Libby Jury’s Notes Suggest Confusion

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Juror notes in the CIA leak case suggest some jury room confusion about what exactly former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is accused of doing.

After completing their ninth day of deliberations without a verdict Monday, jurors passed U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton three questions. All related to what Libby told the FBI regarding his 2003 telephone conversation with Time magazine’s Matt Cooper about CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Libby is accused of lying about what he told Cooper. Cooper says Libby confirmed that Plame worked at the CIA. Libby told FBI agents that he only told Cooper he’d heard about Plame from other reporters but didn’t know for sure whether she worked at the CIA.

In their questions, which were released Tuesday morning, jurors seemed confused about what Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was alleging.

Were prosecutors saying Libby knew that Plame worked for the CIA by the time of his FBI interview, jurors asked, or does the government believe Libby’s account of the Cooper conversation was untrue?

There was no way to tell from the court discussion or the notes how far along the jury has come in weighing its verdicts on the five felony counts against the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

Walton said he would address the questions Tuesday.

This jury has asked four questions about the Cooper conversation. The questions offered a glimpse into the jury’s deliberations but it’s unclear whether they originated with only one juror or the group.

Defense attorneys could read them as a hopeful sign if they suggest the entire jury is confused, but prosecutors might see them as an opportunity to clarify something for a lone holdout juror.

Libby is accused of perjury, obstruction and lying to FBI agents about how he learned Plame’s identity and whom he told.

The five charges against Libby carry a combined top penalty of 30 years in prison. Federal sentencing guidelines would call for a far shorter sentence if he is convicted.

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