It's 3:15 pm and the jury is about to enter the courtroom for the first time today. The defense will be recalling CIA briefer Craig Schmall. John Cline will question him.
But, we still have no judge, no jury and no explanation. Everyone is just sitting around doing nothing. Libby's lawyers are walking around, some out of the courtroom, which means we still have a few minutes before we start.
3:20 pm We're finally starting. There will be a stipulation regarding what the briefers would say. In other words, no more witnesses.
If called as witnesses, Libby's morning intelligence briefers would testify that on June 14, 2003, he received information on 25 heavy duty topics. They are read to the jury, too fast for me to write them down. But read all at once, they create the impression that the world is falling apart.
Libby requested additional information on items 7 and 14, both of which pertained to the middle east.
As to item 13 which was a list of terrorist threats, Cline starts reading them off. Again, it sounds like there's a terrorist on every corner in the middle east just waiting to strike. They're even in Budapest and Turkey. They have organized crime contacts. The goal of the defense is to create the impression in the mind of the jury that with all of these weighty matters, Wilson and his wife were small potatoes.
What does Fitz get out of the stipulation? The jury is told that the CIA briefers do not know what use Libby made of the information, what he did with it or what he did with his day after meeting with the briefers.
Ted Wells then reads a stipulation regarding FBI section chief Timothy Furman. If called as a witness, Furman would testify:
1. On Feb. 12, 2004, Furman interviewed David Addington. He prepared an FBI- 302 report dated 2/26/04 recording the information Addington provided.
2. The report describes the conversation between Libby and Addington in the anteroom of the Vice President's office. The report does not reflect that Libby made any reference to a spouse or a wife. He only asked about the CIA sending someone other than an employee on a mission.
The defense offers three newspaper articles produced from Libby's files. One is the National Review Online, Clifford May, 7/29/03, saying lots of insiders knew about Wilson's wife working for the CIA. The next one is "Political Intelligence", Wall St. Journal editorial, Oct 1, 2003. The third article is an editorial dated 10/27/03 from the National Review. This is state of mind evidence, to show that prior to his statements to the grand jury and investigators, Libby believed it was not a crime to have disclosed Plame's identity. This is intended to rebut Fitzgerald's claim that Libby was motivated to lie by his concern or fear that he had committed a crime by leaking to reporters.
Wells has one final stipulation, and then he will rest: Regarding FBI Agent John Eckenrode:
1. In 2003, was the inspector in charge for the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's affiliation with the CIA.
2. On Nov. 14, 2003, he spoke to Russert and Russert provided both sides of the conversation. Russert recalled one or two conversations. He does not recall telling Libby anything about Wilson's wife, although he can not rule it out completely. He thinks he would have remembered, but he speaks to many people and it's hard to remember conversations months later.
The Defense Rests.
Rebuttal: One stipulation from Fitzgerald:
1. The counterproliferation division is a division within the CIA
2. Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the counterproliferation division throughout 2003.
The evidence portion of the trial is now over. Tomorrow the Judge will meet with counsel outside the presence of the jury to finalize jury instructions.
The Judge tells the jury that the portion of the obstruction of justice charging Libby with lying about his July 12, 2003 conversation with Judith Miller has been dismissed. The obstruction charge now pertains only to Libby's conversation with Tim Russert and Matthew Cooper.
He reiterates the President declassified portions of the NIE and it was okay for Libby to discuss the report after he did so.
School's out, I'll be back late tonight with a wrap-up post and some analysis. For a one liner, I'd say this trial went out not with a bang or a whimper, just a burp.