The FBI case agent who originally interviewed former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby testified before the jury today about about the alleged lies in that interview that would eventually lead to his perjury and obstruction of justice trial.
According to FBI agent Deborah Bond, Libby claimed that he never disclosed CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson's name to reporters -- while the prosecution has presented several journalists as witnesses who said that he did disclose her name.
Bond described two FBI interviews in Libby's office at the White House complex on Oct. 14, 2003 and Nov. 26, 2003. Bond said that during the first interview with the FBI, Libby produced a note that indicated that on or about June 12, 2003, Vice President Cheney told Libby that Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife worked at the CIA's counter-proliferation division.
He told prosecutors that in preparation for a response to a newspaper story being written by a Washington Post reporter, Libby had been told by the vice president, around June 12, 2003, that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, according to Bond's testimony.
"Mr. Libby told us the vice president told him that...[Libby] believed he [the vice president] had heard it from (former CIA) Director George Tenet." Bond testified.
Bond described the basis for the criminal investigation into who leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's identity to the press after her husband, a former diplomat and critic of the Iraq war, publicly challenged the basis of statements in President Bush's 2003 State of the Union address that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger.
Bond also testified that on or about a July 12, 2003, Libby had a conversation with Cheney on board Air Force 2 about releasing Valerie Wilson's name to the press. But Bond said Libby's recollection was not clear.
"He believed they talked about it but was not sure," Bond told the jury.
On Wednesday, former Time Magazine reporter Matthew Cooper testified that Libby confirmed information told to Cooper by White House senior aide Karl Rove that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.
Bond said that Libby told the FBI that he told Cooper, "Reporters are telling the administration Wilson's wife worked at the CIA but didn't know if it was true."
Bond said Libby told the FBI agents he had forgotten about his conversation with Cheney and believed that he had learned about the identity of Wilson's wife from NBC News' Tim Russert.
"Mr. Libby told us he had forgotten about this…his first memory came from Mr. Russert on July 10, 2003," Bond testified. "Mr. Libby told us Mr. Russert said all the reporters knew that."
Russert is expected to testify in the trial early next week, after the jury hears almost eight hours of tape from Libby's two grand jury appearances.
Libby had allegedly called Russert, the NBC News Washington bureau chief and "Meet the Press" host, to complain about comments being made on MSNBC that were critical of the vice president and Libby.
Bond was also asked by prosecutors if the agents asked Libby about a lunch he had that summer with former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, and if the agents had asked Libby about any discussion he had with Fleischer about Wilson's wife.
"He denied discussing it with Mr. Fleischer," Bond said.
Earlier this week Fleischer testified that Libby told him at the lunch that Valerie Wilson's name and CIA employment was "Hush, hush."
Bond described what she and FBI Inspector Jack Eckenrode asked Libby about his July 8, 2003, meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. Bond recalled that Libby told the FBI agents that he discussed the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's WMD programs and that "the vice president told him he wanted to get it out to the public. ... Mr. Libby told us he discussed the NIE with her."
Bond said Libby told the FBI he had no recollection of discussing Joseph Wilson's wife with Miller.
Libby defense attorney Ted Wells sharply questioned Bond about her work on the case, revealing that her first day working on the case was Oct. 14, 2003, the day she interviewed Libby. The investigation had been opened two weeks earlier by the Justice Department at the request of the CIA.
Wells reviewed a report that Bond filed after the first interview with Libby and questioned her about why she didn't write down what Libby's previous attorney Joseph Tate told investigators.
The trial was delayed today after prosecutors and Libby's defense attorneys debated the submission of several exhibits, which included statements made by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan that Libby and other White House officials were not involved in the leak.
The jury only began hearing Bond's testimony in the afternoon. The defense will continue its cross examination of Bond next week when the trial resumes. Fitzgerald said the government expects to be done with its part of the case on Tuesday.