Vice President Dick Cheney will be called as a defense witness in the CIA leak case, an attorney for Cheney's former chief of staff told a federal judge Tuesday. Cheney's former staff member, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.
The trial is expected to start in January. In open court Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said he would not be calling Cheney. Defense attorney Ted Wells then interjected that he would be calling the vice president on behalf of Libby.
Libby is accused of lying to a grand jury about what he told reporters concerning former CIA operative Valerie Plame. Her name was leaked to the press shortly after her husband publicly criticized the Bush administration's pre-war intelligence on Iraq.
Another of Libby's lawyers, William Jeffries, said he did not expect Mr. Cheney to resist being called. His testimony could come via videotape, but it is possible the defense could call him to testify in person.
Two former presidents, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, testified while still in office. But so far, no one has found a reference to a sitting vice president who has testified in a criminal case.
Libby's defense is built around the premise that when he told the grand jury things that were not true, he was not lying — that he was not hoping that no one would ever be able to prove that what he testified to was a lie. Instead, Libby says, he was so busy with so many urgent matters that he simply misremembered events.