Attorneys for Lewis “Scooter” Libby believe that NBC News holds a key to clearing him of perjury and obstruction in the CIA leak case.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorneys for I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby believe that NBC News holds a key to clearing him of perjury and obstruction charges in the CIA leak case.
Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, wants a federal judge to let his lawyers question Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s foreign affairs correspondent, about when she learned that the wife of an outspoken Bush administration critic worked for the CIA.
Libby is charged with lying and obstructing the investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. Prosecutors rested their case Thursday and Libby is set to begin calling witnesses Monday
A key dispute in the case involves Mitchell’s NBC colleague, Tim Russert. Libby says Russert told him in July 2003 that “all the reporters know” Plame worked for the CIA. Russert said that never happened because he didn’t know who Plame was at the time.
Prosecutors say Libby concocted the Russert story to shield him from prosecution for discussing information he had learned through official government channels.
Libby’s attorneys want to show that Russert had heard that Plame worked at the CIA. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer has already testified that he told NBC reporter David Gregory about her. If Libby can show that Mitchell knew, too, they think they can persuade jurors to believe Libby’s account of the Russert conversation.
Plame was outed in a July 2003 syndicated column. Three months later, Mitchell said in a television interview that she had known Plame worked for the CIA before the column.
“It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell has since recanted those comments and has said she can’t explain them.
Though the comments seem to bolster Libby’s case, it’s unclear whether his attorneys will be allowed to play them for jurors. Attorneys are not normally allowed to present hearsay evidence or call witnesses simply to do so.
Mitchell is challenging a subpoena to testify in the case. A federal judge said he will hear arguments on the issue Monday.
In addition to Mitchell, attorneys have said several other journalists are expected to testify this week: New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson, Newsweek assistant managing editor Evan Thomas, and Bob Woodward, Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler from the Washington Post.