Tag: Libby Trial Coverage (page 2)
Tim Russert, walking with a crutch under his arm, has arrived at the D.C. Courthouse to testify in the Scooter Libby trial. The judge took lunch late to finish the 40 minutes left of Mr. Libby's grand jury testimony. Then, the jury will hear from Mr. Russert who will deny discussing Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, with Mr. Libby on July 10, 2003. (Background here.)
Update: Fitz's direct examination took 11 minutes, Maine Web Report has the details.
Contrary to my earlier speculation, Wells, not Jeffress is conducting the cross-examination.
Update: From the Firedoglake and Maine Web Report live-blogging, it seems like Wells did a very good job of crossing Russert. I'm glad to hear that because I think he's an excellent lawyer but had the impression in the trial segments I watched that his crosses were too lumbering.
Now we'll see what the MSM and cable news has to say. I'm headed to the gym where I'll watch it on the treadmill. Russert will be back for more cross-examination and redirect by Fitz tomorrow.
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Eric Boehlert has a terrific article up at Media Matters on the larger context of the media coverage of the Valerie Plame leak and the Scooter Libby trial:
So as the facts of the White House cover-up now tumble out into open court, it's important to remember that if it hadn't been for Fitzgerald's work, there's little doubt the Plame story would have simply faded into oblivion like so many other disturbing suggestions of Bush administration misdeeds. And it would have faded away because lots of high-profile journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and NBC wanted it to.
In a sense, it was Watergate in reverse. Instead of digging for the truth, lots of journalists tried to bury it. The sad fact remains the press was deeply involved in the cover-up, as journalists reported White House denials regarding the Plame leak despite the fact scores of them received the leak and knew the White House was spreading rampant misinformation about an unfolding criminal case.
And that's why the Plame investigation then, and the Libby perjury trial now, so perfectly capture what went wrong with the timorous press corps during the Bush years as it routinely walked away from its responsibility of holding people in power accountable and ferreting out the facts.
Here's a bit more on the "timorous press corps."
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The Government will call its final witness today in the Scooter Libby trial. It's NBC's Tim Russert.
Fitzgerald wants to end his case on a high note. That's why even today, he wasn't sure he was going to call "the mystery witness," a low-level DOJ employee. He'd rather end with Russert, who he thinks will be the final linchpin, the one who will put his case over the top and bring it home.
I suspect Jeffress will do the cross-examination since he has crossed all the journalists so far, if I'm not mistaken.
Jeffress may try to hammer home that Russert didn't have to go before the grand jury but got interviewed in his lawyer's office. Jeffress took this route with Matt Cooper (although I thought that line of questioning went nowhere.)
There is another wrinkle with Russert the defense may try to exploit, that Russert and Fitz had a deal whereby Russert was only asked questions about Russert'ss side of the conversation. In other words, he was questioned about what he told Libby, not what Libby told him.
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I can't draw conclusions until I've read transcripts of all of his testimony. But, as to what Libby's lawyers will argue to the jury, here is the "Theory of Defense Instruction" (pdf) they have asked Judge Walton to read to the jurors as part of his instructions at the end of the case.
A defendant is entitled to a "theory of defense" instruction, but there has to be evidence presented during the trial to support it. I don't think Judge Walton will give it exactly as written, but it's revealing in showing where Team Libby is headed.
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It's official. Scooter Libby may not testify at his trial. His lawyers filed a brief tonight (pdf) in connection with yet another sealed request for classified materials, trying to convince the court that Libby's memory failure defense -- the part that is based on how busy he was due to the urgent national security matters he was involved in -- should come into evidence even if he doesn't take the stand. They say that making him testify in order to present his memory defense would force him to choose between his 5th Amendment right to remain silent and his 6th Amendment right to counsel.
They state in a footnote that on September 27, 2006, in connection with the fight over classified materials, Team Libby told the court it was "very likely" Libby would testify but did not promise he would. They point out that other courts have ruled that both sides can present circumstantial evidence as to a defendant's state of mind. They argue that Fitz has repeatedly presented circumstantial evidence at trial of Libby's state of mind.
They want to introduce three categories of national security evidence to show Libby was confused or mistaken, but did not intentionally lie:
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Why isn't Patrick Fitzgerald calling WaPo reporter Walter Pincus as a witness in the Scooter Libby trial?
On July 12, two days before Novak’s column, a Post reporter was told by an administration official that the White House had not paid attention to the former ambassador’s CIA-sponsored trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction. Plame’s name was never mentioned and the purpose of the disclosure did not appear to be to generate an article, but rather to undermine Wilson’s report.
Fitz writes in a footnote to his brief filed Sunday,
Defendant testified before the grand jury that he could have been a source for Walter Pincus’s June 12, 2003 article, and that it was during preparation for providing information to Mr. Pincus that the Vice President informed him that former Ambassador Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA. 3/5/04 GJ Tr. at 60-63.
Pincus expanded on what the Administration official told him in this July, 2005 article.
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Seven hours of Scooter Libby's grand jury testimony is now being played for the jury. Swopa is live-blogging over at Firedoglake.
Start with page 4 and the section, "The Annotated Wilson Op Ed is Relevant to Establish that Defendant’s Immediate Superior Was Concerned that Mr. Wilson Was Sent on a Junket by his Wife, and Communicated His Concern to Defendant."
Fitz will use this section as context for Russert being his closing witness, after the tape playing is finished. Fitz writes Libby told the grand jury
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Following legal arguments this morning in the Scooter Libby trial, the Judge ruled Libby's seven hours of grand jury testimony that will be played to the jury can be released to the media. Thanks to Swopa, who is live-blogging the trial for Firedoglake and Maine Web Report which is live-blogging for Media Bloggers Association for today's trial updates.
The Washington Post reports on the arguments and ruling here.
He's also admitting the two newspaper articles from the Washington Post to show Libby's state of mind.
Update: Wells scores one on cross: FBI Agent Deborah Bond's notes do not match her testimony about what Libby said about Ari Fleischer. He did not "adamantly" deny telling him about Valerie Plame's employment. She admits that denial is not in her notes and she should have used a different word than "adamently."
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Here's the transcript from this morning's Reliable Sources on CNN in which Howard Kurtz, Slate's John Dickerson, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and I discuss the Libby trial in the context of what it says about journalists.
On today's edition of CNN's "Reliable Sources," Howard Kurtz spoke about journalists and the Scooter Libby trial. Joining him were John Dickerson, Slate’s chief political correspondent; Michael Isikoff, Newsweek investigative correspondent; and Jeralyn Merritt, a defense attorney and blogger.
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Doubts are growing in the blogosphere that Dick Cheney will in fact be a witness for Scooter Libby at his trial. Marcy (Empty Wheel) explores this today at Huffington Post and concludes Cheney won't be called.
Marcy reminds us that FBI Agent Bond testified Thursday that Libby told the FBI in his second FBI interview in the fall of 2003 that he and Cheney might have discussed leaking Plame's identity to reporters.
As soon as Libby admitted to talking with Cheney about leaking Plame's identity, he committed to one of two scenarios: either he and Cheney both forgot Plame's identity, both learned it "as if it were new" from journalists, and thought that a piece of news that was forgettable in June was so newsworthy in July that they should share it with journalists. Or, he and Cheney learned of Plame's identity through classified channels and a month later decided to share that information with journalists. We're in the realm of an IIPA violation, folks, barring Cheney claiming that he declassified Valerie Wilson's identity ... without telling her (which is where I think Cheney's prepared to go, if it gets that far--that should make the Wilsons' civil suit all the more delectable, I think).
I think there's another reason Cheney will back off from testifying -- and it goes to the heart of the case against Libby.
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There's been lots of blogging coverage of Scooter Libby's first day of trial. In addition to those I mentioned in earlier posts, Christy at Firedoglake who was in the real (not media) courtroom posts this wrap-up.
As to Ted Wells' opening argument, I'm a bit surprised he chose to go after Rove so hard. It leads me to believe Rove won't be a witness. If Libby were to call him, surely he'd be a hostile witness after today's opening. I don't think Ted Wells wants to go mano - a - mano with Rove, not with Fitz backing Rove and Rove not impeachable on grounds he got a deal. There's no evidence Fitzgerald gave Rove anything for his multiple grand jury appearances.
Until today, Wells had a clean defense: Libby forgot and didn't intend to mislead investigators or the grand jury. Wilson's wife was just a speck in the grand scheme of things. Now, he's put Libby in the midst of an alleged frame-up. That's going to be a tough sell to the jury. But, given the Judge's refusal to allow a decent instruction on the principles of memory, maybe Wells needed a backup defense.
But that's not the headline for today. The real headline is much bigger and with far graver consequences to Libby. More below the fold.
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