Huffpost Homepage
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jeralyn Merritt Headshot

Libby : Government Closing Argument Part 1

Posted: Updated:

Peter Zeidenberg begins the Government's closing argument. The judge intends for closings to finish today.

[This is not a transcript and I will be updating throughout the day. Typos will be cleaned up later]

He begins with Wells telling the jury in opening argument about how the White House hung Libby out to dry so Karl Rove, the "lifeblood of the Republican party, " a "sacrificial lamb."

They have heard witness after witness say Mr. Libby told them he had no memory of Mr. Wilson's wife. Mr. Russert, under oath, said he never spoke to Libby about Mr. Wilson's wife.

Did you hear any evidence of a White House conspiracy to scapegoat Mr. Libby? If you think back and your memory comes up blank, you don't have a problem with your memory.

The only evidence is that which came in through the witness stand and exhibits. Arguments from counsel are not evidence.

This is not a case about conspiracy

Libby had 9 conversations with 8 individuals over 4 weeks about Mr. Wilson's wife. He also invents out of whole cloth, two conversations that never happened. One with Matt Wilson. It's not forgetting, it's lying.

Discusses credibility instruction. There are things you know from your common sense and experience in determining credibility. Use your common sense.

9:30 am

Goes to Mark Grossman, # 3 at State Department. He told them on May 29 Libby asked him what Mr. Grossman knew about an Ambassador taking a trip to Niger. It bothered Grossman he didn't have an answer. He pokes around, finds out Joesph Wilson is the Ambassador who went and reported back. He called Libby back with information. Grossman wants more and asks for a written report. He comes back and is handed the INR memo dated June 10 from Carl Ford. The memo indicated Valerie Wilson worked for the CIA and had a role in sending her husband to Niger. Grossman thought it was a little inappropriate and on June 12, he sees Libby and tells him he has more information. He's looked into it and found Joseph Wilson went and reported back. There's something else you should know. Wilson's wife works at the CIA. He thought it was important for Libby to know.

This was the fourth time that Libby had been told about Wilson's wife.

He tells the jury why they can trust Mr. Grossman's memory.

9:40 First person to tell Libby was Vice President Dick Cheney on June 11, 2003. The date was just prior to June 12 Walter Pincus piece.

On June 11, there's a call slip from Libby to Robert Grenier at 1:15 pm. He returns the call at 2 pm, Libby is upset with CIA, there's some fellow named Joseph Wilson talking to the press. This fellow Wilson is saying that the CIA said he was sent to Niger as a result of an inquiry by Cheney. He wants to know if it's true that the CIA sent Wilson and that it was because Cheney had made inquiry.

Grenier checks and confirms information. Learns Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the CIA unit that sent him. Grenier goes to a meeting intending to call Libby afterwards. He goes to the meeting and gets pulled out. It's the first time that has ever happened to him. He's told Libby wants him to call. Clearly this was a pressing matter. He calls Libby back and gives him the download.

He tells Libby there was interest from DOD, State Dept. and CIA. And that Wilson's wife worked in the CIA unit that sent him. Libby wants to know if the CIA will publicly say that the three agencies were interested in this. Grenier said he had to check, so he checks with Bill Harlow, who also is in the meeting.

Calls Libby back again and tells him CIA will confirm this publicly. Libby says Harlow should call his press person, Cathie Martin. He does..

Zeidenberg moves to Grenier's credibility. Grenier said at first he wasn't sure he called Libby back. It wasn't the memory that came back, it was his feeling of discomfort, that he shouldn't have told Mr. Libby about someone who may have been covert. From that feeling, his memory came back that he had had the conversation with Libby. He knew he hadn't told Libby the name, but with the press reporting that Libby had received this information from reporters, he felt an obligation to come forward.

Grenier has no motive to lie.

The third person on June 11 to tell Libby about Wilson's wife was Cathie Martin. Martin says she remembers learning about Wilson's wife from Bill Harlow. As soon as she got the information, she went into Cheney's office and told them both what she had just learned - that Wilson was charge d'affaire in Baghdad years earlier and that his wife works for the CIA. Z. shows them Libby notes he took on that day. ("His wife works at that divison. CT. GX 104. VP said "Get Agency to answer that." VP wants the CIA to say that.

That's why Libby called Grenier and pulled him out of that meeting. The VP wanted the CIA to come out and publicly say this. The note confirms the testimony of Grenier and Cathie Martin. Even though Martin couldn't initially remember the date of this conversation. But she remembered the sequence. And that she heard it from Harlow who had been talking to Grenier, a CIA deputy of John McLaughlin.

June 12, Mr. Grossman tells Libby the information about Wilson's wife.

4 times in 48 hours.

On June 14, CIA morning briefer briefs Libby. Only 2 people in the room. He only writes down the questions of the person he's briefing, not his own. He writes down, Joe Wilson, Valerie Wilson?

Schmall corrorborates Grenier, Grossman and Martin.

The defense wants you to believe if you don't take notes of a conversation you can't remember it. We know from our own lives we remember things without notes. But here there are notes.

There's no reason to suggest Schmall's notes or memory should be questioned.

Schmall is number 5.

The next person , number 6, is Judith Miller who was told on June 23. Libby was angry with the CIA - he thought they were backtracking on what they said before the war.

He was familiar with Wilson and his trip to Niger in Feb. 2002. He was familiar with Wilson's wife. He said she worked in "the Bureau." She understood that to mean to the counterproliferation division.

Number 7 is Ari Fleischer. Ari has a farewell lunch with Libby. Libby tells him about Wilson's wife. He took this as gossip and said it was unusual because Libby was a tight-lipped individual. Ask yourselvers, Why did Libby choose to share this information with Fleischer? Ask yourselves if he did it deliberately, hoping that Ari would talk about it with reporters. And, that's just what happened. He told it to John Dickerson and David Gregory on the trip to Africa.

10:10 Immunity agreement protects Ari only if he tells the truth. He told the Government about

He said he has no recollection about Pincus conversation. The Government doesn't dispute Pincus. The fact that he doesn't remember it doesn't mean he made the conversation with Libby up. Why would he lie? How else would he have learned about Wilson's wife? Ari has no ill will, they are former colleagues, why would he lie.

It's not a question about his memory.

Ari is number 7.

Number 8 is David Addington.. VP's Chief of Staff, former Counsel to VP. His conversation with Libby happened on July 8. Addington remembered it between the date Wilson's op-ed was published and the July 12 trip to Norfolk.

Libby wanted to know two things. Can the President declassify things on his own. They discussed the case of Navy v. Egan. What paperwork would there be if someone at the CIA sent a spouse on a trip. It's clear Libby was referring to Joseph Wilson and his wife? How do you date it? Partly by the declassification. That was the document Libby was going to leak to reporters, to Judith Miller on July 8, and he wanted to be sure he could legally do it.

Addington did not mention the word "spouse" when first interviewed by the FBI. There may be a suggestion (from Wells) that he made it up. If Addington had a bias, don't you think it would be on behalf of Cheney and Libby?

There's no reason Addington would have testified about the word spouse unless he was clear about his memory.

#9 is Judith Miller again, the two hour breakfast meeting at the St. Regis, where Libby intended to leak the declassfied NIE. Only three, Bush, Cheney and Libby knew it had been declassified. Rice, Hadley and Tenet didn't know it had been declassified. They picked Judith Miller to leak it to.

Miller says Libby told her Wilson's wife worked for WINPAC at the CIA. She said the ground rules changed and Libby asked to be identified as a Hill staffer, not an Administration official.

She may have forgotten about the June 23 meeting when she first testified. She won a pulitzer. Libby had nice things to say about her to the grand jury. They could have leaked to any reporter and they chose her. Because he thought she was a conscientious responsible reporter.

Reminds them of the 85 days she spent in jail.

She says she has some memory of hearing it before but she can't place it. She's asked to check her notes. Checks her shopping bag of notes under her desk and refreshes her recollection that she learned it on June 23...from Libby. Her calendar shows she met with Libby on June 23. Libby's calendar shows a two hour meeing on July 8 at St. Regis.

Remember how busy Mr. Libby was. How much was on his plate. He was doing the work of two men. But, he could block off two hours for a public relations matter.

Shows them Govt. Exhibit 303. Both Miller and Libby recount fact in June 9 fax from CIA found in Libby's notes. Both Miller and Libby referred to Wilson as "that clandestine guy."

Tim Russert: Remember what Wells said about Russert in his opening. He does not contend the reporters are lying, only mistaken. "

Then on cross-examination he suggested for 5 ½ hours that he did lie because of bad blood between NBC news and the OVP, and because he wanted to avoid testifying before the grand jury.

Libby was unequivocal he heard the information from Tim Russert. He's going to play a piece of what Libby told the grand jury.

After the tape of Libby testifying to the grand jury about the conversation he claims to have had with Russert, he asks, Why would Mr. Russert testify falsely? Argues there is no reason. He mocks the argument that it's because of bad blood.

Libby made up that statement he attributes to Tim Russert.

It's a sign of how desperate the defense is to try and discredit Tim Wilson.

9 conversations with 8 people. He claims to remember none.

One conversation he claims to remember? The one with Tim Russert that never happened.

On to Matt Cooper. He plays a tape of Libby discussing Matt Cooper. Libby never told Matthew Cooper ""reporters are telling the administration", "I don't know if it's true", "I don't know if he has a wife."

Libby made it up out of whole cloth.

Zeidenberg switches from discussing the witnesses to jury instructions and verdict forms. He reviews materiality with them and refers them to Agent Bond's testimony.

He then discusses unanimity. Now he's playing a tape of Libby describing his conversation July 11 with Karl Rove. In it they discussed what Novak and Rove had discussed.

Consider how amazingly sharp and clear the details of that conversation are. He can repeat all the details of the conversation between Novak and Rove but he can't remember the details of one of nine conversations of his own conversations about Valerie Wilson?

There is a pattern of always forgetting the details of his conversations with Wilson's wife. With Ari, he remembers the Miami Dolphin's but doesn't remember talking about Libby's wife.

That is a convenient way of avoiding the truth. Mr. Libby's memory is such that he can remember what he didn't talk about. Refers them to Cheney's handwritten notes on Wilson's article. "Did his wife send him on junket?"

Addresses possible defense argument that Libby confused Novak and Russert. He shows them both photos and says, "no way."

He says Libby's story that he forgot information about Wilson's wife between June 9 and July 11 is ludicrous.

Mr. Libby and motive to lie. He agrees with Wells that people have to have a motive to lie.

Libby knew there was a criminal investigation. He knew the FBI wanted to talk to him about it. Zeidenberg tells them to look at Libby's non-disclosure agreements. He knows that he can't even be negligent about classified information. Zeidenberg plays the video of Scott McClellan.

There's no question Libby has reason to think that at a minimum, he's going to be fired. He went to the VP and said he wanted to be cleared like Karl Rove had been cleared.

He cooked up the story about reporters being the source of his knowledge so that it would make his conduct appear innocuous.

This is a case about lying, not conspiracy or scapegoats. There's no White House or NBC conspiracy. He's here because of his own choices and decisions. He decided to lie to the FB and grand jury.

Break....Wells will be up after the break.

Thoughts: A very powerful argument with good use of graphics. One had Libby in a circle with arrows pointing to the nine conversations he had about Wilson's wife. It flashed several times during the presentation. There were also PowerPoint clips of succinct points. It was logical and crisp for the most part. The last ten minutes were a little meandering. It took an hour and 50 minutes. Fitzgerald will get an hour and 25 minutes or so.