CommunityFDL Main Blog

Libby Liveblog: Fitzgerald’s Opening Statement

the-scale-of-justice_thumb.jpg

Here goes Fitzgerald… It will be utterly fascinating to see how Fitzgerald operates. I'm most interested, though,  in how Fitzgerald will describe the obstruction charge and Libby's motive. What will Fitzgerald say Libby was obstructing, and why? You see, Fitzgerald could either go small–or go big…

If he were to go small, Fitzgerald would argue that Libby was trying to hide his own involvement in the lead-up to the leak, presumably to save his job. He would focus on Libby's own centrality in collecting information on the Wilsons. And might portray Libby's actions as a freelancer.

But if Fitzgerald were to go big, he would argue that Libby was trying to hide the involvement of OVP–in particular, Dick Cheney. If he were to go this route, Fitzgerald would argue that Libby was trying to hide his first source of Plame's identity, the Vice President. He would talk about how OVP held strategy sessions to discuss how to respond to Wilson as early as June 11. And he would talk about how involved Cheney was in the response to Wilson throughout the week of the leak, first by scrawling talking points on Wilson's op-ed, ordering Libby to leak something to Judy Miller on July 8 (which may or may not be the NIE), and strategizing a response to journalists on July 12.

I suspect we'll see the evidence associated with Cheney in either case (after all, it has been leaking out reliably for over a year). The question is–how central will it be to Fitzgerald's case? 

Well, today we finally get to see.

To repeat some housekeeping notes. This is not an official transcript. I'll be paraphrasing as accurately as I can and for the good stuff, I hope I can capture direct quotes. But this is a liveblog, not a transcript. 

Also, in an attempt to preserve the servers, we're trying to limit the number of times people manically refresh. I'll post the times when I update and will try to limit updates to 15 minute intervals. So before you update, check the most recent time stamp to see whether there really might be something new up.


We're in break before Fitz' opening. Fitz is pacing, with his arms crossed, face down. Putting his game face on. He's kind of pacing right near the lawyers podium.

Wells is pacing around too. Don't see Jeffress. 

Fitz testing out the mike.

Everyone taking seats. All rise.

Walton explains that it takes a few minutes to bring the jury in because they're not in the jury room just behind the court room, they're in some former chambers.

Walton tells everyone to turn off cell phones. "I would hate to see what would happen to you if it went off during the course of their statements." 

Jurors coming in at 10:38.

It's Sunday, July 6, 2003. Sunday. Fireworks are over. Except, a different kind of fireworks are about to being. People open the Sunday NYT. A column written by a man named Joseph Wilson. In this column he made an explosive charge. BushCO may have twisted the intelligence for the war on Iraq. Describes this as an attack on the OVP (Office of Vice President) in particular!!! Describes Wilson's appearance on MTP. The fourth month when WMDs had not been found. 

At first, the WH was stunned. IT admitted that some of the things it said should not have been said. But then WH started to push back. Especially OVP. You know what, we don't agree. We think some of his accusations are unfounded.  But some people pushed back in a different way and said things to the newspapers on the understanding that the newspapers wouldn't use their name. Some officials told the reporters that Wilson's wife works at the CIA. As a result of those disclosures, a very serious GJ investigation began.

Describes importance of GJ investigation. How did they learn it. What did they do with it. Did they want the story to appear in the newspaper? 

This case is about how the defendant obstructed the investigation. Appeared before a federal GJ in this court house. Took an oath. And then violated that oath repeatedly. The evidence will show that the defendant lied repeatedly both to the FBI and the GJ.

Discussed with multiple officials. Talked to more than one reporter about Wilson's wife working at CIA. Gave into to WH press secretary. When the GJ asked questions, the defendant lied. 10:44 


Introduces the Russert info. On Monday July 7, Defendant told Ari that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Told Judy on July 8.

You can't learn something startling on Thursday that you give out on Tuesday. 

Fitz' voice is shaking some. There's a powerpoint with dates.

Fitz is saying that this is just a heads up, not to worry about all the names. 

January 23, President Bush delivered SOTU. [how about this timing?!?!?!?!] 

This SOTU was especially important. Are we going to war, should we be going to war. Part of that case was that Iraq was trying to get WMD, including nuclear weapons.

The 16 words. (UP on a powerpoint screen!!!)

Following SOTU, the war began.
Stockpiles of WMD not found. Where are they. Were they ever there. Have we got  it wrong.  Did we slant the intelligence. Did someone lie about it?

You will not be asked whether the war in Iraq was a good thing or a bad thing. You will be asked whether the govt proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Press accounts describe an Ambassador took a trip to Niger. Press accounts describing Joe Wilson, appearing in some newspapers.

Alleged that trip taken at request of VP.

Alleged that Wilson debunked.

People started asking questions: Who is this former Ambassador?
The defendant was one of the people asking those questions.

Multiple conversations where he (Libby) learned of Wilson and Plame's ID.

Back to powerpoint calendar. Describing the leadup to Pincus' article.

Cheney told Libby that Plame worked at CIA and against the spread of nuclear weapons.

Introduces Grossman. Says Grossman will be first witness. Describes him as number 3.

Describes Grossman wondering about the trip, how 'come I don't know about this trip?

Admits that Grossman knew Wilson, that they had worked together [Libby will introduce emails between them] 

Bob Grenier called by defendant. Defendant trying to get answers to he could respond to press inquiry about trip. Why had he been sent? Could the CIA make a statement to the press that it wasn't just the VP that this ambassador got sent. Mr. Grenier did not get sent fast enough. Grenier got pulled out of a meeting to repsond to Libby's questions!

Libby learned about Wilson's wife from a woman named Cathie Martin. Date of conversation unclear. This likely occurred around the same time. Cathie Martin went straight to the VP and defendant together and told them that she had learned about Plame working at CIA.

You will learn about another conversation.

You will learn about morning intelligence briefing. Craig Schmall assigned as briefer in June 2003. Defendant discussed with Mr. Schmal, described Joe and Valerie by name.

He had learned from high level government people that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

He discussed it with someone outside the government: Judy. Met with defendant in his office. Defendant talking about controversy. Defendant discussed with reporter Miller his view of Joseph Wilson. He made it very clear that he never wanted to see his name in the newspaper. It wouldn't be attributed to OVP. It would be attributed to a Senior Administration Official. 10:55


Now doing July–talking about the op-ed. 

Puts Cheney's annotated op-ed on the powerpoint screen!! 

Everyone was paying attention to the 16 words. Issued a statement that the statement shouldn't have been in the SOTU. 

Evidence will show that Wilson was accusing the VP of misleading the country. Someone was being accused about lying about the cause for war. 

VP cut out the newspaper, underlined it, and wrote handwritten notes on the top of the page. Kept it, it was found months later, in OVP.

Defendant had his own copy (a printout). He underlined his own copy. They were not going to take this lying down. Defendant was VP's right hand man.

Wilson's charges hit close to home. You will see that the defendant spent consderable time. Defendant inserted himself at dealing with the press, at the direction of VP.

Powerpoint calendar is back up. 

Monday. Same day WH issues a statement.

Lunch with Ari. Ari was about to leave to go to Africa.  It was Fleischer's last week at WH. Defendant and Ari talked about Ari's future, football (both Miami Dolphins fans), talked about Joseph Wilson. Told him this was hush. And remember, this was the press secretary.

Ari had conversations with reporters that he should not have had [Damn, I owe Swopa a beer!!]

Judy and Libby at the St. Regis.  Defendant shared the information that she attribute it to SAO. Conversation asked to change the rules. Defendant asked to be treated as former Hill staffer. [Key–Fitz is saying the Former Hill staffer attribution was specifically tied to Wilson info.]

David Addington conversation. Used to work at CIA.

Defendant asked Addington about paper work, a person at CIA sending a spouse on a trip. 

Defendant was very focused on statement that Tenet would issue. [This is the stuff CIA and OVP were arguing about in Summer 2005] It was understood that Tenet would accept responsibility. Defendant and VP were very focused on what Tenet would say. Wanted it to be as full as possible, to make it clear that the VP and the President were not responsible.

People in the WH were letting the Defendant know what the statement looked like. Libby was pushing to put additional language in to protect President and VP.

11:04


Going into Hardball. Describes Libby keeping up to date on Hardball. He was ticked off. Calls Russert. Not directly in line with Matthews–Russert is not Matthews' boss. But Libby thought he could call Russert and complain.

Libby had very important job. Fitzgerald admits this up front, "you'll see that early and often."

In spite of his important duties, the defendant was sufficiently concerned, he made time to deal with the Wilson controversy. 

Fitz talking about timing of Tenet's statement–pissed that Tenet did a Friday afternoon news dump. Libby didn't think the Tenet statement went far enough.

Cooper emailed Cathie Martin questions. Martin will try to get back to Cooper on Saturday, got to make Saturday deadline. 

Describes Cheney christening the aircraft carrier.

Martin and Libby talk about response. Then Libby goes forward to discuss with Cheney how to respond.

Tells Martin that Libby, not Martin, will deal with the press. Wants Libby to make a statement in VP's own name.

Told defendant to make statements on background. Libby wrote both of these down.

Libby, Martin, and Assistant make phone calls. To Cooper, telephone without a speaker. Cannot hear what Cooper has to say. Libby goes through statement from Cheney. Libby confirms that Plame works at CIA.

Fitz doesn't name Rove as Cooper's first source.

11:10


Describes Novak, makes it clear that Libby was not a source for Novak.

Describes things getting hotter during the Fall with the investigation. Another firestorm. The President was being asked questions about investigation. 

Descibes McClellan doing briefings. "For the first two weeks in October, [Scottie] should have worn a helmet to work." 

September 29–denies WH involvement [this is a bit of go small].

Describes Scottie saying Rove was not involved.

Describes Libby trying to get Scottie to clear Libby's name. Goes to Cheney. TOok out oa piece of paper, wrote out a note, wrote out the words he wanted Scottie to say to make clear.

VP wanted to make sure Scottie did for Libby what he had done for Rove, wrote this down on a piece of paper. Scottie came through on more than one occasion. Reviews when Scottie defended Libby. 

Describes DOJ starting a high profile investigation. And just after DOJ starts it, WH press secretary claims Defendant had no involvement.

11:15 


Describes Libby's interviews with the FBI. Explains Libby had a chance to tell the truth. He is repeatedly saying "the truth would be" and listing who he had a conversation with about Plame and Wilson up on the powerpoint.

The Truth Would Be

The Truth Would Be

The Truth Would Be

It's all up there on a blue screen (hey, Michigan Wolverine colors!! maize and blue!)

There are eleven "The  Truth Would Be" bullets up there, listing Cheney, Grossman, Grenier, Schmall, Martin, Miller, Ari, Miller, Addington, Cooper, Miller.

Talks about WH telling everyone anyone would be involved would be fired.

The defendant lied. He made up a story. He told the story that he wasn't relying on any of the information he heard from government officials. He relied on information he got from reporters

VP notes–Libby knew that note was in his file. But he wiped it out.

His story was essentially this. Learned it from Russert. I don't know this. Passed it on to other reporters.

Russert will walk into this court room, swear to an oath, and testify. He will testify that he did not tell the defendant. He will tell you that he did not ask the defendant about Plame. Russert will tell you that he didn't tell Libby that all the reporters knew of Plame.

One journalist who on July 10 did not know Plame worked at the CIA–Tim Russert.

Defendant told Ari the same information he was taken aback to learn.

And even if it had happened, he couldn't be surprised. 

January 2004, Federal GJ investigation began.

Talks about the GJ investigation.

Geez- I don't see Fitz (I've only now looked up for the first time!), he must be away from the lawyer's podium!

Fitz describing that LIbby had counsel, was advised of his rights, swore to tell the truth, and violated that oath repeatedly. 

You will hear that testimony during this trial. That was both transcribed.

Play for you the charged statements. Tape recording!!!

Focus on this testimony. 

The evidence will show that he never talked to Russert about Wilson's wife. 

11:25 


Playing Libby's GJ testimony. Libby's voice sounds kind of juvenile, as if his voice has just changed. It is slow, it sounds very deliberate to my admittedly biased mind.

Libby goes back to say, discussion off the record.

The transcript is going up on the screen, highlighted. He has had to go back and correct himself twice.

About 2 minutes of this.

Now back to Fitz. You'll also learn that defendant charged with lying about what he told reporters Cooper and Miller. The other half of telling reporters that he had learned of this from reporters.

10 mintues break.

11:28 

Jury coming back in. 

"It's me again, if you can indulge me for just ten more minutes, I'll be done." 

Playing Libby's testimony on Cooper.

A second batch of testimony.

"It was a fact, it was a fact" 

Libby sounds kind of snake-like when he says "fact."

Then when he says "That's how I did it." he sounds more cautious.

Now we'll hear a question that came from a grand juror.

If you didn't understand the info to be classified, why is it that you were so careful to tell other reporters that you didn't know?

Libby: It wasn't coming from me. 

What I was telling them was that I didn't know Mr. Wilson. I didn't know he had a wife.

[This passage has shown up in testimony before–what is new is that we didn't know that the question came from a grand juror. Also, though, I think this will introduce a third thing on which Libby lied about wrt Cooper–that he didn't know that Wilson had a wife.]

The defendant knowingly and intentionally lied.  The defendant is not charged with having a bad memory. The defendant knowingly lied.

Naming off the counts he is guilt about.

Doesn't say much about obstruction.

Appeals to common sense.

You all have a lifetime of experience in sizing people up.

I submit to you, if you keep an open mind during this trial if you follow the isntructions of the law that Walton will give to you and apply your common sense, you will be convinced.

10:47 

Previous post

Libby Liveblog: Instructions

Next post

Libby Liveblog: Well's Opening Statement, Part One

emptywheel

emptywheel

240 Comments