Scooter Libby Found Guilty on 4 of 5 Counts
Scooter Libby has been found guilty, report AP’s Michael Sniffen and Matt Apuzzo.
Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted Tuesday of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.
Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity to reporters.
He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI.
Despite a jury pool that was ideologically stacked against him, I though Libby had a legitimate chance of getting acquitted on either the so-called “memory defense” or through jury nullification on the basis that he was charged with lying about a non-crime.
After watching the trial live during the first week of the prosecution’s case, it looked like Team Libby was way ahead on points. I haven’t paid nearly as much attention since, however, and can’t weigh the remaining evidence, though, for how it may have swayed the jury.
I’ll have more on this once more detailed reports come in. The above blockquote is the entirety of the AP report at the moment.
Libby, 56, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, “He is virtually certain to go to prison if this conviction is upheld.”
After the verdict was read, Libby was fingerprinted and released on his own recognizance.
Ted Wells, Libby’s defense attorney, said he will file a motion for a new trial, or appeal the conviction if that motion is denied. “We intend to keep fighting to establish his innocence,” Wells said outside the courthouse.
An update to the AP story above adds, “The trial’s outcome may have been a repudiation of the strategy that Libby’s attorneys chose by not calling either Libby or Vice President Cheney, his former boss, as a witness.” That could well be. Indeed, by relying on the “memory defense” in the opening remarks, they implicitly promised the jury they would hear directly from Libby.
UPDATE: PJM has a good roundup of the blog reactions thus far.
I agree with Tim @ Balloon Juice that a pardon will be forthcoming. That’s par for the course for political crimes, after all.
Ian Schwartz has videos of statements from Libby’s attorneys and the reaction of the Wilsons.
Steven Taylor observes, “[G]iven that it is, to this day, unclear as to whether any laws were broken regarding Plame’s status, the whole thing seems like a waste on numerous levels.”
See the Media Bloggers Association Scooter Libby Trial feed for a myriad of reactions.
UPDATE: Intrade Prediction Markets has “now listed a contract on Scooter Libby being pardoned by the end of this year.” Were I a betting man, I would pass on the contract, since I think it unlikely the pardon will happen this year. Between the 2008 election and the end of Bush’s term of office, however, it’ll almost certainly happen.
UPDATE: Michael Demmons passes on some preliminary comments from the jurors seen on Drudge Report.
JUROR: WE HAD SYMPATHY FOR LIBBY, HE WAS THE FALL-GUY, WHERE WAS ROVE, WHERE WERE THE OTHERS…? SOME JURORS SAID ‘THIS SUCKS, WE WISH WE WEREN’T JUDGING LIBBY’
Says Michael, “[I]t seems odd to me that a jury would convict a ‘Fall Guy.’ Wouldn’t that be acknowledging that they knew he wasn’t the one who committed a crime, but convicted him anyway???”
Well, maybe they just meant they would have rather had a bigger fish to convict. Libby has been convicted of the crime of lying about his involvement in something that wasn’t a crime and that he wasn’t involved with. Had there been something with which to charge Rove or some other more prominent official, there’s no doubt Fitgerald would have charged them.
Alternatively, perhaps the jurors thought Libby looked a lot like Lee Majors.
UPDATE: Judith Weiss has an interesting roundup of reactions from conservative attorneys. Perhaps most noteworthy is Andrew McCarthy‘s take. He explains why multiple counts are used and how they tend to interact in the minds of juries.
Let’s take a drug case. If the whole case is about a single transaction — say, one cocaine deal that happens in a fleeting instant on a street corner. If that’s all there is, and the government has only witness who said he saw it or participated in it, but it has no other proof (e.g., the drugs, photos, bank records, etc.), that is a flimsy count indeed — although the jury is free to convict if they believe the witness beyond a reasonable doubt. But if there are five counts, one saying the defendant was involved in a drug conspiracy of some duration and four other ones charging individual drug sales within the conspiracy, then it’s not so flimsy anymore. As the saying goes, pieces of evidence are not looked at in isolation; the case is considered as a whole. If you believe there was a drug conspiracy, it becomes a lot more likely that the guy did the individual drug deals, even if the evidence supporting any single one of them is not overwhelming.
That strikes me as reasonable enough. Then again, theoretically at least, the state is obligated to prove each charge beyond reasonable doubt. By indicting on multiple counts, especially ones that are rather confusing and technical, it’s not hard to think that jurors are likely to come away figuring that “well, the guy was probably up to something.” I’m not sure that’s within the spirit of the high burden placed on the state.