Author of ‘A Spy in Plain Sight,’ Lis Wiehl, Describes Her Book and Comments on Monday Night SCOTUS Leak

Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the author of, A Spy in Plain Sight, Lis Wiehl to the newsmaker line to discuss her book and comment upon the SCOTUS leak Monday night.

Leahy: Lis Wiehl is joining us now with a very interesting book. Good morning, Lis. Thanks for joining us.

Wiehl: Good morning! It’s great to be with you.

Leahy: I understand that some of your novels are published by Thomas Nelson here in Nashville.

Wiehl: In Nashville. That’s right.

Leahy: Well, you need to move to Nashville. You need to move to Tennessee because, I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this before: We have zero state income tax here. Something to consider.

Wiehl: (Chuckles) Nice. Nashville is great. I love it.

Leahy: So we want to talk briefly about your book, A Spy in Plain Sight: The Inside Story of the FBI and Robert Hanssen – America’s Most Damaging Russian Spy.

We want people to buy A Spy in Plain Sight. It’s now published by Simon and Schuster. But then we’re going to have to talk about the leak of the draft of the Supreme Court decision allegedly overturning Roe v. Wade. Tell us about your book first.

Wiehl: Sure. I mean, it’s about Robert Hanssen, who for 20 years, and I’m not misstating that, was spying for the Russians while being an FBI agent at the very top level of our counter-espionage unit in Russia.

And he was a devout Catholic in the day and hated the Communists, he called them commies and godless people. And yet by night was fine for the Russians and got away with it for 20 years until he was caught.

He’s now in a supermax facility. But in doing my research for this book, I asked all these FBI agents and CIA operatives could there be another Hanssen today? And they all said yes. And many of them said there probably already is.

And given our current relationship with Russia and Ukraine, that’s really pretty chilling to think of that that we could have a spy in the FBI right now working for the Russians.

Leahy: Lis, did you have an opportunity to interview Robert Hanssen in his supermax prison?

Wiehl: Per his plea agreement with our government, he’s not allowed to speak to anybody. So no, I didn’t. But I spoke to everybody around him. His best friend, his psychiatrist, his brother-in-law who was in the FBI and tried to turn him in.

The wife of the CIA agent that was wrongly targeted instead of Hanssen. And all of these FBI operatives and CIA agents. So I got everybody around him, and some of them spoke for the first time. To me, it was pretty amazing.

Leahy: Does he have a wife and kids?

Wiehl: Yes. Bonnie is still his wife. She hasn’t divorced him. She visits him, apparently, and he’s got five children all grown up now. And Bonnie is getting an FBI pension. That was part of the agreement as well.

And I’m not sure I agree with that part of it because we’re paying for that. She’s out there and she apparently caught him in the act of spying and found the cash in a sock drawer and confronted him because she thought maybe it was money for a mistress, which it wasn’t. He said, no, I’m not cheating on you. I’m just spying for the Russians.

Leahy: And her reaction?

Wiehl: Her reaction is – they’re devout Catholics. So they went to a priest and the priest absolved them as long as he would pay back the money that he gained from the Russians to the church. Which he did.

And for a while he stopped and then he started again. I don’t think Bonnie knew about it after that. But she caught him. And the priest said, don’t do it again and give your money to the church and it will all be okay.

Leahy: Have you sold the film rights to this book yet?

Wiehl: From your lips to God’s ear. That would be amazing. It really should be. It’s a great story and I’ve written a lot of fiction, but you can’t make this stuff up. This is like a thriller, but it is actually true to fact. It happened.

Leahy: You were a Harvard Law School graduate. Did you attend Harvard during the 1980s when it was so fractious and called “Beirut on the Charles”?

Wiehl: I did. I graduated ’87. That was the advent of sort of critical legal thinking. And it was pretty wild. It was pretty wild.

Leahy: Were you in the same class as Barack Obama and/or Michelle Obama? She was a little older.

Wiehl: Yes. I think Obama was a year behind me, if I have it right. Or a year ahead of me. We weren’t in the same class.

Leahy: It’s a pretty big class, too, right? How many in each class? 500 or something like that? Pretty big.

Wiehl: Yeah, 350 to 500. It’s pretty big. You know the people in your section because it’s divided into four sections and you get to know them pretty well.

But other folks are just kind of people in passing. So I didn’t know him. But yes, we were there certainly taking the same professors and the classes, and it was a wild time.

Leahy: So the book to buy is A Spy in Plain Sight by Lis Wiehl. We must ask about this: The breaking news last night was published by Politico – I might add, the German-owned Politico – at 8:32 p.m., Eastern time.

For the first time in modern history, the first time ever, a draft Supreme Court opinion allegedly by Justice Alito, all sources indicate that it appears to be genuine. It was prepared on February 10.

It was released and published by Politico last night. This has been described by SCOTUS’ blog as an earth-shaking violation of the integrity of the court. Your thoughts on this?

Wiehl: If it is a true copy of the opinion, and I agree with you, I’m not 100 percent sold that it is. Politico published the draft and I’ve had a chance to look at it cursorily.

If it is, then you’re right. It’s never before happened. It’s not illegal for Politico or any journalist to publish leaked material. Think Watergate. That happens.

But it is highly illegal for anyone to leak it in the first place. And of course, the first attention goes to, well, who could have done it? Was it a law clerk? Was it a secretary? Was it a paralegal?

Was it somebody with that kind of knowledge that was working there in the high court? It’s just an unprecedented violation of, ironically, privacy.

And I say ironically, because the whole rogue decision is about a woman’s right to privacy, whether or not that exists in the Constitution or whether that was kind of fabricated.

But before you even get to your thoughts on the decision itself and it may change, it was just a draft, so it can change. The idea that someone leaked it out of the Supreme Court is just really unfathomable. But it happened last night.

Listen to the interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.




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