Thursday, May 25, 2006

Witness for the Prosecution

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's latest filing (available below) about discovery issues in the prosecution of I. Lewis Libby reveals that Vice President Cheney will likely be a witness for the government at the upcoming trial on perjury, obstruction, and false statement charges.  The brief discusses the Vice President's annotated copy of the Op-Ed published by Joseph Wilson in the New York Times that triggered the leak of his wife Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative.  A footnote in the brief states, "Contrary to defendant’s assertion, the government has not represented that it does not intend to call the Vice President as a witness at trial."  That statement comes in the context of a discussion about authenticating the annotated Op-Ed for admission into evidence at trial, an issue of very minor importance that is unlikely to be a point of contention.  More importantly than the non-denial that the Vice President would be called is the Special Counsel's description of the heart of the case: Libby's intent.  The brief states that "the state of mind of the Vice President as communicated to defendant is directly relevant to the issue of whether defendant knowingly made false statements to federal agents and the grand jury regarding when and how he learned about Ms. Wilson’s employment and what he said to reporters regarding this issue."  The communications between Libby and the Vice President appear to be a key facet to undermining Libby's "dedicated-but-overworked-public-servant" defense (see earlier post here) that asserts he dealt with so many issues at that time that the identity of Valerie Plame was unimportant and he merely forgot how he learned about her when he spoke to the FBI agents and testified before the grand jury.  The Vice President is the only one who can testify as to his state of mind in July 2003, so he is likely to be a featured witness at trial. (ph)

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