Libby Updates: Abramson Denies Miller Conversation

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By: E&P Staff

Journalists, already a key part of the perjury trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in Washington, D.C., really took center stage on Monday, as a veritable parade marched to the witness stand, including Bob Woodward, Bob Novak and Walter Pincus.

Whether Libby or Vice President Cheney will follow them, remained an open question, until later in the day, when word emerged that neither man would be called as a witness by the defense in the trial.

On Tuesday, Jill Abramson, now The New York Times’ managing editor, was called first by the defense, and was followed by top Cheney aide John Hannah.

Abramson was asked about former Times’ reporter Judith Miller’s testimony (she had claimed this for a long time) that she had asked Abramson in 2003, when the latter was Washington bureau chief, if she could write a story related to WMD and her recent talks with Libby.
Abramson, as she has done in the past, denied it.

“Did Judith Miller come to you to recommend the New York Times pursue a story about whether Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA?” defense attorney William Jeffress asked.

“I have no recollection of such a conversation,” Abramson replied.

Asked by the prosecution if she sometimes tuned out when Miller talked to her back then, she said this sometimes happened.

The purpose of all this: Libby’s team attempting to call Miller’s credibility into question (they are not the first).

Then John Hannah took the stand. He succeeded Libby as the vice president’s top national security adviser. He testified that 1) there was a tremendous workload and flow of information in the office in 2003 at the time of the Wilson/Plame episode and 2) Libby was known then to have an awful memory on certain things.

He then described an average (busy) day and the important matters that might have distracted Libby at that time. Libby usually worked until 9 p.m., often met with the vice president, and handled difficult briefings and attended complex meetings all day. Hannah was questioned about this for quite some time.

The cross-examination was quite brief, on the other hand. Prosecutor Fitzgerald merely got Hannah to establish that part of Libby’s job then was also to push back against criticism of the vice president. Fitzgerald also asked one question meant to remind jurors that Libby wasn’t too busy to meet Judith Miller for a two-hour breakfast.

Then they broke for lunch. It is now looking less likely that Andrea Mitchell — or Libby himself — will testify.

As in previous days, E&P will update testimony all day, based on blogging from inside the courtroom by FireDogLake and other reports. Any direct quotes are taken from wire service accounts.

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