Video: Latest in leak case

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updated 7/19/2005 2:23:51 PM ET 2005-07-19T18:23:51

Hardball is conducting a special investigation this week into the CIA-leak controversy.  On Monday's program, Dick Sauber, the lawyer for Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper -- who claims it was presidential advisor Karl Rove who divulged the name of CIA employee Valerie Plame -- joined guest host Campbell Brown to discuss the investigation and grand jury testimony of his client.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below.  To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.   

BROWN:  So, Matt Cooper, probably to the annoyance somewhat of the special prosecutor, has given us this pretty extraordinary window into how this grand jury works.  And Cooper wrote in his “TIME” piece that grand jurors investigated his interactions with Rove in -- quote -- “microscopic, excruciating detail.”

What did he mean by that?

SAUBER:  Well, I think Matt wrote about it in his piece that he was asked in pretty excruciating detail exactly who said what to whom.  And he confirmed, basically, word by word what he had written in his piece was exactly how Mr. Rove spoke to him over the phone.

BROWN:  He talked yesterday with Tim Russert on “Meet the Press,” Matt did.  Let‘s play a little bit of that and then I want to get your reaction on the other side.

(VIDEO CLIP, “MEET THE PRESS”)

TIM RUSSERT, HOST:  When Karl concluded his conversation with you, you write, “He said, ‘I‘ve already said too much.‘”  What did that mean?

MATTHEW COOPER, “TIME”:  Well, I‘m not sure what it meant, Tim.  At first you know, I thought maybe he meant, I had been indiscreet.  And then, as I thought about it, I thought it might be just more benign, like, I‘ve said too much, I‘ve got to get to a meeting.  I don‘t know exactly what he meant, but I do know the memory of that line has stayed in my head for two years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN:  Stayed in his head for two years.  Do you think this indicated that Rove knew he was leaking classified information?

SAUBER: Well, I think what Matt tried to do was to report to the grand jury, and again on “Meet the Press” yesterday, exactly what was said without speculating on what might or might not have been in anyone‘s head.  I think that phrase, as Matt said, stayed in his head for two years.  It could be significant.  It could also mean he had to go out and get a sandwich.  We really don‘t know.

BROWN:  But to say something like, wait, wait, I‘ve already said too much, I mean, just to play counter to that, it‘s almost like something you might here out of a movie or something.  Do you think that Rove might have been baiting him a little bit?

SAUBER:  No one seems to know.  I think the easiest way to find out is to have Mr. Rove explain it.

BROWN:  Rove also told Cooper that there was material that was going to be declassified in the coming days that would cast doubt on Wilson‘s mission and his findings.  Does that indicate to you that Rove had access to classified material and was leaking classified material about Wilson‘s trip?

SAUBER: That‘s a good question. 

I don‘t believe that anything like that did in fact happen.  I am not aware of any information, ultimately, being declassified.  I think it does suggest that the special prosecutor has focused on classified information as the heart of the case.  And there is a suggestion, even in some of the judges who have looked at his under-seal information, there‘s a suggestion that there is a great deal of classified information that is the focus of the investigation.

And I think we‘re just going to have to wait until the unsealing of that material to see what‘s really at stake here.

BROWN:  What did Cooper think about these new reports, about the State Department memo which contains information, this supposedly classified memo about Wilson‘s trip and the details of Valerie Plame?

SAUBER: You know, that is something that never came up in Matt‘s testimony.  It never came up in his dealings with Mr. Rove or anyone else in the White House.  And, frankly, it‘s news to us and we‘ll just have to see what comes out on it.

BROWN:  Why do you think it might be important, though, to the overall case?

SAUBER: Well, I think the implication is that people in the White House would have known from other sources, such as this report which has been cited, that Mr. Wilson had a wife who was a CIA agent who had something to do with his being sent to Africa. 

So, it might be -- no one seems to know, but it might be the source of the knowledge that high-level White House officials may have first learned about Valerie Plame.

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