CommunityFDL Main Blog

Libby Live: Tim Russert, Six

Tim, before the accident

Thought we'd be done with Russert by now, did you?  You lose the bet.  But we're just about done, after what seemed to this faintly biased observer like a devastating re-direct examination by Patrick Fitzgerald, which demolished hours of questions about Russert's feelings and memories (or lack of same) before the Libby indictment with this exchange:

Fitzgerald: Which is bigger news, a possible indictment or an actual indictment?

Russert: An actual indictment.

Fitzgerald then elicited Russert's clear memories of things that happened after the indictment was announced.  Now it's time for juror questions.

NOTES: (1) This is not an official transcript — just a very loose paraphrase, at best — so don't treat it as one. Even exchanges that look like verbatim dialogue are just the gist of each question and each answer, with any key phrases or pauses included as best I can. (2) My own notes will be in parentheses and/or italics. (3) I'll tell you the time at the end of each update; expect about 15-20 minutes before the next one. The hamsters that run the servers will appreciate it if you don't refresh excessively in the meantime. (4) I didn't write the book on the Valerie Plame outing — but you should buy it, if you haven't already. If you're wondering who this "Swopa" character is, my previous writings on Plamemania can be found here.

Walton reminds jurors that Plame's status as covert is not under consideration here, and they are not to speculate about it.  Then he reads the questions

Walton (W): Had there been any discussions before Novak article of Wilson's wife

Tim Russert (T): No. 

W: After his article was published?

T: Yes.

W: During deposition, were you given a list of questions ahead of time?

T: No.

W: Any script you were given?

T: No.

W: Did you approve or ban any questions in advance?

T: No, I answered what I was asked.

W: Did you relate any claims by Mr. Libby about Wilson's wife to Shapiro? (on July 8th, apparently)

T: Only remember talking to him about Chris Mathews.

W: What were circumstances of call to Buffalo News reporter?

T: (explains Fazio-Clinton debate, what reporter said, what he complained about.  Says he then sent a letter to that effect, and paper printed clarification.)

W: Remember when you called reporter?  How long it lasted, etc?

T: I don't.  Remember letter more than phone call.

W:  (to defense) Any follow-up questions?

Wells: Mr. Russert, you have no recollection of Mr. Libby telling you any information about Ms. Wilson?

T: No.

Wells: Thank you.

It's 2:54.

Government is now presenting additional evidence, including the guidelines about subpoenaing reporters.

Then they announce the testimony of a witness who did not appear (the testimony has been stipulated, or agreed to, by defense already). 

The testimony:  Deborah Heiden (sp?), executive asst to VP, was assigned to search for documents for request dated Oct 3, 2003.  Among other places, she searched a safe that contained classified and non-classified documents.  She found Govt exhibit 402, found in the file in a safe. Copies were provided Oct. 7, 2003.

At time she located 402, Heiden and another assistant, Ms. Field (sp? Mayfield??) were only people who had combination to the safe. Heiden does not recall placing the document in the safe.  Handwriting on exhibit 402 appears to be VPs (lists other exhibits for comparison).

More exhibits and news articles — Wilson op-ed with underlining from Libby's files, Maureen Dowd column, etc., Libby's classified information non-disclosure agreement (jury is instructed only to consider whether it affected Libby's state of mind in testifying).

Also submits Washington Post articles from October 4, 2003 and October 12, 2003.  Walton reminds jurors to consider these not for truth, but only possible impact on Libby's state of mind.  Jurors are NOT to consider Plame's actual covert/non-covert status. 

It's 3:15. 

After the articles are read aloud, Fitz announces that the prosecution rests.  Walton says the jury can go home.  There are some side issues to be debated in front of Walton, so I'll hang out here a bit longer and see if there's anything newsworthy.

It's 3:32. 

Walton hears out the defense about Andrea Mitchell, and whether she should testify.  Wells says Mitchell hasn't been questioned under oath at all on her now-disavowed statement, and she should be.  Walton answers that her lawyers have said she will contiinue to disavow the statement.  When Wells implies they shouldn't take her lawyers' word for it, Walton says that the federal rules of evidence say they have to.  (Ooops.)

Wells continues to protest.  Walton asks if the government had a similar witness with a disputed statement that Libby was guilty, would they feel okay with him or her testifying?  

Wells says the defense should be given more leeway than the prosecution, and this issue is so fundamental, that it should be considered and the testimony allowed.  Walton says he might if she was a prosecution witness, making her credibility an issue, but Mitchell's overall story (that she wasn't leaked to) if anything supports Libby.  He says that even if he's not allowed to confront Mitchell with the actual disputed statement, he ought to be able to get her story under oath, to see if Mitchell even heard a rumor about Wilson's wife.

Walton is trying to give Wells a long leash, but he's not agreeing.  He says, "if we let this statement in, we've just gutted the hearsay rule." Wells says it's justified to relax the hearsay rule in this case.  Walton says it's his job to be a gatekeeper for approprate evidence, and "I ought to serve some small function in this trial."

This is just dragging on — I don't expect much news from here on, the next post will be non-trial related.  If anything important happens, we'll put up a short non-live postscript later today.  It's 3:55.
P.S. We just got word that Anna Nicole Smith just died.  Everything we're doing here seems so small and irrelevant.
Previous post

When Chickens Become Roosters (crosspost from The Indigestible)

Next post

John Edwards' statement on campaign bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan



Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (