I had a chance this morning to check in with Murray Waas, the National Journal
scribe who's done a lot of the most illuminating reporting on the Plame leak investigation and the White House's machinations in response.
Waas sat in on the trial yesterday, and watched as lawyers for former Cheney aide Scooter Libby unfurled their argument
that their client was set up as a fall guy for Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove. Readers will recall that we thought that was both the most interesting and most perplexing part of the defense's opening argument.
"Some observers think that they're trying to send a message to the White House" with the references to Rove, Waas told me, "saying that they hope their guy is pardoned."
The defense never spelled out Rove's alleged role, or how they believe aides to President Bush had tried to "sacrifice" Libby to protect the man known as "Bush's Brain." Will they be more explicit? Who knows. Perhaps it depends on what assurances they get from the Oval Office.
From a legal standpoint, the blame-it-on-Rove defense is hardly solid. "The prosecutor would say it's a smokescreen," said Waas.
"There are two cases being presented," Waas observed. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's case "is very narrow, focused, and hews to the indictment.
"On the other side you have this amorphous, all-over-the-map, everything-and-anything-in-the-kitchen sink [case]. That's what the defense is doing. Fitzgerald is trying to stay on script, and [Libby lawyer Ted] Wells is doing what a good defense attorney does, which is make the prosecution's case as murky as possible."