12/31/1989

Transcript of Remarks by Matt Cooper and Attorney After Testifying Today

Here is a full transcript of remarks by Cooper and Sauber, and their subsequent Q&A with reporters:

COOPER: Good afternoon. I just testified before the grand jury for about two and a half hours. I testified openly and honestly. I have no idea whether a crime was committed or not. That's something the special counsel's going to have to determine.

What I do hope is that the special counsel can conclude his investigation as quickly as possible. I think, today, we should all remember is Judith Miller's eighth day in jail. And the sooner this grand jury recesses, the sooner she can get home.

Now, today I testified -- and agreed to testify -- solely because of a waiver I received from a source last Wednesday. I'd like to explain a little bit about that waiver. We're going to hand out copies of the waiver agreement in a little bit.

I believe that once a journalist makes a commitment to protect the confidentiality of a source, only the source can end that
commitment -- not a court, not a corporation. That's the principle I've upheld for two years now. Now, when the U.S. District Court and then the Court of Appeals, and subsequently the Supreme Court, ordered me to testify, I refused to break my commitment.

And even when Time Incorporated, over my objections, handed my notes, my e-mails to the grand jury, when some of those materials began to leak into the public domain revealing my source, many people, including my good friend and lawyer here, Richard Sauber, urged me to testify. They said there was absolutely no confidentiality left to protect. I considered that at the time, but I disagreed.

Once a journalist makes the commitment of confidentiality to a
source, only the source can end that commitment.

So I'd like now to turn this over to my lawyer, Dick Sauber, here
and he can explain to you how we worked out this waiver agreement with Karl Rove's attorney last week.

SAUBER: I just want to go through some of the particulars about
why Matt came to testify today before the grand jury. And I'm going to give you some chapter and verse and maybe even more detail than you're interested in. I do want to make sure that everyone understands the basis on which Matt responded to the subpoena and came to the grand jury today.

Last Friday, July 1st actually, Time magazine turned over to the
special prosecutor the notes, which included Matt's notes and included the identity of his source and the substance of the source's conversation with Matt that were the basis of the online article that was eventually published.

We asked Mr. Fitzgerald if he would review the documents and give some thought to not calling Matt based on the availability of the documents. I was in Alaska on vacation at this time. I called Mr. Fitzgerald on Sunday, July 3rd, and he told me at that point that despite having received the documents from Time magazine, he wanted Matt to appear in the grand jury.

I immediately called Matt. Matt informed me that he was going to go into contempt and go to jail. And I made plans to come back to Washington.

I did come back on a red-eye flight from Alaska Tuesday night. I
stopped in Chicago to change planes on Wednesday morning, 6:00 a.m. Chicago time, and I picked up the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

And, on my plane flight from Chicago into Washington, I read the account in the Wall Street Journal. I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal. And in there, right at the end of the article about this matter is the following statement: "Mr. Rove hasn't asked any reporter to treat him as a confidential source in the matter," Mr. Luskin said, who I understand is Mr. Rove's lawyer. "So if Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, it's not Karl he's protecting."

I immediately called Matt from the plane and said, "You ought to take a look at this comment. I think it is interesting and I think we should give a shot of calling Mr. Luskin and seeing if we could get a specific waiver," which Matt authorized me to do.

I arrived in Washington early Wednesday morning. I put in a call to Mr. Luskin and asked him for a specific waiver. He called me back close to 12:30 that morning, an hour and a half before we were due back in court, which was scheduled for 2:00 o'clock, and he dictated to me a letter that he would be willing to agree to, which I typed up and sent to him.

He initialed it and sent it back to me probably around 1:00 o'clock, and we came to court.

We are going to pass out copies of the letter, but I just want to make clear the specificity that Matt especially wanted in the letter. If you recall, Matt has made the point that the general waivers were things that he could not and did not want to rely on.

So I asked Mr. Luskin if he would agree to the following language, which he did, that: "Consistent with his written waiver of confidentiality he previously executed, Mr. Rove affirms his waiver of any claim of confidentiality he may have concerning any conversation he may have had with Matthew Cooper of Time magazine during the month of July 2003."

Matt and I discussed that once we got this letter. We felt that this was sufficiently personal to Matt. It was sufficient, in Matt's estimation, to cover precisely the conversation that he and Mr. Rove had concerning the article that he published.

And we subsequently came into court. Matt made his statement. In the reliance of this express and personal waiver from Mr. Rove through his attorney, Matt went and testified in the grand jury today.

We're happy to try to answer any questions. Just to clarify, we're not going to answer any questions about the substance of Matt's testimony today, but we're happy to try to answer any other questions that people have.

Q: Does the waiver limit it only to testimony before the grand jury?

COOPER: Yes, absolutely. I am free to talk about what happened in the grand jury room today. And it is my hope to get back to being a normal journalist on the other side of the microphones. I hope to go back to Time magazine and write up an account of what took place here today and my story. But that's something (inaudible) to try to do in the coming hours and days. But I'm not going to do it here, right now.

Just to clarify, for those of you who are not familiar with grand jury rules...all that goes on in the grand jury room is secret, but the witness, him or herself, is free to talk about it. I'm free to talk about it. And I fully plan to. I'm going to talk about it in the pages of Time magazine where I still work.

Q (OFF-MIKE)

SAUBER: Let me try to address that to some extent, if I can. For the last year or so, Matt has been a subpoenaed witness in a grand jury investigation. I advised him and he accepted the advice that he should not have private conversations with other people who may be witnesses in the grand jury proceeding. I was concerned about the perception. I was concerned about what Mr. Fitzgerald might think. And so it was on my advice that he did not personally contact his source.

For me to contact Mr. Rove's lawyer at the time, prior to the time that Mr. Rove had been identified as Matt's source, would have actually been a breach of confidentiality. My conversation with Mr. Rove was not privileged and would not have been privileged -- with Mr. Rove's attorney.

There was no indication that we had that Mr. Rove or his lawyer were interested in receiving such a request. And it was really only in the last few days, when Mr. Luskin started making some of his comments, especially the one that I just quoted to you that was in the Wall Street Journal that led us to feel that we were on firm footing picking up the phone and calling and saying, "Based on your public comments, we would ask for an express and personal...," and that's what we did.

Q (OFF-MIKE):

COOPER: Well, I believe my testifying before the grand jury is over. I was dismissed and then I was told there is no reason to expect that I would be called back. I think this decision to go out and subpoena journalists has been an unfortunate one.

I'm glad I got personal waivers that allowed me to do this. I do hope now though that the prosecutor really can get this done quickly, because it is crazy to have Judith Miller in jail. And the sooner this grand jury is disbanded, the sooner her contempt order is going to be over.

Q: What was it about Karl Rove's waiver to you on the day -- on Wednesday of last week that rehabilitated that waiver which you thought was (inaudible) in the first place?

COOPER: I'm not sure about "rehabilitated." I think we thought the waiver we got was qualitatively different. It was not a blanket waiver to everyone, covering every conversation in a sort of utterly generic terms that were distributed by a government employee to everyone.

We thought this was specific and directed to me, an individual, and that this was a qualitatively different thing. I think Dick can elaborate.

SAUBER: Let me just add one other thing. When I first called Mr. Luskin to ask him for the waiver, I said to him specifically, "If the answer is no, I want you to know that we are not going to go out and publicize the fact that we asked for a personal waiver and you said no. Don't feel as if we are trying to set you up, that we're trying to create some sort of public issue. I'm calling to ask, based on the comment I just read in the Wall Street Journal that you made, whether or not your client, through you, would give us a specific and personal waiver," and he did.

Q: Was the special prosecutor involved in those discussions last Wednesday?

SAUBER: From what I read in the paper, apparently Mr. Luskin called Mr. Fitzgerald, but I have no knowledge of that.

Q: Could you tell us just when you first learned that Valerie Plame is Joe Wilson's wife? I mean, we're talking a lot about process here. I'm not asking you to reveal who told you that, but when did you first learn that?

COOPER: Yes, as I said earlier, what took place in the grand jury room, all these kinds of questions, I'm going to address as a journalist, which is what I'd like to get back to being and go back and write that up and tell that story in my voice and hopefully in the pages of Time magazine soon.

But I'm going to save it for that. I'm not going to scoop myself today.

Q: (Rove) saying, "I never revealed," "I didn't know her name," "I didn't reveal her name," "I didn't talk about her" -- did you feel that he was being accurate?

COOPER: I don't want to get into that.

SAUBER: It's a law enforcement question. We just don't know and we're not going to comment on it.

Somebody did have a question about who signed the letter. My colleagues who are here are going to pass out copies of the letter. The letter is from me to Mr. Luskin. It's initialed by Mr. Luskin and sent back to me.

One of the issues in the letter that you'll see is that I asked Mr. Luskin to represent that he had spoken to his client and that his client had approved the express mention of Matt and their conversations in the letter, and that's what (inaudible).

COOPER: Yes, I'm sorry, I really don't want to scoop myself. I'm still a journalist. So, really, I want total chance guarantee on this thing. That's why we're trying to talk about the waiver now, and fully plan to write about my experience in the grand jury session and lay all that out.

Q: Can you tell us whether you answered all the questions?

COOPER: Yes, I did, there were none that applied that went
beyond anything where I'd gotten a particular waiver. So, yes.

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

COOPER: No, I believe I owe it to the readers of Time to tell the story, and I will tell this story, and I will explain what happened.

I will do that as I'm allowed to under grand jury rules. But I'm not obligated to do it here on the courthouse steps.

Q: (OFF-MIKE)

COOPER: I've actually been asked to testify about the federal shield law a week from today, I think before Senate Judiciary Committee, and I'm planning to do so, because I do think -- and there are various versions of the law around -- but I do think we have an amazing anomaly in our country where 49 states have some kind of protection for confidential and none in federal law. And I think a federal shield law is a common-sense approach, a bipartisan common-sense approach to fixing that.

Anyway, I'm eager to get back to being a journalist.

Transcript of Remarks by Matt Cooper and Attorney After Testifying Today

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