Let the people speak! Which witness do you most want to see at the Libby trial - who is the one that will have you rushing home early and flipping on Court TV, only to be reminded that the trial is not televised?
Dick Cheney - "Big Time" will almost surely not appear in a sulfurous puff of smoke with horns and a tail, nor will he reach under his sport coat, pull out a shotgun, and pepper Special Counsel Fitzgerald; by these acts of forbearance, Cheney will exceed current expectations.
But will he fulfill the lefty fantasy and wither under Fitzgerald's brilliant and ruthless cross-examination? Will he be this generation's Oliver North, thrilling the right with a stirring defense of Libby and the Administration? Dick Cheney has to be the favorite for "Biggest Headlines".
Tim Russert: Will Tim Russert stun the courtroom by clearing his throat and admitting that, well, maybe his grand jury testimony was a trifle misleading? Let's reprise his classic, easily parsed "denial", for which he took heat in 2005:
Mr. Russert told the Special Prosecutor that, at the time of that conversation, he did not know Ms. Plame's name or that she was a CIA operative and that he did not provide that information to Mr. Libby. Mr. Russert said that he first learned Ms. Plame's name and her role at the CIA when he read a column written by Robert Novak later that month.
Too specific! Did Russert tell Libby that Wilson's wife (name unknown) was at the CIA (position unknown)? Unknown! But this was cited in a judge's footnote as a description of Russert's testimony (page 3 of argument):
In his deposition, describing Plame’s employment as a fact that would have been “[v]ery” significant to him – one he would have discussed with NBC management and potentially sought to broadcast – Russert stated, “I have no recollection of knowing that [Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA], so it was impossible for me to have [told Libby] that.” Asked to describe his “reaction” to Novak’s July 14 column, Russert said, “Wow. When I read that – it was the first time I knew who Joe Wilson’s wife was and that she was a CIA operative…. [I]t was news to me.”
Easily parsed! What is in the ellipsis? What does it mean to "know" that Wilson's wife is at the CIA - does that rule out Russert saying to Libby "I have heard some gossip that Wilson's wife is at the CIA; do you know anything about that and should I take it seriously?"
If Russert wobbles on this point, the trial is over. Logicians, literalists, and Fitzgerald will point out that even if Russert did mention Ms. Wilson to Libby on July 10, that could hardly have triggered Libby's leak on July 8 to Judy Miller.
The rest of us will shake our heads and ask ourselves the same question the defense will pound on a daily and hourly basis - if Tim Russert could mislead the grand jury, who else might have?
Andrea Mitchell: Ms. Mitchell either knew that Ms. Plame was with the CIA or she didn't - she said she did in October 2003, then famously backpedaled on the Don Imus show. Maybe she misspoke, or maybe she decided that she did not want to invite the Department of Justice investigators to come inquiring about her sources.
Clarice Feldman has lots on the Andrea Mitchell mystery, but let's say this - if Ms. Mitchell admits that she was in on Plame's CIA secret, that undercuts the notion that her boss, Tim Russert, was in the dark. My guess - she is a tough-minded independent woman unlikely to experience stage fright, so she will stick to her "I knew nothing" story, now that she has rehearsed it.
But I still believe she had State Dept. sources and is protecting them - her beat is foreign affairs, she was working the Wilson-Niger-ueranium story, and there was a stretch in June when the State Dept had the INR memo and no one thought the Plame tidbit was anything other than an amusing anecdote.
18. Also on or about July 8, 2003, LIBBY met with the Counsel to the Vice President in an anteroom outside the Vice President's Office. During their brief conversation, LIBBY asked the Counsel to the Vice President, in sum and substance, what paperwork there would be at the CIA if an employee's spouse undertook an overseas trip.
My guess - Addington wants to protect Cheney and the Administration; if he can also protect Libby with an all-encompassing explanation, good for him.
Kathie Martin - [In addition to two other significant cameo appearances], Cheney's press relations aide was in the fateful July 12 conversation with Cheney and Libby which precede Libby's leaks to Judy Miller and Matt Cooper. Speaking of whom...
Judy Miller - Ms. Miller will be called as a prosecution witness by the fellow who put her in jail for 85 days in order to gain her testimony, and is also pursuing her on an unrelated Islamic charities case. Let's say that Ms. Miller may set a new standard for hostile witnesses, and may be delightfully opaque in her testimony - delightful for the defense, that is.
For example, in her public account of her testimony Ms. Miller suggested that in addition to Libby she had other sources for her information about Plame, but her deal with Fitzgerald allowed her to refuse to name names. The defense should have fun with that.
And the defense should have fun with clear, compelling testimony such as this:
Soon afterward Mr. Libby raised the subject of Mr. Wilson's wife for the first time. I wrote in my notes, inside parentheses, "Wife works in bureau?" I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I believed this was the first time I had been told that Mr. Wilson's wife might work for the CIA. The prosecutor asked me whether the word "bureau" might not mean the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yes, I told him, normally. But Mr. Libby had been discussing the CIA, and therefore my impression was that he had been speaking about a particular bureau within the agency that dealt with the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. As to the question mark, I said I wasn't sure what it meant. Maybe it meant I found the statement interesting. Maybe Mr. Libby was not certain whether Mr. Wilson's wife actually worked there.
Maybe it was the CIA; maybe Libby wasn't sure she worked there; maybe Libby asked Miller if she worked there.
My guess - the defense will play "Isn't it possible" with Ms. Miller, and she will play along, just to undercut Fitzgerald. For example, "Isn't it possible that the question mark means you meant to ask Libby whether Wilson's wife was at the Bureau?" "Yes, it's possible".
Lots of things are possible.
Matt Cooper - Mr. Cooper is the TIME reporter who, per the judge, could not keep his story straight while typing it up for TIME readers:
...upon reviewing the documents presented to it, the Court discerns a slight
alteration between the several drafts of the articles, which the defense could arguably use to impeach Cooper. See TI00011. Compare TI00030, MCX0013, MCX0021, with, MCX0003, 0005, 00027.20 This slight alteration between the drafts will permit the defendant to impeach Cooper, regardless of the substance of his trial testimony, because his trial testimony cannot be consistent with both versions.
Also, there is apparently nothing in Cooper's notes about Libby's confirmation of the Plame CIA affiliation - odd, since it was so newsworthy and memorable.
Nick Kristof - Mr. Kristof may create new embarrassment for the Times by admitting that, well, yes, Joe and Val had let him in on their little State Secret back in May. This would call into question the thoroughness of the Fitzgerald investigation and enhance the probability that Libby really was reminded about Plame by some lying reporter.
Kristof's "denial" is weak and easily parsed:
I know Mrs. Wilson, but I knew nothing about her CIA career and hadn't realized she's "a hell of a shot with an AK-47,'' as a classmates at the CIA training "farm,'' Jim Marcinkowski, recalls.
Too specific - he doesn't need to know her full career or her facility with automatic weapons to know whether she was with the CIA in 2003.
My pick for most entertaining witness - Andrea Mitchell, who was just awful with Don Imus and may be awful here. But I am sort of braced for disappointment all around - I doubt we will see a Perry Mason moment in this trial.
Nominees are open (and who did I overlook?)
MORE: The nominees are piling up - Joe Wilson may be called by the defense; Marc Grossman of the State Department is someone the defesne wants to impeach, as is Ari Fleischer, former press secretary.
Re Ari Fleischer, there is an excellent chance that he is the person mentioned in court filings as having received immunity. Immunity from what? Well, Mr. Fleischer may have leaked to Walter Pincus (that is my belief, anyway.) And why immunity? other Administration employees had been exhorted to cooperate with the investigation or lose their jobs; since Mr. Fleischer had left the Administration on July 14, 2003, the threat of job loss may not have been quite enough to motivate him to forego his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.