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

Waiting lists and growing demand for low-income preschools

There will be 1,000 more spots opening in the state next school year — far fewer than needed.

Snohomish County PUD general manager and CEO to retire

Craig Collar, 54, who will return to Montana, joined the utility as a senior manager in 2006.

Jensen Webster sorts through food stuffs at the Sultan High School in Sultan on March 14, 2018. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Sultan school children take charge to help their peers

The Sky Valley Youth Coalition has installed pantries at schools so kids can take food home.

Cougs beat Dawgs — and the Hawks

WSU boasts the No. 1 specialty license plate, and the money that comes with it.

Police seek female suspect in north Everett burglaries

She’s suspected of being an accomplice to a man who has committed five other burglaries.

North Machias Road bridge down to one lane until fixes made

A bridge south of Lake Stevens remains at one lane of travel… Continue reading

Everett woman found dead identified as 21-year-old

There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body of Brianna Leigh Nyer.

Ivar’s in Mukilteo closes for disinfection after illnesses

The Snohomish Health District said it’s not certain what caused some patrons to get sick.

People fill up various water jug and containers at the artesian well on 164th Street on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
It’s the water: Lynnwood’s artesian well draws fans from miles around

True believers have been flocking for decades to the last well flowing in the Alderwood district.

Most Read