WASHINGTON — The defense in Michael K. Deaver's perjury trial rested without calling any witnesses today after the judge made a ruling that would have made it difficult for the former presidential aide to testify.
"Based on the evidence we've seen and heard over the past six weeks, the defense has decided that it has no need to put on any defense at all," defense lawyer Herbert J. Miller Jr. told the jury and U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. "Accordingly, we rest, your honor."
The defense rested after Jackson denied motions to delete certain unproven allegations from the indictment, including the charge that Deaver lied when he testified that he couldn't recall discussing the acid-rain issue at a 1985 lunch with Canada's ambassador.
Jackson ruled that he could not extract from any individual charge a specification of false testimony that had not been proven if prosecutors had presented evidence to support other elements of the count.
"One of the reasons we rest is the court's ruling and its refusal to withdraw certain specifications" of false testimony by the former presidential aide, Miller told the judge after jurors left the courtroom.
The decision raised the possibility that if Deaver took the witness stand, independent counsel Whitney North Seymour Jr. could have asked him if he had lunch Jan. 5, 1985, with Canadian Ambassador Allan Gotlieb.
Lying About Envoy Choice
Deaver, among other things, is accused in the five-count indictment of lying about the degree of his involvement in picking a U.S. acid-rain envoy to Canada before leaving the White House staff and becoming a $100,000-a-year lobbyist for the Canadian government.
But no evidence about the luncheon was presented by prosecutors because Gotlieb invoked diplomatic immunity and refused to testify.
During arguments Friday, Jackson said he was "sufficiently troubled" by the prospect that Deaver might incriminate himself about the Gotlieb luncheon if he testified on his own behalf.
But Jackson ruled today that he couldn't delete the Gotlieb luncheon from the specifications of false testimony because prosecutors had presented other evidence that Deaver was involved in picking Drew Lewis to be the acid-rain envoy.
Miller then rested his case and renewed the motions for directed verdict of acquittal at the close of the defense evidence.
Jackson scheduled arguments on the motions for Tuesday. Final arguments were tentatively set for Thursday, and the jury may be given legal instructions Friday.
By resting, Deaver's lawyers gave up an opportunity to present medical testimony that his memory was so clouded by alcoholism that his failures of recollection under oath were honest.
But two lobbying associates have already testified that the belated news that Deaver was a recovering alcoholic explained his moody, erratic behavior and poor memory during many of the events at issue in the trial.
Deaver is accused of lying to a House subcommittee and a grand jury that investigated the ethical propriety of the lobbying business he formed after leaving the President's staff in May, 1985.
He is accused of lying when he said he couldn't recall contacting former Reagan Administration colleagues on behalf of corporations and foreign governments that paid him six-figure retainers to represent their interests.
But the prosecution rested without calling three people Deaver is accused of contacting.