Back in the Saddle
In digging through the new documents, the first thing that struck me is that they are going full-bore to paint Fitzgerald as an obstructionist (worked for Tom Daschle, why not give it a try?) as they attempt a discovery fishing expedition. And although we always appreciate the appearance on the scene of Fitz’s superior snark, this is no doubt one of the reasons Team Libby chose to release his January 26, 2006 letter as part of their motions request this week wherein he openly scoffs at their efforts to do so.
Ding-dong Norah O’Donnell (she can write?) was ever so helpful on this front this morning:
Fitzgerald’s letter was responding to a request from Libby’s lawyers for additional documents, e-mails and other correspondence the Libby team says is essential to mount a defense. Lawyers for Libby this week accused prosecutors of withholding evidence the defense team has sought.
But if one actually bothered to read Libby’s Motion to Compel Discovery of Information Regarding News Reporters and Organizations (and here we feel adequately justified in jumping to the conclusion that this is beyond Norah’s abilities), it is abundantly clear that Libby’s request for documents relies on a complete misstatement of what Libby is actually charged with:
This motion concerns the defense’s request for production of documents and information regarding three important issues in this case: what did the press know prior to June 14, 2003 about whether Valerie Plame Wilson worked at the CIA, from whom did they learn it, and with whom did they discuss it. This information is important for a number of reasons. Most significantly, it relates directly to the truth or falsity of two alleged false statements by Mr. Libby: (1) that Mr. Russert said "all the reporters knew" about Ms. Wilson’s employment status; and (2) that Mr. Libby "had heard that other reporters were saying that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA."
Is this all they’ve got? If so Scooter is the one in the bear cage and Fitzgerald is the one with the stick. Scooter is not charged with lying to Tim Russert, he’s charged with lying to the FBI and the grand jury about what was said during his conversation with Russert. Fitzgerald never took issue with the substantive truth of what Russert and Libby did or did not say to each other, only that Libby’s account of the conversation was different than Russert’s. And the evidence supports Russert’s version.
Libby’s lawyers claim:
There can be no information more material to the defense of a perjury case than information tending to show that the alleged false statements are, in fact, true or that they could be the result of mistake or confusion. The government should not be allowed to charge Mr. Libby with lying about statements concerning what reporters knew about Ms. Wilson’s identity, and at the same time deny him information that may establish one of these possible defenses.
Well I’ll agree with that, and how handy it is that the government didn’t. Libby is not charged with lying about statements concerning what reporters knew, he’s charged with something completely different. And Fitzgerald in his letter indicates he is having none of this dancing bs; he makes it clear that they are not entitled to information relevant only to defending Libby against charges that have not been brought against him. Norah does not mention this. Color us surprised.
The release of the Fitzgerald letter by team Libby is still odd, however. While it did obviously lead Norah O’Donnell down the bunny trail she would’ve gone there anyway with a whole lot less prodding, and the "obstructionist" bit was quite overshadowed by the news that some White House emails had been "disappeared." Which obviously leads to speculation about the Hadley email, and of course Karl Rove. You have to wonder what kind of games within games are being played here.