Mike Duffy trial: Day 46

Live coverage of the trial of suspended senator Mike Duffy from CBC journalists inside and outside the courtroom.

  • Join us for live blog coverage of the Mike Duffy trial when court resumes around 10 a.m. ET. Chris Woodcock, former director of issues management for the prime minister's office, continues his testimony under cross examination.
  • Chris Woodcock, ex-PMO aide, says he didn't know Wright repaid Duffy's expenses

    Mike Duffy's lawyer battled it out in court today with a former senior staffer in the Prime Minister's Office over his insistence that he never a read a line in an email from Nigel Wright that said he had personally repaid the senator's expenses.
  • That's how things went down yesterday.
  • More testimony from PMO staff Chris Woodcock at Duffy trial today. Follow here cbc.ca/news/politics/… #Duffy
  • Duffy enters the courthouse

  • Bayne is leaning silently against the back wall. Head slightly bowed and then looking forward. Reminds me of a boxer prepping before a match.
  • The judge is now here. And off we go.
  • Harper: what I have said is simply this: a lot of evidence before the court, you insist on cherry-picking it. #Duffy
  • Harper: Mr. Duffy took the money. No one else told him to do that. #Duffy
  • Defence counsel Donald Bayne and witness Chris Woodcock start with terse good mornings.

    Exhibit 45, tab 1 - the Glen McGregor story
    Bayne characterizes this story as one that "would ruin the Prime Minister's day," to use Woodcock's phrase from yesterday.

    Bayne goes through the story and so far he and Woodcock are agreeing on what the story says.
  • Bayne goes back to Woodcock's testimony yesterday where he said he reached out to Duffy in February.

    Bayne goes over the idea of Wright's "classic" issues management strategy - don't feed the story.

    Woodcock says the Decemeber was a concern. Someone in PMO talked to Duffy (maybe Andrew MacDougall, guesses Woodcock).
    He says the Senate was going to review the rules.
    Woodcock says he didn't come back to that until February.
    Bayne asserts that there was no urgency.
    Woodcock says no, there wasn't, but they did proactive work on it.

    Woodcock says PMO created a strategy in December - to let the Senate deal with it.
  • Fact check: other people certainly encouraged Duffy to take the money. #Duffy
  • Exhibit 45, email 6 and 7
    Duffy bcc'ed the original McGregor story and his defence to Wright, saying it was a smear. Woodcock says that was probably forwarded to him as he did see it.
    Wright responded but Woodcock says he didn't see that until it was put out publicly. He says he didn't discuss what Wright's thoughts were (that he agreed with Duffy, that the story was a smear and he was probably ok).
    Woodcock says he remembers that the Senate didn't seem too concerned.
  • Bayne gets Woodcock to reconfirm that he did not his own review of Senate rules or Duffy's expenses.
    He says he does recall reading the rules (SARs) in March but that he wasn't in a position to legally assess them.
    He says he recalls them being vague.
    He didn't spend a great deal of time going over them.
  • Bayne asks him about gathering facts to deal etch issues.
    Woodcock says his approach would vary from file to file. If he was direct lead then he'd "dig in more" than just a communications role (as it was in the Duffy issue).
  • Woodcock says there was a clear definition of primary versus secondary residence in the Senate administrative rules.
    He continues by saying he was aware that Wright thought Duffy was probably ok - technically. "But hat he was claiming expenses that weren't incurred."
    "It was policy embarrassing ... it didn't pass he smell test."
    Bayne asks if the party repaying for Duffy passed his smell test. Woodcock responds hat he didn't think about it much.
    "Why wouldn't you?" - Bayne
    Woodcock says his job was comms - to write the media lines, again saying it's easier to judge things two years later with all of the facts available, adding at the time with he role and information he had, that was his judgement.
  • Email 20 (February 6)
    Woodcock emails PMO with a Duffy statement on the story (that LeBreton asked him to write). Bayne and Woodcock tussle briefly over who wrote the statement - Duffy or someone in LeBreton's office.
  • Now to the Woodcock's RCMP interview transcript.
    Woodcock described the scenario as "the purpose of the exercise was he needed to go out, he needed to publicly admit he'd made a mistake and he needed to publicly repay the money."
    Woodcock agrees he said that.

    Woodcock says the publicly admitting the mistake was a condition of the internal economy committee, but the other two ideas came from PMO.
    Bayne boils it down to "(admit the) mistake, repay."

    The Duffy issue involved months of action by your office and Senate leadership - Bayne.
    Woodcock says it took place over a number of months but it was only one percent of his time or less.

    Bayne goes back to the police transcript where Woodcock said there was months of work on the file.
  • Bayne calls it a hot political file (Duffy and the Senate in general).
    Woodcock agrees it was not good for the government.
    "A very bad story politically," says Bayne.
    "It was," agrees woodcock. "Still is."
    Bayne reminds him it's also quite bad for Senator Duffy.
  • Woodcock in his statement to police said that the Duffy story was the bigger Senate story.
    "Duffy was the one that we had to force him... To convince, to persuade to go it and repay," he told police (echoing the word "force" that Wright used in his police statement and that he and Bayne battled over at length during his cross examination).

    Bayne asked who the "we" was. Woodcock says PMO, noting he wasn't an "active participant in that," but that he was aware.
    Bayne says that woodcock testified yesterday that it was a collaborative effort, Woodcock agrees that was the case in his work.
    Bayne points out that "very collaborative" doesn't quite match with "forcing" and "persuading."
    Woodcock explains that he was referring to his work with Duffy, on creating media lines and communication strategy, whereas in he police statement he was referring to the deal itself and the lawyers' negotiations.
    Bayne restates it that once Duffy was "forced" into it then coming up with media lines was no problem.
  • Bayne says that Woodcock must have known that it wasn't just "voluntary agreement," by Duffy otherwise he wouldn't have used the word "force" in his statement, especially for someone whose work involved carefully using words.
    A bit of talking over one another leads to Neubauer objecting that Bayne isn't listening to the witness. The judge rules that there is a lot of cross talk and that yes, Bayne does have to stop and listen to the witness but that Woodcock also has to listen "before mouths are engaged."

    Bayne says he's not suggesting that in "forcing" Duffy he's not suggesting PMO "Put a headlock on him and physically abused him" but that there are other ways to force someone.

    Force and persuade were used interchangeably says Woodcock.
  • Woodcock says he never thought that there was any "mal-intent" on the part of Duffy until May.
    Bayne picks up on that asking if he is referring to "double dipping" during the election which Woodcock answers yes. Bayne tells him that is no part of this trial, Duffy is not charged with that. (If I remember correctly, that was about Duffy allegedly claiming per diems for Senate work while doing partisan work, campaigning for the Conservative party).
    Woodcock says in February they took Duffy at his word that it was not a deliberate error, that he filled out forms as he was told.
    The word "mistake" came from the senate committee on internal economy, not PMO, says Woodcock.
  • Bayne takes us to email 109 from February 16, during the negotiation period.
    This email is about coming up with a test for constitutional residency for Senators. Wright wrote this to Woodcock, Perrin and Rogers.
    This is also the email where Wright says he does not want to lead to "Chinese water torture."
    Woodcock agrees they did not want the story continuing.

    Email 120 from February 18
    Wright talks about stopping their "public agony" on the Senate stories.
    Woodcock agrees that he was probably referring to the political embarrassment for the government.
  • Bayne says Woodcock was a media line expert. "Whether you were an expert or not, that was the job you had."

    He moves back to he police transcript where Woodcock spoke about dealing with the Senators in trouble, offering them help with media lines.
    Woodcock describes "difficult to watch caucus exits" that were "bad television." (As a TV producer, I have to disagree that that is not bad television, at least not for television sake. It might be bad if you're in a political party).
    Woodcock says he would help them navigate the ins and outs of caucus without becoming embarrassed.
  • Bayne takes us now to email 146, asking who wrote or "scripted" it. Woodcock confirms it was him. The email, is the "scenario for repayment."
    Woodcock says he worked on it with other PMOers.
    Bayne asks if the scenario they came up with was what happened. Woodcock says yes, but quibbles a bit on the details. (For example they said Duffy would have a "media availability" but Woodcock points out that Duffy instead did an interview with CBC specifically).
    Bayne asks if the slightest email evidence that this scenario was sent to Duffy.
    Woodcock says he can't recall.
    He thinks he shared he statement portion of the email with Duffy but not the entire email.
  • Bayne compares the statement with Woodcock's police interview where he says Dufffy needed to go out, publicly admit his mistake and publicly commit to repaying.
    Bayne says they match. "Mistake, repay," as he calls it.

    (Things are much calmer today compared to yesterday's battle.)
  • Bayne asks what he purpose of "limiting" the Ottawa bureau intervention in Duffy's media interviews (this was laid it in the scenario email).

    Woodcock explains that if they wanted a story told from the local perspective, if political journalists were involved, "You wouldn't get as correct and clean a story," you'd get "18 different stories saying differing things," which prompts some noise from he media benches.
  • Bayne continues through the scenario email. Again confirming the "purpose of the exercise" (as he would put it, "mistake, repay")
    Woodcock says yes, this email was a component of the whole idea.

    Email 150 - Wright's response on the same day (Feb 20)
    Wright wrote that Duffy should chalk the whole problem up to ambiguity in the forms, that they would defend constitutional residency issues, that Duffy did spend a lot of time traveling for the government.
    Woodcock says that last idea probably came from Duffy.
    Wright also characterized it as "not wrongdoing" but a "historical lack of clarity in the rules and forms."
    Bayne again boils it down to "mistake, repay."
  • Duffy is sitting staring straight forward, arms crossed.
  • Bayne asks about the proposed q and a that Wright suggested should be made for Duffy and then gives a few examples. Bayne reads through them.

    Bayne goes to email 153, in which woodcock gives massaged q and a's.
    Woodcock says he doesn't like the word script, as it implies that he script it completely followed word for word.
    Bayne foreshadows that we will come to the use of that word later.
  • The court sketch artist is sitting in front of me today. So far he's drawn Bayne's back with his hand raised and Woodcock sitting in the witness box.
  • Email 154
    Wright mentions the fact that Duffy was sending over his diaries/schedules but he wanted to make sure the PMO looked at it and made sure they prevented any parts they didn't want out sent to the committee.
    Woodcock says he doesn't know why he would write that.

    Bayne brings up Wright's wording that they might "let" Duffy go to Deloitte. Woodcock has no comment. (I'm guessing that's to further Bayne's argument that Duffy was being forced to follow PMO's will).
  • Bayne describes these emails as all "condensed." That the scenario came out on the 20th and Duffy went on TV on he 22nd.

    Email 160 and 161 - February 21
    PMO strategizing on whether and what of the scenario to send to Senator Duffy.
    Wright suggested they "walk him through" it over the phone.
    Woodcock quickly goes over what the call would have sounded like.
    Bayne asks if he has any notes on the calls. Woodcock says no, that he just wrote down the end product of the calls and that is reflected in his emails.

    Woodcock whispers to the judge he's like a break and the judge agrees.
    We'll be back in 15.
  • We're back. And back to email 161.
    Bayne asks about the "support" referred to in the media. Woodcock answers that it was about logistics and a communications strategy.
    Bayne doesn't quite buy that and asks again what the support was.
    Woodcock mentions the media lines, a pre and post phone call and "those kinds of things."

    Email 164 - also from February 21
    Woodcock responds to the PMO team involved in the matter with he expanded q and a, which he says today he drafted himself, based on the ideas Wright had previously sent.

    Bayne gets Woodcock to confirm that the call made to Duffy involved Woodcock, Lecce and Rogers.
  • Bayne reads through the 8 questions and answers (which we've seen before), starting with number 3 where Duffy was to say he was "mistaken" and was "making it right."

    Bayne notes a second appearance of the word "mistake."

    Wright then approves them (in the following email).
  • Email 173 Woodcock sends the statement and q and a to Duffy.

    In email 174 Woodcock wrote that Duffy wanted to insert his PEI-isms and sent Duffy's revised statement.

    Bayne leans against the jury box, arms crossed as Woodcock talks about the PEI-ification of things.

    Bayne reads through the revised statement, comparing it with the original draft.
  • The public benches seem less than engaged in this comparison of the statements.
  • Bayne notes that there is no "substantial change" in the revision, just change around the periphery (example, Duffy added "while my job may be in Ottawa, my heart is in PEI.")
    That publicly Duffy needed to say he made a mistake and that he would repay.

    Bayne reminds people that Woodcock didn't know what Wright said and did to get Duffy "to this point" (of agreement).
  • Email 188 - February 22, 8:09 am
    Perrin writes to PMO members (including Woodcock) after he spoke to Payne

    Bayne asks what the "communication bounds" are that Perrin refers to. Woodcock says he doesn't know. Bayne asserts that surely he must know it was he admitting of the mistake and agreeing to repay.

    Email 190 - Feb 22, 11:39 am
    Wright says he wanted to speak to Stephen Harper before "everything is considered final."
    Woodcock says he "believes" he read that.
    Bayne goes over the 5 points of the agreement that would be the "everything" mentioned.
  • Bayne then goes to the "good to go email."
    On objection from Neubauer, Bayne backs down on trying to get Woodcock to speak about what he thought that meant.

    Another email (198) where Duffy wrote to Novak saying he was "cooked" leads to another objection from Neubauer, but the judge allows Bayne to continue.
    Woodcock says he didn't see the email at the time, not until it was made public.
    Woodcock says he understood on the 22nd of February that Duffy had "agreed to repay."
    He doesn't recall hearing from either Wright or Novak that Duffy was expressing these thoughts and still defending himself.
  • Bayne goes through another email (207) from Duffy to Novak. Woodcock says he didn't see that and didn't know that Duffy was still "resisting" as Bayne terms it.

    Email 208 February 22, 2:02 pm
    Wright to PMO asking that Tkachuk be sent the media lines he "agreed to stick to."
    Woodcock says again he doesn't agree with the word scripting.
    Wright then tells Woodcock to do a draft letter to be sent to the committee "mimicking his public lines" ("ambiguity in the rules, might have made a mistake, desires to repay, needs to know the amount.")
  • Email 210
    Bayne laughs as he says Woodcock wrote he conclusion for Tkachuk who was chair of the committee.
    Woodcock defends hat, saying he bekieved that was the Senator's view.

    Bayne brings up Senator Furey, a Liberal (for the first time), asking if he knew this.
    Woodcock says he had no communications with Furey and didn't know what he did or didn't know.
  • Bayne directs Woodcock to pull up Exhibit 45b, tab 19 (a letter from Duffy, sent from lawyer Payne, dated Feb 22) and email 173 (a statement for Duffy written by Woodcock on Feb 21) to compare them.

    Bayne gets Woodcock to confirm the statements are verbatim in some parts, and slightly different, but with the same meaning in others.
    Woodcock at one point notes the latter statement is the same as the earlier one - that he and Wright would have come up with it and that Woodcock would have discussed it with Duffy and that Duffy would have "agreed" to it.

    Bayne notes a change between the original (Duffy was to say he was mistaken in claiming expenses), but the revised said Duffy may have been mistaken. Woodcock says that's a big change.
  • Bayne moves to compare the prepared q and a.
    Woodcock notes that one of the revised questions mentions a rule review by he Senate that he says he wasn't aware with.
    Bayne points out that he knew about it initially, a couple months before.
    Woodcock counters that he didn't associate the two when he read the revision.
    Bayne doesn't buy it challenging Woodcock on if he knew or not that there was a review being undertaken.
    Woodcock says he knew about it, but at the time of the statement in February didn't "draw the link."
  • Bayne and Woodcock quibble over the changes that were made between the two statements.
    Bayne gets a bit heated - "it's a marginal and insignificant change in the wording!"
    Woodcock agrees that the meaning remains the same.
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