New From Waas: Libby in Cross-Hairs Over Miller

Intrepid reporter Murray Waas breaks more news today about Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and the grand jury investigation into the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Murray writes that Libby failed to tell FBI investigators and the grand jury about his June 23 conversation with Judith Miller. If true, I think Fitzgerald is considering a false statements or perjury charge against Libby. The false statement charge would apply to his omission when being questioned by investigators while the perjury charge would apply to his omission before the grand jury.

Murray's next revelation is that Fitzgerald is weighing whether Libby or his lawyers encouraged Judith Miller not to comply with her subpoena last year. If the grand jury believes this to be true, Libby could be looking at an obstruction of justice charge.

Waas reports the genesis of this theory is the conflicting correspondence between Miller attorney Floyd Abrams and Libby lawyer Joseph Tate. He lays out the key discrepancies. The money quote is in Abrams' September 29th letter:

In our conversations...you did not say that Mr. Libby's written waiver was uncoerced. In fact, you said quite the opposite. You told me that the signed waiver was by its nature coerced and had been required as a condition for Mr. Libby's continued employment at the White House. You compared the coercion to that inherent in the effective bar imposed upon White House employees asserting the Fifth Amendment. A failure by your client to sign the written waiver, you explained, like any assertion by your client of the Fifth Amendment, would result in his dismissal. You persuasively mocked the notion that any waiver signed under such circumstances could be deemed voluntary.

Murray's final point, as others have speculated, is that Fitzgerald learned of the June 23 conversation between Miller and Libby only after "attorneys for Miller and The New York Times" told him that Miller "had discovered" her notes of the conversation.

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake has a post at HuffPo today in which she posits there was a quid pro quo between Fitzgerald and Miller. In exchange for Fitzgerald's agreement to limit Miller's grand jury questioning to her conversations with Libby about Wilson and Plame, and let her off the hook on her sources for and conversations about Iraq's attempts to acquire uranium, Miller had to agree to forego the time limitation of July 6 to 13 contained in her grand jury supboena.

But, wouldn't that indicate that Fitzgerald had information about earlier pertinent conversations between Miller and Libby before asking for such an agreement? Otherwise, why extend the time period? Jane theorizes that Miller could have told Fitzgerald as much when he interviewed her in jail the day before her testimony. It still seems more likely to me that Miller disclosed the June conversation spontaneously in response to another question, and then agreed to look for notes about it. That's a pretty ordinary occurrence. But, if Fitzgerald and Miller really did get down to the nitty-gritty during their jailhouse talk, then perhaps Jane is right.

One other possibly unresolved issue comes to mind about Fitzgerald and Libby: Could Fitzgerald still be investigating whether Libby showed Miller a classified document at their meeting on July 8? Waas previously mentioned this possibility when he wrote about the July 8 meeting between Miller and Libby. He pointed out that Miller filed an affidavit with the court stating she did not receive any documents from Libby at the meeting - which was corroborated in court filings by Miller's and the Times' lawyers. Murray astutely noted:

But Miller's affidavit and other court filings by the Times -- and the narrow language contained therein -- did not say whether Miller might have read or reviewed any documents that might have brought to the July 8, 2003, meeting.

What document would that be? One possibility is the June, 2003 classified State Department memo that identified Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson, as having been involved in the decision to send Wilson to Niger.

I wonder what Judith Miller had to say about this when she testfied before the grand jury. Did she clear Libby - or did she bury him?

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    Re: New From Waas: Libby in Cross-Hairs Over Mill (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:54 PM EST
    As Miller was the key witness need 'to tie up' the investigation' my guess is that Fitzgerald knew of Libby's lie from another source and needed Miller to corroborate it. He may have even scared Miller with perjury and that is why she has softened. Obstruction of justice, perjury and conspiracy are all on the table as I see it.

    Comment seeking personal legal advice deleted. TalkLeft does not give or allow anyone else to give individual legal advice on this site.

    Re: New From Waas: Libby in Cross-Hairs Over Mill (none / 0) (#3)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:55 PM EST
    Just to get a view of the forest in the midst of all these trees, it might be helpful to make the following observation. The real chief executive of our conutry is Cheney. Libby is perhaps Cheney's closest associate. Going after Libby is going after Cheney by proxy. If Libby is indicted, that has serious implications (though probably not actionable implications) for those above him. But Libby's proximity to the top may finally be why he escapes, if not in one way, then in another.

    If the following from Reuters is accurate, I think Scooter's boat just sank today. "Times reporter Judith Miller answered questions before the grand jury for more than an hour after turning over notes detailing her June 23, 2003, conversation with Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby. An entry in her notes referred to Joseph Wilson, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's diplomat husband."