By: Greg Mitchell
A spokesman for the jury that convicted Lewis “Scooter” Libby of four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice today in a federal courtroom told reporters immediately afterward that many felt sympathy for Libby and believed he was only the “fall guy.”
Denis Collins said that “a number of times” they asked themselves, “what is HE doing here? Where is Rove and all these other guys. … I’m not saying we didn’t think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of. It seemed like he was, as Mr. Wells [his lawyer] put it, he was the fall guy.”
He said they believed that Vice President Cheney did “task him to talk to reporters.”
Collins said, “some jurors said at one point, ‘We wish we weren’t judging Libby … this sucks.” More than once he said many jurors found Libby “sympathetic.”
Asked about Vice President Cheney not testifying, he said, “Having Cheney testifying would have been interesting.” And when the defense opened the trial by suggesting that Libby was scapegoated by the White House, “I thought we might get to see President Bush here.” But Collins said Libby not testifying was not such a big deal since they’d listen to nine hours of tapes of his earlier testimony.
He also said that they found Tim Russert of NBC “very credible” and the defense “badgering” Judy Miller may have hurt them as some jurors developed “sympathy” for her. Even though she admitted having a “bad memory,” the fact that she had notes counted a lot in her favor, he said. Despite the badgering, some jurors thought Miller was “nice.”
Collins, a journalist who has written for The Washington Post and other newspapers — and is author of the 2004 book, “Spying: The Secret History of History” — described the jury’s painstaking deliberations. He said there were several “managerial types” on the jury and they spent many days just assembling post-it notes in some kind or “buildings blocks” fashion. They did not take an immediately straw vote.
“What we came up with from that,” he said, “was that Libby was told about Mrs. Wilson [Valerie Plame] nine times” in that time period. “We believed he DID have a bad memory,” he said, “but it seemed very unlikely he would not remember about being told about Mrs. Wilson” so many times. … Hard to believe he would remember on Tuesd and forget on Thursday,” and so on.
He said they failed to convict Libby on the Matt Cooper charge, feeling it was pretty much one man’s word against the others, especially since Cooper had no notes.
He said that politics played no role in the verdict, and claimed most jurors didn’t know how others felt politically.
“The primary thing which convinced us on most of the accounts was the conversation … the alleged conversation … with Tim Russert,” he said.
A check of The Washington Post archives finds that Collins wrote hundreds of articles for the paper throughout the 1980s and at least until 1990, on a variety of subjects, from travel to many on sports, particularly from 1987 to 1990.
Related E&P stories:
— FLASH: Verdict Reached in Libby Case — Guilty!
— White House: Little Comment on Libby Verdict