Scooter pleads not guilty

A smiling Libby appeared in court Thursday and vowed he will fight the perjury charges. Meanwhile, Washington buzzed: Is Karl Rove next?

Topics:

When the first sitting White House staffer to be indicted in 135 years is standing 10 feet away from the guy who is trying to throw him in jail for 30 years, it is a tad awkward.

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, was standing with his four attorneys at a table in the front of a federal courtroom in Washington Thursday morning, accused of lying to the FBI and a grand jury. Libby has a broken foot and propped his metal crutches against a table. He seemed able to stand with no problem.

When special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald entered the room and stood just paces apart from Libby, both men seemed to avoid eye contact. Even when Fitzgerald walked directly in front of Libby to take his own seat on the other side of the courtroom, neither man raised his head to look the other in the eye.

If Libby was nervous or wanted to throttle Fitzgerald, he didn’t show it. Before the proceedings began this morning he talked amiably with his defense team and even laughed quietly at what must have been a very funny joke, given the circumstances of the United States of America v. Lewis Libby.

Libby hobbled on crutches to a dais and faced Judge Reggie B. Walton, a Bush appointee. He spoke just 11 words when asked if he wanted to make a plea. “Yes, I do. With respect, your honor, I plead not guilty.” Not guilty, that is, to two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction of justice.

The whole thing took about 10 minutes and could be the only news on the case for a while. Libby waived his right for a speedy trial. Much of the information that Fitzgerald generated during the 22-month inquiry is classified. He and Libby’s defense team agreed it would take weeks to get security clearances for Libby’s lawyers, allowing them to comb through the material. Judge Walton set the next hearing on the case for Feb. 3. Fitzgerald estimated that it would then take two weeks to present the government’s case against Cheney’s closest aid.

Libby has beefed up his defense team with well-known criminal trial lawyers Ted Wells and William Jeffress. Not surprisingly, Wells told reporters outside the courthouse that a jury would clear Libby’s good name. “In pleading not guilty, he has declared to the world that he is innocent,” said Wells. Libby “has declared that he intends to fight the charges in the indictment” and wants to “clear his good name.”



The case may hinge on Fitzgerald’s ability to prove that Libby was lying, as opposed to suffering a memory lapse. That will not be easy. “It is tough to prove perjury,” said Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center. “There is very little way of knowing how strong the case is. People’s memories vary about what was said, and you have to prove that the perjury is deliberate and did not just involve a failure of memory.”

It is unclear how much, if any, of the juicy data on intelligence prior to the war in Iraq might come out during a trial. Fitzgerald has said that the indictment against Libby is not designed to put the rationale for war in Iraq on trial.

Libby is accused of lying about how he learned classified information about a CIA operative, Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Wilson has famously alleged that the White House should have known that its claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa to build a nuclear weapon was bogus. The White House fired back and in the process Valerie Wilson’s cover at the CIA was blown in the press.

Libby resigned when he was indicted last week. Meanwhile, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has been identified by many in the press as “Official A.” The indictment states that “Official A” discussed Valerie Wilson with columnist Robert Novak, who first exposed her as a CIA operative. Rove wasn’t indicted and reports suggested that he got off the hook when his attorneys gave Fitzgerald a last-minute flurry of information.

But on Thursday the Washington Post indicated that Rove may still face charges. The paper reported that Fitzgerald this week talked with an attorney for Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about his client’s conversations with Rove before and after Valerie Wilson’s CIA status became publicly known. The Post said Fitzgerald is still considering charging Rove with making false statements. The paper cites sources close to Rove who said they expect to know within weeks whether the most powerful aide in the White House will also have to stand awkwardly in a courtroom, just feet away from Fitzgerald.

Mark Benjamin is a national correspondent for Salon based in Washington, D.C. Read his other articles here.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>