Bloggers respond to the jury’s guilty verdicts in the Libby trial. They also shudder at the latest gruesome death of a Russian journalist.
Guilty: A jury found Scooter Libby guilty on four of five counts, including perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements, stemming from the Plame investigation. Defense attorney Ted Wells said he plans to push for a new trial or, if that doesn’t work, appeal.
Liberal blog FireDogLake sent numerous contributors to cover the trial and today’s verdict. In one post, Jane Hamsher catches up with court spokesman Sheldon Snook about the jury’s deliberations: “He did say that [Cheney adviser John] Hannah’s testimony totally screwed Libby, and I got a chuckle out of that. At the same time Hannah was talking about how bad Libby’s memory was, he also claimed that Libby had an incredible grasp of detail, and the jury believed he just would not have forgotten so much in the way that the defense was trying to claim. … It appears there was only one holdout on Count Three that kept Libby from a 5 count grand slam.”
At National Review’s The Corner, conservative Mark Levin declares himself “extremely distressed” by the decision: “I think the Cooper counts were flimsy. I think the whole case was flimsy. I think the witnesses were flimsy. I think the judge’s rulings, in certain respects, were flimsy. I think Fitzgerald’s closing argument was flimsy. … This case doesn’t stand for the truth when jurors are confused about instructions and basic concepts like ‘reasonable doubt’ days and hours before handing down their verdict, after 9-10 days of deliberation.”
Conservative James Joyner at Outside the Beltway responds to an Editor and Publisher article saying that the jurors saw Libby as a “fall guy”: “Libby has been convicted of the crime of lying about his involvement in something that wasn’t a crime and that he wasn’t involved with. Had there been something with which to charge Rove or some other more prominent official, there’s no doubt Fitgerald would have charged them.”
At Just One Minute, conservative Tom Maguire, a dogged follower of the Plame investigation and Libby trial, sums up the feelings of many on the right: “Let’s be clear—when the Yankees lose, I am both disappointed and surprised; today I am disappointed.”
Others are already considering the fallout. Conservative administration critic Andrew Sullivan hopes this verdict is only the beginning: “Something is rotten in the heart of Washington; and it lies in the vice-president’s office. … We now need a Congressional investigation to find out more, to subpoena Cheney and, if he won’t cooperate, consider impeaching him.” “Political junkie” Mark Daniels at Better Living figures Cheney might be better off resigning: “The Bush Administration, trying to assert its leadership on Iraq, the war on terrorists, and a number of domestic initiatives, may decide that they can’t afford a drawn-out defense of the Vice President. … His resignation would give Bush Administration critics one less thing to complain about. And the right replacement nominated by Mr. Bush could earn him points and goodwill.”
Tim F. at Balloon Juice thinks Libby can “expect a pardon. The president has no personal stake in the next election and he could give a rat’s ass about public opinion. As for what would make him want to do it, I suspect that it means something that team Libby threatened to compel Cheney to testify and then reneged at the last minute.”
Jonathan Martin, blogging for The Politico, predicts this will hurt Bush’s poll numbers even more, and might even affect 2008: “It’s tough enough for the same party to win a third term in the White House, but almost impossible to do so if the nation has soured on the incumbent.”
Read more about the Libby verdict. Liberal Think Progress has video footage of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s post-verdict press conference, and of spokeswoman Dana Perino reiterating the White House’s “principled stand” of not commenting on ongoing investigations. Conservative HotAir has video of the defense’s press conference.
Window pain: A Russian journalist known for being critical of the Putin administration died Friday after falling from a fifth-floor window in Moscow. Ivan Safronov, a military affairs correspondent for Kommersant, is the 13th Russian journalist to die mysteriously in the past six years. Authorities are investigating the possibility of suicide, but bloggers are skeptical.
Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters doesn’t buy the suicide claim: “In this particular incident, it seems odd to reach that conclusion so quickly. Safronov just returned from a business trip; why travel all the way home to kill himself? And why would Safronov toss oranges he had just bought into the stairwell first?” Larisa Alexandrovna at journalism blog at-Largely is equally dubious: “I just adore the suicide theory for so many strange deaths. Like for this particular death, because a journalist covering dangerous ground would have finally decided that despite threats and despite the curiosity addiction, the best thing to do would be to fly out of a window. And who the hell jumps out the window anymore anyway?”
At Blue Crab Boulevard, conservative Gaius sees a return to the days of KGB-style intimidation: “It is simply not safe for journalists in Russia if they say anything against the government. That, folks, is real repression. Again. There used to be a joke told in Russia in the days of the Soviets. ‘What did the dissident say just before he committed suicide? Don’t shoot, comrade.’ It looks like the bad old days are back, only worse.”
Read more about Safronov’s mysterious death.