The judge in the Iran-Contra case said Friday that former President Reagan should remain "subject to call" in the trial of fired National Security Council aide Oliver North and that portions of Reagan's personal diary might be needed at North's trial.
U.S. District Judge Gerhard Gesell quashed North's subpoena for President Bush to testify. He said North had made no showing that Bush "has any specific information relevant and material" to the charges.Gesell refused to quash North's subpoena for Reagan's testimony but said in his three-page order there would be further proceedings if it is found necessary to call the former president as a witness in the trial.
The judge said there shall be "no restriction placed upon" Reagan by the subpoena unless the court enters another order, after hearing objections from the Justice Department and private counsel to Reagan.
Gesell, acting a day before North's trial on 12 felony charges begins, quashed, with "one narrow exception," North's subpoena for Reagan's personal diary.
But the judge said portions of the diary might become part of the trial "if at some point" North's defense team "supports a claim that President Reagan ordered, directed, requested or, with advance knowledge, condoned any of North's" alleged criminal activities in the diversion of Iranian arm-sales profits to the Nicaraguan rebels.
In that event, said Gesell, "an appropriate production procedure" must be developed for reviewing the former president's diary and determining whether any of the entries support North's assertions.
Gesell's order implemented a tactic he had indicated at a hearing Friday he would use with regard to Reagan's testimony.
"President Reagan shall remain subject to call on the subpoena" served by North's lawyers last month for the ex-president's testimony, said Monday's order.
Gesell said Friday that circumstances may change as evidence is introduced at the trial and that testimony of certain individuals may become relevant.
Gesell said that with regard to North's subpoena for Bush, the former NSC aide's lawyers have "made no showing that President Bush has any specific information relevant and material to the charges of the indictment which makes it necessary or appropriate to require his appearance."
Since North's indictment last March, his lawyers won dismissal of four of the original 16 counts - including the key charges arising from the diversion of the money to the Nicaraguan rebels.
But the retired Marine lieutenant colonel still faces a host of other charges that carry a maximum possible sentence of 60 years imprisonment and fines totaling $3 million. His trial is set to begin Tuesday.
The dismissal earlier this month of charges that North conspired with former national security adviser John M. Poindexter and two arms dealers to finance the "secret war" in Nicaragua with arms-sale proceeds basically leaves allegations that he covered up his activities by lying.
The former National Security Council aide is charged with making false statements to congressional committees in 1985 that were investigating reports he and others were helping the rebels in violation of a ban on such assistance.