News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bush aides can help pay Libby's legal defense bills - Yahoo! News

White House officials are free to contribute to a fund to help pay for the legal defense of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in the CIA leak investigation, the White House said on Wednesday.

"People, including White House staffers, can contribute as individuals to whatever causes they so choose. I know of no prohibition on individuals," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters when asked about Libby establishing a legal defense fund.

Libby was charged on October 28 with obstructing justice, perjury and lying in the two-year investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity after her husband criticized the Iraq war. Libby faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.

After Libby resigned from the White House and left the building, White House Chief of Staff Andy Card issued a memo that said "all White House staffers should not have any contact with Scooter Libby about any aspect of the investigation," McClellan said at the time.

Libby has assembled a high-priced team of lawyers to fight the charges in court, including Theodore Wells, who defended former Agriculture Secretary Michael Espy and financier Michael Milken.

Libby also hired white-collar criminal defense lawyer William Jeffress, who represented another former Cheney aide, Mary Matalin, in the leak case.

President George W. Bush has responded to Libby's indictment by requiring all staff members to attend mandatory classes in ethics and the handling of classified information.

Card and David Addington, Cheney's new chief of staff, attended sessions on Tuesday. Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, was expected to attend an ethics class Wednesday.

Rove was not indicted along with Libby, but lawyers involved in the case said Rove remained under investigation and may still be charged.


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