Did Scooter Libby try to sway Judy Miller's testimony?

Fitzgerald says that he did -- but that it didn't work.

Published January 31, 2007 4:58PM (EST)

In addition to cryptic references to turning aspens, Scooter Libby's September 2005 letter to the then imprisoned Judy Miller contained what seemed like some not-so-subtle directions about how Libby wanted Miller to testify before the grand jury.

"As I'm sure will not be news to you," Libby wrote, "the public report of every other reporter's testimony makes clear that that they did not discuss Ms. Plame's name or identity with me, or knew about her before our call ... I believed a year ago, as now, that testimony by all will benefit all." Libby then urged Miller to "find a way to testify about discussions we had, if any, that relate to the Wilson-Plame matter," suggesting that he'd be "better off" if she did.

As Libby's defense lawyer said in court this morning, Miller testified before the grand jury that she didn't read the letter as an attempt to sway her testimony. Neither Judge Reggie Walton nor special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald seems so sure. Walton said that if Libby was trying to influence Miller's testimony, the letter could amount to evidence of his "consciousness of guilt." However, Walton said, the letter would not be relevant to Miller's testimony unless there were some reason to believe both that Miller and Libby were in "collusion" and that the letter had, in fact, influenced her testimony. With Miller having testified that Libby told her that Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, Walton said, it's pretty clear that Libby's letter didn't have much of a persuasive effect.

Fitzgerald agreed but said that it wasn't for lack of trying. "We don't think the letter worked," he said.

By Tim Grieve

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

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