by John Gizzi — 01-29-2007 @ 05:40 PM
One of the most spirited exchanges between the White House and the press today was over the Bush Administration’s former top spokesman and his testimony in the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Ari Fleischer, President Bush’s press secretary from 2001-03, is scheduled to testify today in the trial of Libby for perjury over the leaking of the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Phlame.
At the gaggle (early morning) briefing for White House reporters, April Ryan of the American Urban Network asked the Administration’s reaction to the news that Fleischer will testify under immunity at the Libby trial.
“We’re not commenting on the trial,” Press Secretary Tony Snow replied.
When Ryan tried again with a re-worded question about Fleischer and his testimony, Snow fired back,”Oh, okay. . . .we’re not commenting on the trial” and the press room broke up in laughter.
Undaunted, the spirited Ryan waited a few minutes and came back with: “Who is Ari Fleischer?”
“Who is Ari Fleischer?” exclaimed Snow, taken aback from the query from someone who covered Fleischer during his stint in the briefing room. “Wow! He’s an old friend of mine, he’s the former press secretary, there’s no bad blood. Nice try.”
Snow went on to tell Ryan “I’m not playing on the [Libby] trial.”
“I’m not talking about the trial,” said Ryan.
At that point, Snow said his predecessor was “a good guy.”
“Is he credible?” fired back Ryan.
“Did you find him credible?” said Snow, as the exchange grew heated.
“Did you find him credible?” was Ryan’s comeback.
“Yes,” replied Snow, and moved on to another questioner.