Scooter Libby and Patrick Fitzgerald will meet again in court today for a scheduling conference and hearing with Federal judge Reggie Walton, the presiding judge in the Libby matter.
Libby turned on the charm this morning while entering the building, doing the full-court public opinion PR campaign by joking with reporters and sharing some coffee. Looks like it worked, because it got a mention from the AP reporter covering the case.
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, stopped for coffee and made small talk with reporters as he headed to a conference room on the second floor of the courthouse.Nothing like the faux nonchalence of a defendant facing a completely inconsequential scheduling conference where nothing of import will be decided other than calendar matters to show that he's all confidence and charm. Or that he fully understands the manipulation of public opinion by faking things and getting non-questioning coverage of it...you pick.
A scheduling conference hearing like this gives the presiding judge an opportunity to get a sense of how things are going in the case, what problems are likely to crop up with regard to discovery or other sticky matters, and to set a series of deadlines and dates for further motions, arguments hearings, and all sorts of other housekeeping matters.
Walton was not expected to hear arguments on motions that Libby's lawyers have filed over disputes they have with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Instead, the judge was likely to set deadlines for additional motions and schedule future hearings. He may also set a trial date....This is likely to be a fairly routine conference where the judge will lay out his view of how things should move forward, set guidelines as to what he will or will not tolerate in terms of pushing the boundaries of requests and motions, and set a whole lot of dates on the timeline moving toward trial. It is highly unlikely that anything of any consequence other than scheduling will be done, but I'll be keeping an ear to the ground on this just in case and will report back if I hear anything different.
The first part of Friday's hearing was to be public, with a second segment to be held behind closed doors.
In the secret session, Walton was to begin setting deadlines for evaluating what currently classified evidence Libby will be allowed to present to a jury in open court.
If nothing else, maybe we can get some good Fitz news later today. Here's hoping anyway.
UPDATE: CNN's John King reporting that the Libby trial date has been set for January 8, 2007, with motions hearings on the classified material and other matters set throughout the spring and summer this year. The public portion of the hearing has been completed, and they have moved into closed session.
David Shuster reporting on MSNBC that Libby's team is arguing that Fitz is not providing classified materials, and Fitz is saying that he doesn't have a number of the materials requested because the WH has not turned them over to the prosecutorial team. And, aside from that, Fitz argues that a number of the materials requested are not even relevent to the matter at hand. This will be argued in motions hearings going forward.
Shuster is also reporting that the trial date is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 8, 2007. Ted Wells (one of Libby's lead attorneys) has another trial set in the Fall 2006, and that is one of the reasons that the trial schedule has been stretched to next winter, to accommodate his schedule. (This is very common.)
One of the reasons that the motions hearings are scheduled on a delay is that Libby's penmanship in his handwritten notes is so poor, that they have had to make provisions for Libby to go through his own notes and try and type them out so that both Fitz and his own legal team can interpret what they say. The judge acknowledged that Libby may not even be able to interpret his own handwriting, and they may have to make some other provisions for some of the pages -- but they will deal with that as they get to each segment.
More information as I get it this morning.