Libby Prosecution: Craig Schmall Testimony (Pt. 1)

The third government witness will be Craig Schmall, Libby’s regular morning briefer from CIA.

Live blog will appear below the fold with any breaking news also in separate posts.

Substantial discussion at sidebar before witness called as to the limitation of questioning in cross-examination. The basic agreement reached is that, unless the government brings an issue in during their questioning, the defense can only bring it in during the presentation of their case. Counsel agreed and the defense reserved the right to call him back.

He will be called after a brief recess (around 3:40) He was–precisely on time.

Government questioning:

Initial questioning to set timeline of Schmall’s employment with CIA (19 years) and his duties as daily intel briefer to first Scooter Libby and later VP Cheney. Briefings generally at 7 am, lasting 40 minutes, usually at VP’s mansion but occasionally in his office. Three binders as “briefing books” tabbed to call to attention those of specific interest to the briefing recipient (Cheney or Libby). Materials destroyed the next day.

Most of the 40 minutes was the principals reading with very little verbal briefing.

As briefing happened, Schmall would annotate table of contents with reactions, questions, and whether read/not. If couldn’t answer question, would mark with “T” to indicate that a tasker needed to go out to an analyst.

Attorneys stipulate that June 14, 2003 was a Saturday.

On that day, Schmall briefed Libby at his home. Exhibit introduced: Table of Contents from that brief.

Discussed visit from Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz, with Cruise wishing to convey concern about German treatment of Scientologists.

Note appended “The Amb told this was a VP office question? Joe Wilson Valerie Wilson”

Also, Libby expressed annoyance that a reporter had told him that “a direct source” had told him “analysts were feeling pressured pressured and bullied.” Schmall followed up with a peer who had presided over the meeting in question and was assured that, not only was there no feeling of pressure, they were quite pleased that VP seemed interested in their reactions.

Attorneys stipulate that JuLY 14, 2003 was a Monday.

This is day Novak column appeared in print. Table of contents from morning brief entered into evidence. Almost entirely redacted. Note “Did you read the Novak article? Not your problem.”

“Do you have specific recollection as to who asked question, ‘Did you read the Novak article?'” No. VP certainly attended, Libby probably. Schmall has no recollection of the details of the discussion.

Subsequent meeting was asked to offer his opinion on Plame leak. He noted that press “focusing on damage to Valerie Wilson and her career” but that there were serious operational consequences of the leak. Anyone connected to Plame overseas could be harassed and put in danger.

Defense Cross-Examination

Detailed discussion about how Schmall took notes and assigned taskers.

“Do you recall briefing Mr. Libby on Saturday, June 14 about…” various very important issues, presumably being read from the table of contents. There were 27 total items. The answer was “No, sir” to each question.

He then moved on to a list of terrorist threats from that same briefing. Same, same.

Presumably, Schmall is saying that he doesn’t specifically remember briefing Libby, not the items themselves. Many of them are significant events.

“I gather that those types of items would be briefed to Mr. Libby six times a week?” “Yes, sir.”

Discussion of Schmall’s January 8, 2004 interview with FBI. Told them that first time discussed the issue with Libby was after Novak article appeared? “Yes, that is correct.”

The next day, you sent email to colleague? Yes. “You told colleague that your memory of the events was quite poor, which probably extended the session?” Yes.

Asked whether he had mentioned anything about Valerie or Joe Wilson in said email, he couldn’t recall. Presented the email, he quickly read and noted he did not.

April 22, 2004 you had second interview with govt? Sounds about right. He does not recall that Patrick Fitzgerald, or any government prosecutors, were there, despite memoranda to that affect. “I don’t have any independent memory of that.”

April 24, 2004 sent email saying he was still looking for notes. “Still looking for any notes that would have triggered my memory.”

Sidebar after being asked whether anyone had asked for copies of the Tables of Contents–the only part of the daily brief that got retained–in the course of the investigation.

Witness excused until 9:30 tomorrow morning.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.