The Libby Trial 1

I’m sure you’ve all either read my liveblog or read some reviews of yesterday’s coverage, so you know the stunners and new information from the first day of the trial:

  • Libby is throwing Rove under the bus
  • Ari leaked (according to the very unreliable Wells) to David Gregory, something which none of his colleagues knew
  • Libby has his own annotated copy of Wilson’s op-ed
  • Cheney wrote some orders on Libby’s sonnet looking for Scottie to clear him
  • Armitage talked to Grossman the night before his FBI interview

I can’t help but think there’s an interesting dynamic going on. I’ve long argued that WH couldn’t pardon Libby bc if they did it would make the civil case easier. Well, I can’t count the number of times that Wells said Libby had "a day job" and his second "Meat Grinder" job of responding to Joe Wilson.

Geez. That seems like it would make it a slam dunk to take the civil case, at least to get past the bar of proving that whatever they did to Plame, they did it as a freelance activity, something outside the world of their ordinary duties.

So here’s what I’m wondering. Pre-trial, the White House had an incentive to wait on a pardon beyond the resolution of the civil trial. But so long as Libby’s team sits there exposing what Rove did and implicating Bush and so on, I think they’ve got a new incentive to pardon Libby.

It’s an interesting dance, playing the criminal trial and the civil trial and the dying Bush Administration off of each other. Glad I have a front row seat.

  1. DonS says:

    So do we really think that Libby throwing Rove under the bus is team Libby putting a squeeze on Bush for a pardon, or is all of this pre-orchestrated, e.g., to keep Cheney out of the direct line of fire until Bush pardons him down the road too? Most reactions seem to be surprise at Libby’s accusations. Sorry if this is too blue sky.

  2. Rayne says:

    Was particularly fond of this bit by Wells yesterday, although there were so many choice nuggets from which to choose:

    â€Unlike Karl Rove, you will learn, Mr. Libby had not been out pushing stories about Ms. Wilson,†Wells said. â€Mr. Libby was just a staff member. Karl Rove was the lifeblood of the Republican Party.â€

    Which can only lead us to deduce:

    1) For this administration, national security is clearly second place at best to protecting the Republican Party;

    2) There was no separation between what Karl Rove did for George W. Bush and the Republican Party — were publicly-owned assets must have been regularly deployed for partisan purposes, in violation of federal election laws?

    I cannot wait until we are well shet of these leeches.

    Keep up the great work, Marcy, digging every second of it! Give my regards to Christy and Pach!

  3. greenhouse says:

    Emptywheel, you are every bit as so cool as I thought you’d look! What a great idea to youtube your legal analysis.


  4. p.lukasiak says:

    I don’t think the â€throw Karl under the bus†strategy is just some Comstockian PR ploy…. keep in mind that this is what the jury is being told was the real narrative that explains Libby’s actions, and it is on that basis that the jury will make its decision. We, the public, are not the primary audience; the jury is. And the Bush administration is not Wells’ client; Irving Libby is — and its Wells job to get his client a â€not guilty verdict.â€

    Wells is going to have to â€flesh out†this theory if its going to fly — and will have to attempt to impeach every word of Rove’s testimony as a result. And IMHO, the trial is going to lead to the â€real life†impeachment of Bush AND Cheney….

    This revelation also pretty much precludes any immediate pardon — it would look way too much like the Saturday Night Massacre….

  5. Anonymous says:


    Last night I was participating in some speculation about the pardon and I had some thoughts maybe you could either shoot down or otherwise enlighten me about:

    1. If the administration had pardoned Libby before now, then Fitzgerald could have compelled Libby’s testimony against Rove, Bush, or (most importantly) Cheney. He would have no fifth amendment protection against incriminating himself, by reason of the pardon.

    2. And if this is correct, it seems it would at least give Fitzgerald some ammunition:

    The United States Supreme Court has held that a pardon can be rejected, must be affirmatively accepted to be effective, and that acceptance carries with it an admission of guilt.

    In other words, Libby would have to accept the pardon and, in doing so, he would be admitting to a crime. I know he is charged with obstruction of justice and not the original disclosure, but it seems it would still be an advantage for prosecuting others.

    Anyways, great work.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In other words, Libby would have to accept the pardon and, in doing so, he would be admitting to a crime. I know he is charged with obstruction of justice and not the original disclosure, but it seems it would still be an advantage for prosecuting others.

    I think your instinct is correct. There’s this idea called res judicata which says that when a court gives a final judgment on an issue between identical parties on the merits of the case, you can’t go back and fight that same issue in a later case. So if Libby accepts a pardon for the lying to the GJ and obstrucing justice criminal bit, and thereby admits a crime, he can’t go back during the civil case and argue that he didn’t commit a crime. The pardon renders Libby’s criminal act res judicata. So Libby himself may be off the hook, but since the Wilsons are suing Cheney and the OVP as well as Libby, the fact that Libby is a convicted (and pardoned) felon for the very issue the Wilsons are suing about would undoubtedly be helpful to their case.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Let us know what kind of gum you are enjoying so we can send a case of it to the rest of the press. Great work EW!

  8. Pete says:

    Nice video. Loved the comment about â€they want to be bloggers but don’t know how!! Clip length edited to exactly 4:20 was a bonus, too.

  9. Bob Magruder says:

    Caught Marcy on C-Span this a.m. Great job! I liked York too but does he always have to be corrected as to dates and things?

    My thought about Libby’s â€busy defense†is this: If I walked into one’s office and said I had a great steak sandwich for lunch, chances are it would not be remembered six months from now. But if I walked into the same person’s office and said I just hit an old lady in a crosswalk out front, chances are good that fact would be remembered for a long time.

    If Libby was already attuned to the seriousness of the Wilson business there is no way he would have forgotten that the info from Chaney’s press person came prior to the talk with Russert.

    Keep up the great work, Marcy!