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Libby: A Morning of Legal Maneuverings

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Washington, DC got a sliver of snow and ice last night, resulting in a late courtroom start. Judge Reggie Walton began around 11:45 am rehearing the legal arguments from yesterday afternoon about whether there would be more testimony from the CIA briefers, whether Russert would be called back to the stand, whether the letter from Fitzgerald to Russert's lawyers would come into evidence and whether the Government's stipulated admission of facts provided for CIPA purposes would be allowed in.

Marcy at Firedoglake has the blow by blow. We're at the end of the lunch recess now, and here's where we stand:

The judge will rule at 2:15 on the Russert issues and the briefers.

Fitzgerald will be allowed to tell the jury Valerie Plame Wilson worked in the counterproliferation division of the CIA.

The defense cannot admit the Government's admission of facts. That admission was made for the purpose of allowing CIPA (classfied) information at a time when the defense asserted Libby would almost certainly take the stand. Now that he's decided not to testify, it would not be fair to the Government's to allow the statement of facts (which help Libby) to come in.

The spectators are now being admitted to the courtroom. The jury is set to return at 2:30. I'll be updating this post throughout the afternoon with live updates, so come on back.

2:15 Court: There was no concession to Russert as to not being asked questions about his sources. It was just a decision on Fitzgerald's part that was communicated to his lawyer. Ted Wells argues with the court's ruling.

Regarding the Russert tapes, the issue is whether it is collateral. Russert's statement about not knowing attorneys cannot accompany counsel to the grand jury is collateral and doesn't go to the heart of the issue of his testimony about his conversation with Libby.

Thus, Russert will not be called back to the stand. (Huge relief for him I bet.)

Re: the briefers. His prior ruling was based on his understanding that Libby was going to testify. That led the judge to say he could bring out certain details of the morning intelligence briefings. Now Libby is not going to testify, the landscape has changed significantly. It would not be appropriate for information to come before the jury about Mr. Libby's perception of the importance of the classified information he was dealing with as compared to the Joseph Wilson/Valerie Wilson matter.

He does think the level of the amount of work he had to do is important, because even without knowing the details of it, the jury has a right to know he had a lot on his plate.

The level of detail was a substitution for his testimony, but now since he's not testifying, it can't be a substitute. What he can do is indicate through his briefers the general title of information he was briefed on, e.g., terrorism activity and the middle east. That way the jury can infer he had a full plate but not that these issues were more important than the Wilsons.

10 minute recess., goes on longer than ten minutes, time to begin a new thread. The morning's long over.