Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Libby Trial: Defense Covers the Pass, While Fitz Runs Up the Middle!

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The first day of Scooter Libby’s defense seemed kind of odd. After nearly two weeks of hearing a nice clean prosecution case that basically ran the “Libby lied” theme down the defenses throat, Libby’s team blew through 7 witnesses on the first day while trying to show that Libby wasn’t leaking to every reporter he talked to. It was as if they were trying to defend all over the field, when the offense had not even bothered to throw a pass!

Fitzgerald, sensing that the defense was playing against a phantom game plan, simply let the defense witnesses pass through with only token cross-examination. One witness wasn’t asked any questions at all, while another got only one question. Even Bob Novak, whose defense testimony seemed ripe for shredding, was let off the hook with only about six or seven questions.

Basically, Fitzgerald didn’t seem to care if the defense proved Libby wasn’t leaking to everyone, or even that he wasn’t the primary leaker! Libby was indicted for lying! He was indicted because he was the one who “made up a story” to hide the connection between the leaking (regardless of who was doing it) and Dick Cheney - presumably at the behest of Cheney.

Any other defense witnesses besides the two men who were directly involved in the decision to lie about this connection - Libby and Cheney - are mere distractions to be moved in and out as fast as possible, in order to keep the government’s case fresh in the mind of the jurors.

The second day of defense started much like the first day, as the leadoff witness was in and out in a flash with only one question during cross examination.

But then, John Hannah, Cheney’s current National Security Advisor, was brought in essentially as a “surrogate” for both Libby and Cheney, as he was asked to describe both Libby’s pattern of forgetfulness and his intense, all-consuming involvement and in critical national security issues (the ones he could remember anyway) that made the issue of "Wilson's wife" unimportant. Finally, here was a chance for Fitzgerald to tear into a key defense witness!

But even here, Fitzgerald’s response was swift and precise (as blogged by emptywheel, with my comments in brackets):
Fitz: Scope of [Chief Of Staff] as you understood it. Part of it was to protect OVP and VP from public criticism.

Hannah: It's not the formulation I would use, Need to go out and truthfully defend office from unfair criticism.

Fitz: Especially important if it was directed at integrity of VP or OVP, and integrity of Admin, OVP, VP, in terms of Iraq.

Hannah: It would be important pushback, yes.

Fitz: Best time to see Libby was evening, particularly if you focus July 6. Fair to say during that week, if you said tomorrow morning take an hour or two to go out for coffee, he wouldn't take that time.

Hannah: It would be harder.

Fitz: If he gave someone [cough, Judy Miller, cough!] an hour or two, it was something Libby thought important.

Hannah: WRT me, yes.
Game over! After that, the Libby team decided to pack it in, announcing that neither Libby or Cheney would testify, and that the defense would rest its case after only a few minor pieces of supplemental evidence were admitted.

It didn’t seem like much of a defense, and it wasn’t – if the goal were to get Libby acquitted. But with the possibility of a pardon down the road, most experts see appeals dragging until the very end of Bush’s current term. And expect even more White House comments like “I'm not going to comment on the process of an ongoing investigation trial appeal.”

1 comment:

  1. Giraffe9:06 AM

    This is so frustrating. Can't they just once catch Cheney. His getting off here by not even testifying is like giving him a get out of jail free card.