00 am ET.

The Labor Department announced this morning that the U.S. economy added 56,000 jobs in October and that the unemployment rate dipped to 5 percent.

The House Government Reform Committee holds an Avian flu hearing with HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt at 10:00 am ET in Rayburn 2154.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) begins his day by calling into four talk radio stations – KFI Los Angeles, KSFO San Francisco, KERN Bakersfield, and KMJ Fresno. He then holds a 2:15 pm ET campaign event in Torrance and a 4:45 pm ET campaign event at the 24 Hour Fitness in Sunnyvale, CA.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine has a busy day of campaigning planned. He starts the day at Rosslyn Metro station and ends it at a 6:30 pm ET victory reception with Gov. Mark Warner (D) at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA.

Former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore has an equally busy day of campaigning planned. He campaigns with Sen. George Allen (R-VA) at 10:30 am ET in Charlottesville and at 1:00 pm ET in Lynchburg. Kilgore stumps with Rep. Virgil Goode in Martinsville at 5:30 pm ET and in Danville at 7:30 pm ET. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will join Kilgore, Allen, and Sen. John Warner (R) for a fly around Virginia this weekend.

Starting early this morning New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg campaigned at Brooklyn subway stops as commuters made their way to work.

Fernando Ferrer is campaigning today with the help of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the Puerto Rico delegation.

Democratic candidate Jon Corzine is out campaigning with commuters this morning and then heads off to Newark to meet and greet the rest of the day at senior centers, cultural centers and with local merchants. The day wraps up with a "Corzine connection house party" in West Orange, New Jersey and then the candidate makes remarks at 7:45 pm ET dinner.

New Jersey's Republican gubernatorial candidate, Doug Forrester, campaigns in Washington Township, Mullica Hill, Aldine, Vineland, and Pittsgrove today. (Note: His 4:00 pm ET event in Aldine is a "walk with the cows.")

Committee bookers and press secretaries for Republican members of Congress are holding an "off-the-record happy hour" on the Speaker's balcony from 5:00-7:30 pm ET today.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) begins a promotional tour for his new book, "Between Worlds," today. Richardson has several promotional events planned in New York, DC, and Philadelphia. He will appear on several national television and radio shows, including "Imus," "Charlie Rose," CNN's "American Morning," and MSNBC's "Hardball."

Be sure to tune into "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday morning. George will talk with Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) about Judge Alito, the Senate showdown over pre-war intelligence, the war in Iraq, and turmoil at the White House. The roundtable is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Linda Douglass, Fareed Zakaria, and George F. Will. George also interviews Microsoft's Bill Gates.

ABC/WP Poll:

The results of the new ABC News/Washington Post poll are in:

"Bush's Popularity Reaches New Low," blares the Washington Post's front page.

In their write-up of the poll, Richard Morin and Dan Balz write that the survey underscores how several pillars of Bush's presidency have "begun to crumble under the combined weight of events and White House mistakes."

"For the first time in his presidency a majority of Americans question the integrity of President Bush, and growing doubts about his leadership have left him with record negative ratings on the economy, Iraq and even the war on terrorism. . . "

"On almost every key measure of presidential character and performance, the survey found that Bush has never been less popular with the American people. Currently 39 percent approve of the job he is doing as president, while 60 percent disapprove of his performance in office -- the highest level of disapproval ever recorded for Bush in Post-ABC polls."

"Virtually the only possible bright spot for Bush in the survey was generally favorable, if not quite enthusiastic, early reaction to his latest Supreme Court nominee, Samuel A. Alito Jr."

"Half of Americans say Alito should be confirmed by the Senate, and less than a third view him as too conservative, the poll found."

"Bush's approval ratings have been in decline for months, but on issues of personal trust, honesty and values, Bush has suffered some of his most notable declines. Moreover, Bush has always retained majority support on his handling of the U.S. campaign against terrorism -- until now, when 51 percent have registered disapproval."

"The CIA leak case has apparently contributed to a withering decline in how Americans view Bush personally. The survey found that 40 percent now view him as honest and trustworthy -- a 13 percentage point drop in the past 18 months. Nearly 6 in 10 -- 58 percent -- said they have doubts about Bush's honesty, the first time in his presidency that more than half the country has questioned his personal integrity."

Fitzgerald investigation: Karl Rove:

The New York Times' Johnston and Stevenson break news in saying that Fitzgerald is now only looking at Rove's statements regarding his conversation with Matt Cooper, although he once examined whether Rove was truthful with the nation's chief law enforcement officer. LINK

And they have this, responding to yesterday's Washington Post story: "People with close ties to Mr. Bush and Republicans who work with officials in the top ranks of the White House staff said there had been no discussion about Mr. Rove stepping down if he is not indicted. They said that any serious consideration of how Mr. Rove should address his role in the case had been put off until after Mr. Fitzgerald completes his inquiry into Mr. Rove."

Fitzgerald investigation:

Jeffrey Rosen has a must-read New Republic piece in which he denounces Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby and the excesses of all special counsels. LINK

In one tour de force (must read) piece, the Wall Street Journal ed board reveals that Dow Jones has filed a motion to get access to Judge Tatel's sealed opinion regarding Judy Miller; demonstrates their contempt for the MSM; pretends it always come down on the side of liberty (when in conflict with national security); acts as if its mission is to clear up matters so bloggers don't run amok; and tells Patrick Fitzgerald to close up shop.

The New York Times has a dispatch from Rome which details the Italian investigation into the forged yellowcake documents as well as the closing of the related FBI probe. Note to bloggers: you'll have a field day with this one. LINK

The New York Times' Doug Jehl writes on Eric S. Edelman, an under secretary of defense and former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Cheney, and if he told the Senate enough about his cameo in the Fitzgerald investigation during his confirmation process. LINK

Jehl gets John Warner to say that Edelman "would have been well advised" to tell the committee more.

In an op-ed for, Dennis Kelleher, legislative director to a Democratic Senator, argues that Scooter Libby's possible motivation for not telling the truth was to avoid getting indicted in October of 2004, in the heat of the presidential campaign. LINK

This is a big Democratic talking point now, fyi.

Fitzgerald investigation: Scooter Libby arraigned:

The New York Times with NOD: LINK

The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig with NOD: LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Schmitt with NOD: LINK

The New York Daily News on same: LINK

The New York Times' Lichtblau has a mini-profile of Judge Walton. LINK

Richard Sisk writes in the New York Daily News that Walton is both "tough on crime" and opposed to releasing classified information in court. LINK

Alito: confirmation prospects:

The Alito hearings will begin on Jan. 9 with a targeted Senate confirmation vote on Jan. 20.

The New York Times' Shane, in a look at the role ideology plays in SCOTUS confirmation fights, says that Senators Cornyn and Sessions say they wouldn't vote to confirm Justice Ginsberg now, which is pretty darn interesting. LINK

The Washington Post's Babington and Goldstein write that Specter "rebuffed" the White House and "displayed his independent streak" by refusing to go along with a pre-Christmas vote. "We have to do it right, we can't do it fast," he said. LINK

McCain aide turned DLC fellow Marshall Wittmann tells the Washington Post duo: "I think a filibuster is unlikely unless Alito blows the hearings. Unless you have a thermonuclear reason, it's very difficult to go nuclear."

Los Angeles Times's Maura Reynolds on timing. LINK

The New York Times with NOD: LINK

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe writes that Democrats continue to look over Alito's judicial record, and won't rule out a future filibuster. LINK

Alito: legal analysis:

The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer argues that spousal notification of abortion (which was struck down) is less burdensome than parental notification (which was upheld) and that, therefore, liberals are "dishonest, disreputable and disgraceful" when charging that Alito is extreme and insensitive to women's needs. LINK

The Washington Post's Michael Kinsley wonders: "What's too conservative?" It's a must read. LINK

Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe Notes that with Alito's confirmation Justice Kennedy, who "has become something of a pariah to conservatives," could be a major swing vote on top issues. LINK

Bush Administration and agenda:

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire has this: "White House lobbies allies to help enroll seniors in Medicare drug benefit. 'It is vital that the sign-up program goes well,' White House aide Barry Jackson writes to lobbyists. The administration sponsors 'national conversation' on Medicare, hosted by ex-broadcaster John Palmer, on CNBC Nov. 19."

National Journal's Charlie Cook thinks the public is not responding well to the President's handling of the economy because while one important segment of the economy is enjoying "explosive growth, others are not."

A county prosecutor in Texas announced yesterday that he will not prosecute Karl Rove after investigating whether he voted illegally in the Lone State State, the AP reports. LINK

The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher from a Mara Del Plata dateline. LINK

The President's advisory panel's recommendations on expanding tax-free investment could undermine the President's rationale for eliminating the estate tax, Bloomberg's Donmoyer reports. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman writes that yesterday's approval by the Senate to cut $35 billion from the deficit is "part of an effort by congressional Republicans to demonstrate fiscal discipline after widespread complaints of profligate spending on Capitol Hill." LINK

Richard Simon and Joel Havemann on yesterday's Big Casino developments. LINK

The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan highlights yesterday's ANWR vote in the Senate. LINK


Pat Priest, a retired judge from San Antonio "whose only recent political donations were three checks of $150 each to Democratic candidates for the Texas House in 2004," was chosen to preside in the DeLay case for his "apparent nonpartisan stance," the Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith reports. LINK

In a Washington Post op-ed, Congressman Tom DeLay advises President Bush to set aside the work of his tax panel and to start a "vibrant national debate" by proposing bold, fundamental changes such as replacing the current code with a flat tax or a national sales tax. LINK

The Houston Chronicle recaps DeLay's Heritage speech where the former House Majority Leader said Republicans must focus on budget issues and asked of Democrats, "Have these responsible moderates really thrown in their lot with the Michael Moore, Howard Dean extreme?" LINK


Christina Bellantoni of the Washington Times explores the implications of Virginia's gubernatorial election implications for 08ers Allen and Warner. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Fresh from his Northwestern University speech calling for the withdrawal of 80,000 of the more than 150,000 American troops from Iraq next year and a complete withdrawal by the end of 2007, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) will be in Iowa on Saturday to address the Democratic Party's "Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner." LINK

About 40 South Dakotans are driving to Des Moines to hear Daschle's speech, including two couples who are driving the 8 hours from Aberdeen, the former Senate Democratic Leader's hometown.

Two South Dakota progressive bloggers will be blogging live from the Des Moines Events Center: and Keep a look out for stories generated from interviews Daschle will be holding at the Waveland Café and the Drake Diner.

Also on hand at the dinner will be all six Democratic gubernatorial candidates as well as Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Congressman Leonard Boswell, and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson.

On Sunday at 8:00 pm ET, C-SPAN's "Q&A" will air a Brian Lamb interview with Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D). Here are some things we took away after getting a sneak peek:

The number of times that he refers to his "value add": 3.

The number of GW alums he plays pick-up ball with in Richmond: 14.

The name of the drinking club he started while at Harvard Law: Somerville Bar Review.

The number of job offers he got after being a summer associate at two firms: zero.

The launch date of his new PAC Web site: "fairly shortly after the November race."

His bottom line on Iraq: ". . . I don't believe an arbitrary deadline should be set. I think we, regardless of whether we like how we got there, we need to finish the task."

And his attitude towards tapping his high-tech fortune in a potential presidential race: "If, at the end of the day, you are a little short in terms of getting your message out, as long as I didn't put my family in jeopardy, I wouldn't take that off the table. . ."

Glenn Thrush of Newsday on the story that Sen. Clinton is paying extra monthly wages to eight full-time Senate staffers for their reelection campaign work for her. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Jonathan D. Salant and Kristin Jensen of Bloomberg News report that Sen. John McCain may introduce legislation to "tighten regulations on lobbyists," in the wake of the Abramoff scandal. LINK


The Virginia governor's race remains almost too close to call in the days leading up to the election, and the main factors in voters minds may not be either candidate, but the President and outgoing Governor Warner, reports Jill Lawrence of USA Today. LINK

USA Today's Emily Bazaar looks at the New Jersey governor's race and finds that candidates Corzine and Forrester are actually pretty similar. LINK

Deborah Orin writes in the New York Post that New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester's new television ad features text from a New York Times interview with Joanne Corzine, ex-wife of Democratic rival Sen. Jon Corzine, saying, "Jon did let his family down, and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too." LINK

The Trenton Times reports that New York Gov. George Pataki (R) may campaign with Forrester this weekend. LINK

Carl Campanile reports in the New York Post that Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer's campaign has released a Spanish language ad in which Ferrer's wife, Aramina, does the talking. LINK

David Seifman reports in the New York Post that the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jorge Santini-Padilla, endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday. LINK

David Saltonstall reports in the New York Daily News that Bloomberg has put Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott in charge of his campaign in southeast Queens. LINK

Frankie Edozien writes in the New York Post about both mayoral candidates' get-out-the-vote campaigns. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Michael Finnegan and Mark Z. Barabak write-up a calm and collected Schwarzenegger undaunted by a Thursday evening audience fired-up about ballot initiatives. LINK

Schwarzenegger won't budge in his opposition to California off-shoring drilling, according to the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times reports that Proposition 78, which would pop the caps off prescription drug prices, has received heavy doses of funding from the national drug industry. LINK


Thomas Beaumont writes in the Des Moines Register that Democratic candidate for governor Chet Culver is pushing to drive Iowa-made alternative-fuel vehicles into the American economy. LINK

The Des Moines Register reports that Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidate Vander Plaats believes there should be no exception to any rule requiring parental consent for abortion-seeking teens. LINK


President Bush visits Brazil and meets with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Saturday and Sunday.

Former Sen. Tom Daschle speaks at the Iowa Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner in Des Moines on Saturday.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) keynotes the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless 25th anniversary event on Sunday.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is back in New Hampshire this weekend, campaigning for local candidates.