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Libby's 'conspiracy theory' never took root in court
Published: Friday February 16, 2007
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The "conspiracy theory" hinted at by former White House aide I. Lewis Libby's lawyers at the start of his trial "never really took root in court," notes an article in Friday's L.A. Times.

"In his opening statement three weeks ago in the federal perjury trial of I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, defense lawyer Theodore V. Wells Jr. dropped a bombshell," Richard B. Schmitt writes. "In dramatic tones, Wells declared that Libby had been the victim of a White House conspiracy to make Libby the fall guy for the CIA leak scandal."

Schmitt reports that "when the jury begins deliberating the fate of the former vice presidential aide next week, it will have seen virtually no evidence to back up the provocative claim."

"The difference between what Wells promised and delivered, and how it will play with the 12-member panel, is just one of the wild cards as the trial winds up," Schmitt continues.

"Undelivered promises" by defense attorneys may sometimes "backfire," because, as one former US Attorney tells the L.A. Times, they can potentially provide "the government an opportunity during closing arguments to cast doubt on the entire defense case."

Excerpts from article:


How Wells will handle the once-jarring conspiracy theory is unclear. In his opening statement, the lawyer produced a note from Cheney expressing concerns that Libby was being "sacrificed" and being put through "the meat grinder." The theory was that the White House was angling to protect political strategist Karl Rove and dispense with Libby a theory that cast Libby in a sympathetic light.


Fitzgerald attacked the scapegoat theory by introducing videotape of former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who it was insinuated was part of the alleged anti-Libby cabal, publicly clearing Libby of any wrongdoing. The defense did not call McClellan either.

Legal experts said Wells could deal with the dropped conspiracy claim during his closing statement Tuesday by saying that the defense strategy changed because the lawyers thought the government case was so weak that it did not have to be addressed.