WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney's long-time chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who resigned last week after being indicted in a CIA leak investigation, is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday for an arraignment, a court official said Monday.
Libby, who was indicted on Friday on charges of obstructing justice, perjury and making false statements, has promised a vigorous defense.
As part of his strategy, Libby is expected to argue that any incorrect information he provided to federal investigators or the grand jury was the result of lapses in memory, rather than intentional lies, according to Libby's lawyer and other attorneys involved in the case.
Libby is the only person who has been charged in the 22-month investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity.
Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser, escaped indictment Friday but remains under investigation, lawyers involved in the case said. Rove provided new information last week to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald that apparently prompted the prosecutor to reconsider charging Rove for making false statements, the lawyers said.
Democrats have called on Rove to step down over his role in the leak and some Republicans have urged Bush to shake up his White House staff. Bush ignored a shouted question about whether he should fire Rove during an Oval Office appearance on Monday.
Libby's indictment was a damaging blow to the White House, which is already reeling from the mounting U.S. death toll from the Iraq war, the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina and the withdrawal of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, under fire from Bush's conservative power base.
Plame's identity was leaked to the media in July 2003 after her diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting prewar intelligence to support action against Iraq. Wilson said the leak was made deliberately to erode his credibility.
A public trial could expose the role played by Cheney's secretive office in the leak case, which has put a spotlight on how the administration sold the nation on the war in Iraq and aggressively countered its critics.
Lawyers involved in the case said Cheney himself and other top White House officials named in the indictment could be called as witnesses.
According to the indictment, Libby learned from Cheney himself on June 12, 2003, that Wilson's wife worked in the CIA's counterproliferation division.
Judge Reggie Walton on Thursday might also set a schedule for the filing of motions, and possibly a trial date.
Walton was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2001, and was first appointed to the D.C. Superior Court by President Ronald Reagan.
Cheney names Libby's replacements
Cheney on Monday named attorney David Addington as his chief of staff and John Hannah as his national security adviser.
Both positions had been filled by Libby.
Addington has been Cheney's counsel and Hannah has been his deputy national security adviser.
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