Video: Times reporter released

msnbc.com
updated 9/30/2005 7:59:36 PM ET 2005-09-30T23:59:36

After 85 days in jail, Judy Miller spent her first full day of freedom testifying to the Grand Jury.  The New York Times reporter went to prison for refusing to give up her source in the CIA leak investigation.

The New York Times identified Miller’s source as "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff.  According to the Times, Miller and Libby spoke on July 8, 2003.  That’s significant, because it was just two days after former diplomat Joe Wilson publicly criticized the administration’s intelligence about Iraq.

The next week, journalists began reporting that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA officer.  In the midst of the ensuing uproar over that disclosure, columnist Robert Novak told Newsday, "I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me."

When asked about the case, President Bush said, “I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information.  If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it.  And we take the appropriate action.”

From the beginning, prosecutors were intent on reconstructing conversations between White House officials and reporters.  This summer, after exhausting their appeals, a judge told Miller and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper they would be jailed if they continued to refuse to testify. 

Cooper said he received a last-minute waiver from his source.  Then he testified that source, Karl Rove, was the one who told him Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.  Cooper said he followed up with the vice president’s chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby. 

As for Miller, she never wrote about Valerie Plame and only agreed to testify today, she said, because of her own recent conversation with Libby over the telephone.

The testimony of Miller and Cooper undercuts previous White House denials that neither Libby nor Rove were involved. 

Prior to the testimony, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, “I’ve made it very clear that it was a ridiculous suggestion in the first place.” 

But despite the fact the president’s top advisor and the vice president’s chief of staff were involved, it does not mean an illegal act was committed.  Lawyers for Rove and Libby said the officials didn’t do anything wrong because they never identified Wilson’s wife as, under cover.

The questions about legality, however, will be answered by the Grand Jury.  Now that Miller has testified, lawyers following the investigation believe the panel could reach some conclusions as early as next week. 

Watch 'Hardball' each night at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 

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