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« Strategy Memo: Called To Serve | Blog Home Page | Dems Take Aim at Crist »

Harman Defends Herself on MSNBC

It's been a pretty interesting day-and-a-half since CQ reporter Jeff Stein's piece on Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) was published.

Stein reported that in late 2006, an NSA wiretap picked up a conversation between Harman and a "suspected Israeli agent" during which Harman said she would lobby the Justice Department to be lenient on two AIPAC officials being charged with espionage, and the agent said he'd lobby Nancy Pelosi to give Harman the Intelligence Committee chairmanship.

After uproar about the timing of his piece, Stein wrote a blog post early this morning showing the corroboration of parts of his article by other reporters and their sources. Stein also appeared on MSNBC's "Countdown" last night, on which he said he had three sources who confirmed his story.

"There are many officials that know about this: at the Justice Department, the CIA, the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence and other places, and I'm told that Nancy Pelosi became very aware of this as well," Stein said on the show. "This is somewhat of a secret, but there's a wide circle of people who have known this for some time."

Harman, however, has claimed innocence, and told Andrea Mitchell this afternoon in an in-studio interview on MSNBC that she was unaware of any of this. Harman said the first time she heard of any of this was Thursday night when Stein called her congressional office.

"I didn't contact the Justice Department or anyone in the administration ever asking for lenient sentences for anybody," Harman said. "I didn't intervene."

On a deal to help her win the Intelligence committee gavel after the 2006 election, Harman said: "No deals were cut with any groups for any reason ever."

Harman said she has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to release any tapes from NSA wiretaps "in an unredacted form" and to investigate if any other members of Congress were "subject to this treatment" of being wiretapped.