Libby Prosecutor: Libby ‘Wiped Out’ Cheney Memo

David Shuster of MSNBC, who is sitting in the room with me, reports some big breaking news:

Fitzgerald alleged that Libby in September 2003 “wiped out” a Cheney note just before Libby’s first FBI interview when he said he learned about Wilson and his wife, CIA operative Valerie Plame, from reporters, not the vice president.

It was not clear if the reference to wiped out was literal or figurative.

I would note for the record that every other person in the media room, including bloggers for the liberal Firedoglake, are convinced it was the latter. Indeed, the idea that Fitzgerald would accuse Libby in his opening statements of destroying evidence, something with which he was never charged or seriously investigated, strains credulity.

UPDATE: Think Progress has a video and transcript of Schuster’s televised report for MSNBC under the headline, “BREAKING: Libby Destroyed Evidence Prior To Testifying, Cheney ‘Deeply Involved.'”

According to prosecutors, the evidence will show that Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.

That buttresses my suspicion that the “It was not clear if the reference to wiped out was literal or figurative” disclaimer was added in to the story as a late update after Shuster received criticism from others in the press room about the wild overreading of what Fitzgerald said.

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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. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jane says:

    David Shuster tends to strain credulity on a regular basis.

  2. cboldt says:

    I’ll go for “literal” on that one. But I think Fitz is nuts for bringing it up unless he knows what the contents of the note are, and can produce it via backup or other facility.
    If he’s making the accusation without being prepared to offer evidence, he needs to be sanctioned – or at least made to revisit the statement and explain the figurative meaning.
    One reason I think it’s literal is that the jury is going to take “he had a note/memo, but he wiped it out” literally, especially in context. Did Fitz make other statements that are better taken in a figurative sense? I didn’t see any.

  3. vnjagvet says:

    Schuster’s raising expectations of those wanting a hanging.

    This makes for a compelling secondary story line, doesn’t it?