Monday, May 22, 2006

Libby's Elaborate Narrative To Be Focus Of Fitzgerald's Case

Scooter Libby's elaborate narrative, a vast web of lies made under oath--claiming that he first learned that Valerie Plame was a CIA officer from Tim Russert--is coming back to bite him as the focus of special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's case against Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff.

Fitzgerald has said that at trial he plans to show that Libby knew Plame's employment at the CIA was classified and that he lied to the grand jury when he said he had learned from NBC News's Tim Russert that Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, worked for the agency...

When Libby testified before the grand jury on March 5, 2004, he said, according to the government's indictment: "Mr. Russert said to me, did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife, or his wife works at the CIA? And I said, no, I don't know that. And then he [Russert] said, yeah -- yes all the reporters know it. And I said, again, I don't know that."...

The indictment said Russert never disclosed anything about Plame in his conversation with Libby. Instead, prosecutors say, Libby learned about Plame's CIA employment in June 2003 from Cheney, Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and at least one senior CIA official, according to court papers.

At last week's court argument on pretrial motions, Fitzgerald said Libby had a "motive to lie" to the grand jury. By "attributing to a reporter" his information about Plame's CIA status and emphasizing that he was "passing on" scuttlebutt but "didn't know if it were true," the prosecutor said, Libby in his testimony was deliberately casting his actions as "a non-crime" in a way that "looks much more innocent than passing on what you know to be classified."

Meanwhile the "has he been indicted or not" rumors about the fate of Karl Rove are being attacked today by Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post:

The claim that President Bush's top political strategist had been indicted in the CIA leak investigation was written by a journalist who has battled drug addiction and mental illness and been convicted of grand larceny. That didn't stop more than 35 reporters -- from all the major newspapers, networks and newsmagazines -- from calling Luskin or Rove's spokesman, Mark Corallo, to check it out.

The reports appeared on the liberal Web site, run by Marc Ash, a former advertising man and fashion photographer in California. Jason Leopold, the author of the stories, directed inquiries to Ash, who says that "we stand by the story. We have multiple points of independent confirmation of what we originally reported. Our problem is, the prosecutor's office is under no obligation to go public."...

Leopold's May 12 report said Rove had told the president and top administration officials that he would be indicted and planned to resign. The next day, a Saturday, Leopold reported that Fitzgerald had handed Rove's attorneys an indictment of their client on charges of perjury and lying to investigators, and that an announcement was expected the next week.

People outside Jason Leopold's immediate circle in Washington are saying that he was on the right track and that indictment is indeed coming.

A most visible clue is said to be the resignation of presidential spokesman Scott McClellan on the same day (April 19) that Karl Rove stepped down from his White House policy job.

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