Cameron falsely reported that Fitzgerald "specifically asked if the scope of his investigation could be broadened" to cover perjury, obstruction

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

On the October 28 edition of Fox News Live, Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron falsely reported that special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who is investigating the alleged leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, "went to the magistrate and specifically asked if the scope of his investigation could be broadened to include" crimes such as perjury and obstruction of justice. In fact, Fitzgerald contacted then-acting Attorney General James B. Comey to clarify that he had the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of the law stemming from the investigation -- to which Comey replied affirmatively. The distinction between "ask[ing] if the scope of his investigation could be broadened" and asking for confirmation that he already had that authority is critical in light of the concerted effort on the part of White House allies to minimize the impact of any charges that are brought against Bush administration officials by depicting Fitzgerald as overzealous and by falsely suggesting that he sought to extend his authority beyond his original mandate.

As Media Matters for America has documented, a February 2004 letter from Comey didn't permit Fitzgerald to "expan[d]" his inquiry, as Cameron claimed. Rather, it merely "clarif[ied]" -- at Fitzgerald's "request" -- that Fitzgerald already had the authority "to investigate and prosecute ... federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation." Fitzgerald's investigative and prosecutorial authority is, and always has been, plenary, as the Comey letter made clear.

From the October 28 edition of Fox News Live:

CAMERON: During the course of his investigation, the special prosecutor went to the magistrate and specifically asked if the scope of his investigation could be broadened to include the potential for -- to look into the possibility that witnesses or people involved might have been attempting to mislead investigators, cover up, or obstruct the investigation. The expansion of the prosecutor's scope -- was his mandate, was to investigate -- is what gives him authority to go after this type of investigative avenue. He has, and today you see indictments.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.