What a way to end the week in the Libby trial! As emptywheel ably depicted with her adamantium fingers, today's testimony featured tension between the legal teams and the drama of a former aide somewhat reluctantly giving evidence against her arrogant boss — which was suspended among more intramural squabbling, with cross-examination to resume on Monday. (I bet Cathie Martin isn't going to have a very enjoyable weekend.)
But the most tantalizing surprise of all concerned a witness who didn't even testify — White House spokesliar Ari Fleischer, in whose story I've taken a rather obsessive interest. Marcy/EW and other courthouse observers were treated to a vivid, if cryptic argument between the respective lawyers over how much could be said about the immunity Ari was granted before he testified to Fitz's grand jury. As her paraphrasing captured, the legal teams also bickered over a famed Washington Post article ("a senior administration official said that before Novak’s column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists…"), of which I've felt Ari was a key subject:
… they want to put in 1X2X6 article. Jeffress contends the claims in the article was totally untrue.
What?!? The blasphemers! But Marcy would go on to catch (and personally highlight in bold) something even more potentially crippling to my theories in the response from one of Fitz's prosecutors:
… the FBI would have been remiss not to be seeking if there's anything behind the allegation. The article is not being offered for the truth. Ari did not believe for a second that he telephoned a reporter…
Walton: [interrupts] Why can't he testify he read an article…
Oh, how I'd love to know how that sentence would have ended. Because other remarks in the same sidebar make clear that Ari did indeed speak to reporters about Joseph Wilson's wife working for the CIA:
Fitz: … We understood he had given it out to SOMEONE but I didn't know which reporter.
Just one reporter? Here's the paraphrase of prosecutor Zeidenberg explaining Ari's viewpoint:
Fleischer's going to testify that he did seek immunity and he would not talk to the govt before he obtained it and he'll explain why he wanted immunity the reason he wanted it the evening of 9/28 he found the story online which indicated a criminal investigation into possible disclosure of covert agent he knew he had conveyed info to reporters that was previously conveyed to him by Libby. He realized — your heart goes in your throat. The following day obtained legal counsel began discussing with attorneys.
Sounds like he recognized himself in the article just as surely as if he was looking in the mirror, doesn't it? And the judge seems to imply as much:
Walton: … Even if the article is wrong as it relates to Libby and he's got it underlined, maybe he had a motive to lie. However, in reference to Mr. Fleischer…
So even though I know Marcy is checking menus and inquiring into restaurants' most expensive wines even as I type this, I'd argue that our dinner bet isn't quite settled yet.
But for those of you with less mundane concerns — like, say, the legal mystery we've all been trying to unravel along with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — the intriguing question is, why are they fighting over this? Team Libby seems intent on flushing out everything that Fleischer told the grand jury, especially as it pertains to Scooter, but Fitz is determined to hold something back:
Fitz I have been at the game long enough to know defense attorneys will say some things so they can learn things they're not entitled to learn.
My guess is that that the truth of the 1x2x6 story relates strongly to whatever conspiracy charges Fitz hopes to bring against Cheney and/or Libby for outing Valerie Plame Wilson, and the insistence on the story being false by Scooter's attorneys is a bluff intended to force the prosecutors to reveal their cards. But what do all of you think?