updated 1/19/2007 8:18:05 PM ET 2007-01-20T01:18:05

Defense attorneys withdrew, for now, their request to use NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell’s notes during the CIA leak case, heading off a potential fight leading up to the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

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A federal judge said Friday afternoon that he likely would release Mitchell’s notes to attorneys for Libby and scheduled a hearing on the issue Monday. Within hours, network spokeswoman Barbara Levin said the request for the notes had been withdrawn and the hearing canceled.

Mitchell’s notes on her conversation with former vice presidential chief of staff Libby have been under subpoena for nearly a year, but U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton had ruled that, because Mitchell was unlikely to testify at trial, her notes would not be released.

Libby’s attorneys said in court Friday that they planned to call Mitchell as a defense witness during his perjury and obstruction trial. Opening arguments are scheduled for Tuesday.

Walton reversed course and ordered attorneys for NBC to be in court Monday to discuss the notes. He added: “I don’t see how I can deprive the defense of it.”

Though the hearing was canceled, the notes remain under subpoena and defense attorneys could revisit the issue during the four- to six-week trial.

Libby is accused of lying to investigators about what he told reporters regarding former CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose husband — former ambassador Joseph Wilson — emerged in 2003 as a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Libby told authorities that he learned Plame’s identity from reporters, but prosecutors say Libby learned it during a series of high-level conversations about how to refute Wilson’s criticisms.

Mitchell’s testimony and notes could help Libby’s case by describing an atmosphere of tension and finger-pointing within the Bush administration regarding intelligence issues on Iraq. That could bolster Libby’s claims about a hectic and tumultuous climate in which he could not accurately remember certain conversations.

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