By Richard B. Schmitt
Cheney to testify in Libby trial
Wed Jan 3, 2007 03:17
 

Posted on Wed, Dec. 20, 2006

Cheney to testify in Libby trial
By Richard B. Schmitt
Los Angeles Times
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/16280618.htm

WASHINGTON - Dick Cheney will be called to testify at the perjury and obstruction trial of his former chief of staff, in what would be a historic appearance by a sitting vice president in a criminal prosecution, attorneys said Tuesday.

The decision by I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby's attorneys to call Cheney as a witness in the federal court trial scheduled to begin in January ends months of speculation about the role senior White House officials would play.

The move also sets the stage for a dramatic appearance that could offer new insight into Cheney's relationship with his top aide, and for a cross-examination by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that could lay bare how the Bush administration responded to its critics.

Libby resigned after being indicted in October 2005 on charges that he lied to a grand jury about his conversations with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame. White House critics have charged that the leak was part of an orchestrated campaign to undermine her husband, former envoy Joseph Wilson, who had accused the administration in a newspaper column of misleading the public on the case for war in Iraq.

The former aide has denied the charges and has said that any misstatements were inadvertent, reflecting his focus on weightier matters of state, such as terrorism and the war in Iraq.

Libby's attorneys hope that Cheney, as his former boss, will be able to buttress that claim by citing their close working relationship.

The attorneys did not say whether they expected Cheney would appear in court or give his testimony through a deposition, although their statements indicated that they believe the vice president would appear in person and voluntarily without a subpoena.

``We don't believe he is going to resist,'' attorney Bill Jeffress said.

Lea Anne McBride, the vice president's press secretary, said Cheney would testify, if called. ``We've cooperated fully in this matter and will continue to do so.''

The decision to call Cheney was revealed at a hearing Tuesday in federal court as U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton worked through proposed instructions for screening potential jurors in the case, which is expected to go to trial Jan. 16.

Fitzgerald, who had once indicated he might subpoena Cheney, told Walton that he did not intend to call the vice president after all.

``We're calling the vice president,'' Theodore Wells Jr. responded, without elaboration.

That apparently would be a historic event.

In 1988, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush testified under oath to investigators in the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages probe, but his testimony was never used in court.

By contrast, a number of presidents have participated in trials over the years, often by videotape.

President Clinton gave videotaped testimony in a criminal trial involving two former business partners in the Whitewater land deal.

President Ford gave a videotaped deposition in the trial of Lynette ``Squeaky'' Fromme, who was convicted of trying to assassinate him.

President Carter provided videotaped testimony in a grand jury investigation of financier Robert Vesco.

Cheney and Libby got to know each other when Cheney was defense secretary under the first President Bush.

When George W. Bush was elected in 2000, Cheney asked Libby to be one of his top aides. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the two men were among the administration's leading proponents that the U.S. response should include a confrontation with Iraq.
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/16280618.htm

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