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Friday, October 07, 2005

Come In From the Cold, Judy...

Well, looky here. Judith Miller, NY Times diva and patron of the St. Regis hotel in DC, discovered some more notes of conversations with Scooter Libby -- this time for conversations in June of 2003. And she has given them to Patrick Fitzgerald, according to this Reuters story. Judy, come in from the cold!

UPDATE: Reuters has
fleshed out the story a bit, and it is getting very interesting, indeed. This is my favorite tidbit:

"One source involved in the investigation said Miller's notes could help Fitzgerald show a long-running and orchestrated campaign to discredit Wilson, which could help form the basis for a conspiracy charge."

UPDATE #2: Posted this in response to a question someone had for me at The Next Hurrah. (Enormous hat tip to emptywheel, btw, who has done tremendous work piecing all the disparate threads of this case together. I think Fitz ought to hire her on as a paralegal for trial.) Am crossposting it here, because once I got done with it, it seemed like it might be useful information for the non-legal, anal retentive or Traitorgate obsessed among us. So here goes -- this was in response to something regarding questioning a witness and whether or not Fitz knew that Judy had more information and, if he did and she failed to testify to it, what that would mean for her. Basically, what do Judy's lost and found notes mean? I added a couple of points here and there on a second read through -- those are noted with italics below, just for clarity's sake.

Sorry I've been MIA (thanks to obsessed for the e-mail letting me know there was a question for me, btw!). My toddler has a bad cold and I've been trying to manage posting at firedoglake and chasing a small snot monster around with an evil kleenex in my hand. It hasn't been a pretty day. lol

They teach you in law school not to ask a question that you don't already know the answer to when you are in trial or on the record, as you would be at the G/J. Fitz strikes me as the same sort of organized, tabulated notebook sort that I used to be prepping for a big trial -- I can spot a fellow anal retentive a mile away -- and I'm certain he and his staff have individual fact sheets, notebooks, timelines, overlapping timelines, highlighted grand jury testimony, summaries of testimony outtakes that are conflicting...I could go on, but you get the picture.

Out of that level of detail, you get a much better sense of the entirety of the criminal enterprise, and the personality and level of culpibility of the actors involved in it. You also get a very good sense of what facts you have nailed down entirely, and what you are missing. At this point in the investigation, after all of the FBI interviews and follow-ups from those, from testimony given and the follow-ups from that (and from some of the newspaper leaks from defense counsel) -- I would bet that Fitz has a very good sense of where things stand and that he is wrapping up loose ends, or cementing a lot of thread connections.

This sort of thing almost always forms a pattern, because people operate in very familiar ways that are generally unique to themselves. They get comfortable in an environment, they do something wrong and no one catches them, and then they get cocky -- and that's where they start making mistakes. Bragging to someone, leaving little signature clues because they want someone to know that they were the ones perpetrating the mess, whatever. It is the ego that trips people up most of the time. Ego and hubris.

For Judy, I would say that Fitz knew everything that she was going to say before she said it -- he needed her mainly for corroboration. He had credit card receipts from meals purchased or phone logs or e-mails or direct eye-witness testimony or whatever (maybe Hannah on the Libby end of things), but he knew what he wanted from her. And the notes probably came up as a result of her either (1) not being completely honest and his threat of there being obstruction or perjury charges filed if she didn't cough up the rest or (2) he reminded her that she had to be completely honest about everything in a way that was frightening in terms of consequences for not doing so, and she went back to her home and office and searched through everything to be certain she had remembered it all and found those notes.

If she wasn't trying to hide anything and it was an honest mistake in terms of her just not remembering a conversation from two years ago, then she'll be likely okay. (Although what she was doing in jail all that time not going over every detail of all this, I have NO idea. Maybe knitting a poncho?) She'll provide amended testimony and fully detail her new set of notes, and most likely be doing a very thorough search of every square inch of her office and home before Tuesday when she is reportedly meeting with Fitz.

If, however, Judy was withholding information and those notes to protect herself or someone else, and Fitz knew that she was doing so -- or found out after her testimony from someone who is cooperating fully that she lied or failed to disclose something important -- then she is in a heap of trouble. All deals would be off in terms of whatever promises Fitz made of not prosecuting or use immunity fo her testimony or limitations on topics. Almost every deal for testimony requires that the witness be honest and give complete testimony, and that breach of this renders the agreement null and void. Anything that happens from here would have to be re-negotiated with Fitz - and our boy Fitz does NOT like a liar. Especially one that tries to lie to him. And I wouldn't have wanted to be Judy when Bob Bennett got off the phone with Fitz about this, because no one likes a client who is less than forthcoming -- and Bob Bennett seems like the sort of fellow that also prepares down to the last detail and I would bet that the new notes may have been a surprise for him as well.

We'll see which it is when things shake out in this case. But if I were Judy, and I lied to Fitz, I'd be offering him up every little plum that I know to save my hide. This is the best possible position for Fitz to be in, in terms of strength on Judy: he already has the newly "found" notes, if she lied then her deal is off, and he has an open line for pressure and demands. And he can hold that over any number of other heads that could roll in this case. I'm telling you, stock up on popcorn.

UPDATE #3: Here's a juicy little tidbit buried in the LA Times print edition in a story on Rove testifying again.

"However, there was an additional sign that Fitzgerald continued to investigate aggressively. He phoned Wilson on Sept. 29, the same day Miller, the New York Times reporter jailed for refusing to divulge her confidential source, was released from jail after agreeing to testify in the case. She testified the next day....Wilson declined in an interview to discuss the nature of their conversation, but confirmed that it occurred."

Sounds like our boy Fitz is doing more follow-up work. Wonder how that fits in with Karl being called back for next week?