Libby Trial: “It’s A Lot Easier To Throw Hand Grenades Than It Is To Catch Them”

By Brian 

There are still some restrictions on what Tim Russert can say about the Scooter Libby trial, because he could be called back to the stand. But, at the end of two days of testimony, he came on Thursday’s NBC Nightly News to describe his experience.

“It is something that I did not want to participate. I did not want to be part of. I did not want to testify, but the judge decided otherwise and I was there,” Russert told Brian Williams.

Russert also appeared on Today this morning, where he talked to Matt Lauer about his testimony. AP: “Asked how it felt to be on the other end of rapid-fire questioning, Russert said, ‘It’s a lot of easier to throw grenades than it is to catch them. I’ve got to tell you.'”

Click continued to read the transcript of the NN segment, or click here to view it…

> Also: FishbowlDC has lots of coverage links…


NBC Nightly News, Feb. 8, 2007:

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor:

And now, as we said, for the first time since this trial got under way, we are able tonight to talk to Tim Russert, though I should point out there are still restrictions on what Tim can say, what we can ask, because he could be called back to the stand.

Tim, we’ll start off with how much time you testified and the essence of your testimony, your answers to the questions.

TIM RUSSERT reporting:

Well, Brian, the over two-day period of the direct examination by the prosecutor, the first round was about 12 minutes, the second one just a few minutes. The cross-examination by defense counsel was about five hours or more. The central point here is this: Both Mr. Libby and I agree that we talked in July. He called me to complain about some programming on MSNBC which I had not seen. He then said that I talked to him about Valerie Plame Wilson working at the CIA and that other reporters knew that. I said that is absolutely untrue. I did not know anything about her until I read it in the Robert Novak column several days later.

WILLIAMS: This is not a role you were asking for, we should probably point out, but you ended up–your version of events–as the crux of this case, really.

RUSSERT: Yeah, it’s a difficult position being in the news rather than just covering the news. And also, as someone who makes his living by asking questions on “Meet the Press,” being on the receiving end in a–in a box in a courtroom–witness box in a courtroom, is a much different experience. On “Meet the Press,” you talk and talk to a guest and try to draw them out, let them finish their thought, complete their sentence. When you are in the witness box, you are sometimes limited to yes and no answers. Lyndon Johnson once said that it’s a heck of a lot easier to throw grenades than it is to catch them, and was he right. But what I used for my own benchmark in this particular situation was something I was taught in seventh grade by good old Sister Lucille, and that is if you tell the truth, you only have to remember one story. And that’s what I did.

WILLIAMS: And, Tim, what it was like? This has become such a big ongoing story and an event in Washington. You were able to look out at that assemblage from the witness box.

RUSSERT: It was, and it was an interesting cross section of Washington: citizens who came by to see this in action, journalists, political figures. A real assemblage. The trial now will continue. It is something that I did not want to participate. I did not want to be part of. I did not want to testify, but the judge decided otherwise and I was there.

WILLIAMS: Tim, we’ll hopefully find a place and a time when it is all over to get it all out and on the record. Tim Russert, though, with restrictions. Thank you for joining us from our Washington bureau tonight after two days on the witness stand in the Libby case.

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