One figure has dominated the trial of I. Lewis Libby Jr. without even showing up in the courtroom. Day after day, the jury has heard accounts of the actions of Vice President Dick Cheney, watched as his handwritten notes were displayed on a giant screen, heard how he directed leaks to the news media and ordered the White House to publicly defend Mr. Libby, his top aide and close confidante.Excuse me while I heave...the "awesome authority of his office...!" The jurors have seen some high profile individuals already, Cheney will be just one more. In this media age, is Dick Cheney more awesome than Tim Russert? (Did I actually just write that?) My point, let's not overstate the gravitas of Cheney. The opinions of many of the potential jurors who were screened indicated no such susceptibility to any awe of the Bush administration, Cheney in particular.
Now, as the defense phase of the perjury trial begins, Mr. Cheney is expected to make a historic appearance on the witness stand. It is an act of loyalty that carries considerable risk for Mr. Cheney, a powerful figure in the administration who has in recent months suffered a series of major political and policy setbacks.
If he testifies, Mr. Cheney will bring to the jurors the awesome authority of his office and could attest to Mr. Libby’s character as policy adviser and family man, and to his crushing workload and dedication to keeping the country safe. That could give extra heft to Mr. Libby’s defense against the charge that he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the grand jury: that he was so occupied with important matters of state, he did not accurately remember conversations from July 2003.
Lots of questions to be asked of the big Dick...if you and Libby were so preoccupied with "matters of state," why did you have time to repeatedly discuss Joe Wilson and his wife and your efforts to discredit them? Not so weighty, hey Dick? In fact you might come off as plenty petty:
Under cross-examination by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a veteran prosecutor who is likely to be deferential but dogged with questions, the vice president may be forced to describe in uncomfortable detail how he directed the counteroffensive on Joseph C. Wilson IV, the former ambassador who accused the administration of twisting prewar intelligence.
“If Cheney said anything that’s contradicted in the record, though I think that’s unlikely, Pat will slam him,” said a former federal prosecutor who knows Mr. Fitzgerald. “He’ll do it respectfully, but I have no doubt he’ll do it,” said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.No doubt!
We'll see, I'm still not sold this will happen. Libby needs him. But will Dick do him this solid in return? Or is there a pardon in the works?