July 20th, 2007
10:24 AM ET
9 years ago

Libby prosecutor put on the hot seat

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald

CHICAGO (CNN) - The straight-laced, gray-suited, famously reticent lawman, who convinced a jury to find "Scooter" Libby guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents before President Bush commuted his sentence, had a harder time clearing himself from a game show hot seat Thursday night in Chicago, as he braved a relentless satirical barrage during a taping of the NPR news-quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me."

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for Illinois' Northern District, good-naturedly plopped himself on the set of the show and played along with a pun-filled grilling from host Peter Sagel, in the show's regular segment "Not My Job." In the segment, celebrities attempt to answer trivia questions about topics outside their expertise.

But before he got to that, Sagel tried to bait Fitzgerald out of his prosecutorial rectitude with a series of loaded questions, to no avail.

In the best bit, Sagel asked Fitzgerald where he lived, and how he got to work, finishing with the punch line, "How do you like commuting?" The standing-room-only crowd in Chicago - the town which both the show and Fitzgerald call home - laughed at the reference to President Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence, clearly hoping for Fitzgerald to take the bait. But, Fitzgerald played the straight man, "I like driving."

Fitzgerald, in his first public appearance outside of a press conference since the Libby trial, was a good sport. He said that he takes his job seriously, "but I don't take myself too seriously, which is why I'm doing this show."

Alas, Fitzgerald failed the news quiz. Despite Sagel's promise to not ask about Libby, each question featured someone else whose nickname was "Scooter." Fitzgerald correctly answered a question about Segway scooters, but missed on questions about a Muppet named Scooter, and former Yankee Phil "Scooter" Rizuitto. Sagel, in a break from form, jokingly 'commuted' Fitzgerald's failure.

Sagel did get the last laugh and the best image from the radio show, giving Fitzgerald a parting gift of a scooter, which Fitzgerald reluctantly toted offstage.

On a more serious note, Fitzgerald rebuffed Sagel's question of whether Fitzgerald would like to follow other famous prosecutors, like Chicago's Mayor

Daley and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, into politics. Fitzgerald
said "I'm not doing that."

The radio show airs Saturdays on NPR.

- CNN Chicago Bureau Chief Fuzz Hogan

Filed under: Scooter Libby
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. James Atlanta GA

    Can someone tell me what the difference between lying and giving incorrect testimony on the stand is? Everyone has lable Libby as a liar, but the thing he supposedly lied about is how he came to know who Plame was. He said he heard it from Russert. Russert, said that he did not hear it from him. That single contradiciton is what the whole case was built around. If Libby knew he was going to have to lie his way out of telling how he found out Plame's name and poisition, why would he say he heard it from someone that would have no problem with saying, "He didn't hear it from me." He could have just as easily said, "I don't remember." So, why did he not say that?

    I can't remember where I picked up every factoid and name from my work. If I incorrectly told prosecutors that I learned something from somewhere, did I purjer myself? Should I be sent to jail? The fact that the man who did not commit the leak is being sent to jail for not correctly identifying how he learned of a name is kind of off to me. Especially since the person who is widely known to have committed the lead has never been charged with a crime. And, that the purjery investigation of Libby took place after the leaker's identity had been discovered. Is there a difference between being incorrect about facts and lying on the stand? If you are incorrect, is that an obstruction of justice? Was Libby obstructing the investigation into a CRIME THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN SOLVED? Only in our system.

    July 20, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. MCD, San Francisco

    James... it hadn't already been solved. Alot of this info came out during Scooter's trial. Yes, Armitage was the first to leak but where did he get the info? The main point is the reporter knew better than to publish. So, when that reporter didn't publish... Scooter and Rove leaked to some more reporters until they finally found one who was willing to out a CIA Agent. Which was a crime of the highest magnitude.

    July 20, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. B.ProsserME


    July 20, 2007 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  4. Tom Z, fl

    Plame was NOT a covert agent. Never was. All she was was a desk-bound paper pusher.

    July 20, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  5. trish, hickory, nc

    It's okay to name a CIA operative as long as you are on the vice president's team.

    Wow. Pretty heavy message that's gotten lost in the shuffle.

    July 21, 2007 02:44 am at 2:44 am |