WASHINGTON — Attorneys for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said neither Vice President Dick Cheney or defendant Libby will testify in the defense's case, while also indicating the defense will likely rest its case by the end of this week. Judge Reggie Walton said closing arguments in the trial will take place next Tuesday.
After Libby's attorneys stated in court (outside the presence of the jury) that Cheney's attorney was notified during the lunch hour that Cheney would not be called to testify, Libby lawyer Ted Wells then addressed the issue of Libby's potential testimony. Wells told the judge that he (Wells) and Libby lawyer William Jeffers advised Mr. Libby that it was their belief Mr. Libby should not testify and that the defense should rest its case following the potential testimony of the CIA briefers. Wells then told the judge Libby, "after consultations with us and his wife, has said he will follow our advice."
The judge then gave an instruction to Libby. Libby stood at the defense table as the judge informed him, "you have an absolute right to testify... Do you understand that?" Libby paused for a moment and said, "Yes sir. I thank you for your concern. I will follow the advice of my counsel." The judge replied, "Okay, thank you."
The attorneys are now arguing over the scope of evidence that will be allowed from the final witnesses in this case - CIA briefers who provided Libby with his daily classified intelligence briefings. The arguments are expected to last for some time. If the CIA briefers are allowed to testify, the defense says this will take about an hour.
The judge dismissed the jury for the day, instructing them to return at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon for whatever testimony from these briefers the judge allows in. Following that testimony, the defense will then rest.
The judge says he will work with the attorneys on Thursday to resolve issues regarding jury instructions and closing arguments.
Libby's 'awful' memory
Vice President Dick Cheney's national security adviser John Hannah, who served as Libby's deputy in 2003 and 2004, and now serves as Cheney's national security adviser took the witness stand Tuesday and described his predecessor, Libby, Tuesday as someone responsible for the nation's most sensitive intelligence but whose memory was notoriously spotty.
Hannah also described a workday that began with a highly classified CIA briefing and continued at breakneck speed from one top-level meeting to the next.
Libby is on trial for lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Libby says he didn't lie but rather was too focused on more lofty issues to remember conversations he had with reporters regarding Plame.
Hannah is a critical defense witness because he bolsters Libby's argument that he was focused on terrorist threats, foreign intelligence and war planning. And when it came to remembering things in such a fast-paced environment, Hannah said, Libby frequently faltered.
"On certain things, Scooter just had an awful memory," Hannah said.
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He described briefing Libby on policy decisions and strategies in the morning, only to have Libby excitedly repeat them back to him that evening as if they were new.
"That's Scooter," Hannah said.
That anecdote seemed to sum up much of the flavor of the perjury and obstruction trial; Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says Libby learned about Plame, the wife of prominent war critic and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, from Cheney and other officials. Libby repeated that information to reporters, Fitzgerald said, then concocted a story about learning it from another journalist to shield himself from prosecution.
Sitting in for 'Scooter' Libby
For his part, Libby says he genuinely forgot that the information came from Cheney and, when he heard about Plame a month later from NBC's Tim Russert, it seemed like new information, which he relayed to other reporters simply as chatter.
Hannah's most important role may be as a sit-in for Libby. Defense attorneys originally said Libby planned to testify about all the classified information he was handling at the time. They have since backed away from that.
Hannah offers defense attorneys a much safer alternative. If he can discuss much of the classified information and describe for jurors Libby's hectic schedule, attorneys may be able to avoid putting Libby on the stand and subjecting him to cross-examination.
Hannah testified that part of Scooter Libby's job as chief of staff to Cheney in 2003 was to "push back" on any criticism of the vice president.
Libby's limited time schedule
Hannah also admitted to Fitzgerald that during the summer of 2003, for Libby to take an hour or two off during the day, it would have to be an important issue. Hannah had said that Libby was only accessible to him during the evening hours.
Fitzgerald asked Hannah if Libby, "gave someone an hour or two it was something that Libby thought it would be important? Hannah said, "Yes." Hannah also said issues of importance to the vice president were important to Libby.
Fitzgerald will undoubtedly use that answer to tell jurors during his closing statement that Libby testified that he met in person twice with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June and July 2003 in daytime meetings that lasted more than one hour. Miller testified that Libby told her about sections of the once classified National Intelligence Estimate and revealed the wife of former ambassador Joseph Wilson.
Hannah had previously testified that Iraq and Liberia and the capture of a Turkish special forces unit in northern Iraq during the July 4, 2003 weekend consumed Libby and the vice president during that week.
Hannah also told the special counsel that in June 2003, when he went to Libby to tell him about queries he had made about an envoy sent to Niger, Libby had already known about the report.
Hannah said specifically Libby felt that mention of a 1999 trip to Niger by an Iraqi trade mission, stood out in his recollection.
The report, according to Hannah, did not mention Valerie Plame.
Earlier Tuesday testimony
Earlier Tuesday, New York Times managing editor Jill Abramson testified that she could not back up the testimony of a former colleague, Times reporter Judith Miller.
Abramson was the Washington bureau chief in 2003 when Miller says Libby told her that Plame worked at the CIA. Libby says he didn't reveal that information to Miller.
Miller testified that, after her conversation with Libby, she went to Abramson and suggested the Times look into Plame.
"Did Judith Miller come to you to recommend the New York Times pursue a story about whether Ambassador Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA?" defense attorney William Jeffress asked.
"I have no recollection of such a conversation," Abramson replied.
Abramson was one of several journalists who testified in the trial. On Monday, defense attorneys called some of the nation's most well-known journalists to discuss their interviews with Bush administration officials regarding Plame.
Neither Abramson nor the other reporters directly undercut Fitzgerald's case. They provided fodder, however, for defense attorneys to argue that Plame's name was circulating widely among reporters and Bush administration officials.
The Associated Press, NBC's Joel Seidman and MSNBC's David Shuster contributed to this story.