Lewis "Scooter" Libby Found Guilty on Four Counts - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Lewis "Scooter" Libby Found Guilty on Four Counts

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted Tuesday of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.

He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI.

Libby had little reaction to the verdict. He stood expressionless as the jury left the room. His lawyer, Theodore Wells, said they were "very disappointed" with the verdict.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said he was gratified by the verdict.

"The results are actually sad," he added. "It's sad that we had a situation where a high level official person who worked in the office of the vice president obstructed justice and lied under oath. We wish that it had not happened, but it did."

The verdict was read on the 10th day of deliberations. Libby faces up to 30 years in prison, though under federal sentencing guidelines likely will receive far less.

U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered a pre-sentencing report be completed by May 15. Judges use such reports to help determine sentences.

Libby faced two counts of perjury, two counts of lying to the FBI and one count of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said he discussed Plame's name with reporters and, fearing prosecution, made up a story to make those discussions seem innocuous.

Libby's defense team said he learned about Plame from Cheney, forgot about it, then learned it again a month later from NBC newsman Tim Russert. Anything he told reporters about Plame, Libby said, was just chatter and rumors, not official government information.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that was a lie. But Libby's defense team had argued that it would be unfair to convict Libby in a case where so many witnesses changed their stories or had memory problems.

Wells said he would ask the court for a new trial by April 13. Such requests are common following criminal convictions.

"Despite our disappointment in the jurors' verdict, we believe in the American justice system and we believe in the jury system," Wells told reporters outside the federal courthouse. "We intend to file a motion for a new trial and if that is denied, we will appeal the conviction. We have every confidence that ultimately Mr. Libby will be exonerated.... We intend to keep fighting to establish his innocence."

Libby will be allowed to remain free while awaiting sentencing, which is set for June 5.

As the verdicts were read, Libby's wife choked out a sob and sank her head. Moments later, she embraced the defense attorneys.

The jury acquitted Libby of one count of lying to the FBI about his conversation with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.

Libby and his lawyers walked into the courthouse after Wells' statement, holding on to each other by the wrists, apparently so they wouldn't be separated in the crush of reporters and camera crews. They paused briefly when a cameraman fell.

During the trial, prosecutors said Libby made up a ludicrous lie to save his job during the CIA leak investigation by telling investigators he'd forgotten Cheney told him about the CIA status of Wilson's wife. Cheney had passed the information to Libby more than a month before Plame's identity was outed by conservative columnist Robert Novak.

Libby told investigators he learned of Plame's identity from NBC reporter Tim Russert, saying that he'd forgotten at the time he talked to the reporter that he'd been told of it earlier by Cheney.

Russert testified he never told Libby about Wilson's wife, and underwent a grueling cross-examination as Libby's legal team tried to discredit Russert's testimony.

Wells and Fitzgerald clashed over how important Libby and Cheney considered CIA officer Plame.

"The wheels were falling off the Bush administration" in the summer of 2003, Wells argued. How could Libby, serving Cheney as both chief of staff and national security adviser, remember Plame's job when 100,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq and hadn't found the weapons of mass destruction the administration had cited to justify the war? Wells asked.

"And he still had his day job of trying to prevent another 9/11" terrorist attack, Wells said.

Fitzgerald noted that eight witnesses, including an undersecretary of state, two CIA officials, two top Cheney aides, two reporters and former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said they discussed Wilson's wife with Libby in a one-month span before Plame's CIA employment was publicly revealed.

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