Under oath, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff Scooter Libby told a grand jury that he first learned that Joe Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent from conversations with the media. In fact, he first learned that information from Vice President Cheney himself.
Libby is now on trial for perjury. His defense is that he simply forgot who told him that Plame worked for the CIA. But in court today, prosecutors outlined a powerful case establishing that Libby had reason to remember who told him and motive to cover it up. MSNBC’s David Schuster said today’s revelations from prosecutors are “new and will astound a number of people, even those who have been following this case.” Among the new claims:
— “Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself…to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.”
— Cheney personally “wrote out for Scooter Libby what Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper.”
— “Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.”
Schuster has the report. Watch it:
SCHUSTER: During opening arguments in the case against Scooter Libby, prosecutors outlined evidence about Vice President Cheney’s role in the leak of CIA operative Valerie Wilson that is new and will astound a number of people, even those who have been following this case. The prosecutors said the evidence will make it clear that the very first government official who told Scooter Libby about Valerie Wilson, the wife of a critic and the fact that she was working at the CIA, the very first person who told him that was Vice Ppresident Cheney. The prosecutor said the evidence will also show Vice President Cheney himself directed Scooter Libby to essentially go around protocol and deal with the press and handle press himself, that Scooter Libby should be the one talking to the press to try to beat back the criticism of administration critic Joe Wilson.
Prosecutors also revealed today that Vice President Cheney himself wrote out for Scooter Libby what Scooter Libby should say in a conversation with Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper. It was during that conversation when Scooter Libby provided confirmation to Cooper that Valerie Wilson worked at the CIA. In addition, there were some blockbuster revelations this morning about Scooter Libby’s actions before he testified to the FBI about the original leak. According to prosecutors, the evidence will show that Scooter Libby destroyed a note from Vice President Cheney about their conversations and about how Vice President Cheney wanted the Wilson matter handled.
There was other information that came out about Vice President Cheney. The prosecutors talked about the State of the Union speech where the president made a false claim about reasons for war with Iraq — the idea that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. When that came out, and the white house was trying to figure out who should take responsibility, according to prosecutors, Vice President Cheney repeatedly urged the Director of the CIA George Tenet to take full responsibility and that no blame whatsoever should land on the president or Office of the Vice President.
It was blockbuster developments about Vice President Cheney. This is the kind of information that supporters of the Vice President have feared would come out in this trial. The Vice President is not accused of any wrongdoin, but prosecutors are building their case, trying to give the jury a motive for why Scooter Libby did what he did as far as blaming reporters for passing along classified information when, the prosecutors allege, he learned that from the beginning from the Vice President.