Saturday, May 06, 2006

Libby Plans to Call on Rove to Testify; Libby Also Seeks Testimony From Outed CIA Officer's Husband and Former State Department Official

ABC News
Libby Plans to Call on Rove to Testify
Libby Also Seeks Testimony From Outed CIA Officer's Husband and Former State Department Official

May 5, 2006 — - I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's lawyers plan to call on White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove as a witness in his trial for allegedly lying to a federal grand jury and investigators over the CIA leak case.

The defense revealed today it will also focus on testimony from former State Department official Marc Grossman and Joseph Wilson, husband of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Libby, the former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was charged in October 2005 over statements about how he learned about Plame's CIA connections. Plame was identified by columnist Robert Novak in July 2003, and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate the matter later that year.

At a hearing today, Libby's lawyer Ted Wells said five witnesses would testify that Wilson revealed Plame's status before Novak did. U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton fired back at Wells saying, "I don't know how it has any bearing on whether your client allegedly testified falsely."

The defense team also asked that the government produce any documents and e-mails they have in their possession relating to the ongoing investigation.

The hearing offered no clues on Fitzgerald's investigation into Rove's statements made before the grand jury last week or whether Fitzgerald will bring charges against Rove.

Wells asked that materials relating to Rove be provided to the defense, asserting that the prosecution is required to do so even if no charges have been brought against Rove. Fitzgerald denied he was withholding evidence.

Some Document Requests Denied

The defense also requested additional documents from the CIA, the State Department and the White House. Walton denied some, saying he did not see how the documents related to the perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Libby.

However, Walton granted the defense information about the declassification process of the Iraq National Intelligence Estimate. The 2002 report was declassified by President Bush after Wilson and other critics began to question the administration's Iraq pre-war intelligence. Walton also said information provided to Federal investigators after interviews with Bush and Cheney could be turned over to the defense.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald has told the defense that they have not been able to locate certain White House records.

"In an abundance of caution, we advise you that we have learned that not all e-mail of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system, " Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to Libby's lawyers dated Jan. 23, 2006.

Not a Debate Over War in Iraq

Walton questioned Wells several times about why the defense needed documents pertaining to Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger to prepare for Libby's defense.

"I don't see how that has anything to do with this case," Walton said.

The judge worried the jury would focus on whether America was winning the war and said he would not let the trial be a proxy for a fight over the decision to go to war in Iraq.

"You want to try the legitimacy of the war, and I don't see how this helps us determine whether Libby lied when he talked to the FBI and went before the grand jury," Walton said.

Glimpse Into Future Defense Arguments

Wells said the defense will highlight two areas: 1) what Libby was told about Plame's employment at the CIA and Wilson's trip to Niger and 2) testimony from reporters involved in the case.

The testimony from reporters has been an ongoing battle. A hearing will be held on May 16 to deal with the issue of media subpoenas for former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, NBC host Tim Russert and Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper. Journalists' testimony was a major part of Fitzgerald's investigation leading to the charges against Libby.

At a hearing on Feb. 24, Walton seemed to indicate the defense was going too far in wanting to subpoena multiple journalists to establish the known field for how many journalists may have known about Plame's employment at the CIA.

Walton also refused to impose a gag order on this case, saying they should only be issued in "extreme circumstances." He encouraged the counsel not to make public statements before the trial.

Libby said only spoke once during the the two-hour hearing, to waive the right to a speedy trial. Walton said the trial, which is set to begin in January 2007, will last about one month.