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Conyers mulls hearings over McClellan revelations
Nick Juliano
Published: Friday May 30, 2008

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(Updates at bottom: McClellan tells CNN he'd 'be happy' to testify; Perino suggests White House could block)

Lawyers working for the House Judiciary Committee are meeting with former White House spokesman Scott McClellan regarding the explosive revelations contained in his new tell-all memoir, and the committee's chairman says he may renew hearings on the administration's leak of a CIA officer's identity now that new details have been published.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said he was bothered by the accounts in What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception, McClellan's just-published memoir.

"I find Mr. McClellan's revelations about attempts to cover-up the Valerie Plame leak extremely troubling," the Judiciary chairman said in a statement released Friday. "Particularly disturbing is McClellan's assertion that he was specifically directed by Andy Card to 'vouch' for Scooter Libby after the investigation had begun, which, if true, could amount to obstruction of justice beyond that for which Mr. Libby has already been convicted.

"I believe this issue may require closer examination so I have instructed my counsels to begin discussions with Mr. McClellan to determine whether a hearing is necessary and to secure his possible cooperation."

Judiciary Committee member Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) already has called for McClellan to testify under oath about his book.

In the book, McClellan suggests that vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and former Bush confidant Karl Rove may have privately discussed their involvement in the Plame scandal as the Justice Department was beginning its investigation. Both men released information about the former covert agent to reporters in attempt to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was criticizing the White House's faulty intelligence about Iraq's weapons programs.

Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice before President Bush commuted his sentence. Rove avoided any official sanctions for his involvement in the leak. After resigning his White House post, he's gone on to be a commentator for Fox News, columnist for Newsweek and freelance political operative.

McClellan says he'd 'be happy' to testify

"Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Friday he would be willing to comply with a possible congressional subpoena to discuss the administrationís handling of pre-war intelligence, telling CNNís Wolf Blitzer heíd be 'happy to talk if I am asked to testify,'" CNN's Political Ticker blog reports.

Earlier today at the afternoon press briefing, Press Secretary Dana Perino was asked, "Could the White House block him from testifying, if he wanted to testify?"

"Conceivably?" Perino asked.

"Yes," the reporter said.

"Hypothetically, which Iím not supposed to answer a hypothetical, yes, I think so," Perino said. "The law would allow for that. But by saying that, Iím not suggesting that thatís what would happen or not happen."

Think Progress observes, "Itís not clear on what grounds the White House would be able to block McClellan...in a Washington Post chat today, McClellan confirmed that White House officials reviewed his 'final manuscript for classification and privilege issues,' and they found 'no issues relating to classified information.' They did, however, 'bring up some issues' relating to executive privilege."

If discussions on barring McClellan are raised in the White House, Perino should be able to provide details to the press at future briefings.

Ed Gillespie, a White House counselor and one of Bush's closest advisers, tells the Associated Press that Perino is "at the table on everything that's done here."

That means Oval Office access as well as participation in top-level meetings to debate and make decisions about policy, planning, legislative strategy and other matters, the AP reports.

"I don't want for attendance or invitations," Perino told the AP. "And on the rare occasions I have not been `on a list,' I've been able to appeal."

 
 


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