Thursday, February 23, 2006
CNN: Libby says Fitzgerald not appointed properly
In a court filing, lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, left, said his indictment violated the Constitution because Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was not appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate.
The defense attorneys also said Fitzgerald's appointment violated federal law because his investigation was not supervised by the attorney general. They said only Congress can approve such an arrangement.
The lawyers said illegal assignment of "unsupervised and undirected power" to Fitzgerald requires that he be relieved of his duties in the investigation and that all actions he has taken be voided.
Fitzgerald was appointed in December 2003 after former Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation because of his close relationships with White House officials. Then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey, acting in Ashcroft's place in the matter, selected Fitzgerald.
Comey gave Fitzgerald sweeping power to conduct the investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, exempting the special counsel from following rules that apply to all U.S. attorneys throughout the nation.
Unlike every other federal prosecutor, Fitzgerald did not have to seek approval from senior Justice Department officials to grant immunity or subpoena reporters and news organizations. Nor did he have to advise senior Justice officials before he sought Libby's indictment.
"The attorney general may delegate powers but he may not abdicate responsibility," Libby's lawyers wrote.
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