Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Libby found guilty


Lewis Libby has been found guilty on 4 of the 5 counts against him.

He was found guilty of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements, while being found not guilty on one count of making false statements.

It will be appealed, of course, but if the verdict stands, he's going to prison.

Count #1, obstruction of justice: guilty, up to 10 years in prison

Count #2, false statements about conservations with Tim Russert: guilty.

Count #3, false statements about conversations with Time: not guilty.

Count #4, perjury related to Count #2: guilty

Count #5, perjury related to (but not limited to) Count #3: guilty

It's a little weird that he was convicted on #5 while being found not guilty on #3, but it wasn't limited to the statements involved in #3.

Total potential jail time: 30 years.

It'll be less than that, most likely. And now the question is: does he have any information that he could trade for a reduced sentence?

I'll post links and updates as soon as they appear. I'm getting most of this info from CNN.

Sentencing set for June 5, though Libby's attorneys indicate they might ask for an extension.

Anyone think Bush will pardon Libby if the conviction is upheld?

Updates: Jurist has a roundup. And here's the Associated Press story.

Update 2: The jurors are talking on CNN right now, and they said they found Russert a very credible witness, and were especially unconvinced that Libby could be "surprised" by the mention of Plame's name in his Russert conversation, when he was told more than nine times prior to that about Plame. Even if he forgot who had told him Plame's name, it struck them as very unlikely that he would have been "surprised" by later mentions.

They also found his "poor memory" defense unpersuasive when there were other people testifying that he was a detail guy and the like.

They said there was a lot of sympathy for Libby on the jury, because they viewed him as a fall guy, and wondered why no other administration officials were being questioned or on trial.

They declined to offer opinions on broader arguments, saying they were focused on the question before them.

They took so long to deliberate because they had to break down the huge amount of evidence and then stack it up against the charges. Simply organizing the information was a big task.

They acquitted him on #3 because it wasn't clear if he was lying or if it was simply a misunderstanding.

Trial was not about whether a leak occurred.

Juror speaking is very impressive, as far as his coolness and level-headedness. Turns out he's Dennis Collins, a former WaPo reporter. That helps explain his ease before a crowd.

Update #3: Time has a piece on Why Libby's Defense Failed, and notes that keeping Cheney and Libby off the stand might have been decisive:

Libby and then Cheney were expected to testify about just how crazy things were, but without notice, Wells informed the court that they would not take the stand. Instead, he offered John Hannah, Libby's former deputy, who described how terrible his boss's memory was. Then, after only three days, the defense rested its case.

Declining to put Libby or Cheney on the stand was a controversial move — and one that the defense would pay for. Often in criminal cases, and especially in those involving perjury, jurors like to hear the defendant explain his actions personally. But Libby would no doubt have been cross-examined harshly, and Cheney might have been embarrassed to explain publicly his role in undermining Wilson's criticisms of the war.

Was it a strategic mistake? Or would putting them on the stand have caused other problems? It's fun to speculate. All we know is that the defense decided that putting them on the stand wasn't in their best interest.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having followed the trial very closely, one of the questions that I did not get an answer to was "Did Joe Wilson get sent to Niger by Valerie Wilson, who exactly sent him ?"
All I got from the trial was that the VP is a hound dog , out to get anyone who gets in his way. As ff this was not known information.

3/06/2007 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're too funny Sean. Yeah....saying that the "ease" with which Collins speaks is due to his years on The Washington Post." Yeah, it's also most likely the reason he can ignore all reasonable doubt to convict this man. Mainly, he's a Democrat. Why else did he and other jurors want to know "Where's Rove?" when Rove was in no way a part of this trial?? Shameful.

3/06/2007 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I was excited about Libby's conviction, but to me it doesn't matter much. You can sic a special prosecutor on anyone and eventually come up with perjury or obstruction of justice.

We need more. Why did Libby take a bullet for Cheney, Rove, et. al.?

I started a new blog, by the way. I flip between state and national issues.


3/06/2007 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To GK; it WAS Wilson's wife who sent him. She even wrote up a formal recommendation. And it was proven in the 2004 Joint Senate Committee on Iraq that Wilson lied to reporters about his claim that he had debunked what was in the SOTU speech. He did NOT debunk it. In fact, he never even saw the documents. But rather he did find----and reported back to the CIA---confirmation of what was suspected; that Iraq had been interested in purchasing uranium. CIA analysts told the Senate Committee that his report was believed to back up what the administration suspected. They didn't even pass it up the channels it was so unimportant. So, you can imagine when that story of Wilson's hit the press---an anonymous "former U.S. Ambassador" claiming the VP's office sent him and claiming that the Bush administration IGNORED his report that debunked it.....was quite a shock to the VP's office. At that point it was their obligation to set the record straight for the American people. The Wilson's LIED. Big time. Reporters that summer were demanding to know who this guy was and who sent him.

Valerie Plame----even if she was covert, which I see no indication that she was----outed herself. She did so when she went to a NYTimes reporter with CIA classified information and LIED about.

I don't know about you----but most people don't stand around and let such huge lies about them stand undefended.


3/06/2007 4:32 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

GK: I'm not sure of actual names, but the CIA brass sent him, apparently in part because of the recommendation of his wife. They weren't too excited about the assignment, because they thought the Niger thing was bogus, so they were apparently not too picky about who they sent.

Chris: I'm not excited so much as surprised. I certainly wasn't expecting a conviction on 4 counts. I wasn't following the case that closely, but it seemed like Fitzgerald had a tough burden of proof.

Nice blog, BTW; I'll add you to my blogroll.

JP5: Do you actually know Collins is liberal, or is that just kneejerk assumption? Here's an article about him; I'll see what else I can find.

You feel there was reasonable doubt; the jury disagreed. While acknowledging people can be forgetful, they found it implausible that -- having been told at least 8 times about Plame -- that Libby could be "surprised" to hear it from Russert, as he claimed.

3/06/2007 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. Not much of a blog -- more like a place to keep my writing. Don't have the discipline to put together an active site, but I can buckle down and write two or three essays a week. :-)

I'm guessing Scooter will be to GWB what Marc Rich was to B. Clinton.

3/06/2007 7:07 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Chris: Two or three decent essays a week will result in better content then three short items each day. More perspective, less knee-jerk reaction.

Re: Libby vs. Marc Rich. If it comes to that, I'm actually more sympathetic to pardoning an otherwise straight arrow for an essentially political crime, than I am pardoning a fugitive felon simply because he was a campaign donor. Libby is no Marc Rich.

It'll be more like Bush the Elder pardoning the Iran-Contra participants. And even then, Plamegate is no Iran-Contra.

In a general sense, though, there should be a law against issuing pardons to people connected to the president. That's just ooky.

3/06/2007 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I imagine that when this thing started four years ago it wasn't the White House saying "Let's out a covert op." They were trying to embarrass Wilson by leaking around town that he needs his wife to get him a job.

Those folks, the Bushies, play with fire and on this they got burned. I'd call it poetic justice if someone actually got busted for the real crime as opposed to the cover-up.

I don't lose sleep one way or another about Libby. Rove...another story.

3/06/2007 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read that both the defense and the prosecution figured the other side would strike Denis Collins as a juror. That's because he was a former Washington Post reporter, used to work for one of the players in the case--Bob Woodward---and was a neighbor of Tim Russert. Could THAT explain why he believed Tim Russert over Libby? I still cannot believe this man got on the jury.

And the very fact that Collins said the jury kept saying, "Where's Rove"...."Where are the others?" during deliberations tells me a lot about this jury. It tells me 1) they pretty much had their minds made up from Day One, and 2) they wished they were judging their nemisis Rove and Cheney; not Libby. Neither of which was a part of this trial, BTW.


3/08/2007 10:09 AM  

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