Miller Testifies Amid Tension at Libby Trial

ByABC News
January 30, 2007, 1:40 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2007 — -- Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller became the first journalist to testify at the perjury and obstruction of justice trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Miller's testimony pertained to conversations she had with Libby about Joseph and Valerie Wilson, the outed CIA officer whose name launched the politically delicate investigation.

Miller was sharply questioned about her notes and sources, but proceedings were halted when defense attorney William Jeffress asked her to reveal additional sources who'd told her about the Wilsons.

Jeffress based his question on an Aug. 19, 2004, affidavit filed by Miller in which she stated that although she did not plan on writing a story about Wilson's wife, she did contemplate writing about issues related to Joseph Wilson's op-ed piece that questioned the White House's use of intelligence.

Miller's affidavit noted, "I did contemplate writing one or more articles in July 2003 about issues related to Ambassador Wilson's op-ed piece. In preparation for those articles I spoke with and/or met with several potential sources."

"One of those was Mr. Libby?" Jeffress asked.
"Correct." Miller responded.
"Who are the others can you name just one?"

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald objected to the question, saying it was not relevant to the issues of whether Libby lied during his grand jury testimony and knowingly provided false statements about how he'd learned Plame's identity.

Judge Reggie Walton held a lengthy bench conference with the prosecution and the defense to debate the issue of journalists' revealing their sources.

Before the proceedings were dismissed for the day, Miller testified that she'd had two conversations with Libby before July 10, 2003, the date Libby told the FBI he'd first learned about Valerie Wilson from Tim Russert of NBC News.

Under questioning from Fitzgerald, Miller recalled a June 23, 2003, meeting she had with Libby in his office at the Old Executive Office Building.

Earlier in the month, Miller had returned from Iraq -- where she had been embedded with U.S. Army units searching for weapons of mass destruction after the fall of Saddam Hussein -- and was meeting with Libby to collect information on the contentious debate over the intelligence used to go to war in Iraq.

"I was surprised about the great debate about if the White House had lied about WMD," she said.

Miller told the jury that at the June 23, 2003, meeting, Libby was "agitated and frustrated. He seemed annoyed." She said they discussed Niger and the Wilsons. Before Libby named Joseph Wilson by name, he referred to him as a "clandestine guy." Miller said that Libby had accused the CIA of being engaged in a "perverted war of leaks" to back peddle on intelligence about Iraq's WMD programs.

The defense hammered Miller in cross-examination, revealing that in her first grand jury appearance she failed to mention or remember the June meeting.

"When you first appeared before the grand jury you didn't remember the June 23 meeting," said the defense.

Miller said that she only remembered the meeting after reviewing old notes she found while talking to her lawyer.

"You testified he was agitated. You distinctly remember it," Jeffress said.

"I have a memory," Miller responded.

"You looked at your notes and have a memory."

Jeffress then showed Miller a transcript of her grand jury testimony questioning her memory. "I have to rely on the notes because my memory is not good."

Miller said that she had a good memory only about some things. "My memory is largely note driven."

The defense also revealed that Miller knew about Joe Wilson before the June 23, 2003, meeting with Libby. Jeffress displayed part of the testimony from Miller's second grand jury appearance in which she said, "Joe Wilson was in my notes before that meeting."

"You in fact had his telephone number. Who told you about Joe Wilson?" Jeffress demanded. Miller said she could not remember.

Miller also testified about her July 8, 2003, meeting with Libby at the St. Regis hotel in Washington, where Libby disclosed sections of the Iraq WMD National Intelligence Estimate to Miller.

Walton will rule on how to proceed with the defense's questioning tomorrow morning. Matt Cooper, formerly of Time magazine, will testify after Miller.

Earlier today, as Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff David Addington was cross-examined by Libby's defense team, tensions between President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and Libby, Cheney's former adviser, over the CIA leak investigation were revisited.

Addington, who succeeded Libby as Cheney's chief of staff after Libby was indicted in 2005, testified at the outset of the Justice Department criminal investigation into who blew Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA officer that Libby had told him he was not the source of the leak.

"I didn't do it," Libby said, according to Addington's testimony.

Addington also testified about a note from Cheney about concerns that then-White House spokesman Scott McClellan was saying things to try to clear Rove of involvement in the leak of Plame's identity, but did not seem to be making a similar effort to clear Libby.

Libby is accused of perjury for allegedly lying to the FBI and a grand jury investigating the leak of Plame's identity to reporters, including columnist Robert Novak, who named the CIA operative in a column published in 2003.

The note from Cheney, which the defense discussed during the opening day of the trial, was submitted into evidence and reads in full:

"Has to happen today. Call out to key press. Say same thing about Scooter as Karl.

"Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others."

Addington, who served as counsel to the office of the vice president in 2003, contacted then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and Cheney's personal lawyer, Terry O'Donnell, about the vice president's note, which was turned over to the Justice Department in the CIA leak investigation.

Cheney's note was to direct the White House press secretary to offer the same assurances about Libby that McClellan had made earlier about Rove: Libby was not the source of the Novak column.

On Sept. 16, 2003, McClellan said Rove was not the source for Novak's column and called the assertion "totally ridiculous."

As speculation grew over White House involvement, McClellan said again on Sept. 29, 2003, "I have spoken with Karl Rove. I'm not going to get into conversations that the president has with advisers or staff, or anything of that nature."