Here is my favorite line from Thursday's Defense Attorneys Rest Libby's Case by Amy Goldstein and Carol Leonnig. Favorite in the same way the Hindenburg is my favorite aviation disaster:
A third defense attorney read parts of a report on an interview with Tim Russert, NBC News's Washington bureau chief, conducted by the FBI agent who once headed the leak investigation. The report contained nuances that differed from the testimony last week of Russert, the prosecution's most pivotal witness.
The nuance, faithfully non-reported by the Post at any time, is that the FBI report on the interview said Russert couldn't rule out that Valerie Plame came up during a conversation with Libby. Said nuance contradicts Russert's testimony that it was "impossible" that he told Libby about Plame. Which is the basis of an indictment saying Libby lied.
Why do I have to use the convoluted expression "the FBI report on the interview?" Because the FBI lost the original notes to the interview, making it that much harder to decisively undermine Russert's denial that he said that. They don't call prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald "Mr. Lucky Prosecutor Man" for nothing! Well, they don't, but they should.
Goldstein and Leonnig also relate the following:
Instead of putting the briefers on the stand, defense attorney John Cline read jurors a lengthy list, approved by both sides, of the issues that CIA briefer Craig Schmall shared with Libby on the morning of June 14, 2003. Schmall testified earlier in the trial that his notes indicate that was the day Libby mentioned Wilson to him.
In the interest of adding nuance, here's the list, as blogged by Firedoglake and cited by John Podhoretz at NRO:
"Bomb diffused...explosions...E African extremist network...Info on possible AQ attack in US...conncern about specific vulnerability to terrorist attack...Proposed ME plan, Israeli military action...Country's security affecting AQ...International org's position concerning country's nuke program...Iraq's porous borders present security threat...Demonstrations in Iran turn violent...Israeli offer of cease fire to Palestineans...Memorandum assessing Iranian' pres' view on terrorism...Problems in leadership in PLO...Foreign media analysis concerning Egyptian treatment on Paletinian conflict...Media, opposition of Israeli public to attacks...Info on Egypt process ME peace process ...Palestinian groups and Israel...Constraints on Israeli military...Saddam Hussein published on website...Memo in Iraqi WMD...Housing shortage in Iraq...Info on 1920 Mesopotamia and insurgency on moden-day Iraq...Potential effect of improved governance in Iraq..."
And the terror-threat list Libby was weighing "for that day" is 13 terror-threats long.
And how would you life your coffee, Mr. Libby--with cream, or hemlock?
Update: Slate's John Dickerson goes where Goldstein/Leonnig dare not tread:
Instead, the defense was allowed to read into the record an affidavit from the FBI agent who first interviewed Russert. The agent's account of his conversation with Russert contradicted Russert's two days of testimony. Talking to the agent, Russert could not rule out the possibility that he had an exchange with Libby about Wilson's wife (In court, Russert testified firmly that he hadn't.) The agent also reported that "Russert acknowledged that he speaks to many people," and that it was "difficult to reconstruct conversations several months later."
You are not crazy to think that what you've just read sounds like it was written by the defense; it nicely mirrors Libby's testimony about his own fuzzy recollections. On Tuesday, Fitzgerald even suggested that Russert had a lot on his plate and couldn't be expected to remember everything. This caused members of the defense team to almost bark out loud, since that is the exact argument they are making about Libby.