Libby: I didn't lie about Plame, but others may have

ABC News says the grand jury is to meet again today.

Published May 3, 2006 4:37PM (EDT)

The Karl Rove indictment watch continues, with ABC News reporting that Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury may meet again in Washington today. Meanwhile, Scooter Libby's lawyers have filed a new legal brief in which they suggest that their client didn't lie about Valerie Plame -- but that other Bush administration officials may have done so in order to protect themselves or others.

Libby's lawyers have served subpoenas in which they demand notes and other documents from Judith Miller, Matthew Cooper, Tim Russert, Andrea Mitchell, the New York Times, Time, the Washington Post, CNN and NBC. Some of the recipients have responded with motions to quash those subpoenas, and Libby's lawyers have now responded with a brief in which they argue that the documents they're seeking are needed to ensure that their client gets a fair trial.

In the course of their arguments, Libby's lawyers try to put some distance between the vice president's former chief of staff and other Bush administration officials. "The government believes -- and may attempt to show at trial -- that Mr. Libby and other White House officials conducted 'concerted efforts' to discredit or punish Mr. Wilson by disclosing his wife's CIA identity," Libby's lawyers write. "Documents showing that Mr. Libby and other officials talked to reporters about Mr. Wilson during this time but never mentioned his wife will help to show that there was no such campaign -- or that if there was, Mr. Libby had nothing to do with it."

In this "it wasn't me" vein, Libby's lawyers argue that other "government officials" may have misled Fitzgerald or his grand jury in describing conversations they say they had with Libby about Plame. Fitzgerald will argue that those conversations -- which allegedly took place in June and early July 2003 -- prove that that Libby was lying when he told the grand jury that he first learned of Plame's identity from Tim Russert on or about July 10, 2003. But Libby's lawyers say it's not Libby who was lying; it may have been those "government officials." Documents in the hands of journalists, Libby's lawyers say, "likely contain evidence that the government's witnesses are mistaken about those alleged conversations or are shading their testimony to protect themselves or others."

Who are those government officials? Libby's lawyers single out Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, CIA public affairs officer Bill Harlow, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Dick Cheney aide Catherine Martin. But they also refer more obliquely to specific numbered paragraphs in the indictment that identify individuals who allegedly had Plame-related conversations with Libby: another CIA officer, another Cheney aide, Rove and Cheney himself.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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