NBC News reporter Tim Russert said Monday that he did not tell vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby that a prominent war critic's wife worked at the CIA, as Libby has claimed.
Russert, who spoke in Tulsa and Oklahoma City at functions sponsored by Oklahoma State University's Spears School of Business, said he expects to be called to testify in Libby's federal perjury and obstruction trial in Washington.
Libby's indictment grew out of conversations he had with Russert, Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper and former New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June and July 2003. Libby claimed any information he had about CIA operative Valerie Plame came from Russert and other reporters.
"I was not and never have been the recipient of the leak," Russert said. "Everyone acknowledges that. The question is, when Libby called me, what did he say? He called in protest to something he had seen on MSNBC 'Hardball,' and that was the extent of it."
"He didn't call me as a confidential source, as such," he said. "He was calling me as a viewer to complain."
Russert said that if he had known of Plame's connection to former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a Bush war critic and Plame's husband, or that she worked for the CIA, "believe me, NBC would have been up front on the story and not reading about it in Robert Novak's column."
Novak, a conservative columnist, named Plame in a column on July 14, 2003. Eight days earlier, Wilson's opinion piece had appeared in the New York Times. Russert said that he didn't know the name of Wilson's wife or that she worked for the CIA until he read Novak's column, which was after Libby's complaint call.
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