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Testimony ends in Libby perjury trial

Story Highlights

• Judge refuses deal to allow evidence in lieu of Libby testimony
• Defense, prosecution say they're done calling witnesses
• Judge won't let defense use tapes to discredit NBC's Russert
• Closing arguments to begin Tuesday
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The defense and prosecution rested Wednesday in the perjury trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The end of testimony came after hours of arguing over potential evidence and the possible recall to the stand of NBC's Tim Russert.

The defense suffered losses after announcing Tuesday that neither Libby nor Vice President Dick Cheney would testify, after weeks of hinting that the two might take the stand.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton sounded annoyed Wednesday over the defense decision not to let Libby testify, because months were spent negotiating what classified material could be used as a supplement to Libby's testimony.

Without that testimony, Walton ruled he must prevent defense lawyers from revealing the classified information to the jury. (Watch why some evidence won't be allowed Video)

"I won't permit it," he said, adding, "If I get reversed on that one, maybe I need to hang up my spurs."

The judge also blocked the defense team from letting CIA briefers testify in detail about the classified material, which included issues Libby was immersed in in 2003, when the scandal over the identification of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative broke.

The analysts were expected to testify about national security matters that may have caused Libby to misspeak to investigators, because he couldn't recall information.

Instead, prosecutors and the defense agreed to a written summary of the topics that the jury could consider as undisputed fact.

Walton also disallowed videotapes that show inconsistencies between Russert's testimony and statements he made several years ago about grand juries.

Closing arguments are to start Tuesday, the day after Presidents Day, a federal holiday, and the jury should get the case by midweek. Walton already has drafted proposed jury instructions.

Since January 23, a parade of former and current government officials and high-profile journalists have testified about conversations they had with Libby that may have touched on the investigation into who leaked Plame's identity.

Libby, 56, is fighting a five-count indictment for discrepancies in what he told investigators and a grand jury about his discussions with journalists about the identity of Wilson, who was outed in a July 14, 2003, column by Robert Novak. (Read the indictmentexternal link)

Libby contended he first learned about Wilson's CIA role from Russert during a conversation on July 10, 2003, then recanted and said he learned about it from Cheney a month before.

The defense had argued that Libby also forgot exactly what was talked about in conversations with reporters.

In the videotapes, Russert mentions he's aware that no attorney is allowed with a witness being interviewed by a grand jury. He said in the current case that he didn't know that.

That issue came into play because although Russert did not testify in person in front of the grand jury that eventually indicted Libby, he was allowed to give a deposition in a lawyer's office -- with his attorney present.

Libby's lawyers hoped to use the discrepancy to undercut Russert's credibility in the eyes of the jury.

The defense took time after the jury had left for the day to explain its reasoning for not bringing Libby to the stand. Key were the transcripts of grand jury material the attorneys obtained in December while preparing for the start of the trial.

During testimony in the months leading up to Libby's indictment, two CIA analysts who briefed Libby on national security matters apparently remembered very little of what they said to him.

This left little for Libby to take advantage of if he were to have testified.

Libby's lawyers said that as of Tuesday they were still planning to call Cheney to the stand Thursday, before he was to leave on an international trip.

Defense attorney Theodore V. Wells said in court, "We were ready to go," and "I had the vice president on hold until the last minute."

As the defense team departed for the day, one of the attorneys was asked what precipitated the decision against Cheney's testimony. "I didn't need him," the attorney replied on condition of anonymity.

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I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, left, leaves federal court Wednesday with his attorney Theodore V. Wells.



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