Fleischer served as Senator Pete Domenici's press secretary from 1989 to 1994. He then served as spokesman for the House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee for five years. He worked as deputy communications director for George H. W. Bush's 1992 reelection campaign.
The president…convened a meeting of the National Security Council, at which point, in the middle of the meeting, the president was informed about this morning's homicide bombing in Jerusalem.…The Saudi telethon, as they have told it to us, is to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, and that isn't — no money is going to go to provide the homicide bombers with any assistance from the Saudi government.
On May 19, 2003, he announced that he would resign during the summer, citing a desire to spend more time with his wife and to work in the private sector. He was replaced by deputy press secretary Scott McClellan on July 15 2003.
Fleischer became an important figure in the CIA leak case; he testified that Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff, told him that Valerie Plame was a covert agent weeks before Libby had claimed to have been informed of Plame's status by a reporter.
On July 7 2003, at The James S. Brady Briefing Room, Fleischer was asked about Joseph Wilson, a former US ambassador who had recently written a New York Times editorial criticizing the intelligence information the Bush administration had relied upon to make its case for invading the nation of Iraq. Specifically, Fleischer was asked to respond to Mr. Wilson's assertion that he had been sent to Niger to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein had sought yellowcake uranium and found no evidence that such events had ever occurred.
Q: Can you give us the White House account of Ambassador Wilson's account of what happened when he went to Niger and investigated the suggestions that Niger was passing yellow cake to Iraq? I'm sure you saw the piece yesterday in The New York Times.
FLEISCHER: Well, there is zero, nada, nothing new here. Ambassador Wilson, other than the fact that now people know his name, has said all this before. But the fact of the matter is in his statements about the Vice President—the Vice President's office did not request the mission to Niger. The Vice President's office was not informed of his mission and he was not aware of Mr. Wilson's mission until recent press accounts—press reports accounted for it.
Fleischer testified in open court on January 29 2007, that Libby told him on July 7 2003, at lunch, about Ms. Plame, who is Mr. Wilson's wife. MSNBC correspondent David Shuster summarized Fleisher's testimony on Hardball with Chris Matthews:
"Ambassador Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife. His wife works at the CIA," Fleischer recalled Libby saying. Libby said the information was "hush-hush, on the Q-T." He testified that “The information about Wilson’s wife was news to me. It was the first time I had ever heard it.”
Fleischer also testified to the fact that Dan Bartlett, the president's communications adviser, told him the same thing on Air Force One days later on the way to Niger with Pres. Bush. Fleischer had then relayed this information to Time correspondent John Dickerson and NBC's David Gregory in Uganda during the African trip.
On July 18, 2005, Bloomberg reported that in his sworn testimony before the grand jury investigating the leak, Fleischer denied having seen a memo circulating in Air Force One on July 7 2003, which named Ms. Plame in connection to Mr. Wilson's mission and which identified her as a 'CIA' covert agent. However, a former Bush Administration official also on the plane testified to having seen Fleischer perusing the document
Columnist Robert Novak, who published Ms. Plame's name on July 14, 2003, made a call to Fleischer on July 7, 2003, before Fleischer's trip to Africa with Pres. Bush. It is unclear whether Fleischer returned Novak's call. However, Fleischer is mentioned in Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby. The indictment states that Libby told Fleischer (referred to as the White House press secretary in the indictment) that Ms. Plame worked for the 'CIA' and that this fact was not well-known.
After receiving an immunity agreement, Fleischer testified that he had revealed Ms. Plame's identity to reporters after learning it from Libby. However, in the end it was discovered that Richard Armitage first leaked Ms. Plame's identity, not Mr. Libby or Mr. Cheney.
Interview: Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News discusses Scott McClellan taking over for Ari Fleischer as White House press secretary
Jul 15, 2003; BOB EDWARDS NPR Morning Edition 07-15-2003 Interview: Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News discusses Scott McClellan taking...