Tuesday, January 23, 2007


National Review's The Corner

A dramatic split inside the Bush White House is coming to light on the first day of the Lewis Libby trial. At this moment, defense lawyer Ted Wells is making an impassioned opening argument, and much of it is a hard-edged attack on Libby's former White House colleague Karl Rove.

"There will be some people at the White House — at the White House, not the office of the vice president — who you will learn may have pushed reporters to write stories about Mrs. Wilson," Wells said. "There may be people at the State Department who pushed reporters to write stories about Mrs. Wilson. But Scooter Libby did not push any reporter to write a story about Mrs. Wilson. Yet the man who pushed no one is sitting here in this courtroom."

Wells told the jury that the White House went all out to defend Rove against accusations he revealed Mrs. Wilson's identity, but did not protect Libby in the same way, leading Libby to suspect that he was being singled out for blame in the matter. "[Mr. Libby] was concerned about being the scapegoat," Wells said. "Mr. Libby said to the vice president, 'People in the White House are trying to set me up, people in the White House are trying to make me a scapegoat.' People in the White House are trying to protect a man named Karl Rove, the president's right-hand man," Wells said.

Wells said he will present a note written by Dick Cheney himself about a conversation with Libby. In part, the note says, "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." Wells continued: "The person to be protected was Karl Rove…Karl Rove was President Bush's right-hand person. His fate was important to the Republican party if they were going to stay in office. He had to be protected…the person to be sacrificed was Scooter Libby."

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