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Libby Is Guilty

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Libby is guilty. And he's going to be found guilty. The jury might not convict him on all counts, but he has no chance of surviving the perjury count that was proved beyond a reasonable doubt with Tim Russert's testimony.

The multi-million dollar defense, which provided no defense at all, did not call Libby to the witness stand for one very simple reason: Libby is very very guilty. Publicly, defense lawyers cling to the text book theory that the defendant has no burden of proof and that no negative inference should ever be taken when a defendant doesn't defend himself on the witness stand. Practically, every defense lawyer knows that the jury desperately wants to hear from the defendant and that the only reason not to put him on the stand is that he is soooo guilty that every answer he gives after his name will eradicate any shred of reasonable doubt. Think about it. Your whole life is at stake in the outcome of a criminal trial. You're innocent. And you don't testify in your own defense? Around the courthouse when defense lawyers are chatting about their cases, the only question they ask each other is can you put your guy on the stand? Those conversations always assume the defendant is guilty. The question is just about the degree of difficulty in presenting a defense.

Libby's defense gave up before the opening statements in the trial. They always knew Libby was too guilty to put on the witness stand. And they were never going to call the Vice President. Telling the judge that they were going to call Libby and Cheney was just a mirage they were trying to create to misdirect Patrick Fitzgerald's focus. I'd be shocked if Fitzgerald was fooled for even a second.

If Libby called Cheney, it actually would have hurt his defense and been a hostile act to the White House. Cheney would have been humiliated by Fitzgerald's cross-examination and Libby would have forever lost his chief pardon advocate in the White House.

From the start, Libby's hopeless courtroom defense has been about the pardon. Libby has conducted a defense that is very friendly to the White House. He has made it clear to the White House that he had the power to call the Vice President, but, good soldier that he is, he declined to put Cheney through that ordeal.

Last year, I told Keith Olbermann on MSNBC that Libby's highly publicized defense-fund fundraiser was really the first step in the pardon campaign. Libby is a very rich man. He didn't need the defense fund. He needed the public rally with Mary Matalin types walking the virtual red carpet on the way in singing his praises as a great public servant. Fred Thompson, the senator-actor, did a version of this at the trial--showing up, giving "moral" support, then offering his TV prosecutor view of how unfair the Libby prosecution is. Look for the popular TV prosecutor to play an important role in the pardon campaign.

Libby knows more than his lawyers do about the next stage of his legal proceedings. Libby helped obtain the sleaziest pardon that Bill Clinton issued on his way out of the White House. Clinton pardoned Libby's client, the fugitive billionaire Marc Rich, over the unanimous objections of the White House staff. When Cheney hand-delivers Libby's pardon application to President Bush, who is going to object?

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