Video: Miller to testify in Libby trial

NBC News
updated 1/30/2007 12:46:30 PM ET 2007-01-30T17:46:30

Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller is scheduled to be called as a witness Tuesday, as the perjury and obstruction trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby headed into its second week of testimony.

Miller spent 85 days in jail, refusing to give up her source, Libby, before relenting and testifying to a grand jury.

Miller said she either met with Libby or spoke with him three times in the summer of 2003. Each time, according to Miller, Libby mentioned that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

On June 23, 2003 at a meeting with Libby in his office at the Old Executive Office Building, Libby, according to prosecutors, talked to Miller about press coverage dealing with pre-war intelligence about Iraq. Libby, according to the government, complained to Miller that he thought the CIA was leaking to the press unfairly, putting the White House on the defensive.

During the course of that conversation, he mentioned that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

On the morning of Tuesday, July 8, 2003, according to prosecutors, Libby met with Miller again, this time in the dining room of the St. Regis Hotel. According to prosecutors, they spent an hour or two together talking. Libby spoke to Miller about information that was used to support the war in Iraq, and Libby shared that information with Miller on the grounds that he be treated as a "senior administration official."

Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, in his opening statement to the jury last week, said, "if she published it, it wouldn't say 'Scooter' Libby." Fitzgerald said the conversation turned to Wilson and Libby asked Miller to change the rules because "senior administration official" was not good enough. Libby told Miller that if she published anything on Wilson, Libby should be treated as a "former Hill staffer." Libby once worked on Capitol Hill on the congressional staff.

During that conversation, Libby again mentioned that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

Timeline discrepancy?
Libby has said in his grand jury testimony and in interviews with the FBI that he first learned about Valerie Plame Wilson from NBC News Washington Bureau Chief Tim Russert on July 10 or 11. Fitzgerald said, "You can't learn about something starting on Thursday that you are giving out on Monday and Tuesday."

Former White House press spokesman Ari Fleischer testified Monday that he was told about Plame at a White House lunch with Libby on Monday, July 7, 2003.

Miller again spoke with Libby on July 12, 2003, where Libby told her, according to her grand jury testimony, that he heard about Wilson's wife, "from reporters" and said to her "I don't know if it's true."

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Libby's defense attorneys will likely try to discredit Miller's recollection of her conversations with Libby, asserting that Miller has testified repeatedly that she had a "fuzzy, speculative memory" and her notes on the conversations are "cryptic." The defense is likely to mention that the only notes Miller took are "like, two words," according to Libby attorney Ted Wells' opening statement to the jury.

Libby's defense will undoubtedly assert that Miller's notes indicate that she had Wilson's telephone number, name and extension "before she ever met with Mr. Libby."

Wells had said last week in court that Miller, "got the name of Wilson's wife from multiple sources."

Wells will also likely say that the only reference in Miller's notes to Wilson's wife is "Victoria Wilson — wife works in unit." And Wells will say that Miller's grand jury testimony indicates that she doesn't have a specific recollection of Libby saying during their July 12 phone conversation, "anything to her about the wife."

The defense will likely say that when Libby was tasked to go and talk to Miller by the vice president, he did make disclosures to her. But, the disclosures were only with respect to the National Intelligence Estimate, the NIE, because the president and Cheney made the decision that "this story needs to get out," according to Wells.

It may also be revealed to the jury that Fitzgerald, with the backing of the courts, succeeded in having Miller jailed for 85 days until she relented and testified before the grand jury.

Before Miller went to jail, she dismissed the validity of an earlier waiver Libby had offered to all journalists to testify. She asserted that such waivers from sitting government officials were inherently coerced.

Miller wrote in The Times that after two months in jail she ''owed it to herself'' to clarify whether Libby's waiver was genuine. She authorized her lawyers to seek an explicit waiver from Libby, which he granted in a telephone conversation and in the letter about aspens. That letter may also come into play in her testimony at the trial.

Fitzgerald may also note that, when Miller eventually testified before the grand jury, she provided information that was used against Libby in the indictment.

Fitzgerald may argue Libby must not have intended to encourage her to testify at all.

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