Conyers May Call McClellan to Testify
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) is hinting that his committee may seek testimony from former White House press secretary Scott McClellan about information revealed in his new book regarding the Valerie Plame CIA leak scandal.
In a statement released Friday, Conyers said he found McClellans book particularly troubling because of the authors assertion that he was specifically directed by [former White House Chief of Staff] Andrew Card to vouch for Lewis Scooter Libby after the investigation had begun.
Libby, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of lying and obstructing a leak investigation in March 2006 for his role in revealing the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame to the media.
Conyers said that if McClellans allegations are true, it could amount to obstruction of justice beyond that for which Mr. Libby has already been convicted.
The McClellan book marks another clash between Conyers and the White House over the testimony of Bush administration staff. The Judiciary Committee, followed by the full House, has held several former Bush aides in contempt following their refusal to testify even after being subpoenaed before the committee. A legal battle is currently playing out in the courts.
Its unclear how far this latest scuffle will go, and whether McClellan, given the tenor of his book, will cooperate.
Although Conyers has instructed his counsels to begin discussions with Mr. McClellan to determine whether a hearing is necessary and to secure his possible cooperation, there was no formal plan on Friday to ask McClellan to testify.
In a separate statement, Judiciary member Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) called for McClellan to testify under oath about information revealed in his book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washingtons Culture of Deception.
Wexler called McClellans revelations of his time in the White House earth-shattering and said they allege facts to establish that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and possibly Vice President Cheney conspired to obstruct justice by lying about their role in the Plame Wilson matter and that the Bush Administration deliberately lied to the American people in order to take us to war in Iraq.
Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) dismissed the idea of a hearing, asserting that McClellans statements are not credible. Smith says the book is about personal opinions, not facts, and insisting that we have more important things to do on this committee than investigate the unfounded allegations of a disgruntled former employee.
McClellan could not be reached for comment.