The court spent all much of the day dealing with evidentiary issues. When we broke for lunch at 12:30, a reporter sitting next to me estimated that the jury had heard actually testimony for a grand total of seven minutes so far. There’s a tendency to assume testimony is more exciting than the legal minutiae that happens when the jury’s away. After today’s afternoon session I can report that this is not always the case.
The morning saw an intense debate over the very heart of the case. At one point Fitzgerald told the judge that if he didn’t allow in the White House briefing clips, he might as well dismiss the charges. The defense was equally hyperbolic, with Wells thundering about the throwing-under-bus scenario, saying that Libby went to Cheney after McClellan had “exonerated” Karl Rove in public and “only an innocent man would go the VICE PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES and tell him what’s happening isn’t fair.” Unless, of course, if Scooter happened to know for a fact that the “exonerated” Rove was also guilty. Then that would be really unfair.
The afternoon brought testimony from the FBI agent that interviewed Libby, the human stand-in for the government that Libby is accused of lying to. Agent Bond — Deborah Bond — is a trim, blondish woman who has worked in the Bureau for 19 years. And while I’m sure she is an assured, professional agent, with countless successes and possessing key information for this historic case… she quite nearly put me to sleep. I confess that I tend to take notes only on “the good stuff,” i.e., references to feet in concrete blocks, petty feuds among TV personalities, etc. My notes for Bond’s testimony include these highlight: “Story did not change in any material respect,” and a note that “Libby told her Novak met Wilson in green room…. was not impressed.” Court cases are, generally, inherently exciting because there is conflict built right in. Agent Bond was neutral.
The defense did manage to make her a little angry — and thus a little more interesting — specifically when they would ask her to make judgments about what she was playing back. The defense would ask, “Is it true that Libby told you such and such?” She would answer, “That is what he claimed.” Our sober human Sony was not going to let Libby get one notch more of “truth” than he deserved.
The trial reconvenes Monday and will feature the case’s witness with the highest Q factor yet, Tim Russert. He is to testify about whether or not he is the source for Libby’s second discovery of Valerie Plame’s identity. (The Vice President was the first, but Libby claims to not have remembered that until later.) Russert has denied — somewhat carefully denied — that he knew who Valerie Plame was at the time. And as for interesting conflict? Russert, the Vice President’s favorite talking head, will be testifying for the prosecution. There’s so gonna be a “Law and Order” about this…