Monday, January 29, 2007
Testifying under a grant of immunity, Ari Fleischer disclosed to jurors in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby case that he had in fact been told about CIA Valerie Plame's undercover status by the accused. (see Washington Post and New York Times). Because he is testifying under a grant of immunity, his testimony cannot be used against him. In essence he is testifying, although it appears that there is no written guarantee of anything being given to him for this testimony. The only assurance he has is that prosecutors will not use his testimony against him, or the fruits of that testimony. Absent perjury, it is rare a prosecutor indicts on the same conduct, and when they do it can be subject to enormous scrutiny (see United States v. Webster Hubbell).
Prosecutors are often reluctant to put in writing specific terms of a deal, or to guarantee a deal, as this then becomes the heart of a cross-examination. If they offer a deal, it has to be disclosed and the witness's testimony may be considered biased as influenced by the terms of the deal. Thus, irrespective of whether a witness has criminal exposure, a grant of immunity allows the individual to at least receive protection for any statements that they make on the witness stand that respond to the question asked. How this will play out may be seen tomorrow, when Fleischer gets cross-examined.
Exhibits admitted at the trial can be found here.