Libby's Defense to Begin Monday

An artist's rendering shows Tim Russert testifying. i i

An artist's rendering shows Tim Russert, Washington bureau chief of NBC News, testifying at the perjury trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby at federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. hide caption

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An artist's rendering shows Tim Russert testifying.

An artist's rendering shows Tim Russert, Washington bureau chief of NBC News, testifying at the perjury trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby at federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

When jury selection began three weeks ago in the case against Lewis "Scooter" Libby, journalists reported that time stood still in the courtroom because the clock on the wall was permanently stopped. The next day the hands on the clock were gone, removed by court personnel.

The prosecution has rested in the Libby perjury and obstruction-of-justice trial. The defense is expected to begin making its case Monday.

Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, is charged with lying to the grand jury and the FBI to cover up his role in the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

There isn't a lot of flexibility in U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton's courtroom, but that may not be an entirely bad thing. A case expected to be convoluted and impossible to try has moved along relatively swiftly. That may be due, as well, to the straightforward case that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has constructed.

Ten witnesses in ten days, and most of the time, the defense takes far longer for cross examination. On occasion, the lengthy cross moves from pointed to pointless, and the jury seems to lose interest.

Fitzgerald has used witnesses largely from the Bush administration itself to make the case against Libby. Two White House officials, two from the CIA, and one from the State Department have contradicted his assertion that he didn't know that a leading Bush administration critic was married to a CIA operative, and thus could not have leaked her identity.

In addition, three reporters have contradicted Libby's account of their conversations. Perhaps the most damaging witness was former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.

The day after former Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote an op-ed piece accusing the administration of twisting intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, Libby lunched with the White House press secretary.

Fleischer testified that Libby told him Mrs. Wilson worked for the CIA and that the information was very hush-hush. Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller testified that a day later, Libby told her about Mrs. Wilson's CIA identity for a second time.

Next week the defense begins putting on its case. The defense lawyers have not said whether Libby or Cheney will testify.

But a slew of reporters and editors have been subpoenaed from The New York Times , NBC, and elsewhere, in hopes of impeaching the credibility of the reporters contradicted Libby.

All this prompted one wag to observe that the reporters covering the trial are the only ones in Washington not on the witness stand.

Recordings Key to Case Against Libby Released

Scroll down for audio and transcript excerpts of Libby's testimony before the grand jury.

Tim Russert leaves court. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Tim Russert Testifies

In testimony before the Libby trial jury Thursday, NBC journalist Tim Russert flatly contradicted Libby's story – heard in the newly released grand-jury testimony recordings — about when the vice president's former chief of staff first learned about CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. Russert and Libby have offered very different accounts of a July 2003 phone that is at the heart of the case.

A jury in Washington, D.C., has spent the week listening to audio recordings of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's testimony before a grand jury in March 2004.

These recordings – in which Libby allegedly lies under oath – are at the heart of the prosecutor's case against Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff. Libby is accused of obstructing a federal investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity by lying to a grand jury and FBI agents. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was a prominent critic of the White House's justification for war with Iraq.

The judge in the Libby case took the unusual step of releasing the audio recordings of Libby's eight hours before the grand jury. These recordings are now available publicly. Here are some of the highlights:

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