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Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Libby prosecutor fights request for details of negotiations for Russert testimony
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- NBC's Tim Russert did not receive any special "leniency" as part of negotiations leading to his 2004 deposition to the FBI in the criminal probe of Vice President Cheney's former aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, according to documents prosecutors filed early Wednesday.

Libby's attorneys have asked the federal judge in the case to order Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to disclose any details and notes they may use to undercut Russert's credibility on the stand in testimony expected Wednesday. The defense tactic is a routine part of the trial process as Libby fights a five-count indictment accusing him of perjury and obstruction of justice.

Fitzgerald, in the new court papers, said the government cannot find additional notes taken during Russert's FBI interview "despite a diligent search." But Fitzgerald asserts the defense is fully aware of all accommodations offered to obtain Russert's deposition on Aug. 7, 2004.

Prosecutors have said that Russert will testify that he received a phone call from Libby in 2003 complaining about what Libby felt was unfair news coverage of a disputed report questioning part of the Bush administration's basis for going to war with Iraq.

Libby has claimed Russert told him of a CIA connection for a woman whose husband had made a fact-finding mission to Africa and later disputed Bush claims Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.

Russert will testify that Libby's call ended with the complaint about coverage and that there was no such disclosure, prosecutors say in the court documents.

In audio recordings played Tuesday dating to Libby's 2004 testimony in a secret grand jury probe, Libby said he was "surprised" to hear from Russert that Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

-- CNN's Paul Courson
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