Libby defense: I forgot

WASHINGTON – Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Karl Rove, the first facing indictment, the other hoping to avoid indictment, are pursuing a similar strategy to prove their innocence in the CIA leak case: showing they are guilty of memory lapses, not lies.

Libby, indicted Friday on five counts of lying and obstructing justice, contends any misleading information he provided to the grand jury or federal investigators was the result of a hectic schedule and foggy recollections, according to people familiar with his case.

“Mr. Libby testified to the best of his recollection on all occasions,” Joseph Tate, Libby’s lawyer, said in his first statement on the case, released Friday. Libby’s friends plan to set up legal defense fund soon to help him fight the charges, according to one person familiar the effort.

Rove, who sources said narrowly escaped indictment through last-minute negotiations, is working privately to convince special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he did not lie to a federal grand jury about his role in the disclosure of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. With Fitzgerald threatening to indict Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff provided him with new information this week that prompted Fitzgerald to rethink charging him with making false statements, according to two people close to the case.

A source close to Rove said Bush’s closest adviser stands ready to provide the prosecutor with anything else he needs in the days ahead, and remains optimistic an indictment is not forthcoming. Rove expects a decision soon.

Fitzgerald “understands what is at stake here,” said a source close to Rove. “We are going to find out if we are going to get good or bad news.”

Fitzgerald has largely completed the 22-month investigation into whether any Bush administration official leaked Plame’s name without charging anyone with violating the laws that make such actions illegal in some circumstances.

Instead, Fitzgerald indicted Libby on two counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury and one count of obstructing justice. He has not concluded his investigation of Rove, which lawyers people close to the case say focuses on at least one misleading statement Rove made to the federal grand jury hearing the case.

While some Republicans dismissed the charges against Libby as technicalities unrelated to deliberately unmasking a CIA agent, allegations of lies put Libby – and possibly Rove – in serious legal jeopardy and are creating a new set of political problems for the Bush White House.

“Libby is tripped up over the investigation, not over the crime, and I think that is significant,” said Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga. Still, “the impression you get is he was a good foot soldier for many years, but he stepped over the boundary in his job, and no one is above the law.”

More in Local News

These little piggies stay home

Norman, who was spotted last week in Everett, is part of a trio kept as pets by the “pig whisperer.”

Cheering families welcome Kidd, Shoup after 6 months at sea

“I get back Daddy back today,” said one homemade sign at Naval Station Everett.

Stanwood man, 33, killed in crash near Marysville

Speed may have been a factor, the sheriff’s department said.

Street-legal ATVs approved for some roads near Sultan

Supporters foresee tourism benefits. Opponents are concerned about injury and pollution risks.

Jamie Copeland is a senior at Cedar Park Christian Schools’ Mountlake Terrace campus. She is a basketball player, ASB president, cheerleader and, of course, a Lion. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Cedar Park Christian senior stepping up to new challenges

Jamie Copeland’s academics include STEM studies, leadership, ASB activities, honor society.

Woman, 47, found dead in Marysville jail cell

She’d been in custody about four days after being arrested on warrants, police said.

County plans to sue to recoup costs from ballot drop-box law

A quarter-million dollars could be spent adding 19 ballot boxes in rural areas.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

5 teens in custody in drug-robbery shooting death

They range in age from 15 to 17. One allegedly fatally shot a 54-year-old mother, whose son was wounded.

Most Read