by Jason Ryan and Jennifer Duck, ABC News
The defense attorneys for former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said today they no longer plan to call Vice President Dick Cheney to testify in the CIA leak trial.
Defense attorney Theodore Wells also said Libby would not be called to the stand.
"The defense obviously felt the downside of calling the vice president outweighed the potential benefit that the defense could hope to achieve with his testimony," said Gregory Craig, a former assistant to President Clinton who also served as a lawyer in Clinton's impeachment trial.
Asked about calling a defendant to testify at his own perjury and obstruction of justice trial, Ed MacMahon, who represented Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person in the United States to face charges for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said, "They would have to convince the jury he made a mistake without having him say it."
Libby faces perjury and obstruction of justice charges in the investigation of the leak of CIA operative Valerie Wilson in 2003. The criminal investigation was launched after Wilson's identity was published in a column by Robert Novak after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, openly criticized the Bush White House for twisting pre- war intelligence, which led to the war in Iraq.
A Spotty Memory
Earlier today, Cheney's national security adviser, John Hannah, took the witness stand at the perjury trial of his former boss Libby and described Libby as a key adviser to the vice president who had "an awful memory".
Libby's defense team is attempting to demonstrate that Libby, who was concurrently Cheney's chief of staff and national security Adviser, was so overwhelmed by national security and foreign policy issues that he could not adequately remember specific facts when he was interviewed by government officials in the investigation.
Hannah described Libby's memory lapses as a common occurrence in the West wing. "I'd show up six to seven hours later and have him repeat what I had told him earlier in the day."
Hannah testified that while Libby was good at remembering ideas and concepts, he was very bad at remembering where he had heard particular information.
"That was a fairly regular pattern with Scooter," Hannah said.
Libby's Average Workday
Outlining Libby's workday for the jury, Hannah testified that it often began around 7 a.m. with an intelligence briefing at the vice president's residence and ended late in the evening, sometimes at 9 p.m. Hannah described the hours in between as filled with a plethora of meetings and briefing memos that Libby digested daily.
Hannah testified that he and Cheney's current chief of staff, David Addington, now split the job that Libby did when he worked at the White House, saying that Libby held two full-time jobs at the same time when he worked in the vice president's office.
The defense enumerated the list of national security threats that Libby faced from May 2003 to March 2004, the window of time when the controversy surrounding the CIA leak investigation began to grow. The list included the fall of Saddam Hussein, nuclear arms development in North Korea and Iran, issues regarding Israel and Palestine, and unrest in Liberia.
During the cross-examination, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald alluded to the previous testimony of former New York Times reporter Judith Miller when she described meeting Libby at the St. Regis hotel on July 8, 2003, for a two-hour breakfast meeting to discuss Iraq, and intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction.
Miller had testified that she also may have discussed outspoken Iraq War critic Wilson and his wife, Valerie Wilson, that day.
Fitzgerald aimed to show that Libby viewed his meeting with Miller as important, given his busy schedule and the other national security threats on his plate.
Fitzgerald asked Hannah, "Is it fair to say if you went to Mr. Libby and say 'how 'bout we go take an hour and get a cup coffee' he would probably not have time for that?"
Hannah responded, "It would be harder, but I wouldn't say it wouldn't happen. ... Scooter takes time for me if I need it."
Fitzgerald followed up. "But if he gave an hour or two that week, it would be something Mr. Libby would think was important."
"In regard to me, yes," Hannah responded.
Libby was indicted in a five-count indictment for allegedly obstructing justice, lying to the FBI and committing perjury in telling investigators that he learned about the identity of CIA officer Valerie Wilson from Tim Russert of NBC News.
Closing arguments for the case are set for Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007.
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