- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2007

2:29 p.m.

Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was convicted today of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative’s identity.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity to reporters.

He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI.

Libby had little reaction to the verdict. He stood expressionless as the jury left the room. His lawyer, Theodore V. Wells Jr., said they were “very disappointed” with the verdict.

The verdict was read on the 10th day of deliberations. Libby faces up to 30 years in prison, although under federal sentencing guidelines he likely will receive far less.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered a presentencing report be completed by May 15. Judges use such reports to help determine sentences.

Libby faced two counts of perjury, two counts of lying to the FBI and one count of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said he discussed Mrs. Plame’s name with reporters and, fearing prosecution, made up a story to make those discussions seem innocuous.

Libby’s defense team said he learned about Mrs. Plame from Mr. Cheney, forgot about it, then learned it again a month later from NBC newsman Tim Russert. Anything he told reporters about Mrs. Plame, Libby said, was just chatter and rumors, not official government information.

Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald said that was a lie. But Libby’s defense team had argued that it would be unfair to convict Libby in a case where so many witnesses changed their stories or had memory problems.

His attorney said he would ask the court for a new trial by April 13. Such requests are common after criminal convictions.

“Despite our disappointment in the jurors’ verdict, we believe in the American justice system and we believe in the jury system,” Mr. Wells told reporters outside the federal courthouse. “We intend to file a motion for a new trial and if that is denied, we will appeal the conviction. We have every confidence that ultimately Mr. Libby will be exonerated. … We intend to keep fighting to establish his innocence.”

Libby will be allowed to remain free while awaiting sentencing, which is set for June 5.

As the verdicts were read, Libby’s wife choked out a sob and sank her head. Moments later, she embraced the defense attorneys.

The jury acquitted Libby of one count of lying to the FBI about his conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

During the trial, prosecutors said Libby made up a ludicrous lie to save his job during the CIA leak investigation by telling investigators he’d forgotten Mr. Cheney told him about the CIA status of Mr. Wilson’s wife. Mr. Cheney had passed the information to Libby more than a month before Mrs. Plame’s identity was outed by conservative columnist Robert Novak.

Libby told investigators he learned of Mrs. Plame’s identity from NBC reporter Tim Russert, saying that he’d forgotten at the time he talked to the reporter that he’d been told of it earlier by Mr. Cheney.

Mr. Fitzgerald noted that eight witnesses, including an undersecretary of state, two CIA officials, two top Cheney aides, two reporters and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said they discussed Mr. Wilson’s wife with Libby in a one-month span before Mrs. Plame’s CIA employment was publicly revealed.

More on this story over at Fishwrap.

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