Wilsongate Update

Wilsongate Update September 29, 2003

Josh Marshall has posted excerpts of this morning's press gaggle with White House spokesman Scott McClellan. You can smell the panic and flopsweat even through the online transcript:

QUESTION: Yes, but I'm just wondering if there was a conversation between Karl Rove and the President, or if he just talked to you, and you're here at this —

McCLELLAN: He wasn't involved. The President knows he wasn't involved.

QUESTION: How does he know that?

QUESTION: How does he know that?

McCLELLAN: The President knows.

QUESTION: What, is he clairvoyant? How does he know?

QUESTION: You spoke specifically — you spoke to Rove specifically about this matter, correct?

McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: You spoke to Rove specifically about this matter? You asked him whether or not he was the leaker, or —

McCLELLAN: I don't know what the relevance of getting into every private conversation …

Marshall shows real restraint in not gloating here. The questions that seem to have ruined Scott McClellan's morning were exactly those questions he raised back in his July 30 column in The Hill:

We don’t really need any investigations, with all their depositions and fancy lawyers and public grandstanding. If the president wanted to, he could wrap this up with a few quick phone calls. So why doesn’t he?

Why doesn't the president just make those calls — find out who was responsible and hand them their walking papers? McClellan ducked that question this morning more times than I can count.

CNN is trumpeting tonight's Paula Zahn show — her guest? Joseph Wilson. That's an indication that the story may have legs and the White House's deny-and-delay strategy may not work.

Of course, if Zahn really wanted to get to the bottom of this story, she doesn't need to talk to Wilson, but to Robert Novak — who's already there in the CNN studios. Crossfire should be interesting this afternoon.

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