Vice President Dick Cheney should get used to testifying under oath.
It is expeacted that he will start talking soon, as part of a self-serving effort to defend a former aide. But once the vice president’s done giving that testimony, how hard would it be for him to head over to Capitol Hill and respond to all the questions that members of Congress have been preparing to ask?
It was revealed Tuesday that Cheney will be called to testify on behalf of his former chief of staff, I. Scooter Libby.
Libby stands accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in an upcoming trial involving issues that arose from alleged efforts by the Vice President’s office to punish former Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, former CIA operative Valarie Plame, for revealing that the Bush-Cheney administration had manipulated intelligence to make the “case” for invading and occupying Iraq.
Cheney, who resisted testifying before the 9/11 Commission until the bitter end, is reportedly willing to take the stand in Libby’s defense.
William Jeffress, one of Libby’s attorneys, says of the vice president: “We don’t expect him to resist.”
Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for the vice president, seemed to confirm that sentiment when she told reporters that, “We’ve cooperated fully in this matter and will continue to do so in fairness to the parties involved.”
Since schedules and notes — some in the vice president’s own handwriting — confirm that Cheney was involved in conversations about using his office to discredit Wilson, his willingness to testify in the Libby case becomes particularly significant.
Of course, the vice president will make it his purpose to protect his former chief of staff, the loyal retainer who has been described as “Cheney’s Cheney.” But his openness to testifying under oath about this matter would seem to open the door for him to testify before Congress regarding the matter.
Gerald Ford, while serving as president, testified before a Congressional committee about his 1974 pardon of his scandal-plagued predecessor, Richard Nixon. So there is a clear precedent. And members of the House have already requested that Cheney come clean.
A little more than a year ago, three key members of the House — Michigan Democrat John Conyers, the incoming chair of the Judiciary Committee; California Democrat Henry Waxman, the incoming chair of the Government Reform Committee; and New York Democrat Maurice Hinchey, one of the most outspoken critics of the administration’s misuse of intelligence during the period before the Iraq War began — sent a letter to the Vice President’s office in which they asked the Cheney to “make yourself available to appear before Congress to explain the details and reasons for your office’s involvement — and your personal involvement — in the disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s identity as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative.”