Libby Trial: Opening Arguments – Government (Live Blog)

The government started its opening arguments at 1037 am. Live blog below the fold. As always, major breaking news will get separate posts.

They take us to the day (July 6, 2003) Joseph Wilson’s NYT op-ed came out and argues that it was a devastating attack. He also appeared that day on “Meet the Press,” questioning the WMD argument and “igniting a media firestorm.” A day later, “the White House admitted” some things “should not have been said.” White House then “began to push back.”

This case is about Scooter Libby’s “obstruction of the search for truth” by “repeatedly lying” to both the grand jury and the FBI. Using the word “lie” or variants repeatedly.

Calendar as prop to hammer home time line. Can’t find something startling Thursday that you learned on Tuesday.

Repeated references to Iraq, the State of the Union, the Niger yellowcake controversy, and so forth as “background.”

Vice President learned from Marc Grossman on June 11, 2003 about the Joe Wilson-Valerie Plame relationship. Bob Grenier told Scooter Libby that Plame worked in the unit responsible for sending Wilson on trip to Niger. He also got separate confirmation from Cathie Martin, most likely in June.

Libby also got morning intel brief from Craig Schmall on Saturday June 14, which included a discussion of Wilson, Plame, and the trip to Niger.

Monday June 23rd, Libby complained about unfair CIA leaks with Judith Miller, mentioning that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA on background, attributable only to “a senior administration official.”

ALL OF THIS OCCURRED BEFORE the Joe Wilson op-ed. This was a direct attack on the integrity of the president and vice president about the most important matter of public policy.

Scooter Libby cut the column out and marked it up. Frustrated by what Wilson was saying. VP’s “right hand man” as both chief of staff and national security advisor.

Libby focused on this controversy “day after day after day.”


6 July: Wilson op-ed and MTP appearance
7 July: Libby tells Ari Fleischer Wilson’s wife works for CIA
8 July: Libby meets with Judith Miller again at St Regis Hotel dining room, defending Iraq intel and asks to be identified as “former Hill staffer” with regard to Joe Wilson wife story.
8 July: Libby talks with David Addington, WH lawyer, and asks vague question about CIA officer sending husband on trip
10 July: Libby calls Tim Russert to complain about Chris Matthews’ unfair treatment on “Hardball,” hoping Russert would intercede
11 July: CIA Director George Tenet
12 July: Makes on-record statement to Matt Cooper and Judith Miller at Cheney’s direction. Cooper asks “what have you heard about Wilson’s wife sending him on a trip?” and Libby answers “I heard that, too.” This was a confirmation of what Cooper had already heard.

“It should be noted, Novak relied on two sources, neither of which was the defendant.”

Late September: Criminal investigation announced about the leaks.

Grand jury had two missions: Find the facts of who leaked Plame’s CIA status to the press and to investigate whether a cover-up had occurred. Defendant swore an oath promising to tell the truth.

Fitzgerald played tape recorded testimony and displayed the court reporter’s transcript from Libby during the grand jury about his conversation with Tim Russert, saying that Russert had ASKED HIM about it. He says he answered “No I don’t know that.”

Fitzgerald interprets this as Libby lying to the grand jury and claiming he learned it from Russert. My take was that Libby was just lying to Russert in order not to be on the record confirming Plame’s status.

After another 10 minute break, Fitzgerald played a tape recording of Libby telling a grand jury that he had heard about Wilson from reporters. Which would appear to be true. He didn’t FIRST hear it there, though.

A third tape has Libby saying that he had told Matt Cooper that he didn’t know Joe Wilson had a wife. Which, again, doesn’t strike me as the same as lying to the grand jury.

Fitzgerald closed by saying that “this case is not about bad memory” and that “having a bad memory is not a crime.” It’s about lying under oath.

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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. AMDG says:

    May justice be served.