By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff pleaded not guilty Thursday in the CIA leak scandal, marking the start of what could be a long road to a trial in which Cheney and other top Bush administration officials could be summoned to testify.
I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby entered the plea in front of U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton, a former prosecutor who has spent two decades as a judge in the nation's capital.
Once the charges were read and the judge asked for his response, Libby said: "With respect, your honor, I plead not guilty."
Libby, who is recovering from a foot injury, leaned his crutches against a podium from which lawyers normally question witnesses or address the court. As the charges were read, he stood with his recently expanded legal team at the table reserved for the defense during trials.
During the 10-minute hearing, Walton set Libby's next court appearance for Feb. 3 and learned from the lawyers they had no idea when they would be ready for trial.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald estimated it would take two weeks for the government to present its case against Libby, and the timing would depend on pretrial motions by his attorneys. (Read more).