Tim Russert must have been heaving huge sighs of relief at Judge Walton's decision to spare him another round with Ted Wells; having his political hackery publicy exposed like that was obviously making Monseigneur Tim uncomfortable.  None of Wells' other motions got very far today –  Walton also seemed inclined to view most of what he was trying to do with regard to testimony from Libby's CIA briefers as not particularly relevant to the case.

Tomorrow, Fitzgerald and Libby's lawyers will be arguing over the instructions to the jury and on Tuesday, we'll hear closing arguments.  There should be some interesting theatrics from both sides.

As a side note: Jeralyn Merritt is indulging in some informed speculation to the effect that Team Libby actually focus-grouped Dick Cheney.  The results showed that he was so loathed that the ill-will risked spilling over onto Scooter.  And thus, given that the VP comes in slightly lower in popularity than novacaine-free dental surgery, the decision was made to not put him on the stand.

Jeralyn also has a rundown of the final hours of the trial, and Marcy Wheeler recaps some of the issues that are going to be critical in the closing statements.   And Sidney Blumenthal, who played "blogger for a day" earlier this week and came to the trial with us has this scoop in Salon:

Throughout the anxious months before the trial of United States v. I. Lewis Libby, one of Scooter Libby's old mentors, a prominent Washington attorney and Republican with experience going back to the Watergate scandal and with intimate ties to neoconservatives, implored him repeatedly to stop covering up for Vice President Cheney and to cut a deal with the special prosecutor. Yet another distinguished Washington lawyer and personal friend of Libby's, privy to the mentor's counsel, reinforced his urgent advice and offered to provide Libby with introductions to former prosecutors who might help guide him. But Libby rebuffed them. He refused to listen. He insisted on the trial.

Watching Libby during the trial, I've also been struck by the impression that he thinks himself a "great man," and that the trial is a way to preserve his honor.  Thus instead of launching a more plausible, "everybody makes mistakes" defense (as Jeralyn has noted would be a much easier sell to a jury) the defense has gone for broadside attacks against anyone who contradicted him.  I have no idea what the outcome of the trial will be, but even if he skates, I'd be loath to attribute it to brilliant defense strategy.

As a side note — I'd like to give a big FDL shout-out to the good folks at Politics TV for doing such remarkable work around the trial and shooting our end-of-day wrap-ups.  It has really added a wonderful dimension to our trial coverage.  We can't thank them enough.