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the Libby Trial

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Kristina
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« on: January 30, 2007, 01:36:46 am »

Libby defense wants reasons for Fleischer's immunity
POSTED: 10:24 a.m. EST, January 29, 2007

 
Story Highlights
NEW: Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer may testify Monday
NEW: Libby defense wants to know why Fleischer qualifies for immunity
Two Bush top advisers, Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett, have been subpoenaed

 
 
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A face familiar to perhaps most of the public might take the witness stand Monday in the criminal trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President Bush, is the next prosecution witness in the case of perjury and obstruction of justice, and the first to testify under a grant of immunity.

Fleischer told reporters at the courthouse last week that he plans to "tell what he knows." He did not elaborate and departed without being called to the stand.

After the jury was excused for the week on Thursday, defense and prosecutors argued before Judge Reggie Walton about Fleischer's appearance.

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, fighting a defense request to know the basis for Fleischer's immunity, told the judge that "I did not know what we were going to get when he went into the grand jury, other than I knew it was going to be relevant to the case."

In court papers filed over the weekend, defense attorneys said they have the legal right to know what led up to a deal for leniency so that the jury can evaluate the motive and credibility of the witness.

The prosecution argued that there is no formal "statement of facts" from Fleischer to provide in response, but the defense cited case law to say a tacit agreement for testimony still obligates disclosure of information or evidence that could be helpful to the defense.

Libby is charged with lying to the FBI and a grand jury investigating who leaked a CIA employee's identity to reporters in 2003. (Read full story)

Prosecutors are trying to portray Libby as someone who used lies and deception to try to discredit a critic of the Bush administration's prewar justification to invade Iraq.

The first week in the trial brought a sometimes harsh light to the inner workings of the White House and other federal agencies.

On Thursday, Cathie Martin, a former top press aide to Cheney who now works for Bush, testified she was excluded from high-level talks on media response in favor of Libby during a controversy over Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

In the speech, Bush said Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger.
A former ambassador, Joe Wilson, challenged the uranium claim in a New York Times op-ed piece. In the months before the Iraq war, Wilson made a fact-finding trip to Niger at the request of the CIA, where his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, worked on matters regarding weapons of mass destruction, according to court testimony. (Read full story)

Witnesses have testified Wilson's wife apparently organized the trip, and interest in the results had been expressed by the vice president's office and the State and Defense departments.

At least initially, none of those offices apparently had much knowledge of Wilson's trip or who arranged it, according to court testimony.

Libby's attorneys were to continue questioning Martin when the trial resumed Monday morning.
Two of Bush's top advisers, Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett, have been subpoenaed to testify as possible witnesses for the defense, although it remains unclear whether either man will be called to the stand, a legal source familiar with the case told CNN last week.

Rove, Bush's long-time political confidant, is deputy chief of staff at the White House; Bartlett is a counselor to the president and the former White House communications director.

Rove and Bartlett are on a list of possible defense witnesses that includes Cheney, his chief of staff, David Addington, journalists, and other current and former White House officials.

The criminal case began with an investigation of how Valerie Wilson became widely known among journalists as being a CIA operative. It would be illegal to disclose the covert or classified status of such an employee.

No one has been charged with leaking her name, employment status or other classified material.
Prosecution witnesses from the CIA and State Department testified that they or their staff members tracked down details of the mission at Libby's request, and that the push to do so came at the time the former ambassador had questioned the Bush argument for going to war in Iraq.

Libby is the only person to face any charges in connection with the case. He resigned his position at the White House in 2005 when he was indicted.

Fitzgerald has said he continues to explore for wrongdoing, including whether Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in retaliation for her husband's public criticism of the president.

Central to the Libby trial is whether he learned of Valerie Wilson's employment from reporters or from inside government. (Watch how the timeline is a key to the trial

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