Congresswoman Jane Harman was just interviewed on the National Public Radio news show, All Things Considered, about the charge that she lobbied the New York Times to spike the NSA wiretap story. There's no link or transcripts yet of the NPR interview, but here's the thrust of her defense:
Essentially Harman would not acknowledge that the conversations reported in the CQ and NYT articles even took place. When asked by host Robert Siegel about the reported calls, she first responded by referring to "phone calls that may or may not have taken place," and then again said, "I don't know if there was a phone call like this." Segal asked her about the conversation she's reported to have had with Haim Saban, supposedly an agreement of a quid pro quo where she would lobby the DoJ on behalf of accused Israeli spies working for AIPAC in return for his lobbying of Nancy Pelosi to make Harman chair of the Intelligence committee. Harman asked Siegel in response, "How do we know?" This response on her part showed her falling back again to the position that it's unclear whether the conversations ever took place.
She repeatedly called for a release of all transcripts of conversations in which she was purportedly picked up on a wiretap, and then, she said, "We'll see what I may or may not have said."
But then she screwed up. She raised the question of whether the wiretaps were legal--which implied that she accepts their existence, contradicting her previous claims of skepticism that the conversations in fact took place. She wondered whether other members of Congress were or are being wiretapped. And then she stepped in it further by claiming, "The person I talked to was an American citizen."
Siegel immediately caught the inconsistency, asking, "but if you know it was an American citizen...." He then immediately followed up with, "you're saying it was an American citizen..." Harman deflected both questions, instead declaring it an "abuse of power that Members of Congress are wiretapped and maybe some part of some investigation" and "I was never told by the Justice Dept that I was being investigated." This latter bizarre statement implies she thinks she's entitled to something other citizens are not: notification that their possible illegal actions are being monitored, so they would then know to no longer conduct their potential illegal activities in a manner enabling wthe DoJ to build a case.
If Harman thought going on NPR was going to help her, she's most certainly proven herself politically tone deaf. As bad as things were for Jane Harman at 3:59 PM EDT, they were much, much worse by 4:15 PM EDT.
[UPDATE: The transcript and audio of the interview are now available on NPR's website.]
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