The day's events dampened hopes among some Republicans for a quick resolution to a case that has already cast a long shadow over the White House. Immediately after the arraignment, Mr. Libby's lawyers sought to quell any speculation about a possible plea deal to resolve the politically volatile case.Take yer time, boys. Wouldn't want anyone to feel shortchanged by a quick -- er -- resolution?
At his arraignment, Mr. Libby waived his right to a speedy trial, as lawyers on both sides pointed to the complicated and protracted nature of the case. Judge Reggie B. Walton of Federal District Court said, "I want to try to have this matter resolved as expeditiously as possible," but he also said he understood that the unusual complications might make that difficult. He agreed to schedule the next hearing in the case on Feb. 3 to give the lawyers time to resolve issues involving classified documents.
The prospect that the case will progress slowly means that the White House may be forced to buffet extended criticism of Mr. Libby's conduct - and by implication, of the administration's polices on Iraq - through 2006, even as it seeks to regain its footing for the Congressional midterm elections.