In the prosecution effort to prove that Scooter Libby knew about Valerie Wilson before he spoke with reporters… prosecutors today introduced their first document into evidence establishing that Libby knew the name “Valerie Wilson” in June 2003. This followed the testimony of two other government officials (another at the CIA and an undersecretary of state who testified they told Libby about Valerie Wilson in early June 2003.)
The document shows the handwritten notes of Scooter Libby’s morning CIA briefer Craig Schmall from June 14, 2003. Schmall testified that he wrote down notes on the table of contents for the daily brief that reflect either “reaction” from Libby to issues presented, questions the CIA needed to answer or “feedback.”
On the June 14, 2003, table of contents for Schmall’s briefing for Libby, Schmall wrote “told this was a VP question.” Below that notation were the names “Joe Wilson” and “Valerie Wilson.” Schmall testified these names were raised by Libby.
In a different briefing on July 14 2003, Schmall testified he briefed both LIBBY AND VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY. On this document, Schmall wrote the words, “Did you read the Novak article. Not your problem.” Schmall could not testify whether this reflected a comment by the Vice President or by Scooter Libby.
Schmall testified that he told Cheney and Libby he HAD NOT READ the Novak article. Later, Schmall said he remembered following up with Libby and Cheney in a subsequent conversation, telling them he had finally read the Novak article, and pointed out to Cheney and Libby the disclosure of Plame’s identity could severely harm CIA sources around the world and lead to the deaths of CIA contacts.
On cross examination, Schmall testified that he could not recall specific items that he briefed Mr. Libby about on June 13, 2003.
The testimony, while crucial to the prosecution case, also offered the jury and courtroom observers a rare look at how the CIA briefings are conducted each morning for the VP and his chief of staff, how many hours are spent preparing the briefing by the CIA official (4 hours) and how issues are noted by the briefer for follow up by the CIA.
There was a funny moment as Schmall testified about his June 14, 2003 briefing of Libby. Schmall had written two other items (other than the Joe/Valerie Wilson.) The 2nd notation was a complaint that Libby had about CIA analysts feeling pressured by the OVP. The first item was a notation about Tom Cruise and Penolope Cruz. Schmall testified that Libby and he (Schmall) were both excited as Libby spoke of a recent visit to Libby’s office by the actor Tom Cruise. Schmall testified that Tom and Penelope had spoken with Libby about their concern for how Germany treats scientologists. This prompted questions among yours truly and colleagues covering this trial about whether the Cruise/Libby meeting might hurt Scooter. After all, as one of my esteemed colleagues noted, Scooter may have been “busy” with issues of national security that precluded him from remembering anything about Joe Wilson. But, Scooter certainly had enough time to talk with Tom Cruise… and felt compelled to bring this to the attention of Libby’s CIA briefer.