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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Lewis 'Scooter' Libby Found Guilty; Interview With Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson; Michigan Man Arrested on Charges of Dismembering Wife
Aired March 6, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.
Tonight: a new storm over those mobile homes that were supposed to house Katrina survivors. They have been sitting for months, stuck in the mud, literally. Now they're badly needed again, this time for tornado survivors in Arkansas. But they're not being used because of red tape. Tonight, we're "Keeping Them Honest."
But our top story tonight is: He's guilty, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff. The question now, was he a fall guy for the boss? Jurors convicted him on four out of five felony counts of lying to a grand jury and the FBI, charges he obstructed the investigation into who revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.
He faces up to 20 years in prison. But, as you will hear later tonight, he will probably get far less than that.
Mr. Libby had no comment today, but his attorney and the special prosecutor did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED WELLS, ATTORNEY FOR LEWIS "SCOOTER" LIBBY: We intend to file a motion for a new trial. And, if that is denied, we will appeal the conviction. And we have every confidence that, ultimately, Mr. Libby will be vindicated.
PATRICK FITZGERALD, U.S. ATTORNEY: Any lie under oath is serious. Having someone, a high-level official, do that under oath in a national security investigation is something that is -- can never be acceptable. And that just made it mandatory that we pursue it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The juror concluded that Scooter Libby lied about what took place back in the summer of 2003, after Valerie Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, questioned a key pillar of the administration's case for war, that Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger.
This was a hot political moment. And the Libby case turned the spotlight on it, on allegations that Vice President Cheney or -- and/or Karl Rove wanted Ms. Plame outed as payback. We're going to go deeper into the political ramifications shortly. But we begin with the case itself and 10 days of tough deliberations for 11 juror, who apparently had a bit of sympathy for Scooter Libby.
Juror Denis Collins joins us now from Washington.
Denis, thanks for being with us.
Right after the verdict, you spoke about the sympathy the jury had for Libby. I want to play something you said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENIS COLLINS, LIBBY TRIAL JUROR: Some jurors commented at some point: I wish we weren't judging Libby, you know? This sucks. This is -- you know, we don't like being here, doing this.
But that's -- that wasn't our choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: You also said that some of the jurors felt that Libby was -- quote -- "the fall guy."
The fall guy for whom?
COLLINS: Well, I think the -- the implication was, he was the fall guy for whoever leaked the name first, whether it was Armitage or Rove, or -- or that he was, you know, a couple rungs down the line, you know, going and trying to get the word out, that he had been asked by the vice president to go and personally talk to reporters.
The normal procedure would be for one of his press attaches, someone -- Cathie Martin, to do it. So, you know, the allegation was that he -- he -- he -- he wasn't skilled at this. He didn't do it right. And he got caught in the -- the grinder, and others above him got away.
COOPER: The defense was arguing that Libby basically had a bad memory and forgetfulness caused his false statements. Did you just, at the end of the day, not buy that?
COLLINS: No. I -- I think it he did. There was pretty good testimony he did have a bad memory.
But the person who really made that point was John Hannah. And he's a person who worked with Libby. And he said that his memory was exasperating, troubling, that Hannah would tell Mr. Libby something in the morning, an argument for some policy, and seven or eight hours later, Mr. Libby would recite it back as if he had just thought of this.
So, that was the part of his testimony that helped him. The part that hurt him -- Hannah's testimony hurt Mr. Libby as well -- is when he said that he had a great grasp for facts, ideas and arguments.
One of the jurors sent a question through the judge and said, how could Mr. Libby occupy that really, you know, that job, as tough as it was, if he couldn't remember? And the response from Mr. Hannah was, oh, he had a grasp of the ideas as well as any boss I ever had.
So, while we could accept that he forgot who told him information, it was very hard -- we had eight or nine conversations or pieces of evidence that showed that he had heard of Mrs. Wilson in the June-July period. Very hard to believe that he would have forgotten that information.
COOPER: Was there a crucial piece of testimony that convinced you, that convinced the jury, that Libby was guilty on these counts?
COLLINS: There wasn't any crucial piece.
There were many, you know, pieces. And one was, Joe Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in "The New York Times" July 6. And the vice president gave Mr. Libby that article, with handwritten notes on top, about, find out basically if the wife, you know, sent him on this trip.
Now, that was just a few days before Mr. Libby sort of testified, talked, you know, made the statement that he didn't remember or was surprised. And it's very hard to believe he could have forgotten that in that time -- that short a time period.
COOPER: He had also testified that Tim Russert is the one who had informed him about the identity of Valerie Plame. Tim Russert contradicted that.
How important was Russert's testimony?
COLLINS: Well, it was very important, but it wasn't so much -- first of all, most of the -- many of the jury did not believe that conversation ever took place. Russert denied it took place.
But -- so, if Mr. Libby was not telling the truth about the conversation taking place, he was guilty. And, if what he said in that alleged conversation was true -- or not true, he was guilty.
And what he said was, when Mr. Russert told him about Mrs. Wilson working at the CIA, he said he was surprised to hear that. And, again, this was right in this string of days when he -- we had a lot of evidence that he had been either talking about it to people, had -- people had told him about it, or he had gotten documents that showed statements were written to him about it.
COOPER: Finally, there are some conservatives now saying, look, this is a Washington jury, perhaps no great surprise. Some even point to you and say, look, you used to work at "The Washington Post"; what do you expect?
Did politics play a role in that jury room?
COLLINS: I never heard a single word about anything to do with politics.
As far as me, the count that we did not -- we didn't -- you know, we acquitted him on, I was the primary person to argue that case, that thing in the last days of the trial. So, and there -- not that I was the only one that thought that, but there was never -- I had no idea what the politics of the people on the jury were.
None of them expressed any pleasure in convicting him. There were people crying after the verdict, after we walked out of the courtroom. Believe me, I -- this was an extremely discrete and impassionate jury.
COOPER: It has got to have been an exhausting process for you and other jurors.
Mr. Collins, appreciate your time. Thank you.
COLLINS: Thank you.
COOPER: Only the barest statement today from the vice president's office, expressing disappointment in the verdict, nothing beyond that while the case is still pending.
Mr. Cheney continues to keep a very low profile on the issue, of course, in part perhaps because of his involvement, if any, in either the leak or the obstruction may yet come up in a civil lawsuit.
No dispute, however, as the timeline shows, about his central role or President Bush's in the history-making events surrounding the Libby affair.
COOPER: The case against Libby began five years ago and half-a- world away. In February 2002, the CIA dispatched former Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Africa to look into reports that Iraq wanted to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger, a key ingredient into building nuclear weapons.
About a month later, in March 2002, Wilson briefed officials at the CIA, saying he didn't believe the reports out of Niger were credible. Fast-forward to January 2003. President Bush made this assertion in the State of the Union address.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
COOPER: Those 16 words were challenged publicly by Wilson.
On July 6, 2003, he wrote a "New York Times" op-ed, titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa." In it, Wilson accused the White House of manipulating the intelligence from Niger to justify an invasion of Iraq.
Now, by this time, Vice President Cheney, his chief of staff, Scooter Libby, and other White House officials knew that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the CIA. Libby also had mentioned Plame in conversations with some reporters.
On July 14, Robert Novak published his "Mission to Niger" column, identifying Plame as Wilson's wife, saying she worked as a CIA operative, and that senior administration officials told him it was her idea to send Wilson to Niger.
The following September, the Justice Department opened up a criminal investigation into Plame's outing. Nearly two years later, on October 28, 2005, Libby was indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements to the FBI about his conversations with NBC's Tim Russert.
After 10 days of deliberations, a jury today convicted Libby of four of the five counts against him.
COOPER: Well, barring any procedural delay, he will be sentenced on the 5th of June.
We get some perspective now from Court TV's Savannah Guthrie, who sat in on the trial, and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Good to see both of you.
Savannah, let me start with you.
You were inside the courtroom throughout this trial. Is this verdict a surprise? Is this one you were expecting?
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, COURT TV: I think I'm not surprised by this verdict at all.
I mean, the prosecutors put on a very straightforward case. You had Libby's statement out there. And the prosecutors put on a series of witnesses designed to unravel that story. Sure, some of them had memory problems of their own. But, at the end of the day, I think the jurors concluded: Look, how can eight different people be the ones with bad memories and Libby is remembering it right?
So, they rejected the defense arguments, and ultimately came back with verdicts of guilty on four of the counts and acquitted on what most people thought was the weakest count.
COOPER: What do you think it was, Jeffrey, that -- that convinced this jury?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Tim Russert. I think Tim Russert was by far the most important witness in the case, because, remember, Libby's explanation for how he learned of Valerie Wilson's identity was from Tim Russert.
And Russert got on the witness stand and said, didn't happen. It just simply didn't happen. And now we have a situation, for the first time in American history, that a major public figure is going to prison, in all likelihood, based on the testimony of a journalist, which is troubling for me, as a journalist. I'm glad it wasn't me. Russert didn't have any choice. But I think that's really what's going to -- we're going to remember this case for.
COOPER: Savannah, we heard from the jury that -- or from one of the jurors -- the jury considered Libby the fall guy. Is there -- was there evidence presented to that effect?
GUTHRIE: Not really. There was one piece of evidence that was this note that the vice president actually wrote, not going to protect one staffer, meaning Karl Rove, and sacrifice Scooter Libby.
That note was in evidence. But, beyond that, there was precious little, other than the defense attorney statements in opening arguments that Scooter Libby was the fall guy or the sacrificial lamb. Nevertheless, I think it's interesting that the jurors actually had sympathy for Libby. They actually kind of believed that he was the fall guy.
But, in the end, it made no difference. I never understood how that was a legal defense. An interesting political idea, something to write about and talk about, sure, but not really a legal defense to the charges. And this jury just -- this -- this jury verdict just underscores that.
TOOBIN: It was interesting how many jurors apparently responded to the fall-guy defense, because, as a technical legal matter, it was clear no one forced Scooter Libby to testify falsely in the grand jury.
Yet, you had this sense, watching the trial, that there were lots of people out there criticizing Wilson, making a big point of the fact that his wife worked at the CIA, his wife sent him on the junket, and it was only Libby in the dock. So, you could understand, kind of in an atmospheric way, why the jury felt that way. But the facts simply didn't support...
COOPER: And, yet, Jeff, no -- there are no criminal charges that have been filed in this about the actual leak itself. And, according to the prosecutor Fitzgerald, this is the end of it.
TOOBIN: I think that's right. I think it is true...
COOPER: I mean, was a crime committed?
TOOBIN: You know, it's certainly a crime that most prosecutors would not have brought. I think -- I think, in order to make a case that you outed someone, you have to intentionally blow someone's cover. And Richard Armitage -- you know, we have the tape of his interview with Bob Woodward, who was the first journalist to learn that, from Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.
But he suggested she was an analyst. It's not clear that he knew she was undercover. He was sort of -- he was passing along gossip, in the sense that she sent him to Africa, not that she was an undercover official -- undercover agent. So, I can see why Fitzgerald didn't bring the case.
COOPER: But, Savannah, I mean, Joe Wilson clearly believes, through his civil suit, that there was a crime committed, that there was this intent to invalidate his opinion and destroy his wife's career.
GUTHRIE: Right, but there's a big difference between a civil claim and, of course, a criminal case, which has a higher burden of proof. And it's a totally different statute.
What Jeff says, I think, is probably correct. In the criminal case, the special prosecutor knew: Hey, I don't have intent here. It's not clear that Scooter Libby, for example, necessarily knew that Valerie Plame Wilson's status was classified. So, therefore, it wouldn't necessarily have been a crime for him to leak it, if he didn't know it was classified.
GUTHRIE: In the civil case, it's totally different. They have to say, hey, they intentionally violated my constitutional rights. And a judge is going to hear arguments on that in May.
COOPER: Very briefly, how much time would Scooter Libby do?
TOOBIN: Under the federal sentencing guidelines, somewhere between a year-and-a-half and three years.
COOPER: But very possible that he would be pardoned, although not before doing some jail time, if the president chose to wait until the end of his administration.
TOOBIN: Not clear. He could probably stretch out the appeals process until November 2008. He might be able to get -- stretch it out that far. So, that's -- and, interestingly, Ted Wells asked for his sentencing to be delayed from June. Even today, he asked for that. So, you can see that they're trying to push this thing back as -- as much as possible.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Savannah Guthrie, thanks, guys.
GUTHRIE: You bet.
COOPER: We are going to talk with Ambassador Joe Wilson after the break, the man at the center of all this. We will also have more on Vice President Cheney's possible role. Also tonight: these stories. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): A missing wife, a husband out in the cold, a grisly find.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a ziplock bag, contained latex gloves, baggies, metal shavings, and human blood.
COOPER: Now the husband is in custody, and police say he's talking about his murdered dismembered wife.
Plus: They have nowhere to live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything's gone.
COOPER: Yet, thousands of brand-new FEMA trailers are sitting empty 160 miles away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unacceptable.
COOPER: Does this sound familiar? Are last week's deadly tornadoes the new Katrina? We are "Keeping Them Honest" -- ahead on 360.
COOPER: Ambassador Joe Wilson's op-ed column back in the summer of 2003 touched off a political legal saga that reached a climax today.
I spoke to the ambassador earlier tonight.
COOPER: Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said he doesn't expect any further charges to be filed. Is Libby's conviction enough for you?
JOSEPH WILSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: Well, it's not -- I would like to point out that the case against Mr. Libby was not Wilson against Libby. It was the U.S. government against Mr. Libby.
We have filed a civil suit against Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby and Mr. Armitage, and John Does one through nine I think there are now. And we would hope to be able to pursue that civil suit, so that we can get, for the record, their depositions and their testimony as to what really went on.
COOPER: Do you wish, though, that the U.S. government had pursued charges against others as well? I mean, clearly, you think more people were involved in this.
WILSON: Well, clearly more people were involved in it. Mr. Armitage was a leaker to Bob Woodward. And Mr. Rove, who still is employed by the U.S. government, was a leaker to Matt Cooper. So, clearly, there were more people involved in this. And Mr. Fitzgerald said again today there remains a cloud over Dick Cheney. So, yes.
But we weren't part of the investigation. We will be part of the civil suit.
So, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to sort of second-guess what the FBI and the Justice Department did. I think that they did everything humanly possible. Mr. Fitzgerald said today that part of the reason he couldn't get to a lot of this was because of the obstruction of justice.
COOPER: You believe that presidential adviser Karl Rove was deeply involved in smearing your family. You have said you would like to see him -- and I quote -- "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."
If he's responsible, why hasn't he been charged with a crime? In fact, why hasn't anyone been criminally charged with the leak itself?
WILSON: Well, first of all, I think it's important to understand what Mr. Fitzgerald said at the time that the indictments were announced, which was that, whatever you prosecute them under, justice is served if they're convicted of a crime.
And the fact that Mr. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice doesn't mean that he wasn't culpable of something else, any more than, when Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion, it didn't mean that he wasn't a mobster. So, I think it's important to keep that in mind.
It's also important to understand that the statute, the way it's written, is very complicated and very difficult to prosecute under. It requires a foreknowledge that -- that she was covert.
COOPER: Does the president of the United States have some -- some answering to do? Earlier, he had said -- years ago, he had said that -- that anyone caught leaking would be dealt with.
WILSON: Well, I would like the president to live up to his word, yes.
I think the one person who remains employed by the U.S. government who was a leaker, known to be a leaker, was Karl Rove. So, I certainly think that he should be fired. I also think the president and the vice president owe the American people an explanation of exactly what, if any, their roles in this might have been.
For openers, I think it would be helpful if they released their testimony to Mr. Fitzgerald from when they were interviewed by him. They must have transcripts of that -- of those interviews. I think that would be useful for the American people to better understand exactly what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it. COOPER: You, of course, are still not without your critics.
After former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage admitted that he originally leaked your wife's name, "The Washington Post" wrote this about his revelation. They said: "It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue. And the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson."
How do you respond to that?
WILSON: Well, you know, the role of "The Washington Post" editorial board is to provide informed comment to its readers.
And what they wrote in that editorial was directly contradicted by what was reported in their news pages. When the editorial board doesn't bother to read the news pages of its own newspaper, why should I?
COOPER: So, without a doubt, in your mind, there was an attempt on the part of this administration to destroy -- to discredit you and destroy your wife's career?
And I think the evidence, the exhibits that were entered into evidence and the testimony in this trial make that very clear, make it very clear that the vice president's talking points that were dictated by him to Cathie Martin, that were written by him on the editorial, were directly at odds with the facts as they emerged in the trial, including such things as the supposed role of my wife in my going out to Niger, including such things as the -- as the contents of my report, including such things as my qualifications, which, of course, were undermined and challenged by the administration, even though, in Mr. Libby's grand jury testimony, he acknowledged that both the vice president and he felt that I was eminently qualified to undertake the mission requested.
COOPER: Ambassador Wilson, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
WILSON: Thanks, Anderson. Nice to be with you.
COOPER: Well, the case against Scooter Libby has ended. But, as we touched on, the questions about Vice President Cheney, his role in it, and his future, are far from over.
While Mr. Cheney never set foot into the courtroom, wasn't charged with a crime, the trial, in many ways, focused on him. And the verdict is still out.
CNN's John Roberts has that angle.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was Libby who was convicted of lying. But, when it comes to the issue of who orchestrated White House leaks of prewar intelligence, even the jury felt Libby took the hit for higher-ups.
Again, juror Denis Collins.
COLLINS: There was a tremendous amount of sympathy for Mr Libby. We're not saying that we didn't think Mr. Libby was guilty of the things we found him guilty of, but that it seemed like he was, to put it in Mr. Wells' point of view, he was the fall guy.
ROBERTS: Who was he the fall guy for? According to Libby's grand jury testimony, Dick Cheney. It was the vice president, Libby says, who ordered the declassification and leak of a national intelligence estimate to beat back claims from former Ambassador Joe Wilson that the president had lied about Iraq trying to buy uranium from Niger.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
LEWIS "SCOOTER" LIBBY, FORMER CHENEY CHIEF OF STAFF: He gave me instructions as to what I should say to reporters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: And though Libby never said so, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald even suggested Cheney may have been behind the disclosure that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.
Wilson still has a civil suit pending against Cheney and other White House officials.
WILSON: It's very clear that he's a powerful figure within the White House. And it's also very clear that -- that he was intimately involved in this. He was obsessed with this. He was writing talking points on the -- on my article after it appeared. And, again, rather than deal with the facts, he was concerned about his own image.
ROBERTS: The trial only reinforced the perception of Cheney as the all-seeing vice president, the director of an elaborate Kabuki theater to defend the White House against its critics.
Jim VandeHei has covered Cheney for years.
JIM VANDEHEI, "THE POLITICO": He likes to do things behind the curtain. And he obviously is -- is quite a micromanager and likes to pull the strings when he knows that the vice presidency or the presidency could be in trouble.
ROBERTS: No question, Cheney is the most powerful vice president in recent memory, perhaps ever, intimately involved in policy development, national security. He has repeatedly frustrated Democratic attempts to peel back the veil of secrecy that surrounds his office.
Will the Libby verdict force him to change his ways? Not likely, says VandeHei.
VANDEHEI: Dick Cheney is Dick Cheney. He's certainly not going to change. And I -- I don't think that his critics will ever force him into changing. I mean, he has a modus operandi that's well established. He does things behind the scenes. He works with the president very closely. He's the president's right-hand man. There's no way that, suddenly, he's going to become a lovable, huggable figure on the public stage.
COOPER: John, what are you hearing from Republicans about all this?
ROBERTS: Well, they say -- at least one Republican adviser who has got very close ties to the White House, Anderson, told me today that this -- this is bad. It's bad for the vice president. It's bad for the vice president's office. It's bad for the administration. And it's bad for the party.
This is, he said, another log on the fire of -- of missteps and corruption that has plagued the Republican Party -- so many demons, he said, that the party is desperately in need of an exorcism.
John, we will talk to you a little bit later on.
Libby resigned, but now some wonder if Cheney could actually be next to go. Our political roundtable weighs in.
Also tonight: murder in the family. His sister says he's the most docile person she knows, but authorities say a husband did something unthinkable to his wife.
That story is coming up -- tonight on 360.
COOPER: We have yet to see how today's verdict against Lewis "Scooter" Libby is going to play out for the president, the vice president and the 2008 elections.
There's also talk of a possible congressional investigation. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I spoke about the case earlier with CNN's John Roberts and Candy Crowley and John King.
COOPER: John King, politically speaking, what is the impact of this verdict on the administration?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, call Republicans around town, and they say that the trial itself won't have a dramatic impact. But they say it just adds to what has been this devastating string of events.
The president is at 33 percent approval rating in the polls. Six in 10 Americans think the Iraq war was a mistake. You have these dramatic hearings now about the horrible conditions wounded veterans face at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and now a former top White House official, the vice president's right-hand man, convicted on four of five counts in a case that stirs up that whole debate how we went to war in the first place, the prewar intelligence -- so, more damage to an already beleaguered White House.
COOPER: And Democrats have been coming out very vocally today, obviously.
Candy Crowley, I want to play something that Harry Reid said earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I think it needs to shift to the White House now, shift to the White House and find out what the president is going to do about this. He has said in the past that anyone who was a leaker would be relieved of duty in the White House.
He should follow through on that now, because we have sworn testimony that there were people within the White House, in addition to Libby, who were leaking information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: What do you think Republicans should fear most about this verdict?
CROWLEY: That it -- that it will have some legs. I think John is perfectly right, though, that it sort of adds to things.
What's happening on Capitol Hill, obviously, is this fits into a number of the themes that they've been talking about. There are already investigations going underway up on Capitol Hill, one of them from the Senate intelligence committee, to look into how the CIA intelligence was used, whether it was manipulated, whether it was mishandled, whether it was deliberately bent to fit a war in Iraq.
So this is something that gives Democrats more impetus. The other thing is, of course, the culture of corruption, which they used quite effectively in 2006.
So this fits into several themes of the Democrats. It gives them something else to pressure the president on and put him in a corner.
COOPER: John Roberts, Majority Leader Harry Reid also calling for the president to pledge not to pardon Libby. What kind of pressure is Bush under now? ROBERTS: He's under pressure presently, at least from some advisors I talked to with very close ties to the White House do not pardon Libby right now. They said that it would look too weak, that it would look very bad in the eyes of the public, that it would probably only invite congressional investigations.
But they also make a case to say, look, there is a point that the president could probably pardon Scooter Libby, as the president is on his way out the door. Remember, President Clinton had all of those pardons, including a pardon for Marc Rich, as he was on his way out the door. That one turned out to be very controversial.
Given the passage of time, given the fact that the president would be leaving the White House, if he waited until late 2008 to do it, he might be able to get away with it.
But here's the problem. If Libby doesn't really have much of an avenue of appeal, as some legal scholars have suggested, it's likely that he would have to do some time in jail before that pardon came through.
COOPER: John King, is there any silver ling in all this for the administration?
KING: Well, politically, the defense decided not to call Vice President Dick Cheney as a witness. That would have escalated the political stakes, putting a sitting vide president of the United States on the stand in federal court.
And the fact you just mentioned, that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says his investigation is not dead. He just calls it inactive, dormant. But he says he plans no more charges unless some dramatic new evidence comes to light.
So the Libby appeal will go on, or the Libby request for a new trial will go on. But no vice president on the stand and it seems -- it seems, at least, that this case is over, at least the criminal case. Joe Wilson still has a civil suit.
COOPER: John King, though, it certainly does not cast the vice president in a good light. I mean, a lot of the stuff that came out certainly cast his office, to say the least, in a bad light.
KING: And you hear some Democrats saying there should be an investigation of the vice president and his specific role. It's not going to happen in a criminal court. It might happen in the civil case. Joe Wilson and his wife are trying to bring.
And again, the Democrats are in the majority now. They were not when this case began. Look to see if they try to have some oversight hearings on Capitol Hill. That's a possibility.
COOPER: John Roberts, you think does this end here? I mean, there is -- for many this is an indictment of what got us into the war in the first place. ROBERTS: It all depends on what Democrats want to do. If Democrats really want to make a point about Dick Cheney, that could pick up this ball and start some investigations, perhaps have hearings.
If they take this as a real moment of weakness for the White House where they think that they can move in, perhaps they might. No one's making any noise in that direction just yet.
But as Candy was saying, perhaps this then gets more legs, as they get closer to war, the 2008 election, they may want to make a point of it for the political gain that they can have in terms of creating this broad culture of corruption that they can go to voters with.
COOPER: Candy, any chance that Vice President Cheney would step down before this administration is out?
CROWLEY: You know, as long as Dick Cheney has been in office, there have been rumors of some sort about something, that he might step down to help the president in 2004, that he might step down because of his health.
I just don't see any scenario under which he would do that, unless there's some criminal wrongdoing, that something finds him culpable for. But I just -- I can't see it.
COOPER: All right. Candy Crowley, John King, John Roberts, thanks.
In a moment, remember those FEMA mobile homes that were left over from Hurricane Katrina? Homeless tornado victims should -- could sure use them right now. The question is, why can't they? It's a real mess. We're "Keeping Them Honest".
Also ahead tonight, this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): A missing wife, a husband out in the cold. A grisly find.
ERIC SMITH, MACOMB COUNTY: It was a Ziploc bag that contained latex gloves, baggies, metal shavings and human blood.
COOPER: Now the husband is in custody, and police say he's talking about his murdered, dismembered wife.
Also tonight, good guys and bad. Using the very same weapons for very different goals. Inside the video war to win hearts and minds over there and here at home when 360 continues.
COOPER: You're looking at some of the damage from last week's deadly tornado outbreak. For survivors, of course, starting over is going to be a long and a difficult ordeal. Those are pictures from Arkansas.
There are thousands of mobile homes sitting empty in that state, homes that some of the tornado victims would certainly like to stay in right now, but they can't because of government red tape.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve tonight is "Keeping Them Honest".
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ten days ago, this was a neighborhood. Today, it's a ruin. Residents are asking a familiar question: where's federal help? Where's FEMA?
On February 24, a severe tornado churned through southeast Arkansas, chewing apart 150 homes.
TERRY EDWARDS, DUMAS, ARKANSAS, RESIDENT: Well, as you can see, there was a house here at one time but no longer. We lost it to the storm.
MESERVE: But hope, literally Hope, Arkansas, is only a three- hour drive away. You may remember, that's where all those FEMA mobile homes sit, those 8,000 fully furnished mobile homes purchased for Hurricane Katrina victims. They became an embarrassment because they're still here, unused.
Now another disaster. The trailers would appear to be a perfect solution for housing the tornado victims only 160 miles away. But after 10 days, still no hope from Hope. That's why we're "Keeping Them Honest".
REP. MIKE ROSS (D), ARKANSAS: It's unacceptable. It's reprehensible, and it's a symbol of what's wrong with FEMA.
MESERVE: FEMA says it can't send the mobile homes unless the tornado ravaged area is declared a federal disaster area. It hasn't been. So FEMA'S trailers still just sit there.
JUDGE MARK MCELROY, DESHA COUNTY, ARKANSAS: I took for granted that help was on the way. You know, that's what our government is there for, federal emergency management. If this is not an emergency, there's not a cow in Texas.
MESERVE: FEMA is still assessing whether state and local governments really need federal help. One official points out that Arkansas currently has an $850 million budget surplus.
The governor has a different view.
GOV. MIKE BEEBE (D), ARKANSAS: We're using all our resources that are set aside for this. All our resources that are designed for disaster relief from the state level and all our personnel. So it's time the federal government did their part.
MESERVE: The anger in Arkansas is tinged with suspicions of political games. Less than 48 hours after tornados hit Alabama and Georgia, President Bush and FEMA director David Paulison were on the ground with assurances of federal help. Those states have Republican governors. Arkansas does not.
FEMA says that isn't a factor, but some locals aren't buying it.
EDWARDS: I think the Republicans got their butts kicked in the state of Arkansas by the Democrats this year, and I don't think they're liking it too well.
MESERVE: Today, ten days after the tornado, most people here have found some kind of shelter but not a home. Having the FEMA mobile homes so close, so empty, so available and so inaccessible is a bitter pill.
KEVIN HILL, DUMAS, ARKANSAS, RESIDENT: For them to say that we can't get nothing, they need to stay with me a weekend. I invite them all. To not know where your britches (ph) are anymore. Just tell them to come visit me.
MESERVE: Where, residents ask, is common sense? Where is compassion?
Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Where indeed?
A husband pleads for help in finding his wife as what begins as a missing case turns into murder. Police say the suspect who dismembered the body was very close to home. The story is next on 360.
COOPER: On Capitol Hill today, more testimony and tough questions about substandard conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, lawmakers asking top brass why nothing was done about them. Tonight, one vet shares what she faced in her own words. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, IRAQ VETERAN: I had a cockroach in my hospital room. At the Malone House where my mother was staying as she was helping to take care of me, you know, I saw mice in their cafeteria. I didn't eat there. I wouldn't. We would have meetings there, and we would bring in our own food. But I wouldn't eat at that cafeteria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We'll have more from Tammy Duckworth, a National Guard helicopter pilot, on the horrors that she saw at Walter Reed. That's in our next hour.
It is hard to imagine what the family of Tara Grant must be going through right now. The young women they loved was murdered and then dismembered, her husband now charged with the horrifying crime.
Stephen Grant was arraigned today in a Michigan courtroom, beginning a new phase of the nightmare that began last month.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had a lot of people fooled.
COOPER (voice-over): If Stephen Grant is convicted, that may turn out to be the understatement of 2007. Those who knew Grant saw him as a loving husband and doting dad of two young kids, age 4 and 6.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He played with them and played ball and taught the little boy to ride the bike, taught the girl to ride the bike. He was Mr. Mom.
COOPER: On Valentine's Day, Grant reported his 34-year-old wife, Tara, missing. He told police they'd argued about her travel schedule five days earlier, the last time she was seen. A massive search began.
SHERIFF MARK HACKEL, MACOMB COUNTY, MICHIGAN: We've had nothing to give us indication that there has been any foul play. A lot of leads and a lot of information coming our way.
COOPER: In public, the sheriff's department kept cool as media coverage heated up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators say they have no suspects in this case at this point.
COOPER: Early on, Tara Grant's sister, her only sibling, had a terrible feeling.
ALICIA STANDERFER, SISTER OF TARA GRANT: I don't believe by sister would miss work, period. Plain and simple.
COOPER: Tara was an executive who traveled extensively but was rarely out of touch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tara's very, very dependent upon technology.
STANDERFER: She is my only sibling, and I just want to know that she's going to be safe, wherever she is.
COOPER: As the investigation unfolded, Stephen Grant appeared to be cooperating. At one point he told reporters he was willing to help police search a park that had become a focus in the case.
STEPHEN GRANT, ACCUSED OF MURDERING WIFE: I know the area well. I mountain bike out there, I run out at Stoney Creek all the time. If that's where they're looking, as well as anyone I know the area.
COOPER: He also said this.
GRANT: It scares me, because the reason they're looking for her in the park is because they're afraid something horrible has happened, and I don't want to think that.
COOPER: Chilling words considering what we now know. More than a week the investigation, a key piece of evidence turned up.
SMITH: It was a Ziploc bag found in a wooded area not far from the defendant's home, which contained latex gloves, baggies, metal shavings, and human blood.
COOPER: Prosecutors say that Ziploc bag gave them probable cause to search Grant's house. In the garage they made a gruesome discovery: the torso of Tara Grant. But during the search, the suspect slipped away and a second search began a manhunt that eventually ended days later in northern Michigan, where Grant was found in the woods, suffering from hypothermia.
SHERIFF PETER WALLIN, EMMET COUNTY, MICHIGAN: He had no jacket on. He had slacks, and he was in his stocking feet. The temperature last night was 14 degrees.
COOPER: Police say he confessed after his capture.
HACKEL: He indicated exactly the method of which he caused her death and how he actually dismembered her body and that he did, in fact, take here out to the fielded area out by Stoney Creek to discard the body itself.
COOPER: While police found some of Tara Grant's remains in that park, they haven't yet found all of them. Just one more terrible fact in a hideous story that's destroyed a family.
STANDERFER: We are filled with grief and are horrified at the manner in which Tara's life was needlessly taken and are filled with many, many unanswered questions.
COOPER: Stephen and Tara Grant's two young kids are believed to have been in the house when the father allegedly killed their mother. It is not clear how much they saw or heard. They're being cared for by family members.
Joining me now is Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel, who led the murder investigation.
Sheriff, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. You say that Stephen Grant confessed not once but twice to the murder. Has he told you why he did it or what the motive was?
HACKEL: Again, no motive really has been established at this point in time. I mean, we have some speculation, I guess, and sometimes when he talks about it, it's kind of difficult to get exactly the pinpointed reason why he did this.
So the prosecutor is actually going to be working with that. And again, even in this case, first degree murder in the state of Michigan, they don't really need to establish the motive, obviously, with all the evidence and information we have at this time.
COOPER: And does he speak coherently?
HACKEL: Yes, he does. And it was, you know, somewhat matter-of- factly about the incident. Again, we weren't allowed to talk to him.
On February 14 when he came and made the report, February 15 he decided to get an attorney. And the attorney told us that any conversations with Stephen Grant was going to be via fax through his office. So there's absolutely no communications.
In fact, up until the day that we uncovered the body in the -- actually the torso in the house, he did not come in once to talk to us, ask us one question about the investigation. That's all he did was talk to the media. Quite a bit of conversation through the media, which actually helped us with this case.
COOPER: That must have made you suspicious.
HACKEL: Well, there were a lot of suspicions early on in the case itself. We were extremely hopeful at the onset that actually Tara was out there somewhere, that she just left the family setting. We were hoping that the resolution isn't like it is today. We did not want to find her dead. We were very hopeful that she was still alive.
But unfortunately, as time went on, the suspicions started to mount. The husband was talking on television, talking to news reporters. Information that he was providing was very contradictory to what he was telling us.
And it was almost like a game he was playing with the news media in his ability to try to cover up this crime itself. So really didn't get a lot of cooperation from him, but as time went on, we kept pressing. More and more he talked to the media, the more and more it gave us the opportunity to figure out exactly what was going on.
COOPER: So the stuff he was saying on television, which we've seen that contradicted whatever he had said to you initially?
HACKEL: Yes. Again, we were able to establish some probable cause for the search of the home. But without question, the baggy we found out in the fielded area really helped us out, because when there was human blood there, it was going to give us the opportunity to go back into an area close by a search that we had done a week prior and check and see what was in that area.
We were confident something was going to be there. We really weren't sure. But prior to going out to the fielded area, we did establish probable cause to go into the house and within an hour we actually found the torso.
We had a very good suspicion, obviously, at that point in time that there was going to be something out in that field. The very next day we went out there. We found the other remains strewn about a fielded area out by Stoney Creek National Park, which is very ear the house. COOPER: Do you know, I mean, why he kept the torso? Was it just that he hadn't had time to dispose of it?
HACKEL: Well, my understanding was he did. He disposed of it. Again, what we understand in this particular case, on February 9, as close we can determine, is when he actually killed her. He actually strangled her, dismembered her body on Sunday and took it out to the park area and distributed it throughout the park.
When he had heard from the news media that we were actually going to be doing a search on March 24, he became concerned. And through his own admissions he went back out there and retrieved the actual torso itself and brought it back to the home, because he thought we were going to find some of that evidence out in that field, and he became very nervous about that.
Unbeknownst to him, the area we searched was nearby where he had thrown the body parts, but we did not uncover them at that time. And then when we went in and searched the home, obviously we found the torso that he had brought back to the house.
COOPER: Unbelievable. Sheriff Hackel, appreciate what you've done. Thanks for talking.
HACKEL: Thank you. Thanks very much.
COOPER: Coming up next tonight, the story some have called lust in space. What prosecutors say may have sparked an astronaut's rage against her romantic rival.
Plus, the video war to win hearts and minds in Iraq. We'll show you the images and let you decide if it will make an impact when 360 continues.
COOPER: An early morning dog walk turned into trouble in Denver today. The dog's chilly tale is our "Shot of the Day", coming up. But first, Kiran Chetry joins us with a "360 News and Business Bulletin".
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Anderson. Good to see you.
Well, an airliner burst into flames on landing at an Indonesian airport. Witnesses say the plane appeared to overshoot the runway. The airline tells CNN 140 people were onboard at the time, and local officials say at least 49 people have died.
There were some Australian government officials and members of the media onboard. We'll continue to follow the story and bring you an update in the next hour.
To Florida where prosecutors say steamy e-mails may have September astronaut Lisa Nowak over the edge. Prosecutors revealed today that Nowack found love letters to her romantic rival on Bill Oefelein's computer and that she plotted revenge after that. He's a fellow astronaut whom Nowack was having an affair with.
Nowack, as you'll likely remember, is facing attempted kidnapping charges after she drove more than 900 miles wearing adult diapers so she wouldn't have to stop in order to confront the other woman.
On Wall Street, blue chips staged a comeback, the Dow soaring 157 points. That's the biggest boost in eight months, the NASDAQ adding 44 and the S&P gaining 21.
And it's certainly lotto fever really everywhere tonight because of that record mega million jackpot that's up for grabs. The top prize, $370 million. So of course, we say good luck to everyone. I know a lot of the producers were buying tickets tonight. They say the line was wrapped around the block.
COOPER: Are you in a pool?
CHETRY: Well, I bought two tickets, and I threw them somewhere in my car. I can't find them.
COOPER: Find them. That's not good news, Kiran. Better find those. Thanks.
Check out "The Shot of the Day". Poor Pearl, a black lab who fell through the ice in Denver late this morning. Her owner tried to rescue her. The ice started to crack.
The job got done by a firefighter in a wet suit who scooted along the ice to save the dog. Seems Pearl tried to run after some ducks on the ice. And of course, the ducks won.
Pearl is very lucky, though. She got back on dry land with no injuries. There you go. The firefighter rescued her. And she ran away. And she's OK. After shaking it all out. Good for her.
We want to give "The Shot", or give "The Shot" a shot or help us give you -- well, you give us -- what is that, you give us -- you help us give a shot to "The Shot". Whatever.
If you see some amazing video, tell us about it, CNN.com/360. We'll try to figure out what I'm saying. We'll put some of your best suggestions on the air.
Straight ahead tonight, details emerging from the Scooter Libby trial. And later, what the war in Iraq looks like through the lens of the insurgents and American forces. Both sides using video to win hearts and mind. The question is, who winning this war online? 360 next, coming up.
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